In Stephen Coonts's Deep Black: Biowar, cowritten with Jim DeFelice, Dr. James Kegan, a world-renowned scientist specializing in germ warfare, has vanished from his upstate New York home. But this is no ordinary missing-persons case. Kegan has left behind an unidentified dead man with a .22 caliber hole in his skull-and a contact trail that leads to an alleged terrorist cell.
Unraveling the mystery is a job for Kegan's best friend, NSA operative Charlie Dean. His mission is to infiltrate the scientist's circle of associates and decipher Kegan's confidential research. Dispatched to cover Charlie is Delta Force trooper Lia Francesca. The trail leads them to the core of a widespread killer fever that's been dormant for centuries-and its link to a virus that's quickly spreading victim by victim. With time running out Charlie and Lia must find Kegan, uncover his secrets, cut a terrorist threat to the quick, and stop the unimaginable outbreak of a new biological nightmare.
About the Author
Author of many New York Times Bestsellers, including The Disciple and The Assassin, Stephen Coonts flew A-6 Intruders from the deck of the USS Enterprise during the Vietnam War. A graduate of West Virginia University and the University of Colorado School of Law, he and his wife Deborah still fly whenever they have the time. They reside in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Jim DeFelice has written several techno-thrillers, including Cyclops One and Final Four. He lives in upstate New York with his wife and young son.
Stephen Coonts is the author of The Disciple, The Assassin, and the Deep Black and Saucers series, among many other bestsellers. His first novel, the classic flying tale Flight of the Intruder, spent more than six months at the top of The New York Times bestseller list. A motion picture based on the book was released in 1991. His novels have been published around the world and translated into more than a dozen languages. In 1986, he was honored by the U.S. Naval Institute with its Author of the Year Award. He is also the editor of several anthologies, Combat, On Glorious Wings, Victory and War in the Air. Coonts served in the Navy from 1969 to 1977, including two combat cruises on the USS Enterprise during the last years of the Vietnam War.
Best known for American Sniper, Jim DeFelice is the author of more than a dozen New York Times best-sellers and a host of other books, many of them celebrating the lives of unsung American heroes.
Date of Birth:July 19, 1946
Place of Birth:Morgantown, West Virginia
Education:B.A., West Virginia University, 1968; J.D., University of Colorado, 1979
Read an Excerpt
Stephen Coont's Deep Black: Biowar
By Stephen Coonts, Jim DeFelice
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2004 Stephen Coonts
All rights reserved.
Athens, New York, was founded in the great rush of enthusiasm following the Revolutionary War, when Americans first came to understand that their destiny in the world involved more than religion and capitalism. Its inhabitants saw the experiment in freedom and democracy as a link with the great Greek and Roman republics, which had produced not merely riches or military might — though both were important — but intellectual and artistic achievements unparalleled in human history. The men and women who settled in upstate New York were as optimistic as any. If, like the majority of their countrymen, their lives tended more toward hardscrabble than polished marble, they nonetheless were aimed in the right direction.
This Dr. James Kegan firmly believed, and had told Charlie Dean often. It was why he had decided to relocate to the small town, buying and restoring a dilapidated Federal period house perched precariously on a cliff just off the main drag. He could see the Hudson River from his porch. He would sit there some nights and gaze at the glittering reflections in the distance, reminding himself of man's potential and nature's power — or so he told Charlie.
Dean tolerated his friend's starry-eyed philosophizing for two reasons. One, he'd known Kegan just about all his life and, even though they hardly saw each other more than once or twice a year, still counted him among his best friends. Two, he figured Kegan meant pretty much everything he said, whether or not Dean understood it — and most of what the microbiologist said Dean didn't understand.
Kegan and Dean had grown up together in Missouri in the late 1950s and early '60s. While in many ways the two men could not be more different, their friendship had endured the many twists and turns of their convoluted and complicated lives. Kegan — more often "Keys," a nickname earned during their first jayvee basketball practice a million years ago — was one person Dean felt he really knew. Their many differences somehow encouraged their friendship. Dean was relatively taciturn; Kegan was always talking and making friends. Dean had, if not a skeptical view of the world, at least a somewhat hardened one. Kegan remained an optimistic do-gooder, despite the fact that his early forays into altruism had ended badly.
Two years ago, Kegan had been diagnosed with cancer. But he'd come through it okay, survived the chemo with his optimism intact. He talked about it matter-of-factly, didn't bullshit about it — he hit it straight-on, just like he played basketball. It was one of the things Dean liked about him.
Dean turned off Route 9W, driving his rented Malibu through the tiny downtown as he hunted for the crossroad that led to Kegan's. He missed it and had to turn around; as he waited for a bus to pass he saw an old phone booth and thought of calling his friend to make sure he was home. But the trip had begun as a surprise, and it seemed ridiculous to spoil it now, five minutes from his driveway. He made the U-turn and went back, cutting down toward the river and driving slowly so he could find the sharp cut that led to the house. The Malibu dipped and groaned as he took the switchbacks on the gravel lane.
Dean's attention was attracted to a large car carrier making its way upriver to Albany past a pack of Sunfish sailboats. He jerked his attention back on the driveway just before he would have sideswiped an eighty-year-old maple. He corrected and took the next switchback, avoiding the temptation to look down the rock gorge to his left. One more turn and he reached the macadam that ran around the back of the house to the garage and barn. Dean pulled around the side of the barn, glad to see Kegan's Saab; he made sure as he parked to leave enough space for the afternoon of hoops he anticipated.
A wooden porch extended around three-fourths of the building. Dean jogged up the steps and rapped on the wooden portion of the large front door — the house did not have a bell and Kegan refused to add even a wireless one.
"Hey, Keys, it's Charlie!" he yelled before rapping again. "Surprise, Keys!"
Dean glanced at his watch. It was a little past 9.00 A.M.; Kegan was a notorious early riser. He rapped again. Kegan rarely locked his front door; there was less need to here than back home in Missouri, and there was little need to do so there. Sure enough, when Dean tried the handle, the door opened.
It was possible — just — that Kegan was upstairs bedding some nubile lab assistant. Dean hesitated on the threshold, caught between wanting to be discreet and sensing the inherent humor of just that sort of situation. In the end he settled for cracking the door open and calling in.
"Hey, anybody home?" Dean yelled. "Any verifiable biology genius scientists at home?"
Kegan didn't answer. Dean pushed the door open and took a few steps inside to the edge of the Persian rug — authentic though not an antique.
"Keys! Keys! Hey, it's Charlie! What, are you in bed?" He took a step toward the wide staircase, which began about halfway down the hallway. "Keys, get your butt out of bed! I'm going to make some coffee. Then I'm going to whip your ass in a game of b-ball. Happy birthday, by the way."
Dean heard something move in the rooms to his left. He stepped back toward the large front parlor, his eyes glancing from the restored nineteenth-century claw-foot couch to the large brick fireplace with its early-twentieth-century spark catcher. The floor immediately before it was made of brick, arranged in an elaborate quadruple-fan pattern, and it was this symmetry that made it easy to spot the leg lying on one corner of the bricks.
"Jesus." Dean took a step toward the leg but stopped as the noise sounded again. He spun, heart pounding; in the same motion he reached to the back of his belt for the hideaway weapon his new employer had insisted he carry.
The tiny Glock felt like a toy in his hand. Dean took a step toward the kitchen at the rear of the hallway.
"Come out slowly with your hands where I can see them," he said.
There was no reply.
Dean went to the doorway, flattening himself against the wall, listening. Slowly, he lowered himself into a crouch. Just as he started to spring he heard the sound again, but it was too late to stop himself; he twirled and pointed his gun into the kitchen, both hands steadying it, ready to fire.
His heart jolted as a cat jumped down from the counter island. The cat was as startled as Dean and bolted from the room.
Casper, a kitten Keys had picked up at the shelter about a month or two ago. He'd mentioned him in an E-mail.
Dean dropped to his knee, listening, waiting for what seemed like hours before convincing himself he and the cat were the only ones moving in the house. He rose and walked back to the parlor.
"Keys. Keys," he repeated. "Is everything okay? Keys?"
A pool of blood extending out from the fireplace to the rug told him it wasn't.CHAPTER 2
William Rubens rose from his desk and unfolded the gray security blanket, draping it over the work surface with the same precision that he brought to every task he undertook. The corners had to be positioned just so over the shallow baskets at the corners; the creases were lined so they cut the large desk into an exact chessboard. Rubens smoothed the surface with his fingers, running them down the sides in the same manner his tailor used to set the seams on his pants. The National Security Agency's regulations called for the blanket to be used to cover sensitive papers on a desk whenever an NSA employee left his or her office. Rubens rarely left any papers, sensitive or otherwise, on his desk, but he would sooner neglect his personal hygiene than fail to place the blanket when leaving the building. Attention to detail was the only thing that allowed the mind to make order from chaos, and in his job as the number-two man at the NSA — and the head of the agency's ultra-high-tech covert "Deep Black" force, known officially as Desk Three — delineating order from chaos was William Rubens' prime concern.
Desk covered, chair positioned, Rubens stepped to the wooden credenza at the side of the office, double-checking that the drawers were locked. Finally, he reached to his stereo — hand-built by the agency's technical division to prevent the possibility of bugging devices — and turned off the Schumann midmovement.
Rubens had nearly reached the door to his office when the secure satellite phone in his jacket began to vibrate. The sat phone was one of two he carried; the other he might not have answered, as the number could be reached by anyone in the agency and quite a number of people beyond. But this phone was used exclusively for Desk Three operations, and so with a sigh he sat down in the chair near the door and entered the code to accept the transmission.
"Mr. Rubens, this is Charlie Dean."
Dean was an ex-Marine foisted on Rubens by the White House for a recent mission. Though considerably older than most of Rubens' operatives, he had proven so capable that Rubens had added him to Desk Three's operations team. A Vietnam veteran who'd spent the last days of that war as a sniper, Dean brought a certain maturity to the job that Rubens appreciated.
"I have a bit of a problem here," said Dean.
"I thought you were on holiday," said Rubens, who had given Dean and the rest of the team from Russia a few days off.
"I came up to New York to see a friend and, uh, I found a body in his house."
"No, he's not here. I don't know where he is."
Rubens stared at the painting on the wall across from him, noting the subtle use of the green shades.
"Where is your friend, Charles?" he asked again.
"Haven't a clue. I was wondering whether I should call the police."
"By all means, you should call the police."
"If they ask what I do?"
"You're a government employee, Mr. Dean. It need go no further than that. Who is your friend?"
"James Kegan. He's a scientist."
The name registered in Rubens' brain, but he could not decide why. He knew Kegans and Kagans — Tom Kegan in at the Pentagon, Kagan at State, the historian, of course....
"Do you think he murdered this person?" Rubens asked.
"I don't — I wouldn't think so."
"Are you there now?"
"I'm standing over the body."
How inconvenient, thought Rubens.
"Alert the authorities. Keep me informed." He glanced at his watch. He was due for his weekly haircut in forty minutes; after that he had a session with his yoga master. "Charlie, you were right to call me. For the next few hours I'll be tied up. If you need anything, speak to Marie in the Art Room."
Rubens clicked off, entering his security codes as required to disentangle the phone from the system. He rose and went to the desk, pulling the blanket back from the corner so he could pick up the secure phone that tied to the Art Room — Desk Three's control room, where Marie Telach was on duty as supervisor.
"Marie, I'd like you to find out what you can on a James Kegan of New York. He lives in —" Rubens slid his thumb over the buttons on his phone to retrieve the GPS location that Dean had called from.
"Athens, New York," said Telach. "We're on it already. Charlie talked to me first."
"Listen, boss, you're going to want to take a look at this."
"Why would that be?"
"He's some sort of expert in germ warfare. His name is on our file as a potential consultant."
Rubens considered the painting once again. Green faded to gray; gray merged with black ... shadow blurring to shade, shade to shadow: the perfect representation of the world Rubens and his people operated in.
"Is Mr. Dean aware of this?" Rubens asked.
"I don't think so. He knows he's a big-shot scientist, but when I spoke to him I hadn't run the name."
"I will be back in the building no later than eleven-thirty. Please have the details waiting in my queue."CHAPTER 3
"You found him just like this?"
"Haven't touched him. You can see where the blood is. I would have to have stepped into it."
"How'd you know he was dead?"
"Well, I guess in theory I don't," Dean told the plainclothes investigator.
"All right, let's go outside. ID people have to go over the place."
The state police investigator put his hand out in the direction of the door. Dean walked out to the front of the house and followed down toward the driveway, which was now filled with several troop cars, an SUV, and an unmarked Bureau of Criminal Investigation sedan.
"You mind showing me your license?"
"I went through this with the trooper."
"Yeah, I know." The BCI investigator didn't sound particularly apologetic. "You right- or left-handed?"
Dean held out his arms so the investigator could look at his sleeves himself. "You want to dust me or something?"
The investigator stared at Dean's arms and hands. Probably he was trying to decide whether Dean was smart enough to wash and change his clothes after firing a gun, so there were no traces of gunpowder.
"How 'bout that license?" said the investigator, looking up.
"Your name again was —"
"Achilles Gorman. License?"
Dean took out his wallet and handed over his ID. He'd already put his pistol and its holster in the car — not hiding them, exactly, just trying to avoid unnecessary questions.
Gorman called in the license information, then copied it in a small notebook he'd taken from his pocket.
"You live in California?" the detective asked.
"I'm in the process of relocating."
They went back and forth like that for a while, the investigator gathering useless background information. Even if Dean hadn't been working for the NSA, he would have stuck to one-word answers. He didn't particularly like being questioned, and while he'd come to respect police officers during his days as the owner of a string of gas stations, he resented the fact that Achilles Gorman treated him more like a suspect than a witness.
"So Mr. Keys, where does he hang out?"
"I just call him Keys. His name is Dr. Kegan."
"Where does he hang out?"
"I don't know. When I was here last we went into town. Some place called Maduro?"
"Like the cigar?"
Dean shrugged. "I guess."
"It's not there now."
"Don't know what to tell you."
Casper the cat came out, mewing loudly. Gorman stooped down, scratching the animal's head. He licked Gorman's fingers as if they were covered with catnip.
"Dr. Kegan — he a rich guy?" asked Gorman.
"He's got some money, but I wouldn't say he's rich."
"Pretty big house. A lot of property."
"Guess it depends on what you mean by rich."
The BCI investigator smiled. "Let's go over your arrival again from the top."
"You know, Mr. Dean, the thing is, this is a pretty serious felony here."
"Be better if you cooperated."
"You don't think I did this, do you?"
"Be better if you cooperated."
Eventually, Charlie Dean found himself back at the troopers' barracks, giving his statement for the third time. Gorman used two fingers to pound it into his computer. At three o'clock, as they waited for the printer to deliver a fresh draft, the investigator picked up his phone and sent one of the troopers to the deli for some sandwiches. That signaled the start of a short interval of nice-cop behavior; the investigator got a cola from the soda machine in the lobby and even offered Charlie a plastic cup to use. Charlie stuck with the can.
Gorman claimed he had a relative who worked for the GSA in Washington, and wanted to know which government agency Charlie worked for.
"I'm just a government employee and let's leave it at that," he said, and the nice-cop routine came to an end.
They went over the statement twice. Around four, the investigator's boss came in, a Lieutenant Knapp. Short and so muscular that the bullet-proof vest he was wearing looked like a flat baking pan, Knapp asked Charlie exactly two questions after looking over the statement:
You think your friend did it?
He answered "yes" and "no," respectively.
"You're done here. Make sure Gorman has a phone number where he can reach you."
"He does." Dean started to leave.
"If Kegan contacts you," said Gorman, "we'd appreciate knowing about it."
"Sure," said Dean.
Gorman frowned but said nothing else.CHAPTER 4
Rubens spread his forefinger and pinkie apart, nudging the key combination to kill the program. He sat back as the screen blanked, letting all that he had read settle into his brain.
The premonition of something truly awful lurked in the corners of his consciousness. He sensed that Dean — and thus Desk Three — had inadvertently stumbled upon a conspiracy with the gravest possible consequences. And yet the actual evidence would not have persuaded a logical man that anything more than a sordid murder had taken place. Rubens, a mathematician by training, prided himself on being logical. But he was also the descendant — now some generations removed — of a famous painter, an artistic genius, and as such Rubens could not deny the validity of emotional intelligence and intuition. It was important now to combine the two, to balance premonition with cold analysis.
Excerpted from Stephen Coont's Deep Black: Biowar by Stephen Coonts, Jim DeFelice. Copyright © 2004 Stephen Coonts. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Solid read but the digital conversion is rife with miss-spellings. If you buy this book you must reprogram die and the in your mind and enjoy sifting through various word jumbles as you read
Way too many typographical errors made this book nearly unreadable in e-book format. I was a fan of the Nook, but now I hesitate to buy e-books at all. Why should I pay the same price as a paperback for a good novel that has been butchered by the creation of an e-book version? The word "the" is not spelled "die". the word "I'm" is not "Fm". These are just two of the most common examples. There is also missing punctuation that destroys the flow of the story. Stephen Coonts would be livid if he saw what was done to his work.
I'm liking this series and plan to get the rest. The major characters have individual traits and act according to their nature. As mentioned in an earlier review the Nook formatting (or copyediting) needs cleaning up as the mistakes stop your reading and kept throwing me out of the story. I hope the other books in this series have better editing.
The story is good. To many spelling errors are distracting!!
To hard to read - to many errors
This book is a little weak. The end seemed to be a little anticlimactic. This (#2) isn't as good as the first Deep Black (#1), or the Deep Black: Payback (#4), (I accidently skipped the third book) but is probably good to read only if you want to keep the series in order. I haven't read the third book, so I don't know how relevant this book is to that one, but I've just completed the fourth book, and that does make some references to prior events in the story line, that were not in the first or the second (implying the importance of reading them all, and in order).
Today techno-thrillers are at the top of the heap and Coonts plus DeFelice pen them with the best. Add a triple threat voice performance by veteran actor J. Charles and you have a reading that'll make listeners' ears sizzle. Gone - just plain disappeared. A famous scientist who knows all about germ warfare, Dr. James Kegan, has simply vanished from his New York State home. However, he did leave something behind - the body of a dead man with a hole between the eyes. The dead man's gone but not forgotten as he can be traced to a terrorist cell. Enter Kegan's best bud NSA operative Charles Dean who has been assigned quite a task: ingratiate himself with Kegan's associates, translate the scientist's research into an understandable form. Further Dean must do this in no time flat as there's an old killer fever spreading, killing people one by one. What do we have? A terrorist threat and biological warfare. Enough to set anyone's pulse pounding. Give a listen and see. - Gail Cooke
Charles Dean pays a surprise visit to his friend Dr. James Kegan only to find the body of a young Asiatic male lying dead in his home and his buddy nowhere to be found. Dr. Kegan has worked with viruses and bacteria that could be made into weapons so a concerned Charles calls Desk Three, the super high tech covert force. The director is sufficiently worried so he sends Charlie to a scientific conference that Dr. Keegan was supposed to attend..................................... Once there he is kidnapped and sent to Austria where some terrorists demand that he hand over the antidote. It seems Charlie¿s friend developed a disease that resembles rat-bite fever that is resistant to penicillin. A second team is sent to Thailand where Dr. Kegan was studying plants indigenous to the area. The weapon has been sold to two countries that could use it as a weapon against the U.S. They must destroy the weapons that are in the hands of the terrorists and find an antidote before the disease gets loose in the general population........................... Stephen Coonts and Jim De Felice have created a techno thriller that starts off fast and by the end of the book is moving at the speed of light. Although there is plenty of action with agents using high-tech gadgets, the major question that permeates the whole book is why did Dr. Kegan, a good man by all accords, create this weapon and where is he holed up. This mystery within a thriller is a prime reason that Stephen Coonts always has his reader¿s coming back for the next book he writes............................... Harriet Klausner