Nemesis: An Fbi Thriller by Catherine CoulterNemesis: An Fbi Thriller by Catherine Coulter

Nemesis: An Fbi Thriller

byCatherine Coulter

Paperback | July 5, 2016

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“Fans of Lee Child and Patrick Lee won’t be disappointed”* in this high-octane FBI Thriller featuring Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock from the # 1 New York Times bestselling author.
 
In New York, Special Agent Lacey Sherlock foils a terrorist attack at JFK airport, but stopping the grenade-carrying crazy was only the beginning. Another plot unfolds nearly simultaneously with a bomb at St. Patrick’s Cathedral...
 
Meanwhile, Savich—with the help of Agent Griffin Hammersmith—has his hands full trying to track an elusive murderer who is able to control those under his thrall. When an attempt on Savich’s life collides with Sherlock’s terrorist case, they must race against the clock, as more lives are in danger with every passing minute.

*Library Journal
Catherine Coulter is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the FBI Thrillers featuring husband and wife team Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock. She is also the author—with J. T. Ellison—of the Brit in the FBI series. She lives in Sausalito, California.
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Title:Nemesis: An Fbi ThrillerFormat:PaperbackDimensions:448 pages, 7.5 × 4.25 × 1.16 inPublished:July 5, 2016Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0515155683

ISBN - 13:9780515155686

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Customer Reviews of Nemesis: An Fbi Thriller

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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh I found it felt like it jumped around and didn't seem to flow as well as some of her books which made it harder for me to get into and read. Overall this was just not her best book.
Date published: 2017-03-30

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTSTo Angela Bell, FBI Office of Public Affairs. You continue to keep me on the straight and narrow, and I thank you. Soon we need to go for drinks.Nichole Robson, SM guru, Trident Media GroupEmily Ross, SM guru, Trident Media GroupBrianna Weber, SM guru, Trident Media GroupYou three women did so very much to promote The Lost Key on social media. (Yes, that’s what SM means, not S&M.) My thanks. I can’t wait to see what you do with Nemesis.And finally, and always, my bows and kudos and everlasting thanks to Karen Evans, my own personal guardian angel who’s always there for me, always in my corner, ready to take on anything. Always. Thank you, Karen.JFK AIRPORTNEW YORK CITYWednesday afternoonMid-MayThe airport security line slowly inched forward, nearly sixty passengers stoically weaving back and forth in the ritual strip-dance everyone knew and put up with. At least Sherlock didn’t have her Glock with her, so she wouldn’t have to fill out a gazillion forms. Her meeting with the lead federal prosecutor in an upcoming murder trial had lasted six and a half hours, and probably would have gone on longer if she hadn’t simply gotten up and said she had a plane to catch. She couldn’t wait to get home and throw a football with Sean, if the plane took off at a reasonable time, that is. She looked forward to downing a cup of Dillon’s knock-your-socks-off coffee, and having him sing to her while he scrubbed her back in the shower.Out of habit she studied the faces, the eyes, the clothes, and the body language of those around her, guessing what people were thinking, planning, where they were going. Home? Business? Rendezvous? She knew one thing for sure: they were hoping as she was that flights wouldn’t be delayed or canceled. The woman ahead of her sighed. “All I want to do is get home, jump in the tub, and wash off all traces of Mickey Sturgiss.”Sherlock said, a smile on her face, “A wild day with Mickey?”The woman rolled her eyes. “A deposition for a slime bucket who should be deported to Mars.”Sherlock laughed. “You’re a lawyer?”“Yes, but not this idiot’s lawyer. I was doing his lawyer a favor. Believe me, I’ll make sure he knows he owes me big-time.” She stuck out her hand. “Melissa Harkness.”Sherlock shook her hand. “Lacey Sherlock. Come to think of it, I could do some washing, too.”“Don’t tell me you’re a lawyer, too?”“I’m FBI, actually.” Melissa Harkness was on the heavy side, in her thirties, and she was carrying a large briefcase in one hand and a black tote the size of one of Jupiter’s moons in the other. She looked like she might be dragging, but her bright eyes were filled with intelligence and interest.Her laugh at Sherlock’s name started them off, and soon they were talking about Sherlock’s dad, a federal judge, and Sherlock’s job as an FBI agent, as the line slowly snaked its way toward the TSA folk ensconced on their high stools, checking each ticket and ID.Sherlock noticed a tall man a couple people ahead of Melissa. He was standing stock-still, as if frozen in place. The man behind him had to nudge him, unheard of in an airport security line with everyone wanting to move forward quickly. He was dark-haired and on the thin side. What caught her eye was the fact that his lower face was bone white, as if he’d recently shaved off a full beard, perhaps that very morning. He looked calm, but she saw his hands were trembling as he pulled off his black loafers and placed them in a bin. Something was off. She watched him shrug off his coat and start on his belt. Then, without warning, he turned, shoved aside the two passengers behind him, and grabbed Melissa around the neck. He pulled something out of his briefcase—it was a grenade. He waved it around, all the while backing away, pulling Melissa with him. When people around them realized what was happening, there were screams and shouts, everyone focused on the grenade held high over his head now, a finger through the safety ring. He yelled, his voice shaking as badly as his hands, “That’s right, it’s a grenade!” He screamed at the TSA agents, who were now speaking into their walkie-talkies, several of them moving toward him. “Nobody move! Your X-ray isn’t much use now, is it? It doesn’t matter I’m not lily-white!” He pointed the grenade at a tall black TSA agent who was trying to flank him. “Or black! All of you—stay away or she dies, along with the rest of you.” He stopped moving when he felt a concrete pillar behind his back.A TSA agent called out, only a bit of a wobble in her voice, “Sir, put the grenade down and we can talk about what you want.”He laughed. “Really? I know how you idiots operate. Even without this grenade, you’d probably have taken me to one of your little rooms and ordered me to strip down, treated me like a criminal—that’s because you target men who look Middle Eastern, and that’s profiling and it’s against the law.” His voice was near a scream now. Sherlock heard a French accent overlying the British clip, with a trace of Farsi or Arabic. “Because I’m dark and wear a beard?” Had he forgotten he’d shaved it off? “Don’t come any closer or we all die right now!” He tightened his hold around Melissa’s neck. Her hands were pulling at his arm, her face turning blue.The TSA agents were slowly flanking him as he talked. Sherlock knew airport security would arrive at any second, all of them trained to deal with such a threat, but it didn’t matter. They weren’t here yet. She was on the spot, a few feet away from him, looking right into his eyes. His arm was still around Melissa’s neck, his finger still hooked around the grenade’s ring. One pull and a whole lot of people would die, herself included. Her heart kettledrummed in her chest; the spit dried in her mouth. There was an instant of dead silence, only the sound of his hard, fast breathing. She called out, her voice calm and easy, “Sir, what do you want?”He locked on Sherlock’s face, tightened his death grip on Melissa, and held the grenade toward her. “Who told you to talk, you stupid woman? Get back with the rest of the mutts and shut up!”“Sir, you obviously knew you couldn’t get a grenade through X-ray, so you planned it this way. Why? What do you want? What if they simply let you leave?” She wanted to see how tight his hold was on the grenade ring, but she forced herself to keep her eyes on his face.He screamed at her, “Shut up or you’ll be the first one dead! You agents, stop moving around, do you hear me? Any more of you take a step toward me, I’ll toss the grenade right in front of you!”The TSA agents stopped in their tracks, their eyes moving from him to Sherlock, and always back to the grenade he held in his shaking hand. The passengers stayed still as stones, as they’d been told, hardly breathing, watching, praying. Sherlock heard a distant cacophony of voices, either running away or swarming closer to see what was happening. Not good. Airport security was beginning to inch toward him. He juked this way and that, trying to keep an eye on the agents. His eyes narrowed, sweat beaded on his face. What had he planned to do? Sherlock felt rage and fear rolling off him. Yet he hadn’t pulled the pin. Why? Was he having second thoughts, or was he waiting to make some kind of statement? She saw it clearly on his face, he was struggling with himself, trying to rev himself up to kill as many people around him as possible, Melissa included. That was certainly what he’d planned when he’d taken off his shoes and set them in the bin. They didn’t matter then because he knew he was going to die.She looked at Melissa’s face, at her eyes. She was terrified, but she was there, ready to do something if she could. Sherlock said to her, “What’s your name?”He was distracted and automatically loosened his hold. Melissa sucked in air. “Melissa Harkness.”He was looking at Sherlock now, focused on her. Good. “And what’s your name, sir?”“None of your business!” He raised the grenade higher, ran his tongue over his lips, and tightened his hold on Melissa’s neck again.“Why don’t you let Melissa go? She didn’t do anything to you. Maybe I can call your wife, you can speak to her and to your children.”“What are you talking about? You know nothing about my blessed wife. For you to even speak of her is an abomination.” He kept swinging the grenade around to force airport security guards and TSA agents back.Melissa was beginning to choke again, her fingers pulling against his arm.Sherlock spoke quickly now. “Does your wife expect you to die today and kill dozens of innocent people along with you? Does your wife even know what you’re doing? Where is she now?” She saw the security team moving even closer and she smelled fear, a raw corrosive in the air, from everyone around her, especially from him. He was as frightened as Melissa. She had to stop this now.“I told you not to speak of her. I’m a British citizen, not some poor sod from Pakistan or Iran you can manipulate.” He laughed, a scary laugh that was filled with derision and something buried deep, something that made him what he was, and something deeper, a kind of desperate bravado. He was trying to convince himself to accept his own death. “I’m from London—that decadent city they call Londonistan. We will fight until we control the whole world, in the name of Allah.”What idiot taught you that? It sounded like he’d practiced saying it, exactly that way. Why? “Despite what you said, I don’t think you want to die. If you throw the grenade, that is what will happen. You’ll die and you’ll never see your family again. Do you want to be nothing at all in the flash of a second?”Sweat bathed his face, and his hands trembled so badly Sherlock wondered how he could keep hold of the grenade ring. He bared his teeth at her. “You shut your mouth.”Sherlock smiled. “You throw the grenade and so many bullets will hit you from airport security, your body won’t be able to hold itself together. Your wife won’t be able to recognize you because your face will be blown off. Maybe she’ll recognize your sock, the one with the hole in it.”He glanced down automatically at his foot and Sherlock ran at him. “Melissa, drop!”Brave Melissa threw all her weight forward, pulling the terrorist with her. He struggled with her, off balance, and his finger slipped free of the grenade safety ring. Sherlock took two fast steps, reared back on the heel of her foot and kicked his right wrist, heard the bone crack. He screamed and dropped the grenade. Everyone froze, watched the grenade hit the floor with a loud thump and begin to roll. There was mayhem—yelling and people running to get as far away from the grenade as possible, pushing others out of their way, some of them falling to the floor, a stampede, and over it all security shouting, “Everyone get down! Get down!”The terrorist was holding on to his wrist, cursing her, but he didn’t come at her, he lunged for the grenade. Sherlock ran after him, kicked him hard in the kidney. He whooshed out a breath as he fell forward onto his hands and knees, hissing in pain as he crawled toward the grenade, now fetched up against a security counter. She prayed none of the security officers would lose it and shoot, since she was so close to him now.She yelled at him, “Don’t do it!”He twisted back to look at her, fear and desperation glazing his eyes, screamed curses, and dove for the grenade, his good arm outstretched. She kicked him in the head. He fell forward, sprawling away from the grenade, but still Sherlock saw his fingers reach out and pull the ring free of the grenade. Thankfully, the safety lever stayed attached, still in place, but for how long?Everyone remained frozen in place, terrified, all eyes on the grenade.One, two, three agonizingly slow seconds—nothing happened.She didn’t have handcuffs, so Sherlock planted her foot on the middle of his back and pressed down. “Listen to me, get hold of yourself. If you don’t move, the grenade might not explode and you might survive this.”The man was heaving for breath, murmuring over and over something she couldn’t understand. A prayer? To Allah? His eyes were tightly closed, one hand still pressed to his head where Sherlock had kicked him. He wasn’t moving now. His other hand lay palm up three inches from the grenade.He was weeping. He said in a whisper, “You’ve ruined it all. Now they’ll die because of you.” She leaned close, heard him whisper over and over, “Bella, Bella.” A woman’s name, his wife’s name?“Who’s Bella?”He didn’t even see her, didn’t see anything beyond himself and what had happened.She heard the loud buzz of voices all around her, but she ignored them. She looked up to see a man striding toward her, airport security officers flanking him, guns drawn. She’d recognize a Big Dog anywhere. He had to be the chief of security here at JFK, ex-military, tall, built, straight as an oak, with white buzz-cut hair. He yelled to all the huddled passengers, “Do not panic. TSA agents will escort you away from here right now. Slowly, that’s right. Clear the area!”As Sherlock lifted her foot and stepped away from the man, a half-dozen security agents covered him, picked him up, and dragged him away.Big Dog shouted, “Okay, Security, back behind that concrete column!” and he led them all briskly away from the grenade, pulling Sherlock with him.A mustachioed man trotted up. “Pritchett, bomb squad—it’s a grenade? Was the ring pulled?”Sherlock said, “Yes, about four minutes ago. The safety lever’s still in place.”“I see it. What a stroke of luck. It could also be defective, but let’s not take any chances. Chief Alport, move your crew back another dozen feet.”Pritchett said into his portable radio, “Grenade, ring pulled four minutes ago, safety lever still hanging on, could be defective. Let’s not take any chances. No frag bag, bring in the PTCV.”Sherlock said, “PTCV?”“Portable Total Containment Vessel.”Sherlock watched along with everyone else as a few minutes later two members of the bomb squad, looking like green space aliens in their heavy protective suits, walked clumsily to the grenade. One of the men was pushing a large white cylinder on wheels, maybe four feet high, nearly four feet wide, with an opening in the center front.They studied the grenade, then, after instructions from Pritchett, gently lifted it with long-handled prongs and eased it inside the vessel. They closed the opening, rotated the cylinder. There was a huge collective sigh of relief.Pritchett said to Big Dog, “You took a big chance getting that close, Chief. I’d say an extra Mass is in order.”Sherlock and the chief watched Pritchett follow the two suited men wheeling the containment vessel toward an emergency exit. The security people gave them wide berth. Twenty feet short of the doors, there was a loud muffled bang. The containment vessel box shook, but it held.No one moved for a second. Then Pritchett yelled, “Guess the safety lever fell off, or the grenade wasn’t defective after all. Talk about a bit of pucker action. You can bet that’s going to make the news.”The chief let out a big sigh and crossed himself.Sherlock saw he was still stiff as a board, the muscles in his arms and back knotted with tension, but now he was smiling at her. Sherlock turned to him. “It’s a pleasure to see a Big Dog in action.”“Big Dog?”She lightly laid her hand on his forearm. “Yeah, I’d recognize you guys anywhere. My husband’s a Big Dog—you’re a rare breed. But I gotta say that was way too close.” She stuck out her hand. “FBI Special Agent Sherlock.”He shook her hand. “Guy Alport, chief of security in this nerve-fragging zoo. A pleasure to meet you. My people were telling me about this crazy woman who faced him down, got right into his face, and kicked the crap out of him.”Crazy, that was about right, but Sherlock only smiled and turned away when his people crowded around him. She prayed she’d never be tested like that again. She went looking for Melissa Harkness and found her outside the doors, surrounded by security, airport employees, and passengers. Behind her, she heard an alarm sound, then the loudspeaker: “Everyone will leave the terminal by the nearest exit. The terminal is closed until further notice.”What had she expected? She wondered when she’d get home. Probably in the next millennium. The security people saw her, let her through. She lightly touched Melissa’s shoulder. “You did great, Melissa. You brought him down, saved the day.”Melissa Harkness grabbed Sherlock and hugged her close. “Thank you so much. Even my ex-husband thanks you.” As she hugged Sherlock close again, fiercely, she whispered in her ear, “The jerk might even send you flowers. I’m his golden goose, after all.” Then she grinned. “I don’t think I’m going to go on that low-carb diet yet. My weight came in handy today.”“Don’t you change a thing, you’re perfect.” Sherlock drew in a deep breath. “We all survived.” She turned when a black-suited agent called out to her. She said to Melissa, “Sorry, no bath for either of us for a while. Now the fun starts.”FBI agents from the New York Field Office took the terrorist from the TSA guards and airport security while Homeland Security agents and NYPD officers weeded out gawkers from witnesses and herded them to several conference rooms. It was an alphabet soup of agencies, all wanting to take charge. Sherlock knew that the FBI—namely, the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force—would take the lead, because the resident FBI agent at JFK would have called them right away. She also realized the adrenaline rush was bottoming out, also knew this was long from over. She and Big Dog were separated, each taken to a room to be interviewed. The last she saw of Melissa, she was in the middle of a knot of agents.Sherlock was escorted to a small security room filled with TV monitors and computers and seated at a battered rectangular table. She was handed a cup of coffee and introduced to two FBI agents. They turned on recording equipment and started right in, going over and over what had happened, why she was in New York, what exactly the terrorist had said to her, his affect, his accent, his tone of voice, what she believed his intentions had been, and on and on it went. Sean would earn his college degree before she was finished answering questions. She heard agents talking about the airport reopening again soon, after security was certain there were no threats in the offing. Wouldn’t that be a nice surprise? She no longer wanted to flop her head onto the table and take a snooze. It was a remote possibility she’d even get home before midnight, if only someone would pull the plug on all the questions. The door opened and she was instantly aware of the eerie quiet in the terminal. There were no passengers hurrying to their gates, nothing at all.A woman came in and marched directly over to Sherlock. “I hear you’re FBI.”“Yes, Special Agent Sherlock.” She held out her creds.The woman studied her creds, handed them back, and stood over her, arms crossed over her chest. She was about Sherlock’s age, with straight dark hair to her shoulders, a milk-white face, a body honed to muscle and bone, and no humor at all in her dark eyes. She looked severe and tough as nails in a black suit, white shirt, and low black pumps, but when she spoke, her voice was quite lovely, lilting, with a hint of Italian music. “That name, you’ve got to be kidding me.”Sherlock had to laugh. “My dad’s a federal judge; it suits him even better. Criminals and defense lawyers do a double take.”“I’m Supervisory Special Agent Kelly Giusti, New York FBI. Why didn’t you keep out of the way and let the agents do their job? They’re all very well trained for exactly this sort of thing.”Sherlock gave her a sunny smile. “I was right there when he grabbed Melissa. No choice.”“What you did was stupid.”“You’re sure right about that. Put a big question mark in my day, that’s for sure. Tell me, Agent Giusti, what would you have done in my place?”Giusti stared at her. Was that a crack in that severe mouth, a meager smile trying to burst through? “I guess I’d have been as stupid as you.” They shook hands. “I heard most of your interview on my way over. Do you think he was going to try to get through security with the grenade? To blow a plane out of the sky?”Sherlock said, “It seems like a pretty stupid thing to attempt. I know, I know, knives and guns still could get through, but it’d be unusual.”“Maybe you’re underestimating your fellow humans’ capacity for stupidity. You forget that numbskull Brit who tried to get the bomb in his shoe to go off?”Sherlock laughed. “And thanks to him everyone walks barefoot through security now. The thing is, our guy didn’t even try to go through X-ray, even though it looked like he was going to. I mean, he’d taken his shoes off and put them in the bin. No, he pushed two passengers out of the way, grabbed Melissa, pulled out the grenade, and started yelling. I’m thinking that was his plan all along. He said to me that I’d ruined it all, and that means to me that something else may be going on here, somewhere else.”“All right, let’s say this drama was a smoke screen for something else. Chief Alport immediately began checking throughout the terminals. As of three minutes ago, nothing hinky was reported anywhere else at JFK, which is why they’re going to reopen soon.“It’s possible there’s nothing complex at all here. It’s possible he’s a lone wolf who came here to blow up at the security station, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it before you disarmed him.”“He also said a woman’s name—Bella. His wife?”“You mean a final good-bye?”“Maybe.”Giusti opened her mini-tablet. “The passport he had with his boarding pass identified him as Nasim Arak Conklin, thirty-six, address in Notting Hill, London, not one of the popular Muslim neighborhoods, like Newham, for example. I wonder why he was living there.“We don’t know anything more yet. I’m betting the passport isn’t forged. There’d be no need for it, not if he or his handlers set him up to do exactly what he almost did—blow himself up along with as many passengers as he could take with him. We’ll know soon enough; his fingerprints are being run through the system now. He hasn’t said a word yet. Evidently he did all his talking to you.” She rose. “The name Bella—I wonder if it might start him talking again. But it’s no concern of yours. The upside of what you did is that no one got hurt, and we nabbed ourselves a suicide bomber.”“And the downside?” Sherlock asked.“Once the terminal opens again and you leave the protection of this room, the media is going to eat you alive. When Chief Alport was outside the terminal, the media swarmed all over him. He was going down for the third time when he threw you under the bus.”Sherlock closed her eyes for a moment. “It isn’t going to be fun, is it?”“How fast can you run?”Sherlock laughed. “I should call my husband before he hears about this and strokes out.”Giusti’s cell buzzed. “Giusti here.” A short pause, then, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” And she was off and running.ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRALNEW YORK CITYWednesday afternoonMaddix Foley, vice president of the United States, took a quick look at his watch, then resumed his vigil, his eyes on the white rose–covered casket on its gurney in front of the beautiful altar three rows in front of him. Inside that lovely ornamental box lay the remains of New York’s senior senator, Cardison Greiman, a longtime party force who’d ruled the Senate with a personality like a nail-studded hammer until his face had hit his desktop in his own Senate chamber five days earlier, right after he’d lost the vote for a bill the president particularly wanted passed, and he was dead from a heart attack. A pity about the bill, but then again, it was likely Card’s successor would pick up his hammer and doubtless use it handily. Foley had liked the old buzzard, who’d claimed in drunker moments that he could show the lead in the TV series House of Cards a thing or two. Foley thought that could be true.There was organ music—Bach, Foley realized—overlaying the low conversation of nearly eight hundred mourners here to pay their final respects, punctuated by an occasional sob from Mrs. Greiman, who’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s two weeks before, which had shaken Card Greiman to his core. In Foley’s opinion, it was the realization of losing his wife after more than fifty-plus years that had brought on Card’s heart attack. Now it was Eleanor Greiman who was left to grieve him instead. Foley wondered if it wouldn’t have been more merciful if she’d been further gone so she wouldn’t now have to know the soul-wrenching grief.Foley sighed, looked again at his watch. It was after five o’clock and the funeral mass should have begun five minutes ago. Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan would be leading in the priests and altar boys and deacons, ritual incense filling the air from their swinging thuribles, and Card’s final send-off would begin. Foley saw one of his Secret Service agents speak into the unit on his wrist. He must have spotted Cardinal Dolan, which meant they were about ready to get Cardison Grieman’s last big show on the road. He turned in his seat and looked down the long nave toward the narthex.In the narthex, altar boy Romeo Rodriguez was swallowing hard, praying he wouldn’t throw up, not with His Eminence Cardinal Dolan six feet away from him, looking resplendent in his vivid red cassock. The Cathedral’s rector, Monsignor Ritchie, was at his side, Father Joseph Reilly behind him. Romeo realized Father Joseph was looking at him, and he looked worried. Romeo had the horrible feeling he looked as bad as he felt and he was going to hurl after all. He swallowed again and tried to distract himself, saying a Hail Mary, concentrating with all his might. He’d been a full-fledged altar boy for only seven months now, and it was Father Joseph who had recommended that he be a part of the service today. It was a great honor, his father had told him over and over, and his mother had kissed him and told him how proud she was that he would be carrying out his duties at this great man’s funeral. But now his stomach twisted and cramped and he knew he couldn’t hold it any longer. He was going to throw up.Now.Romeo ran to a small closet few people ever opened, next to the closed gift shop annex. He barely made it inside before he fell to his knees and heaved beside boxes of gift shop supplies. He felt a hand on his shoulder, steadying him. It was Father Joseph, and his deep, soothing voice told him it would be all right, he didn’t have to go in with them, all he had to do was breathe lightly and relax. Romeo dry-retched, sat back, and held himself perfectly still. He felt like his stomach was hollowed out. Then he saw a large backpack stuffed into a corner of the closet. “Why is that here, Father?”“What? Oh, the backpack. Some parishioner must have put it here, probably forgot it. Romeo, I have to leave you soon, the service is beginning—”Romeo pulled the backpack toward him and opened it.Both the boy and the priest stared down at it in horror.Father Joseph Reilly had been a medic in the first Gulf War, gone through two tours of duty before all the death and savagery he’d seen there had turned him back to his true calling. He knew instantly what he was looking at in that backpack, grabbed Romeo, dashed out of the closet, and yelled to the Secret Service agent who stood by the huge bronze doors. “Bomb, I’ve found a bomb with a timer, to go off in twelve minutes!”The Secret Service agent verified it was a bomb, then went into action. Vice President Foley reeled with the information, then got himself together. Before his Secret Service agents could hustle him out, he dashed to the ambo with its microphone and spoke out loud and clear to the eight hundred people who stared around, alarm on their faces. In a deep, calm voice, he told them to evacuate the cathedral immediately and get as far away as possible.There was no stampede, only a sense of urgency, as lines formed and moved quickly at each of the exits. Foley thought he smelled fear in the air.People poured out through the huge bronze doors onto Fifth Avenue and out the back of the cathedral onto Madison Avenue. Police cruisers began to block off a two-block perimeter because there was no time to erect physical barriers. Police officers yelled and waved scores of shoppers, pedestrians, and onlookers away from the cathedral as mourners poured out the doors to join them. Still, it would take time to move the hundreds of bodies to safety, too much time.None knew this better than Vice President Foley. He’d insisted his Secret Service agents bring Mrs. Greiman with them, so an agent had simply picked up the old lady in his arms and carried her. Foley was now standing with her across Fifth Avenue at Rockefeller Center, surrounded by agents and three NYPD cops, well away from the cathedral.Foley prayed no one would be killed, prayed the bomb squad would get here in time to defuse the bomb before it caused massive destruction to one of the most revered religious landmarks in the world. Where was the bomb squad? New York City had the fastest bomb squad response time in the nation. Where were they? And shouldn’t there be more cops? Soon now it would be too late, and all the beautiful stained-glass windows inside St. Pat’s would be shattered, its incredible art destroyed. It seemed to Foley that everyone around him was thinking the same thing. An eerie silence fell as they stood and waited, Foley praying as hard as he had when he’d heard his son had been in an auto accident three months before. They all stared at St. Pat’s, at the final lines of mourners racing to safety. Was everyone out now? He stood stiff beside Mrs. Greiman, holding one of her gloved hands while her daughter held the other; she didn’t quite understand what was going on.Foley couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He stared, appalled to see Cardinal Dolan, Monsignor Ritchie, priests, and deacons wheeling out Senator Greiman’s coffin. Some of them carried objects from the altar, a monstrance and the tabernacle holding the Eucharist. The cardinal walked calmly alongside the gurney, helped lift it down the steps and into the street, pushing it faster now, to safety, the senator’s grandson and the police joining them. Foley had the insane urge to laugh. He knew how much Card would have enjoyed all that attention. He didn’t know it, but in his death, Card had become a symbol. Perhaps they were all symbols, and symbols counted.Where was the bomb squad? Not that it mattered, because there was no time left, Foley thought, no more time.Father Joseph knew time was fast running out. He’d heard a Secret Service agent tell another that the New York bomb squad and upward of one hundred cops were at JFK because of a terrorist incident, and they weren’t going to make it back in time. A second bomb squad wasn’t going to make it, either. Was there enough explosive to gut the cathedral? Bring down the scores of concrete pillars?Father Joseph and everyone else were wondering the same thing, but he knew the cathedral better than they did. He imagined the terrorist bomb tearing through the sanctuary and the Baptistry, and all the chapels that would be destroyed. At least there would be no loss of life in God’s house today.Father Joseph slipped across the street and inside a doorway. He looked beyond the Altar of Saint Elizabeth to the Lady Chapel, and he knew he wasn’t going to let this happen. He couldn’t. He ignored the two cops who were yelling at him from the street to move back out of the cathedral, and he ran toward the closet. He grabbed the backpack and ran, flinging open one of the side front doors onto Fifth Avenue. As he ran out, a cop yelled at him but didn’t try to stop him. He started running beside him.Oddly, only the senator’s big black hearse remained at the curb; everything and everyone else were well away. Thank you, God. There was a blur of sounds around him, thousands of horns blaring from distant drivers who had no clue what was happening, people shouting, police yelling at him, screaming at him to drop the damned backpack and run, but he didn’t. He hurled the backpack as far as he could onto Fifth Avenue.The bomb exploded in midair just beyond the hearse, the concussion from the blast so powerful it hurled Father Joseph and the policeman next to him back toward the bronze cathedral doors. Even as he struck his head, Father Joseph saw one of the hearse doors fly through the air and land against the sidewalk, not a dozen feet away. The force of the explosion was so tremendous that shards of metal—were they nails? Bolts?—were spewed high into the air and were still falling on the street and on the police cruisers, some of them landing in the crowds behind them. There were shouts of surprise, of pain, people scrambling to move farther away. He looked down at himself and over at the policeman next to him to see how badly he was injured. The police officer was propped up on his elbows beside him, shaking his head, staring at the mayhem around them, and then their eyes met. “Are you all right, Father?”Father Joseph nodded even though he knew shards of metal had torn through his cassock and into his body, but it didn’t matter. They’d both survived. “And you?”“Yes. You’ve a brave man, Father.”“So are you.” They smiled at each other. Father Joseph saw the cop was an older man, maybe close to fifty, his face scored with years of life. He took one of the officer’s hands in his. Together they watched.Foley heard ambulances, sirens blaring, saw scores of paramedics making their way through the crowds, saw several of them on their knees beside Father Joseph and the cop who’d come running out of the cathedral with him. He saw a young altar boy in his white cape run to Father Joseph and fall to his knees beside him. He saw the priest speak to the boy, take his hands, squeeze them, saw the boy’s lips moving in frantic prayer. The agent beside Foley told him it was the young altar boy Romeo Rodriguez who’d alerted them to the bomb. He saw the paramedics didn’t try to send the boy away.The cathedral hadn’t suffered much damage at all, from what Foley saw, just some chips of concrete gouged from the huge front pillars. It was less important than the lives saved, but a huge relief nonetheless. The hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the restoration of one of New York’s greatest icons hadn’t been wasted. Father Joseph Reilly had saved St. Pat’s and the little boy had saved eight hundred people, himself included. Foley would be sure the President thanked both of them personally. He called the President to update him as he was hustled to a limousine on Sixth Avenue.Time passed, only slowly now that the danger was over, and Foley thought, wasn’t that odd?•   •   •KELLY GIUSTI PUSHED her way through the crowd. Only forty-three minutes had passed since the terrorist attack at JFK and now the bomb at St. Pat’s. She knew from the information that had come through her earbud so far, there had been injuries, but nothing fatal. Giusti wondered if there was such a thing as a miracle. Then she felt a wash of rage so great she couldn’t catch her breath. So many people could have been killed, the incredible interior of the cathedral damaged, and dozens more killed at JFK. Giusti wasn’t Catholic, but that didn’t matter. She raised her eyes heavenward and thanked God for Father Joseph Reilly and Romeo Rodriguez and the FBI agent at JFK. She had Nasim Arak Conklin under wraps. She was going to wring him out. He had to know about both attacks; they were two halves of the whole. He had to know who had planned them.RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDINGWASHINGTON, D.C.Wednesday, earlier in the dayOutside the third-floor office of Virginia congressman Burt Hildegard, George “Sparky” Carroll, a handsome young man dressed in his best suit, white shirt, and red tie, was wearing a face-splitting smile so wide his molars were on display. He was so pleased, he looked ready to dance, not that anyone would notice. The endless long hall before him seemed to go on forever, and was jammed with staffers, lobbyists, secretaries, visitors, and committee members pouring in and out of doors to add to the traffic, everyone on a mission. Mission. He liked the sound of that. Mr. George Carroll to Houston, I’ve completed my mission, ready for liftoff.Sparky jostled against two big men who looked like bodyguards, hastily begged their pardon, and allowed himself a single small skip. But he could whistle, and as he wove his way through scores of people back down that endless institutional hallway toward an exit somewhere and a grumpy security guard, he did whistle, nice and loud, an old tune he knew, “I’ve Got the World on a String.”No one paid him any mind. Everyone was hurrying somewhere, jostling one another, carried along by the sound of low conversations.Thanks to Sparky’s intense study of his granny’s prized copy of The Power of Positive Thinking, he’d pumped himself up, made his presentation, and, glory be, Congressman Hildegard had signed on the dotted line. A contract for two years to cater all the congressman’s home district functions, a minimum of three dozen. He could hear his granddad’s old cash register cha-ching in his head.Best of all, was he ever going to get laid tonight. He knew Tammy was probably carrying around her cell, waiting for his call. He’d buy her flowers, maybe lift a bottle of champagne from the storage room. Tammy had always believed in him, long before they’d gotten married four months before, a month before he’d inherited his father’s catering company, Eat Well and Prosper. He loved the name because his dad had raised him on Star Trek. His dad’s lasagna, now his lasagna, had made Eat Well and Prosper famous. Congressman Hildegard had even mentioned how much he’d loved Milt’s lasagna and his signature garlic toast, now Sparky’s lasagna and his signature garlic toast.He was still whistling when he reached for his cell phone to call Tammy. He punched in her number, heard the beginning of the first ring, then her excited voice, “Sparky! What happened? Did the congressman sign our contract? Sparky, talk to me, tell me everything.”He was grinning wildly into the cell as her words tumbled over one another, but before he could speak, a man ran right into him, shoving people out of the way, and pressed him back against the wall. Sparky felt a hit of cold as something sharp sank into his chest. It was more odd than painful, the feeling of his flesh splitting open, and then agony ripped through him, unspeakable, and he knew, he knew, he was dying. Sparky dropped his cell phone and began to slide down the wall. Vaguely he heard Tammy yelling his name. She sounded scared and he hated that. He heard people screaming around him. Then he didn’t hear anything at all.GEORGETOWNLate Wednesday afternoonSavich heard about the terrorist incident at JFK a minute after it happened. He was in the Porsche, driving from Langley back to Georgetown after a meeting with some brass who wanted the FBI to pull their butts out of a bind. He liked to be owed favors, particularly by the CIA, and had complied.He had only a minute to think about calling Sherlock, knowing she could have been in that security line at JFK, when his cell sang out Billy Ray Cyrus’s “Achy Breaky Heart.”“She’s all right,” Ollie Hamish said immediately, his voice hyper-excited, “she’s okay, asked me to call you because she had to shut her cell down. Go home and watch the news. You won’t believe this, Savich,” and Ollie rang off before Savich could ask him what he wouldn’t believe.Savich felt fear for her swallow him. No, Ollie said she was okay. What had happened? He speed-dialed Sherlock, got voice mail.He heard about the explosion at St. Patrick’s Cathedral as he pulled into his driveway. It was like the newspeople didn’t know which one to talk about first, both were so horrific. They had few specifics except that no one, miraculously, had been seriously injured, either at JFK or at St. Patrick’s.When Savich ran through his front door, he heard the TV and slowed. He didn’t want Sean to see him scared out of his mind. But Sean wasn’t around, only Gabriella, and she was glued to the TV.She said, never looking away from the screen, “All the news stations are going back and forth with video from both JFK and Saint Pat’s. Nearly everyone there took a video with their phone, plus all the security tapes of both attacks. There’s even footage shot from Rockefeller Center looking down on Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, all the people hurrying out, the priest throwing the bomb, all the mayhem after the bomb exploded.” Gabriella looked up, saw he was pale as death. “No, no, Sherlock’s okay, Dillon. Don’t worry. Sean’s playing football with Marty at her house. I didn’t want him to get scared watching this.” She gave him a manic grin. “Wait till you see her—Sherlock’s a hero. They’re showing her picture. You won’t believe what she did.” She flipped the channel and the two of them watched a priest throwing a backpack, saw it explode in midair, saw the priest and a cop hurled back with the power of the blast, and then the station switched over to JFK and he saw a picture of his wife.He was shaking as he listened, couldn’t help it, until his cell phone blasted Billy Ray Cyrus again. It was Sherlock. “Dillon, I’m okay, I promise. I was with the FBI agent when she got a call about a bomb at Saint Pat’s and she took off. The airport will reopen, when, I’m not sure, but I’ll call you when I’m ready to get on a plane home. I’ve got to go, Dillon. My cell will be on voice mail. Text me if you need to reach me.” And she punched off.He closed his eyes against the enormity of what could have happened. She’s all right. He turned back to the TV when the anchor began talking about her again. He saw her in real time being escorted out of a conference room, walking, talking, unhurt. Dozens of media microphones surrounded her as she walked out of the terminal; they yelled out questions, asking how she felt, what had happened in there, what she’d said to the terrorist, what he’d said to her, although they had to know already, calling her a heroine, but she only shook her head and kept walking. Then she paused, faced all of them, and said, “Everyone did their jobs today and thankfully no one was seriously hurt. That’s all I’m free to say now. There’s an ongoing investigation, and an FBI spokesperson will answer all your questions when they can.”The media stayed with her, nearly on top of her, shoving their mikes in her face. Three men in dark suits, obviously FBI agents, finally pushed them away and escorted Sherlock to a waiting Crown Vic, past all the media, the cameras, and the gawking passengers who were huddled outside the terminal. Through it all, she stayed expressionless, except when a reporter yelled out if she believed the bomb at St. Patrick’s Cathedral was connected to the grenade attack here at JFK. Her face went pale. Her expressive eyes went from stark to emotionless as she closed it down and said nothing, kept moving. As he watched the whole incident at the airport on a cell-phone video a passenger had posted, he felt a gamut of emotions, staring with rage at what he saw happening, to roiling fear when Sherlock engaged the terrorist, and he actually heard what she said to him, then relief so profound he shook with it. And pride, he could have burst with pride. It was over and she’d survived.He watched the Crown Vic pull away. Where were they taking her?Every TV station was going back and forth from JFK to St. Pat’s, newspeople on scene, so excited to be at ground zero, they were nearly stuttering. They had huge news stories to tell right on top of each other. Naturally, they tied the two incidents together—it was a time-honored terrorist strategy, wasn’t it? To get the first responders out of the way of the prime target, St. Patrick’s Cathedral? If it hadn’t been for the bravery of Father Joseph Reilly, a former Gulf War vet turned priest—and on and on it went. He saw Romeo Rodriguez, the altar boy who’d found the bomb in barely enough time, a thin, white-faced little boy, maybe three, four years older than Sean, and cameras showed him close up beside the priest, his small hands clasping the priest’s.Homeland Security put every airport in the nation on high alert. But how would they protect the large historic cathedrals? There were so many to choose from, if a terrorist was bent on destroying prime symbols of Western culture and civilization. Savich took calls from Director Comey; his own boss, ADA Jimmy Maitland; and every member of the CAU; Sherlock’s parents in San Francisco; a few FBI agents in New York, Nicholas Drummond among them; and the chief of security operations at JFK, Guy Alport. Savich had watched him being shotgunned with questions until he’d looked ready to bolt or shoot them all. Alport called to tell him Sherlock was scary good, that Savich was a lucky man to have that woman. He said he wanted to meet her husband, the guy she called a Big Dog. He laughed, then sobered immediately. “That priest at Saint Pat’s, I’d sure like to hire him, but God beat me to it.”Finally, Savich set his cell to vibrate, put the landline on automatic message, and fetched Sean from next door.When he finally heard from Sherlock at eleven o’clock that night that she was on her way home—hallelujah—he left Gabriella to watch Sean and left for Reagan National Airport, surprised her flight was only three hours late. At last he saw her walk past the luggage carousels, a bulging black FBI briefcase in one hand, a small black handbag in the other. Even from a distance he could see she was exhausted, running on fumes, but when she saw him, her face lit up. A few people recognized her, but she didn’t acknowledge them, kept her eyes straight ahead, never looking away from his face.When Savich finally got her into the Porsche, guarded by airport security in a no-parking zone, he revved the sweet engine and pulled away from the curb, relieved to see no reporters. He said nothing until he could exit the airport. He pulled her against him, held her tightly until she reared back in his arms. “I’m okay, you can see I’m okay. Do you know what, Dillon? They gave me a first-class seat on the flight home and three bottles of champagne. The flight attendants wrapped them in napkins so they wouldn’t break and I stuffed them in my briefcase. Do you know some people even asked for my autograph on the plane?”He laughed, told her she should take a bath in all that champagne.On the way home he told her about the calls from President Gilbert and Vice President Foley, and perhaps most important, the call from the CEO of Virgin America, offering Sherlock free lifetime first-class tickets to wherever she wanted to go. He wondered if the Pope would invite Romeo Rodriguez to the Vatican for a private reception, Father Joseph to accompany him, once he recovered from his injuries.He saw she was still wound tight, knew it would be good to get her mind off New York, and so he told her about the bizarre murder at the Rayburn House Office Building earlier that day. The victim was a young man who’d been stabbed through the heart with an Athame—pronounce that a-tha-may, he’d been told—a ritual knife used in witches’ ceremonies, quickly identified by the medical examiner as it had been conveniently left stuck in the victim’s chest, complete with his killer’s fingerprints. As for the man who’d stabbed him, he’d been brought down immediately by several people in the hallway and held for the police. Savich’s boss, Jimmy Maitland, had called Savich because the murderer claimed to have no memory of what had happened and because the ME said he’d never before seen an Athame used as a murder weapon.“Mr. Maitland said I shouldn’t be surprised he called me. I interviewed the guy, name’s Walter Givens, an auto mechanic from Plackett, Virginia. He’s unmarried, but has a serious girlfriend, likes beer and hanging out with his friends. He was terrified, no faking that, and he has absolutely no memory of killing anyone. He said he finally came to when a half-dozen people slammed him down on the floor. The young man he killed was George Carroll, the owner of a catering company called Eat Well and Prosper in Plackett, Virginia. He said he’d known Sparky—that was George Carroll’s nickname—since they were kids and his family had moved to Plackett. He liked him, sure, he liked him, everybody did, and he was a real good cook, especially for a guy. When I showed him the Athame, he claimed he’d never seen it before in his life. It looked weird to him, with those ugly dragon heads on the handle. He didn’t want to touch it. I’ll show you a photo—it’s called a Dual Dragon Athame, seven-inch blade, carved dragon heads with red ruby eyes.”“Did this Walter Givens really not remember? You’re sure about that?”“Yes, I’m positive. Frankly, he isn’t smart enough to fool anyone. Dr. Hicks agreed. He believes someone was strong enough to hypnotize him into committing murder, something Dr. Hicks had a difficult time believing. He wanted to hypnotize Walter, but Walter refused, he was too scared to let someone else fool with his brain.” He paused for a moment. “Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone as scared as Walter Givens was.”“Can’t say I blame Walter, not after what happened to him.”“But we have to know how it all came about. Maybe we can talk Walter into the hypnotism tomorrow. Do you know Dr. Hicks patted my hand, told me to figure out how to convince him?”“Both the victim and the murderer are from the same town? Plackett, Virginia?”“Yes. Plackett’s a small town about thirty minutes northeast of Richmond, two thousand souls or thereabouts.” He paused for a moment. “Both the murdered man, Sparky Carroll, and Walter Givens, his murderer, from the same town—it’s got to all tie in with this ritual witch’s knife, this Athame.”“So we have a pissed-off witch on our hands and Sparky Carroll somehow got on his bad side?”“Sounds like it.”“I saw an Athame once,” Sherlock said, her voice slurring, she was so tired. “I think it was medieval. It was pretty.”Pretty? That brutal knife with its ruby dragon eyes staring out had looked alien to him, and malevolent.Savich pulled the Porsche into the garage, turned in his seat, cupped her beloved face between his hands, leaned forward, and touched his nose to hers. “You scared the crap out of me. I love you.” He kissed her, and took her whispered “I love you, too, and I’m so happy to be here saying that to you,” and when her eyes closed, her mouth still smiling, he finally let go of his fear.•   •   •SAVICH LAY ON his back, staring at the dark ceiling, Sherlock’s head on his shoulder. She was boneless, and slightly drunk, with half a bottle of champagne in her bloodstream. Savich wished he’d drunk more champagne, maybe he’d be snoozing, too, but no, his brain was stone-cold sober.Bless her heart, she hadn’t had time to think about consequences, but Director Comey had. He’d assigned an assistant to handle all the media requests that would be flooding in to the Bureau. He’d also sent two agents to keep the media vans away from the Savich front yard and driveway. He’d laughed, suggested Savich and Sherlock might consider visiting Canada for a while, maybe take Romeo Rodriguez and Father Joseph with them.Maybe Banff, Savich thought, his exhausted brain finally beginning to fuzz over; he’d like to visit Banff in western Canada. Maybe swim with Sean in Lake Louise. Need a wet suit for that. Did they make wet suits small enough for Sean? Sure, they did.Savich’s last thought before he fell asleep was how it had been possible for someone to invade Walter Givens’s mind, convince him to murder Sparky Carroll, and then make him forget all of it. And why murder him in the middle of the hallway of the third floor of the Rayburn House Office Building with a witch’s ceremonial knife?REINEKE POST OFFICEREINEKE, VIRGINIAThursday, 5:15 a.m.Ellie Moran was a twenty-five-year veteran of the Reineke post office, a woman as stalwart and plain as the boxy red-brick building she worked in. It sat proudly in the middle of High Street, sandwiched between the sheriff’s office and Donut Heaven.Ellie knew everyone in town, and most of their secrets. She liked to think of herself as the hub of the Reineke gossip wheel. She might not be the postmaster, but she made the place run, and when the new postmaster showed in town the year before, he figured out what was good for him fast enough and fell into line.

Editorial Reviews

“Once again demonstrates her talent for writing a riveting story...The edge-of-your-seat opening ratchets into an action-packed tale of suspense that leads to an astonishing conclusion.”—Library Journal   “Will keep you thrilled from the onset to the very end.”—Fresh Fiction   “Another suspenseful and entertaining entry by a genre star.”—Booklist   “Immediately immerses the reader in heart-stopping suspense.”—Publishers Weekly