NEW YORK CITY
IT was nearing ten o’clock in the evening when Mitch Rapp decided it was time to move. He stepped from the sedan into the April night, popped his umbrella, clutched the collar of his black trench coat, and set out across a rain-soaked East Twentieth Street. He navigated the puddles and swollen gutter without complaint. The weather was a blessing. Not only did it clear the streets of potential witnesses, it also gave him a reasonable excuse to hide his face from the city’s ever-increasing array of security cameras.
Rapp had traveled to New York City to decide the fate of a man. At an earlier point, he had debated the wisdom of handling the situation himself. In addition to the inherent risk of getting caught, there was another, more pressing problem. Just six days earlier a series of explosions had torn through Washington, D.C., killing 185 and wounding hundreds. Three of the terrorists were still at large, and Rapp had been ordered, unofficially, to find them by any means necessary. So far, however, the investigation had been painfully complicated and had yet to yield a single solid lead. The three men had up and disappeared, which suggested a level of sophistication that few of them had thought the enemy capable of. The last thing Rapp expected, though, was that he would still be dealing with this other issue. In light of the attacks in Washington, he thought the fool would have come to his senses.
Beyond the significance of deciding if the man should live or die, there was the aftermath to consider. Killing him had the very real potential to cause more problems than it would solve. If the guy failed to show up for work there would be a lot of questions, and the majority of them would be directed at Rapp and his boss, Irene Kennedy, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. One tiny misstep, and the shit storm of all shit storms would be brought down on them.
The head of the surveillance team had tried to talk him out of it, but Rapp wasn’t the kind of man who was going to start pulling the trigger from a climate-controlled office a couple hundred miles away. He needed to see with his own eyes if they were missing something—if there wasn’t some unseen or unpredictable factor that had caused the bureaucrat to jump the tracks. Rapp was keenly aware of the universal disdain for the man he had followed to New York. There were plenty of people on the clandestine side of the business who had cause to wish the prick dead, and that was another reason Rapp needed to be absolutely certain he was guilty of what they suspected. His dislike for the man would make it all that much easier to pull the trigger, and Rapp knew he had to fight that urge. He needed to give this idiot every last chance to save himself before they did something that could never be undone.
It would be a mistake to read too deeply into Rapp’s cautious attitude, though. If he found the proof he was looking for, there would be no hand-wringing or queasiness. He’d killed too many people to begin acting like an amateur, and although the man was a fellow American, he was also very likely a traitor. And not some low-level, paper-pushing traitor, this guy had one of the highest security clearances in the federal government and his hypocrisy had likely gotten one of Rapp’s agents killed.
Rapp moved down the sidewalk toward Park Avenue at a casual pace. He was dressed in a fashion similar to that of the thousand-plus executive car drivers who were shuffling their clients around the city on this rain-soaked evening—black shoes, black suit, white shirt, black tie, and a black trench coat. To anyone who happened to notice him, he would look like just another driver out stretching his legs, trying to kill a little time before his client finished his meal and was ready to head someplace else or call it a night.
As Rapp took up a position across the street and one door down from the Gramercy Tavern, he reached into his pocket and fished out a pack of Marlboros. Standing in the rain in New York City doing nothing might get you noticed, but throw in a cigarette and you looked like all the other addicts battling the elements to get their fix. Rapp turned away from the street and faced the blank façade of the building behind him. He tilted the umbrella so it looked as if he was trying to block the wind and flicked his lighter. He was not worried about the wind, but he was worried about one of the other drivers’ catching a glimpse of his face in the glow of the flame.
After a deep pull off the cigarette, Rapp casually looked out from under the rain-soaked umbrella and across the street. The target was sitting in one of the restaurant’s big windows sharing a meal, a lot of booze, and too much conversation with a man Rapp had never met, and hoped to keep that way. The other man was a concern, to be sure, but Rapp was not in the habit of killing private citizens si
mply because they were witnesses to the ramblings of a bitter man who was past his prime.
Despite every effort to find a different solution, Rapp’s mood was decidedly fatalistic. The surveillance team had the restaurant wired for sound, and for the last two hours he had been sitting in a parked Lincoln Town Car listening to his coworker trash-talk the Agency. As Rapp watched him take a drink of wine, he wasn’t sure what bothered him more, the man’s self-serving criticism, or his reckless behavior. One would think that anyone who worked at the CIA would be a little more careful about when and where he decided to commit treason.
So far his associate had done little more than espouse his political and philosophical views. Bad form, to be sure, but nothing that had risen to the level of outright sedition. Rapp, however, could sense that it was coming. The man had been drinking heavily. He’d downed two gin martinis and four glasses of red wine, and that wasn’t counting the bump or two he’d probably had on the flight up from D.C. and possibly at the hotel bar. Rapp had ordered his surveillance people to steer clear of the airports. There were too many cameras and trained law enforcement types who would eventually be interviewed by the FBI. If the night went the way it was looking, every moment of this guy’s life would be rewound and scrutinized, and they’d start with that U.S. Airways commuter flight he’d taken out of Reagan National up to LaGuardia earlier in the day.
Rapp casually took another drag from the cigarette and watched as the waiter placed two snifters of cognac in front of the men. A few minutes earlier, Rapp had listened as the other man tried to pass on the after-dinner drink. Rapp got the feeling the man was starting to think the dinner meeting had been a waste of his time. Rapp’s coworker, however, insisted that they both have a drink. He told the other man he was going to need it after he heard what he was about to tell him.
Now, with the rain softly pelting his umbrella, Rapp watched the waiter place two snifters on the table. The waiter was still within ear-shot when the man from Langley leaned in and began to tell his story. Rapp heard every word via a wireless earpiece. For the first few minutes it was all innuendo. Rapp’s coworker put his information on the table in a series of hypotheticals, and while Rapp had no doubt that the lawyers at the Justice Department would have found wiggle room in the statements, Rapp saw them as further proof of the man’s reckless intent. Anyone who had been read in at this level of national security knew what could be discussed and what was strictly off limits.
Rapp was in the midst of lighting his second cigarette when the conversation moved from the abstract to the concrete. It started with the specific mention of an operation that was known to only a handful of people, including the president. This is it, he thought to himself. The idiot is really going to do it.
As casually as he could, Rapp brought his eyes back to the big window of the restaurant. There, the two men sat, hunched over the table, their faces no more than a foot apart, one speaking in hushed tones, the other looking more horrified with each word. The classified designations came pouring out in a rapid-fire staccato of dates and targets. One secret after another was tossed onto the pile as if they were inconsequential nuggets of gossip. The breadth of the damage was even worse than Rapp had dared imagine. So bad, in fact, that he began wondering if he shouldn’t simply march across the street, pull out his gun, and execute the idiot on the spot.
As quickly as things had heated up, though, they came to an abrupt halt. Like some belligerent drunk who’d consumed one ounce too much of alcohol, the man from Langley put away his wares and announced that he’d divulged only a fraction of what he knew and that before he said anything further they needed to come to an agreement.
Up until now, Rapp had thought his coworker’s rigid principles had driven him to take this risky step, but as he listened to the two men discuss the financial details of their new relationship, that last shred of grudging respect vanished. Rapp looked through the rain at the traitor and realized that like the hundreds of miscreants who had gone before him, his coworker’s often-flaunted idealism came with a price, just as with all the other bastards.
Rapp flicked his cigarette into the gutter and watched it bob and swirl its way into the sewer. As he turned toward Park Avenue he felt not even the tiniest bit of remorse over what he had just set in motion. Without having to look, he knew that a man bearing a striking resemblance to the traitor was now climbing into the back of a Lincoln Town Car. Every detail had been arranged from the eyeglasses, to the tie, to the hair color—even the black and orange umbrella from the hotel. All that was left for Rapp to do was walk a block and a half and wait for the idiot to come to him.
NEW YORK CITY
GLEN Adams drained the last precious drop of Remy Martin from the bulbous snifter and immediately felt cheated that he wasn’t going to get a second glass of the smooth, warm cognac. His dinner partner and former law school classmate, while brilliant, was also a bit of a bore, and had insisted on the tab. They’d graduated from NYU’s School of Law twenty-six years earlier and since then they’d run into each other about once or twice a year, either at alumni events or at various professional functions. Every so often they’d grab lunch and catch up, but there was no doubt they had drifted apart. It was neither man’s fault, of course. Between careers and family, there was little time left for old friendships.
The two men had chosen drastically different paths after law school. Urness scored a coveted job with the Public Defender’s Office in New York City. After putting in three years of utter servitude, he bolted for the private sector and quickly earned a reputation as a fearsome trial attorney. By his midthirties he’d already argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. At thirty-nine, he started his own law firm and quickly grew it into one of most well known and successful in a city filled with high-priced law firms.
Adams, while not nearly as successful, was proud of what he’d accomplished. Following in the footsteps of his father, he went to work for the CIA. His first two years, while enlightening, were worse than anything he could have imagined. Since childhood he’d dreamed of becoming a spook. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be anything even remotely close to what he thought it would be. Adams had grown up in the house of a father who had fought in World War II and then gone on to work for the CIA in its Special Activities Division. His dad was rarely around, and that left a lot of time for a young, impressionable boy to dream about unseen heroism and daring exploits. Even in his absence the man managed to cast his huge presence over the house and the aspirations of his only son.
In the real world Adams found the Directorate of Operations at Langley to be staffed by crude, rude, and dimwitted ex-military types, who were challenged to think of the world in any colors other than black and white. Having graduated from one of the world’s top law schools, Adams found it unbearable to work around so many simpletons. After two years of service, and despite strong protest from his father, Adams left the CIA and went to work for the Justice Department. It was a decision that ended up causing irreparable damage to their relationship. It took the younger Adams years to come to grips with the rift it had caused, and in many ways this evening was a major step in putting the entire thing behind him.
Despite the problems it had caused with his father, Adams always felt he’d made the right decision in leaving the CIA. While at DOJ he’d tackled a series of increasingly tough jobs, and his career steadily advanced. Then 9/11 hit and everything changed. That first year or two after the attacks, Adams found himself caught up in the patriotic fervor just like everyone else. Eventually, though, he regained his senses and realized elements of his own government were every bit as big a threat as the terrorists. A vocal minority on the Hill had been screaming for increased oversight at the CIA, and before Adams knew it his name had been thrown into the hopper. His reputation as a tough federal prosecutor pleased the politicians, and his family history with Langley, and brief employment there, made him what many thought to be the perfect choice for inspector
general of America’s premier spy agency.
Adams experienced a glimmer of hope that the new post would help mend the rift between him and his father. His dad, now in his eighties, didn’t have many years in front of him, and Adams knew there wouldn’t be many opportunities like this. He couldn’t have been more misguided in his optimistic assessment. The afternoon that he told his father of the prodigal son’s return ended up being the last time they spoke. Unknown to Adams was his father’s deep-seated disdain for the office of the CIA’s top watchdog. What was supposed to be a moment of healing ended up being a catastrophe that destroyed any hope of repairing their relationship. Four short months later the elder Adams passed away.
The surviving son took to his new job with ministerial zeal. Like a missionary converting the heathens to Christianity, Adams would bring a passion for justice and the rule of law to the wild and uncouth. And like the missionaries who had worked the backwaters of South America, Adams would use force if need be—conversion by the sword. He would use his considerable talents to usher in a new era at Langley. An era they could all be proud of.
At least that was what he had told himself at the time. What he’d told his wife and his law school classmates like Urness. His fellow alums had been a great source of strength. They saw the CIA for what it was: a rotten, outdated organization. If he had known then what he knew now, he wondered if he would have taken the job. Had he been too idealistic? No, he’d told himself on many occasions, they were just too corrupt. The Constitution and the rule of law were more important than a thousand careers. A million careers.
Adams gazed into his glass in hopes that there was a drop to be found in the little indentation at the bottom, but there wasn’t. “All is not wasted,” he mumbled to himself. Tonight was proof of that. His plan was good, better than good—it was perfect. None of them would expect it. Besides, they had their hands full at the moment, trying to figure out how they’d fucked up and allowed nearly two hundred of their fellow citizens to get killed in broad daylight. They were nothing more than a bunch of goons, and these attacks were proof that their methods had served only to hearten the enemy.
“This is a big step,” Urness said as he slid his black American Express card back in his wallet. “Are you sure you want to go through with it?”
“Come on, Kenny,” Adams said to the other attorney, “I’ve never doubted your determination.”
“I just want to make sure,” Urness said with a toothy grin. “There’s going to be some very powerful people who are going to be really pissed off.”
“No doubt. Are you sure you’re up to it?”
The attorney took a moment and then said, “I’m ready for a new challenge. A cause I can believe in. I’ve made a shitload of money. Now I’d like to make a difference.”
With a raised brow, Adams said, “Like Woodward and Bernstein?”
“Yeah, except you’ll be Deep Throat.”
“Let’s hope I don’t have to wait until I’m ninety to admit my role in all of this.”
“If I’m reading this right,” Urness said, “and I usually do, I don’t think you’ll have to wait more than two years. I’ll have it all gamed by then, and you’ll be treated as a hero.”
Urness pushed his chair back and started to stand. “Fuck ’em . . .”
Adams laughed and stood, oblivious that his white dinner napkin had just slid from his lap to the floor.
“I’m serious. Fuck ’em. You’re never going to get those fascists on the right to understand what we’re doing, so I’m telling you right now fuck ’em and forget ’em.”
“You’re right,” Adams said with an impish grin. As Urness came around the table Adams put his arm around him. He was almost a head taller than his friend. “You’re a good shit, Kenny. I really appreciate this.”
“I’m more than happy to help, Glen. These are strange times. If we don’t take a stand, I’m afraid what kind of country will be left for our kids.”
The two men moved from the restaurant into the bar and toward the front door. Adams looked at the booze behind the bar, and like one of Pavlov’s dogs, began to salivate. He slowed his pace and rubbed his right hand over his belly. “What do you say we have one more bump before we call it a night?”