The USA under threat… counter-terrorism in disarray after the Edward Snowden affair… a hijacked 747 with a nuclear bomb on board… terrorists with a grudge against America… blackmail and extortion in Washington… a compromised CIA chief…
Enter off-grid intelligence operative, Cam Warfield. The odds are stacked against him, and they’re just about to get a whole lot worse…
Out now for Kindle getbook.at/Spy
Out now in paperback getbook.at/Spy_PB
Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, David Baldacci, Lee Child… these are just some of the top thriller writers that author Nick Ganaway has been favorably compared to following the release of his debut novel, To Free a Spy. And those comparisons haven’t come from his publisher but from the dozens of satisfied readers leaving 5-star reviews on amazon.com
To Free a Spy was self-published by Nick Ganaway in the summer of 2013 when it managed to top the amazon.com espionage charts. In 2014 Greyhart Press were proud to acquire worldwide publishing rights.
Here’s a taster from the prologue.
Sarov, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast,
Boris Petrevich looked at his hands as he held them in front of him. No tremor. Better than his insides as he watched the seconds tick down on his digital watch, which was synchronized precisely with another digital timepiece three thousand feet from there. No matter his months of preparation, his maplike brainshot of the Sarov compound, his familiarity with the security safeguards, his encyclopedic knowledge of bomb-grade nuclear materials—all of those factors combined held no guarantee that his plan that night and the following days would succeed. He’d weighed whether the stakes were worth the risk but there was no turning back now.
To the extent possible Petrevich had calculated the risks his plan for that night presented. The first would occur when time zero arrived minutes from now. There’d be no problem moving around within Sarov but the guards manning the checkpoint inspected every car leaving the sealed city for radiation. Petrevich had used the most emission-secure travel container available to him in the nuclear lab but the lab’s Geiger-counter still reported miniscule leakage. He shielded the radiation exposure within his car as much as he could with the only remaining lead-lined blanket to be found. While there was no assurance he would get past this first hurdle unscathed he was not totally unprepared. Stuck under his belt in the small of his back was the World War II-vintage Russian TT-33 7.62 mm semi-automatic pistol he’d been issued years ago. The model had its flaws, such as no safety latch, but it was what he had. He had not fired it in years, saving up his ration of ammunition, and had never had the occasion to use it in a hostile situation. His once-fine shooting skills would certainly have waned but any use of the pistol required at the Sarov checkpoint would be at close range. Later could be another story: He still had to cross the borders into Georgia and Turkey, then into Iraq—the most worrisome of all. Seth had said certain connections in his network guaranteed Petrevich’s safe passage into Iraq at the Habur checkpoint
Seth. Petrevich was putting a lot of faith in this man he’d communicated with only by way of a go-between courier. And he wouldn’t see a penny of the money Seth was to pay him until they rendezvoused in Baghdad—if Petrevich made it there with the contraband. It was then that he would collect more money than he’d ever dreamed existed—and that was just the down payment. The rest of it would be paid upon completion of his mission, which was yet to be revealed by Seth. Petrevich knew only that it was a one-year project. He’d demanded payment in United States cash dollars and trusted no one, certainly not some Arab he’d never seen before, and he would be prepared for that meeting in Baghdad; he would find a place to stash the uranium until he was paid to avoid any subterfuge Seth might be planning. But for now he was focused on the present moment.
Sarov, known as Arzamas-16 during the Cold War and later Kremlyov, was Russia’s answer to the U.S.’s Los Alamos, the respective nerve centers of nuclear weapons design during the decades of psychological belligerence between the two world powers. Petrevich had been the chief nuclear scientist, officially the “Scientific Director,” at Arzamas-16, and ruled his scientists with an iron will.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, so too had Petrevich’s political armor that had once enabled him to thumb his nose at the generals and even party under-officials. The little people had taken control and decided they had no need of Petrevich, throwing him out of his relatively luxurious suite. It wasn’t that he had been targeted for revenge. Far worse, the former Scientific Director had been ignored as an irrelevance.
Now for the last time Petrevich looked around the meager flat assigned to him and got down to his car to wait as the final seconds ticked off. His aged black Volvo was packed with the few personal items he was taking, along with the case containing the uranium. Exactly when expected, the flash from the blast lit up the sky and three seconds later the sound reached his ears. The ground trembled momentarily under the car. He waited the ten minutes it would take for authorities to be awakened and to realize that the explosion was at the old monastery where the nuclear material was secured. Not that the three-hundred-year-old monastery still held any religious sentiment. They would be worried about containing the nuclear hazard. Every military, fire and hazmat operative in the city would be needed at the site, and even the checkpoint security was sure to be in disarray, with too little time to regroup. Petrevich’s life depended on that and his timing was critical.
He pulled into the street and took the route through the dark city that he knew would be the less traveled during the minutes after the explosion. It would take him four minutes to reach the checkpoint and by then fourteen or fifteen minutes would have elapsed since the explosion. The remaining checkpoint guards would be focused on the blast with their radios and phones. Boris Petrevich in his old Volvo would be the least of their worries.
Petrevich approached the halogen-flooded checkpoint that was framed by the reinforced-concrete archway and columns that had always reminded him of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. Gone were the machine-gun emplacements but the tangle of concertina wire topping the parallel concrete walls bordering Sarov’s four square miles remained. Flight from this top-secret military-industrial complex where he’d devoted his life to his country’s global security was mere seconds away. If only it were that simple, Petrevich thought. There were no other vehicles at this the only remaining checkpoint in Sarov and Petrevich felt a moment of relief when he saw only two guards rather than the usual eight or so. A single alert German Shepherd stood watch inside the kiosk with one of them as the other officer approached the Volvo. “What’s going on?” Petrevich said to the officer.
“We are not sure, sir. The first report was of an explosion at the monastery, where I’ve heard nuclear materials are stored. They’ve called for every available guard to report there.” He held the Geiger-counter at his side and walked around the car, as Petrevich knew he’d done a thousand times before. The guard returned to the driver-side window and stuck the hand-held instrument inside the car, where it began its signature ticking that was so familiar to Petrevich. “Do you know of any reason your car might be hot, sir?”
Petrevich’s pulse quickened but he maintained an unconcerned look. “My work is inside the monastery. I go there daily.” He shrugged. “That’s likely the problem.”
“Let’s be sure.” The guard said it without a hint of suspicion. “You don’t want any extra exposure. Why don’t you step out of the car so that I can check inside more thoroughly? And I will need to see your credentials.” Petrevich had hoped to avoid these intrusions.
He got out of the car and reached behind his back as if to retrieve his papers. The officer did not see the T-33 before the 7.62 mm round destroyed the left side of his head. The other guard, who had been paying only casual attention, became alert and took aim at Petrevich but not soon enough. At least one of Petrevich’s four rounds struck him, entering his right eye socket and exiting the back of his head along with fragments of skull and brain tissue. Still, he had managed to activate a piercing general alarm before being shot but Petrevich knew it would be only one of the many to which overloaded authorities were busy responding. Petrevich fired a round at the guard dog, who did not die immediately but was incapacitated and yelping in pain. He had studied the video security system at the lab and knew how to delete all images at the checkpoint kiosk. With that done there was nothing to give the authorities any information to track him with. They would figure it out eventually, of course, but there were ninety-thousand residents in Sarov and a budding nuclear disaster to deal with. It would take some time. By then Petrevich would be far away, perhaps even all the way to Georgia, whose cooperation with Russia was in shambles. Soon after that, Turkey, but his trail would be cold by then. His final border crossing, at Habur, into Iraq, was nineteen-hundred miles south—three days driving, with luck. Once in Iraq it would no longer be the authorities he’d be worried about. It would be Seth.
Petrevich soon reached the P180 highway and turned south. He drove through the night and well into the next gloomy afternoon, stopping only for fuel and food and eating at the wheel. He kept an eye on his rearview mirror where the occasional car, following for too long, raised his awareness but in every case it sooner or later turned off on another route or went past him. Nevertheless he’d survived this far by being paranoid and he wasn’t going to relax his senses now. By nightfall he found an obscure spot to park the car and slept for an hour.
Petrevich felt himself tensing up as he drew closer to the checkpoint at the Georgia border but he was waved through with hardly any delay. The drive through the small country was short. The mountainous Turkey terrain slowed him down but he didn’t mind. He was far from Sarov.
The road sign said the Iraq border was one mile ahead. Petrevich pulled off the road at the first fuel station he’d seen in hours, thinking it might be the last one before he entered Iraq. Seth had promised Habur would be an uneventful checkpoint. Petrevich would soon find out.
* * *
Back in Sarov, a young Russian Army officer walked into the office of her commanding general. “Sir, we have a possible motive for the murder of the two guards at the checkpoint four days ago. A significant amount of nuclear material is missing from the secure area.”
Now read on. The countdown has already begun…
Out now for Kindle getbook.at/Spy
Out now in paperback getbook.at/Spy_PB