The Consignment by Grant SutherlandThe Consignment by Grant Sutherland

The Consignment

byGrant Sutherland

Mass Market Paperback | March 2, 2004

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With Diplomatic Immunity, Grant Sutherland exploded onto the literary scene as one of the most original new authors of international suspense. Now, in his new novel of conspiracy, conscience, and terrifying deception--a novel stretching from the upheaval of the Gulf War to the inner secrets of the current Pentagon--a desperate man struggles to survive a battle for the truth...a battle without any rules except one: win or die.

It wasn’t just a war we were fighting out there in the Gulf; the truth is we were joined in battle against the weapons of every major arms manufacturing country on earth--including our own.

Captain Ned Rourke of the U.S. Rangers always expected war to be hell, but he never imagined that his men would be cut down in the Gulf War with weapons created by his own country. Disillusioned, betrayed, and looking for justice, he’s determined to find those responsible and make them pay the price. But to do so, he’ll have to work undercover as a marketing manager for Haplon Systems, an arms trader skirting the decrees of international law. Forced to live a double life, Rourke knows he is risking something more important than justice: the trust of his wife and son. And when his friend Dimitri Spandos, a former West Point classmate now working for Haplon’s biggest competitor, is discovered shot to death at an arms fair, Rourke knows that he’s entered a world as dangerous as any battlefield. Haplon’s latest deal--to ship a massive quantity of arms to an unnamed African country--is clearly worth killing for, but can Rourke discover who’s really behind it before his marriage is destroyed...and he ends up with a bullet in the head?

The more Rourke learns, the closer he gets to a conspiracy reaching from the killing fields of West Africa to the upper echelons of the Pentagon, and a deadly cover-up that someone intended Dimitri Spandos to take to his grave. But Rourke is now fighting in a war where an ally can become an enemy in the blink of an eye, where no flags or uniforms mark sides--and where knowing the truth could be a sentence of death. If he and his family are going to survive, he’s going to have to throw away the rule book, put his principles aside, and prepare to get blood on his hands once again.

From the Hardcover edition.
Grant Sutherland was born in Sydney and grew up in rural western Australia. After studying at the United World College of Southeast Asia in Singapore and then at the London School of Economics, he returned to Australia and worked in the financial markets before embarking on a writing career. The author of three internationally publishe...
Title:The ConsignmentFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:416 pages, 6.9 × 4.5 × 0.9 inPublished:March 2, 2004Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:055358331X

ISBN - 13:9780553583311

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Read from the Book

PrologueChristmas that year we went up to the mountains, just Fiona and Brad and me. There were a few inches of snow on the ground when we arrived Christmas Eve, but the sky was clear, so after we'd unloaded the car Fiona and I took a walk together down by the river while Brad chopped some logs for the fire.We went down the track, stepping over fallen branches, the bare woods were quiet all around us, even the murmur of the river was muffled by the snow. There were deer tracks beside the river, we waited awhile but the only creature we saw was a squirrel, it scurried along the leafless maple branches overhead, showering us with heavy white snowflakes. Fiona bent forward and shook her hair. I wrapped my arms around her waist, pretended to pitch her toward the icy river. She shrieked, then struggled, and we fell back on the soft white blanket. She laughed and scooped snow into my face. As I got to my knees, she shoved me and I went down again, and she ran, laughing, up through the woods.Fiona laughing. I can still remember that.Back at the shack, Brad already had the fire going, he was stretched out on the sofa, his head in a book. Fiona hung up her jacket, telling him he should get out while the weather was good.Weather's fine right here, Mom, he said.She rolled her eyes at me, then went to the kitchen to unpack the food and drink. Christmas Eve in the Rourke family. I didn't have the heart to bring it down. Christmas morning, we unwrapped our presents, then Fiona drove down to the store to make a call to her mother in Cleveland while Brad helped me with some minor repairs to the shack. Since starting college, Brad seemed to have spent every vacation on a field trip out of state, it had been a while since we'd shared any real time together. When he was a boy, he'd been proud that his father was a soldier. When he became an adolescent, my profession turned into something of an embarassment for him. That phase passed too, but nothing since had moved into its place, except, maybe, uncertainty. An unsureness of where to position me in the scale of adult relationships, at what point to fix me between hero and villain, friend and foe. So that Christmas morning the two of us crawled over the porch, hammering down loose nails, making small talk, and circling the possibility of some new connections between us that might replace the ones that, through the passage of time, we'd lost. When Fiona returned from the store, we set down our tools, with the real work not even begun.Maybe that had something to do with why, after lunch, I found myself setting out alone up the hill behind the shack, and, after twenty minutes, turning up the path toward the mountain pool that was sheltered by a ring of boulders. The pool where my father, one summer, taught me to swim. Now I scrambled around the snowcapped boulders and looked down at the iced surface, surprised at how small it seemed. I picked up a rock and threw it, it bounced on the ice.My father had once been a soldier. He'd fought in France when he was Brad's age, then returned home and gone to college on the GI Bill, and after that he spent his working life in insurance. When I turned eighteen, and told him and Mom that I was going to enlist, he took me aside and confided to me that it was only meeting Mom that had stopped him from reenlisting after college. The Army, the way he spoke, seemed to be the life he'd missed out on, the one he thought maybe he should have had. Their support for me never wavered. Through my cadetship at West Point, my first commission in the Rangers, then the Gulf War, and on through my hospitalization after Mogadishu, they stood by me. For Fiona it wasn't so easy.When we married, I promised Fiona I would leave the Army sometime around my thirtieth birthday. I told her that by then I would have fulfilled my youthful ambitions, I would have served my country and experienced life as a soldier, yet still be young enough to launch myself into a civilian career. I told her I was not an Army lifer.I was, it turned out, plain wrong. By the time I went out to serve in the Gulf War, I knew in my heart that I didn't want any kind of civilian career. The life I wanted was the life I already had. But when I returned from the Gulf I found that Fiona had other plans. She wanted to talk about the future. From the wives' circuit, she'd learned that a number of my fellow officers were resigning their commissions. She gave me their names. I attempted to sidestep the issue. She reminded me of the promise I'd made when we first married. I told her that my feelings had changed. We argued, and in the heat of one exchange she revealed that she'd been seeing a shrink ever since my departure for the Gulf. She said she simply couldn't cope with the idea that I might be killed.The awful truth was apparent to both of us. Over the years of our marriage we'd each made discoveries about ourselves: me, that I was born to be a soldier; Fiona, that she was not born to be a soldier's wife. But when I stayed in the Army, she stuck with me. We still loved one another. If Mogadishu hadn't occurred, we might have been okay.But in Mogadishu I took a gutshot during a firefight in the backstreets of the city, I was flown home and hospitalized. It was while I was convalescing in the military hospital after surgery that Fiona laid it on the line to me. She wasn't going through that again. Never again was she going to sit glued to CNN, watching Apache helicopters firing missiles, and wondering whether her husband was dead or alive. Never again was she going to be taking handfuls of pills just to get her through the day. Never again was she going to be breaking down in tears during a regular evening session with her shrink. She wasn't mad at me, it was simpler than that. She just couldn't take it anymore. I could either accept the instructorship at West Point she knew I'd been offered, or she wanted a trial separation. If I went on active service again, she would divorce me.When I came out of the hospital and told her I'd taken the West Point job, she was so happy she cried. I was okay with it too, at first. It was only as the years passed, and the graduation ceremonies started to blur, that it started to eat at me.It wasn't just that I got jaded. Guys I'd served with in the Rangers had moved on with their careers, some in the Regiment, others to the Pentagon, and a few, even, to Delta Force. They were out in the world doing things I might have done, while I carried on the same old routine, drilling the latest intake of cadets on the West Point range. I got to feeling that I'd repeated my father's mistake, that I'd inadvertently sidelined myself from my own life. Without telling Fiona, I started applying for other postings. But everywhere I applied, I found I was joining the end of a very long line. The military was downsizing, the scramble for permanent positions was on in earnest, making a vacancy for a West Point instructor wasn't high on anyone's list of priorities. I knocked on every door. I proposed myself for any kind of deployment. I was turned down everywhere. I felt beached, stranded midlife and midcareer. On my thirty-ninth birthday, I gave myself another year. One more year, I promised myself, and if the Army couldn't find another place for me, I would see what the civilian world still had to offer.A month later the World Trade Center came down, the Pentagon was hit, and for me, like for so many others, everything changed.Looking down at the iced pool Christmas day, three and a half months later, I remembered my father and his lingering regret for the soldier's life he'd almost led. Now he rested alongside my mother in a California graveyard, while his own son's son, Brad, was already a man.I tossed another rock onto the pool, and the ice cracked, a hazy white web across the water. Then I scrambled back around the boulders and retraced my steps down the hill through the snow.I took my boots off on the porch, went inside and hung up my jacket. Brad was lying on the sofa, reading. Fiona was in the armchair by the fire, her legs tucked up beneath her, perusing a magazine. I got myself a whiskey, then I came out and stood near the fire and told them what I had to tell them. That I'd resigned my commission. That I'd taken a job in the civilian world, that I was embarking on a new career. They received the news, as I guessed they might, in stunned silence. The fire blazed high. The snow on the roof shifted. I swirled the whiskey in my glass and told them exactly what it was I was going to do. Brad gave it a moment, then he closed his book and got up and left the room. Fiona stared up at me like someone very close to us had died.From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

"A strong, cunning writer...Sutherland's narrative engine is definitely a thing of beauty."--Publishers Weekly"Taut...Sutherland is very good on the intricacies of an arms deal and the horrors of a civil war."--The Washington Post "Sutherland again demonstrates his mastery of the mystery with a tale of murder, suspense and hope...[he] has crafted a compelling human story...with genuine emotional impact."--Winston-Salem Journal"An interesting and complex tale...Rambo in a le Carre novel."--Kirkus