Roy is an alleged serial killer held in a secure, fortress-like Federal Supermax facility in Maine. Roy is awaiting trial and almost certainly faces conviction. On their to the first meeting with their employer, Bergin, they find him murdered on a lonely stretch of Maine road. There is one twist to the end and the novel does reach to the heights of power in Washington, D. If you like typical De Mille, Brad Thor, etc. If you like something deeper, try Olen Steinhauer.
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He sucked in each breath and let it out like it would be his last. Through headphones a fast blast of words filled his ear canals and then flooded his brain. An array of sensors was strapped into a heavy cloth harness that was buckled over his torso.
He also wore a cap with electrodes attached that measured his brain waves. The room was brightly lit. With each bite of audio and broadside of video his body clenched as though staggered by a shot delivered by the heavyweight champ.
He started weeping. In an adjacent and darkened room a small group of stunned men watched this scene through a one-way mirror. On the wall inside the room with the sobbing man the screen was eight feet wide and six feet tall.
It seemed perfectly designed for watching NFL football. However, the digital images racing across its face were not huge men in uniform knocking brain cells out of each other. This was top-top-secret data to which very few people in the government would be privy. Collectively, and to the experienced eye, they were remarkable in revealing the clandestine activities going on around the globe.
There were crystal clear pictures of suspicious troop movements in Korea along the Thirty-Eighth Parallel. Satellite images of construction projects in Iran showing underground missile silos that looked like huge pencil holders carved in the dirt, along with boiling thermal silhouettes of a working nuclear reactor. In Pakistan, high-altitude surveillance photos of the aftermath of a terrorist explosion at a market where vegetables and body parts held equal sections of the ground.
In Russia, there was real-time video of a caravan of military trucks on a mission that might push the world into another global war. From India flowed data on a terrorist cell planning simultaneous hits on sensitive targets in an effort to promote regional unrest.
In New York City, incriminating photos of a major political leader with someone who was not his wife. From Paris, reams of numbers and names representing financial intelligence on criminal enterprises. They moved so fast they seemed like a million columns of Sudoku delivered at hyperspeed. From thousands of federally funded intelligence fusion centers spread across the United States flowed information on suspicious activities being carried out either by Americans or by foreigners operating domestically.
And on it poured, from all corners of the globe, delivered en masse in high definition. If it were an Xbox or a PS3 game it would be the most exciting and difficult one ever created. But there was nothing made up about it. Here real people lived and real people died, every second of every day. His skin was light brown, his hair short and black and plastered to his small skull. His eyes were large, and red from the tears.
He was thirty-one years old but looked like he had aged ten years in the last four hours. His name was Peter Bunting. He was forty-seven years old and this was, plain and simple, his operation, his ambition, his life. He lived and breathed it. At no time did at least part of his brain think of anything else. His hair had grayed considerably over the last six months for reasons tied directly to the Wall, or more specifically, problems with the Wall.
He wore a custom-fitted jacket, shirt, and slacks. What he did have was an abundance of brains and an inexhaustible desire to succeed. He had the perfect blend of strategic vision and street smarts.
He was wealthy and well connected, though he was unknown to the public. He had many reasons to be happy, and merely one to be frustrated, angry even. And he was staring at it right now. Or rather at him. Bunting looked down at the electronic tablet he was holding. He had asked the man numerous questions, the answers for which could be found in the data flow. People here did not kid about anything. An older, shorter man in a wrinkled dress shirt spread his hands in a gesture of helplessness.
No one said it would be like this. The man in the room was Sohan Sharma. He had been their last, best hope to fill the position of the Analyst. Analyst with a capital A. There was only one. He was barely thirty, but his long and unruly hair and his boyish features made him appear far younger. Bunting rubbed his temples. It was only when he got to the Wall that he fell apart.
Classic extreme information overload. How is that possible? Ten thousand hours of video. A hundred thousand reports. Four million incident registers. Captured signals intelligence requiring attention are in the thousands of hours.
Combat field chatter alone could fill a thousand phone books. It pours in every second of every day in ever-increasing amounts from a million different sources. The young man drew a rapid breath. None of them would meet his eye. Electrical currents seemed to pop in the damp air thrown off from the sweat on their faces. Not even a Cray Supercomputer comes close. It can operate linearly, spatially, geometrically, in every dimension we need it to.
It is the perfect analytical mechanism. That is the gospel upon which rests everything we do here. And more importantly, that is what our two-point-five-billion-dollar contract says we have to provide and that every last son of a bitch in the intelligence community depends on.
The absolute limit. The whole civilized world is screwed. The bad guys win. Hail to the Taliban and al Qaeda, the bastards. They win. But ignoring the obvious is never a good plan. No arguments, no excuses. Just do it, Avery. The cascade of images finally stopped and the room grew dark. Sohan Sharma was walked out to a waiting van. Inside were three men. He jerked his thick arms in different directions and Sharma slumped over with a broken neck.
It rose up in the air and banged down again harder. Even the pilot was probably wondering if he could keep the twenty-five-ton jet on the tarmac.
The copilot had warned the passengers that the landing would be bumpy and a bit more than uncomfortable. The rear carriage wheels caught and held the second time around, and the lead aircraft-grade rubber bit down a few moments later.
The rapid and steep flight path in had caused more than a few of the four dozen passengers on the single-aisle jet to white-knuckle their armrests, mouth a few prayers, and even reach for the barf bags in the seatbacks. When the wheel brakes and reverse thrusters engaged and the aircraft slowed perceptibly, most of the riders exhaled in relief. One man, however, merely woke when the plane transitioned off the runway and onto the taxiway to the small terminal.
The tall, dark-haired woman sitting next to him idly stared out the window, completely unfazed by the turbulent approach and bouncy touchdown. He and Michelle both had their clothes, toiletries, and other essentials in their carry-on bags.
But they had to stop by baggage claim to pick up an eighteen-inch-long, hard-sided, locked case. It belonged to Michelle. She picked up the case and slid it into her carry-on. Sean gave her an amused expression. Get the rental. We only found out about this case a few days ago. I checked into it. I made a call to him. He made a call to the governor.
The Sixth Man by David Baldacci ePub
The Sixth Man (Sean King and Michelle Maxwell Series #5)