by Ethan Jones
Double Agents is an explosive spy thriller from #1 Amazon's Bestselling Writer, Ethan Jones, and the fourth novel in his popular Justin Hall series. Also available: Arctic Wargame (read my blog post), Tripoli's Target, Fog of War (read my blog post), Justin Hall Series Collector's Edition #1, The Interrogation: A Justin Hall Short Story, and The Diplomat: A Justin Hall Novella, Rogue Agents, and Thrilling Thirteen (read my blog post; contains Arctic Wargame and The Diplomat as well as 11 other thrillers; ON SALE for only $0.99).
The CIA learns that a powerful Chechen terrorist group is plotting a major attack on US soil just as the same group assassinates Russia's Minister of Defense in Moscow. The CIA and the FSB, Russia's internal security service, deeply distrust each other, crippling any CIA efforts to unravel this plot.
Justin Hall and his partner, Carrie O'Conner - two of the Canadian Intelligence Service best operatives - are dispatched to Moscow to secure the FSB's intelligence, which will allow them to discover the plotters. But an FSB spy and a CIA double agent are dead set against this mission.
Justin and Carrie find themselves on the run on treacherous Moscow grounds and are forced to form a shifty alliance with rogue operatives. As loyalties change in the blink of an eye, Justin and Carrie hunt down Chechen militants in their stronghold in Dagestan, to uncover the truth, and to stop the terrorist attack in the US.
This cutting-edge thriller is the hottest page-turner of the winter. Fans of David Baldacci, Vince Flynn, and Brad Thor will love this tensely plotted novel.
The bonus content includes the first two chapters of The Diplomat, the newest adventure in the Justin Hall spy thriller series, which came out in February 2014.
November 22, 4:25 p.m.
November 22, 4:25 p.m.
The shooter looked through the scope of his sniper rifle and focused on the windows of the building across the street. He could see a group of men in suits around an oval table in a large conference room. From the flat roof, he had an excellent vantage point. It provided him an unobstructed view of the headquarters of Russia’s internal security and counterintelligence service, the FSB, in Lubyanka Square.
He lifted his rifle and moved it slowly to the left, as he leaned on the three-foot-high protective wall. The sniper team on the roof of the FSB building, Alpha One, came into his crosshairs view. He nodded slightly at them, then tapped his throat mike. “Alpha Two, we’ve got visual contact.”
“Copy that,” replied the sniper team. “Alpha One confirms the same.”
The shooter dropped his gaze down to the street. Cars crawled in the heavy traffic. People leaving their offices at the end of the workday walked briskly in the light rain. The precipitation had just begun, but the tiny, cold drops prickled the shooter’s face. The temperature was close to freezing, and the rain could turn to snow at any moment. At this hour, the metro stations around the square were full of commuters waiting for their trains.
Four black Mercedes-Benz sedans sat parked by the side exit of the FSB building’s right wing. Russia’s Minister of Defense was one of the men present at this long-planned, high-level meeting with senior security officials. The two sniper teams, along with two others—Alpha Three and Alpha Four, stationed on top of other buildings around Lubyanka Square—were part of the security detail in charge of the Minister’s security.
The shooter pulled the zipper of his scope cover to protect the eyepiece lens from raindrops. They had turned heavy and pounded the roof with a rhythmic, drumming thud. He lifted the hood of his raincoat over his cap, then looked at the man lying next to him. He was his team partner—the spotter—who helped him to set up and carry out a successful shot on target.
“Anything to report?” the shooter asked.
The spotter kept his eye on his scope, a much more powerful version than the shooter’s. He covered the rooftops of adjacent buildings.
“All good,” the spotter replied. “Nothing unusual.”
The shooter glanced at his wristwatch. Five minutes until the end of the meeting, if the meeting ended on time. Handshakes, goodbyes, and the time to get downstairs, perhaps another three, four minutes. The security team outside the conference room would notify them when the Minister was on the move and also before he exited the building. It was a seven- or eight-second walk from the side door to the bulletproof Mercedes-Benz.
The Minister would have no protection during those seven or eight seconds. A short time frame for someone to make an assassination attempt against him. A difficult, but not an impossible mission. That’s why the shooter, the spotter, and the other sniper teams were placed in their positions. They were to intercept any hostile sniper and neutralize all threats.
The shooter tried to relax. This mission was supposed to be easy. At least that’s what he was told. But he knew there was no such thing as an easy mission. The sniper teams had eyes everywhere and covered all directions. The security staff on the ground watched over the activity on the street. A visible police presence surrounded the area. But no one could offer a hundred percent guarantee on the life of the protectee. He was not untouchable, even if he thought so. Many people wanted him dead. Some of those people had the means to carry out their threats, means that reached everywhere.
The shooter took a deep breath and exhaled through his nose. He looked at the thin cloud of frost in front of his face and took another breath.
“There’s movement,” the spotter said. “The meeting’s over.”
The shooter focused back on the windows and peered through his scope. The Minister smiled and shook hands. A moment later, the Minister moved out of his sight.
“Target’s on the move. I repeat, target is on the move,” came over his earpiece.
It was Beta One, the security detail positioned outside the conference room.
“Copy that,” said Alpha One.
“Copy that,” said the shooter.
The other two sniper teams confirmed they had received the new intelligence.
“Two minutes to exit,” the same strong voice from Beta One informed them. “We’re on the move.”
The spotter slid his scope along the skyline and covered the nearest buildings to the FSB headquarters, their roofs, and their windows.
The shooter tightened his grip around the wet sniper rifle.
His true mission awaited him. It was time.
* * *
A large man stepped out of the second Mercedes-Benz and stood by its rear doors. One of the Minister’s bodyguards. The hard rain soaked him, yet he stood there stoically and waited to open the car door at the right time.
Another bodyguard stood ready with a large, black umbrella just outside the side door. Two uniformed police officers observed the area in front of the door, although it was within the cordoned-off parking lot. Another pair of plainclothes agents of the Ministry of Defense braved the rain outside their unmarked cars beyond the parking lot gate.
The shooter heard Beta One’s voice over his headset, “Sixty seconds.”
“Copy that,” he said.
He looked at the spotter, as he turned off his mike and his earpiece. The spotter was focused on his observation. The shooter tapped his partner on the shoulder as he moved slightly behind him. When the man turned his head, the shooter grabbed it with both hands. He slid his right arm under the spotter’s head, ripped the spotter’s throat mike from his neck, and put the man into a sleeper hold, as he lowered him behind the wall.
The spotter fought back, but the shooter kept his tight grip around the man’s neck. His fingers dug deep into the spotter’s skin. He pushed the spotter down, climbed on top of him, and rested all his body weight on the man’s back. The spotter tried to unlock the shooter’s strong fingers. The shooter increased the pressure on the spotter’s neck and throat. The man was slowly slipping into unconsciousness, but his survival instincts kept him in the fight. His hands reached for the shooter’s arms, then for his head. His grip was weak, and the shooter kept his hold on the dying man. The shooter pushed the spotter’s face down against the roof’s wall and tried to muffle any noise of their fight.
“What’s that scraping noise?” asked Beta One.
The shooter heard the voice through the spotter’s earpiece. He could not answer it, but also could not allow the spotter to do so. He moved his left hand over the spotter’s mouth to mute any calls for help. His right hand brushed away the throat mike, which had fallen by the spotter’s face.
“I repeat, what’s the noise?”
The other sniper teams came on air and reported they could hear a noise, but they were not sure of its source. The spotter tried to shout, but his voice came out as a weak rasp. He tried to bite the shooter’s hand cupped in front of his mouth, but the hand was just beyond the reach of his teeth.
Another voice said, “This is Alpha One, we’ve lost visual on Alpha Two.”
“Alpha Two, problems?” said Beta One.
The shooter squeezed out what little life still remained in his partner. He shoved the spotter’s body away, took a few seconds to slow down his breathing, then turned on his headset. “Negative. Slipped and fell. We’re good.”
He peered over the wall and nodded at Alpha One across the street. They nodded back at him.
“All right, everyone in position,” Beta One said.
“Alpha Two, where’s your spotter?” someone asked.
The shooter cursed under his breath. “He’s . . . he’s cleaning his gear. The rain . . .”
He hoped no one would ask to see the spotter.
“Thirty seconds,” Beta One said.
The shooter readied his rifle. He leaned over the wall and pointed it at the building to his left. He swept its roof and paused for a split second at the sniper nest of Alpha Three. Then he dropped his aim an inch or so and scanned the top-floor windows of the FSB building.
“Ten seconds,” said the same voice.
It was enough time.
He realigned his aim with the side door and waited for his target.
“Alpha Two, what are you doing?”
The voice had to be from Alpha One, the closest to his position. The one he feared would uncover his mission’s true intentions. But not before he took his kill shot.
“Alpha Two, copy? What’s going on?”
He needed to concentrate, so he removed his headset. He began to count down the seconds. His hands became one with the rifle and his finger rested on the trigger guard. His breathing slowed down almost to a stop. His body was frozen in position as he waited for his target to come into his crosshairs.
The side exit door opened. A bodyguard stepped out, followed by another bodyguard. The third man to exit was the Minister.
The shooter acquired his target and pulled the trigger.
The bullet cut through the air and pierced the target’s chest underneath his heart. The Minister collapsed backwards, and blood gushed from his wound.
The shooter fell back and hid behind the roof’s wall even before his target hit the ground. A bullet hissed by his position and missed his head by a couple of inches. Another one banged against the wall and tore concrete slivers that pricked his neck. The other sniper teams had turned their guns on him.
He began the second stage of his mission: the exit. It was ten times harder than the first stage. He slithered over the rough, wet surface of the roof and dragged his rucksack behind him with his left hand. Bullets zipped past him. Alpha One, he thought. They were at the same height as his position.
A bullet struck an electrical box a foot away from him. Sparks flew over his body. Another round hit almost at the same place. More sparks.
He dodged the danger zone, kept his head down, and advanced with a low crawl. He gained about twenty feet in a few seconds and turned past a large compartment housing a ventilation unit.
The gunfire continued. Bullets thumped against the gray brick walls and lifted good-sized chunks. The shooter waited for a pause in the volley. The entrance to the nearest staircase was about ten feet away. He would be exposed for two or three seconds. Alpha One only needed a second to put a bullet in his head.
The pause came, and he launched forward, like a sprinter at the starter’s gunshot.
He could make it.
The entrance was a foot away.
Then the shot came.
The bullet cut through his left thigh. The shooter screamed. His leg caved in, and he plunged hard against the staircase wall. He struggled to get to his knees and dragged his body out of harm’s way. Two more bullets clanged against the wall, but he was safe.
For the moment.
* * *
The shooter stared at his bloodied leg. The sharp pain told him his leg was useless. He tried to put some weight on it and screamed in agony.
The mission was the only thing that flashed in his mind. The unfinished mission. His target was down, but his job was far from over. He still needed to reach the metro.
He put his shoulders against the wall and used his strong arms to climb to his right foot. He leaned over the metal rail and used it to carry some of his weight, as he took the first step down the stairs. He winced and dragged his dead foot behind him. He took another step, then the next, and clenched his teeth every time his left foot touched the concrete steps.
The shooter reached the next floor and paused to catch his breath. The gunshots had ceased, but he could hear police sirens blasting their deafening alarms. By now the building was surrounded. The Minister’s bodyguards and the rest of the security teams would tear apart each floor and hunt him like an animal. His initial exit plan had been to rappel out of a seventh-floor office window on the far end of the building after collecting a backpack full of explosives hidden in that office. That was no longer an option.
He pulled a submachine gun out of his rucksack. It had thirty bullets, plus another thirty in an extra magazine. It was decent firepower, but not enough to get him out of this mess.
If I go down, it will be on my own terms.
He glanced at the blood trail on the steps and twisted the doorknob. The door opened, and he hobbled his way inside the hall. This floor had offices, but the hall was empty, and most of the doors were closed.
He took about a dozen or so steps before someone noticed him. A red-headed woman screamed when she saw him. The shooter raised his finger to his mouth, but the woman kept screaming. He waved her off with his gun, but the damage was done. Heads popped out of office doors. A middle-aged man with an aura of prestige and power, displayed in his well-fitting black suit and fearless eyes, made his way through the hall.
“What’s going on?” he asked the shooter. “Who are you?”
“The one who calls the shots around here.” He raised his gun and leveled it at the man’s head.
The man’s aura of power was broken in pieces, but his eyes still showed no fear. He just blinked, as if he did not understand the shooter’s words. This isn’t the first time a gun has been pointed at his head.
The shooter threw a quick glance around. The elevators were to the left. A ping announced someone’s arrival. The doors opened, and a young man stepped out of an elevator. He turned the other way and swung down the hall, oblivious to the situation, immersed in whatever sounds came from his wraparound headphones.
A large conference room was to the right. The shooter made his decision. “This way,” he gestured to the fearless man. “Get inside. You and you,” he called at the other people. “All of you. Move it!”
The man in the suit did not budge. He stared at the shooter’s face. Rage and hate came out loud and clear in the set of his clenched jaw.
“Are you deaf? Move it!” the shooter shouted.
He punctuated his order with a gunshot. The bullet smashed a glass door. Two women shrieked.
The man in the suit turned around. “In the conference room. No panic. Everything will be fine,” he said to the others.
No, it won’t, the shooter thought. The security teams that had stormed the building would attempt to negotiate the hostages’ release. They would promise to let him go, but it would not happen. He had just shot the Minister of Defense. They would never let him walk free. He was going to die today, in this building, but not before he sent as many people as he could to meet their Maker.
He called to an old woman who stood as if frozen in her office doorway. She staggered toward the conference room with moans and cries. He stole a quick glance behind his back and dragged his leg. A large bloodstain had formed on the gray carpet.
“Hurry up, move it,” he said and herded the last of his hostages inside the room.
He shuffled behind them, just as the elevator dinged. The loud thuds of heavy boots told him who had just arrived to his party.
“Get down, down, all of y—”
He did not see the kick that sent an agonizing bolt of pain through his leg. He heard the loud shouts of the man in the suit, who had attacked him. The shooter held on to the doorknob to keep from falling to the floor.
The man in the suit struck him in the back of his head with a clenched fist. The hard blow almost blinded him. He turned his submachine gun in the direction of the blow and let off a quick burst. The large windows’ glass exploded as bullets ripped through in a zigzag pattern.
Strong wind gusts and heavy rain from outside and high-pitched screams from inside swept through the room. He was not sure if he had hit the man in the suit, so the shooter looked around the room for him. But he had disappeared. Perhaps he’s behind a table or the large wooden stand at the corner.
His eyes were watery from the pain, but he raised his gun. He took two steps along the burst-out windows. He pushed a young woman crouched behind a chair out of the way and almost tripped over the leg of an old man next to her.
The shooter aimed his gun at the stand and shouted, “Now you’ll die, you piece of—”
A bullet slammed into his left arm before he could pull the trigger. He turned his head. A man in a military uniform had an assault rifle pointed at him from across the hall. The bullet had drilled a perfect hole in the glass panel that separated the conference room from the hall.
“Drop it, drop your gun!” shouted the man in uniform.
The shooter grinned. He glanced at the hostages, then at his submachine gun.
He raised his weapon and shouted, “Allahu akbar.”
The man in uniform was faster on his trigger. He squeezed off a round, then another, advancing to the shooter.
The bullets tore through the shooter’s body.
Their impact knocked the shooter backwards. He grasped for breath and leaned toward the window for support. His body found only air because his own bullets had already shattered the glass. He fell out of a seventh-floor window. He screamed as his body twisted and he plunged down headfirst. A large red “M”—the sign of the metro station entrance outside the building—came up fast. The shooter splattered over the sign and impaled himself on the metal post. His eyes blinked as he drew in his last breath. The metro station entrance was the last thing he saw before his eyes closed forever.
By Kelly Graham
Ethan Jones has done it again with Double Agents, the fourth novel in the Justin Hall spy thriller series. He's created a world filled with assassination attempts, double-crossing, and terror plots and thrown in his two Canadian Secret Service Agents, Justin and Carrie, to thwart the crises that arise from the mix.
The story catches the reader's attention from the outset when the Russian Minister of Defence is assassinated by a member of his own security team. As the plot progresses, the action is maintained with the use of vivid setting construction, interesting detailing of weaponry, and high tension scenes. Even at the conclusion of the story, the author manages to seize the reader's attention by providing yet more information affecting the lives of the two Agents and which will no doubt play out in series' to come.
Highly recommended to readers who enjoy action/spy thrillers.
About the Author
Ethan Jones is the author of the wildly popular Justin Hall spy thriller series. The first book in this series, Arctic Wargame, came out in May 2012 and reached the Amazon's Top 10 Best Sellers lists in 2012 and 2013. The second book, Tripoli's Target, was released in October 2012. The third book in the series, Fog of War, came out in June 2013, and the fourth book, Double Agents, was published in December 2013. Ethan has also published three short stories and one novella, The Diplomat, which is the latest adventure in the Justin Hall series. Ethan is a lawyer by trade, and he lives in Canada with his wife and son.
To learn more about Ethan's current and future works and to read exclusive author interviews, books excerpts and book reviews, visit Ethan's blog.