|File size:||581 KB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The shrill, high-pitched chirp of an incoming e-mail was like a bell ringing in my head. I woke with a start and immediately put a hand on my gun. I took gasping breaths as my eyes adjusted to the light coming off my security screens. I looked over to the windowsill where I'd set my watch. The sky was still as black as ink.
I took the gun out from under my pillow and put it on my nightstand. Breathe.
When I regained my composure I scanned the monitors. There was no one in the hallway or the elevator. Nobody in the stairs or the lobby. The only person awake was the night watchman, who looked too engrossed in a book to notice anything. My building was an old ten-story, and I was on the eighth floor. It was a seasonal sort of place, so there were year-round occupants in only about half the rooms and none of them ever got up early. Everyone was still asleep, or away for the summer.
My computer chirped again.
I've been an armed robber for close to twenty years. Paranoia comes with the territory, as well as the stack of fake passports and hundred-dollar bills under the bottom drawer of my dresser. I started in this business in my teens. I did a few banks because I thought I'd like the thrill of it. I wasn't the luckiest and I'm probably not the smartest, but I've never been caught, questioned or fingerprinted. I'm very good at what I do. I've survived because I'm extremely careful. I live alone, I sleep alone, I eat alone. I trust no one.
There are maybe thirty people on earth who know I exist, and I am not sure if all of them believe I'm still alive. I am a very private person out of necessity. I don't have a phone number and I don't get letters. I don't have a bank account and I don't have debts. I pay for everything in cash, if possible, and when I can't, I use a series of black Visa corporate credit cards, each attached to a different offshore corporation. Sending me an e-mail is the only way to contact me, though it doesn't guarantee I'll respond. I change the address whenever I move to a different city. When I start getting messages from people I don't know, or if the messages stop bearing important information, I microwave the hard drive, pack my things into a duffel and start all over.
My computer chirped again.
I ran my fingers over my face and picked up the laptop from the desk next to my bed. There was one new message in my in-box. All of my e-mails get redirected through several anonymous forwarding services before they reach me. The data goes through servers in Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Thailand before it gets chopped up and sent to accounts all over the world. Anybody tracing the IP wouldn't know which was the real one. This e-mail had arrived at my first offshore address in Reykjavik some two minutes ago, where the server had encrypted it with my private-key 128-bit cipher. From there it had been forwarded to another address registered under a different name. Then another address, then another. Oslo, Stockholm, Bangkok, Caracas, São Paulo. It was daisy-chained down the line ten times with a copy in each in-box. Cape Town, London, New York, L.A., Tokyo. Now it was undetectable, untraceable, private and anonymous. The information had circled the world almost twice before it got to me. It was in all these in-boxes, but my cipher key could unlock only one. I entered my pass code and waited for the message to decrypt. I could hear the hard drive doing a spin-up and the CPU beginning to work. Five in the morning.
Outside the sky was empty, except for a few lights on in the skyscrapers, which looked...
What People are Saying About This
“Fast, hard and knowing: this is an amazing debut full of intrigue, tradecraft and suspense. Read it immediately!” —Lee Child
“A slam-bang, pedal-to-the-metal crime story that fires on all cylinders and then some! Ghostman is a gritty, lean, mean adrenaline machine. Mostly, though, it was just plain fun to read. I absolutely loved this book and cannot recommend it highly enough.” —Christopher Reich
“A first novel comes along every few years that clearly separates itself from the field, like Secretariat winning the 1973 Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths. This year’s Secretariat is going to be Ghostman, a propulsive thriller that combines incredible detail and nonstoppable narrative drive….The suspense builds inexorably, heightened by the supportive detail with which Hobbs undergirds the action…. Comparisons to Lee Child are inevitable here, and surely Hobbs possesses a Child-like ability for first unleashing and then shrewdly directing a tornado of a plot, but he also evokes Elmore Leonard in the subtle interplay of his characters. A triumph on every level.” —Bill Ott, Booklist
“This watertight debut [is] at once slick and gritty… Straight out of the gate, Hobbs has mastered the essentials of a contemporary thriller: a noirlike tone, no-nonsense prose and a hero with just enough personality to ensure he doesn't come off as an amoral death machine [as well as] heart-stopping scenes that illustrate how small mistakes can turn catastrophic.” —Kirkus, starred review