The first thing you’ll notice if you get a copy of my new release, DEFECTOR, is an author note. It reads: DEFECTOR is set in the 90’s, when the biggest enemy the US faced was a potential nuclear war with the Soviet Union. This particular story is about the machinations of vying factions to gain the loyalty and support of a US weapons designer, using any means possible.
For those who don’t know, I used to write thrillers and suspense stories that won minor awards. Occasionally there was a romantic element, but for the most part, these stories were focused on political tensions, and just straight out espionage gone wrong in some cases. And, most of these stories took place in the late 80s and early 90s, when the political situation was ripe for intrigues that would affect entire nations.
A few months ago, Midnight Frost Books, a new company in Western Canada, held a pitch session for their non-romance line. It got me thinking about those old stories, and how much fun they were to write. So, I pulled one out and had a look. The first one out of the folder was Defector, so I submitted the pitch, and they liked it. Enough to contract it once they’d read it. Edits went smooth, the cover is bloody wonderful, and to my great shock, 12 hours after it was released this week, it made the OmniLit/ARe best-seller shelf. As I write this, it is currently sitting at #25 overall in that category–and I am sitting here in absolute shock. But yes, I am also thrilled and smiling.
My editor on this project asked if there were more stories with the irritable and hard-assed Andrew Dahle, and yes, there are at least two others. Plus a slew of unconnected stories of this style. I may have to drag them out and revise them, I’m thinking. The whole departure from the steamy romances has been like a breath of fresh air for me, and I quite enjoyed this whole adventure into the writing past. In this book/short novella, there is one female–and she dies on page one or two, if memory serves...
So, if you’d like to, please leave me a comment with your thoughts on things, and whether or not you’d like to see more non-romance titles from my catalogue. Thanks for stopping by!! Here’s a look at Defector and where you can find your copy.
Andrew Dahle is a career spook, with no messy emotional ties to complicate his life. He’s worked with the best, and despite himself, he’s about to discover that he’s got friends he really didn’t know he wanted.
A straight-forward operation to grab a defector before he can leave the country with a top secret project goes wildly awry, and forces Andrew to choose between saving the life of a colleague’s son or nailing his target. To his great surprise, he saves the young man’s life, and wakes up in a hospital.
Grateful, Richard MacAvoy, a retired agent with his own elite contacts and players, steps in when Dahle is injured saving his son. Desperate to complete his mission, Andrew reluctantly accepts the help MacAvoy offers, and in the process just might learn that alone isn’t always the best way to work, and friends might be worth the vulnerability he’s always shunned.
“What have you managed to pull out of your files regarding Yasmine Akhtar’s recent activities?”
Control leaned back in his chair with a vaguely amused smile then beckoned Richard into his office. MacAvoy gave Miriam a broad smile and closed the door as he went inside.
“Michael’s not very happy about you involving yourself in the Firm’s business,” Control admonished, the smile still solidly in place.
Richard gave the reproach mock consideration, then shrugged expansively.
“Yes, I don’t suppose he’s overly eager for word to leak that he’s lost the ‘Phantom’ project.”
“Richard.” This time the disapproval was genuine.
“All right, Control. Tell me what your computers have turned up about Miss Akhtar.”
“She’s currently with the Bulgarian Secret Police,” Control told him, a genuine note of mild curiosity and surprise in the words.
Richard’s eyebrows rose, his expression echoing Control’s tone. “She’s from the Middle East, and after the last squabbles her family was involved in, she was left with only her father.”
“And where is he located nowadays?”
Control laughed with ironic humor. “You haven’t forgotten much, have you, Richard? He’s back in Libya.”
“Do you think the ‘Phantom’ might have been destined for Quaddafi’s arsenal?”
Control shrugged, his entire manner non-committal.
“There’s just no way of knowing until Hunter is located. I’m sure the Bulgarians have a vested interest in this now that one of their better agents has been eliminated. They probably have Dahle targeted already.”
MacAvoy felt a distinct jolt as he realized the truth in Control’s words. His expression must have registered his emotion as Control’s entire posture became alert and wary.
“Get someone over to the hospital,” Richard directed as he headed for the door.
“Richard!” Control’s shout fell into empty air, and he rose, grabbed his jacket and headed after MacAvoy.
* * *
Andrew felt the shadows releasing him, the sensation an abrupt, disturbing awareness that he knew he shouldn’t be experiencing. He trusted the instinctive alertness, though, and waited for the sound to give him a clear indication of where the danger was coming from. It only took a few minutes to locate the source, and Dahle’s eyes flew open just as the needle was being inserted into the I.V. tube that ran into his arm.
Andrew pulled the intravenous out as he forced his body into motion that it clearly objected to. The man hovering over his bed jumped back, his surprise giving Dahle his only chance to make a useful move.
Andrew threw himself off the bed and into the man next to it, taking them both down to the floor with a solid thud. He recovered quickly and landed a jarring blow to the man’s jaw. In the few seconds it took for the attacker to shake himself free of the pain, Dahle located the gun inside the other man’s coat. He pulled it free of the holster and pressed the barrel snugly between the man’s terrified eyes.
“Who sent you?” he demanded, the words little more than a rasp. He could feel the pulses of pain building with each breath, and he knew he’d probably torn apart whatever stitching the doctors had done earlier.
Dahle saw the refusal to answer before his assailant tried to offer him a response. He shifted his hold on the gun, then brought it down against the side of the man’s head, the action little more than a blur of smooth, practiced motion.
Andrew staggered to his feet and glanced around the room, suddenly expecting menace from every angle. He went to the locker and yanked his bloodstained clothes from the hangers. He dressed quickly, the gun within easy reach as he kept one eye on the door, then he slipped into position and waited. Instinct and experience told him there’d be more than one man sent for this kind of job. This one would have needed a lookout to warn him of possible interruptions by hospital staff.
He didn’t have to wait long for confirmation of his assessment. The door inched inward and Andrew banged the heavy metal panel back on the intruder, causing him to stumble. With a swiftness that stirred to life all the pain that he’d been fighting, Andrew reached for the wobbling figure and hauled him into the room. As the door swung shut on virtually silent hinges, Dahle slammed his captive against the wall and glared into the dazed features of the startled man.
He recovered a little more quickly than his partner and before Andrew could prevent it, he was struck soundly in the stomach. Gasping, Dahle almost passed out completely when the man’s fist came down hard on his injured shoulder, and he lost his grip on the gun he had been holding. He wheeled back and barely managed to dodge another punch aimed at his vulnerable shoulder. He spun on his heel, used the momentum, and landed a surprisingly solid kick to the second attacker’s midsection. He went down on his knees in front of Andrew and Dahle grabbed a handful of hair, then yanked back with all his strength. He heard the distinct crack of bones, then released the man to fall into a lifeless heap at his feet.
Glancing around him, Andrew knew the room would be crawling with people before too much longer. He needed to get out of the hospital, and quickly. Picking up the weapon he’d dropped minutes earlier, he ducked his head around the door. When he saw no one coming in the direction of his room, he slipped into the corridor and headed for the elevator.
He didn’t get to the end of the hall before he heard the sounds of commotion behind him. The bodies in his room must have been discovered a little more quickly than he was anticipating. He looked automatically toward the elevator and realized he wasn’t going to reach it, or the stairs, without being spotted. His entire body was alive with pain and he could feel the knots in his stomach twisting tighter as he fought down the agony-induced nausea. He stumbled into a wall as another wash of dizziness blurred his vision and threw off his balance. With an effort of sheer determination, Andrew reached for the door knob and almost fell into the room...