New York Times Bestselling Author of Field of Fire and Tom Clancy Power and Empire and Tom Clancy Oath of Office
Warning: The next terrorist attack on American soil is coming . . . sooner than you think.
They can strike anytime, anywhere. A public landmark. A suburban shopping mall. And now, the human body itself. Three Middle Eastern terrorists have been injected with a biological weapon, human time bombs unleashed on American soil. They are prepared to die. To spread their disease. To annihilate millions. If America hopes to fight this enemy from within, we need a new kind of weapon. Meet Special Agent Jericho Quinn. Air Force veteran. Champion boxer. Trained assassin. Hand-picked for a new global task force that, officially, does not exist. Quinn answers only to the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. President himself.
Under the radar. Brutal. Without limits.
America’s answer to terrorism.
Praise for the novels of Marc Cameron
“One of the hottest new authors in the thriller genre.”—Brad Thor
“Lots and lots of action . . . the ultimate suspense from the word ‘go.’ Jericho Quinn is most definitely one of the best characters in the thriller realm. Incredibly awesome.”
“Field of Fire is yet another blistering read . . . a terrifying and plausible threat, and a wickedly fun cast of characters. Cameron’s books are riveting page-turners.”
—Mark Greaney #1 New York Times bestselling author
“Action-packed, over-the-top . . . bloodbaths, explosions, treachery, and mayhem on a grand scale, this one is for you.” —Publishers Weekly on Act of Terror
“Fascinating characters with action off-the-charts. Masterful.”
—Steve Berry on National Security
“A real thriller not for the faint at heart.”
—Goodreads on State of Emergency
About the Author
Marc Cameron is the author of the Jericho Quinn series and Tom Clancy Power and Empire. A native of Texas, Cameron has spent over twenty-nine years in law enforcement. His assignments have taken him from rural Alaska to Manhattan, from Canada to Mexico, and points in between. A second degree black belt in jujitsu, he often teaches defensive tactics to other law enforcement agencies and civilian groups. Cameron presently lives in Alaska with his wife and his BMW motorcycle.
Read an Excerpt
By MARC CAMERON
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2011 Marc Cameron
All rights reserved.
2 September, 2100 hours Fallujah, Iraq
Jericho Quinn gunned the throttle, willing more power from the screaming motorcycle.
"Which one is Ghazan?" He threw the words over his shoulder, into the wind as he rode.
Blowing sand scoured his chapped face. He peered through the dusk, squinting, wishing he had a pair of goggles. Something pinched his nose in the gathering darkness—the telltale odor of wet wool seasoned with the sulfur that oozed up from the desert floor.
The smell of a sheep roasting in the flames of hell.
The scent of Iraq.
"There!" Quinn felt his passenger shudder behind him, his words ripped away by the wind.
"Which one?" Quinn scanned a knot of a half dozen FAMs—fighting-age men—loitering at the corner beneath the crumbling walls of a bombed mosque. In the three days following the horrific bombing of a Colorado shopping mall, any semblance of trust between cultures had evaporated from the streets of Iraq. Natives flinched and dropped their eyes when American patrols rolled past. Few in number from cyclical troop drawdown, U.S. forces stood on the edge of a full-blown assault at every encounter. Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen boiled with righteous anger that over three thousand Americans—most of them women and children—had lost their lives in the blasts.
The worst act of terrorism on American soil since 9/11, the media had dubbed it the Fifth Sunday Bombing—but it was impossible to put a title on something so horrible. Most just spoke in whispered reverence about Colorado. Hunting down those responsible was priority one for men like Jericho Quinn.
Ghazan al Ghazi was the HVT-the high-value target—of the moment. Quinn felt a familiar sensation in the back of his neck—the tingle that told him violence was close at hand—and wondered if he was enjoying this too much. He had no idea what he'd do if peace suddenly broke out in the world. Not much chance of that.
"Which one?" he asked again, leaning back to be certain Sadiq heard him.
"The large one ... he wears aviator sunglasses. He is tall ... there on the end with the neck of a bull." Sadiq groaned, hiding his head against Quinn's back as he spoke. "A blue shirt ... open down the front. Please ... you should drive on...."
In the street, horns honked and beeped, churning up whirling clouds of yellow dust. Thick, angry voices rose into the dusk on ribbons of heat as the snarl of evening traffic came to a standstill. Stopped almost directly in front of their target, Sadiq began to twitch, so much so Quinn was sure it looked as though he was having some kind of fit.
"Hold on," Quinn yelled in colloquial Arabic as he tried to go around the jam. He nearly spilled avoiding the twisted hulk of a bombed Nissan pickup planted squarely in the road. Giving the bike enough throttle to keep it upright, he ducked down a side street away from the din of cars and military and NGO convoys. Slowing, he made a left turn on a quieter side street.
The motorcycle was a Kaweseki, a Chinese knockoff. Little more than a scooter, it had the look of a Japanese sport bike and the suspension of a skateboard. It was sure to rust or fall to pieces just when he needed it most, but it was what the locals rode. It was all they could afford. As an agent with Air Force Office of Special Investigations or OSI, Quinn had an impressive array of weapons and technology at his disposal. But for the moment he rode a piece-of-junk motorcycle and wore an ankle-length cotton dishdasha, called a man dress by American soldiers. His life, and more important, his mission, depended on the ability to blend in with the locals.
He leaned over the handlebars, twisting the last ounce of horsepower from the protesting Chinese motor. The back tire shimmied, throwing up a shower of gravel as he ducked behind an abandoned café. Behind him, Sadiq clawed at his waist in an effort to hang on.
Despite the fact that he was surrounded by men who would be happy to saw off his head with a dull pocket-knife if they discovered who he was, Quinn found the orange-blue dusk oddly soothing. Above the rubble of bombed buildings and rusted vehicle hulks, a neat row of Medjool date palms lined the road, their straight trunks silhouetted against the evening sky. They were reminders of another Iraq, untouched by decades of war.
"Get off at the next corner." Quinn leaned back as he shouted to the lanky Sunni. The boy spoke passable English, but Quinn kept their conversations in Arabic to pacify any listening ears. "I must hurry and get back to Ghazan before he slips away."
"You will please pay me—before you go." The sallow university student's voice wobbled with a mixture of terror and the disorienting effects of the bumpy ride.
"Get off," Quinn snapped. "I don't have time to stop. I'll pay you later tonight." Sadiq was a good informant, but he liked to make things more difficult than they needed to be.
"I insist you pay me now."
Jericho let off the throttle, then gunned it suddenly to spite his rider.
"Must you Americans drive so fast?" Sadiq's voice was a curdled scream against the wind. "Ghazan is a dangerous man. He may kill you when you speak to him. Where would that leave me?"
One of the countless emaciated stray dogs that roamed the country darted in front of them, eyeing the men like a piece of meat. Quinn horsed the little bike to the right, fearing the flimsy handlebars might snap off in his hands. He took a quick moment to wish for his own motorcycle, a massive BMW 1200 GS Adventure. It was impossible to find a good motorcycle in the desert—at least one that allowed him to look like an Iraqi.
Sadiq yanked to the left to keep his seat, spewing an Arabic oath about Jericho's family history. Quinn popped the clutch, downshifting to coax just enough power to avoid a spill. The transmission squealed as if it was about to burst into flames.
They shuddered to a stop. Quinn shot a wary glance over his shoulder and ordered Sadiq off the bike in a voice that left no room for argument. He gunned the motor again. Unencumbered by a passenger, the little bike shot forward, back toward the men who would be all too happy to put a bullet in Quinn's head—or worse. Leaning forward, with the wind in his face, he considered his next move. His Arabic was flawless. Dark skin and a heavy beard helped him blend in with the population.
Very soon, none of that would matter. If all went according to plan, the Iraqi thug in the aviator sunglasses would find out more than he ever wanted to know about Jericho Quinn.
Ghazan split away from the others a half hour later, walking lazily in front of closed shops, their metal doors rolled to the ground and padlocked to discourage thieves. Quinn followed him a short way on the bike. He had smashed out the headlamp with a shard of brick from the side of the road. A broken headlight in a war-torn country wouldn't cause a second look and made him more difficult to spot cruising down dark side alleys.
Quinn watched from the shadows as the bull-necked man disappeared into a shabby, three-story concrete apartment building surrounded by heaps of garbage and rubble. He waited until a light on the second-level window flicked on, then took note of its position before stashing the Kaweseki across the street, behind a trash pile almost as high as his head. For a short moment, he considered calling in backup, but in the end settled back on what he'd known from the beginning—some jobs were better done without witnesses. It protected the innocent from having to report his behavior.
Men like Ghazan didn't worry much about heavy locks on their doors, relying instead on fearsome reputations to keep them safe. It would have been easy to assume the brute was alone, since the light had been off until he arrived. But Quinn knew relying on the probable had gotten a lot of men killed.
So, he would wait alone—and listen.
He crouched in the stifling heat of the concrete stairwell staring at the peeling white paint of Ghazan's door for what seemed like an eternity. The odor of urine and rotting lemons hung in the stuffy alcove. Feral dogs barked from distant shadows. A tiny hedgehog, no larger than an orange, shuffled by in the darkness. The wail of an ambulance siren cut the night. Here and there, the flat crack of an M4 rifle peppered the air. Quinn's knees began to ache. It was during just such moments, with sweat soaking the back of his dishdasha, staining the concrete wall behind him, that he took the time to wonder what he was doing. He had a little girl—a five-year-old—whom he hadn't seen for months. She was with his now ex-wife, back in the cool mountains of Alaska, so far from the grit and gore of this desert and the never-ending war. Missing her, he consoled himself with a quote from Thomas Paine. It was a favorite of his father's. "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."
The telltale hiss of a running shower came through the flimsy wood door and drew Quinn back to reality. He tapped the Sig Sauer pistol beneath his robe, taking a breath of solace in the fact it was there, then drew another item from the folds of his robe. This wasn't the time for pistol work. Quinn put a hand on the door and took a deep breath, thinking one last time of his daughter before pressing her from his mind while he worked. He knew he should feel guilty about his absence, about the fact that he put his work even above those he loved the most—but he'd save the guilt for later. That's what made him so good.
Quinn surprised Ghazan with a snap kick to the groin as he stepped from the shower. Water dripped from the mat of black hair that thatched the Iraqi's body like a thick rug. The big man roared in alarm, attempting a kick of his own. The wet tile and newfound pain proved too much for his brain to handle and he hit the ground like a hairy sack of bricks.
Wasting no time, Quinn brought up the Taser X26, aiming the red laser dot at the center of Ghazan's chest. There was a static crackle as twin darts, barbed like straightened fish hooks, unspooled on hairlike wires to strike their target just below the right nipple and above the left knee. The Iraqi's body went taut and the muscles of his face pulled back in a grimace as fifty thousand volts of electricity arced between the two probes. He tried to cry out from the searing pain, but the best he could muster was a gurgle.
Traditional Tasers carried by law enforcement emitted a five-second burst of energy for each pull of the trigger. Quinn had taken the ride himself, along with his entire class of basic OSI agents. He found it to be like having a five-second full-body cramp, while completely engulfed in molten lava and stabbed in the back with an ice pick. It was something he hoped he'd never have to endure again.
The Taser he carried now had been modified to deliver four times that, completely immobilizing the target with pain and loss of neuromuscular control.
Ghazan's first twenty-second ride complete, Quinn pulled the trigger a second time. The muscles in the side of the Iraqi's neck tensed like thick cables, his glistening body arched up, bridging on shoulders and heels. Quinn took the opportunity to stick a small adhesive pad under each of Ghazan's ears. It was remarkably easy to find a vein and inject the contents of a plastic syringe, then secure his wrists and ankles with heavy plastic zip cuffs. The shock took the path of least resistance, which happened to be between the darts in the Iraqi's body, so Quinn felt nothing but a mild tingle as he completed his job.
Ghazan fell slack. He gave a pitiful groan and his head lolled to one side. Quinn slapped the man's cheeks, gaining his attention. He'd be no good if he passed out. The high-dosage scopolamine patches under his ears were already beginning to have the desired effect. His eyes fluttered, but he remained conscious.
"What ...What do ... you want?" The big man's words were a slurred mess, as if he had a mouth full of marbles. "You ... you will suffer ... greatly for this...."
"The American soldiers you kidnapped," Quinn spat in Arabic as he hauled the slippery body upright, propping him against the rough tile wall.
Ghazan gave a rattling chuckle, blinked in an effort to clear his vision. The drugs and fatigue from the two bouts of electric-shock muscle cramping had exhausted him as surely as if he'd run a marathon. "You will die ... for this insult...." Ghazan swallowed. He smiled dopily. "I am thirsty, my friend...."
Quinn grabbed a bit of the man's skin on the back of his upper arm, giving it a pinching twist.
Startled as if from another sudden shock, Ghazan yowled. "They will die tonight...." he gasped.
"Where are they?" Quinn leaned forward.
The scopolamine began to combine with the drug Quinn had injected-a derivative of sodium pentathol developed by the Soviets called SP17. Together they induced a state of relaxed euphoria and, if all went well, would turn Ghazan into an Arab version of Chatty Cathy.
"What do you want with the American dogs? Fool! Farooq will kill you."
"You know of the sheikh, yes?" Ghazan stammered. "He is a powerful man ... with many friends. Get me some water ... and perhaps I will let you live...."
Another pinch brought a scream and a renewed sense of focus. Quinn kept his voice low, a menacing whisper, slipping seamlessly into English. "I need you to tell me about the Americans. They are my friends."
"Your friends ..." Sick realization crept over the big Iraqi's face. "You are American?"
Quinn nodded slowly. "I am."
"Impossible," Ghazan sneered, momentarily coherent. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Quinn drew a long, slender blade from the back of his belt and held it before the Arab's face.
Ghazan blinked sagging eyes. He gave a tight chuckle, trying to convince himself. "Put that thing away. It does not frighten me. You Americans ... you have told the world. You are disgusted by the mere idea of torture."
"We are disgusted by it," Quinn said, nodding slightly. "I am sickened by the act." He pressed the point of his blade up Ghazan's flared nostril until a trickle of blood flowed down his twitching lip. "And yet, I find myself needing the information inside your head." Quinn shrugged, drawing a fresh trickle of blood. "I am disgusted not for what it does to scum like you, but for what it does to the one inflicting the pain. Such violence does irreparable emotional harm to the torturer...." The tip of his knife remained motionless, now more than an inch inside the big Iraqi's nose. "Some say it damages them beyond repair."
Quinn leaned in, almost touching the sweating man's face with his forehead, close enough to smell the odor of spiced chickpeas he'd eaten for supper. "The bad news for you," he whispered, "is that I'm already damaged...."
Ghazan wept like a baby, but in the end, the drugs and the threat of a man even more cruel than himself loosened his mind and his tongue. He gave up an address in a bombed-over suburb outside Fallujah where American hostages were supposedly being kept. In his panic he offered information that some of the hostages were to be killed that very night as a show of insurgent solidarity.
The contents of a second syringe sent the Iraqi's head lolling against the wet concrete, snoring. Quinn stared at him for a long moment, thinking of the innocent people the terrorist was responsible for killing. He held the knife in his clenched fist and considered all the events that had brought him up to this point. He was not yet thirty-five, a government agent, Fulbright scholar, father, PTA volunteer ... and an extremely talented killer. The world was a very strange place.
It seemed such a simple thing to slide the razorsharp blade between Ghazan's hairy ribs and scramble his black heart like an egg....
Instead, Quinn wiped the knife clean and reached inside the folds of his dishdasha for his secure radio, wondering just how damaged he was.
"This is Copper Three-Zero," he said. "I have high value target Juliet for immediate pickup...."
Quinn dialed his encrypted cell phone on the way back to his stashed motorcycle.
Sadiq answered, "Assalaamu alaikum, Jericho. I am so pleased that you have remained alive to pay me."
Quinn returned the greeting and repeated the address Ghazan had provided.
"Mean anything to you?" he said.
"Nothing," Sadiq said. "But that neighborhood is a Sunni stronghold, very dangerous."
Excerpted from National Security by MARC CAMERON. Copyright © 2011 Marc Cameron. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The title of this book sums up the story. National Security is not just about securing our nation against terrorism, but against bioterrorism. Our nation is a large one and it takes a lot of people doing a lot of different jobs and using a lot of different tools to keep us safe. However, sometimes the majority of that safety comes from one person doing an extraordinary job. Jericho Quinn is that man in this story. Air Force veteran. Fluent in several languages. Expert fighter. Cool and fast-thinking in a crisis. He¿s not just a man fighting terrorism. He¿s an extraordinary man who is the President¿s ordinary tool. He¿s The Hammer. I loved, loved, loved this book. It caught my attention from page 1 and held me captive until the end. The story is tight and smooth-flowing. The characters are complex and jump off the page. The action is fast-paced. I had to force myself not to peek ahead to see what happens, a failing of mine when I¿m enthralled with a book. I judge how good a book is by how badly my need to peek is and this one was off the charts. However, I did resist. For the most part. *sheepish grin* If you like stories that have a race-against-time theme and have a good deal of excellent general info on how our military operates (I do since my husband and son were both Marines) then I highly recommend this book. Heck, I highly recommend it anyway. Read it now or drop and give me 20!
Great new author. I am buying his other books.
This plot was scarily plausible. If you want action, you will find it here: terrorist bombings, gripping timeline countdowns to disaster, truly evil villains, a pandemic virus, and some spectacular high speed chases. Quinn makes a great main character. I hope there is another installment in the Quinn series coming, I would love to see his character fleshed out some more. His sidekick Thibodaux really stole the show: his humor was just the right touch to lighten things up. Hope he comes back in the next book. If you are a Clancy fan, this book is right up your alley. Don't start it unless you have some time- you won't want to put it down!
A well written, fast moving read.
gripping, fast moving and suspenseful. A masterful piece of writing.
A day in infamy, 9/11 was the worst attack on American soil, but it is not last by terrorists or even potentially the most dangerous. Like the Oklahoma City bomber did, a cell of terrorists after years of assembling the needed ingredients drive a truck into a shopping mall killing thousands including sacrificing themselves as martyrs to their cause. On an American plane, an Ebola like virus rapidly spreads attacking everyone on board. With no other recourse to prevent the spread beyond the tomb of a plane, the military blows up the jet, killing the dying hundreds on board. The French send samples from a top secret lab that contained the man made virus funded by Sheik Hussein al Ferroq. He plans to deploy Typhoid Mary like carriers to spread the disease across American; killing millions. Special Agent Jericho Quinn, who reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence and the President, is assigned to assassinate the "Marys" before the dormant biological bomb they carry inside their body goes active. Marc Cameron provides a deep look into the mind of a terrorist whose ism is the only icon their brain carries. In this case, the martyrs believe they are doing what the prophet would expect of them. Quinn will remind readers of Captain America (without a sidekick) as he gave up much of his personal life including his wife and daughter to become the ultimate warrior. Somewhat pulp fiction, readers will enjoy this totally entertaining thriller; as a quintessential American hero fight terrorists to keep people safe. Harriet Klausner
National Security by Marc Cameron was a thriller from page one. Opening with a terrorist bombing of a mall in Colorado through the biological weapon introduced on an airplane this is not a book to escape today's headlines. The bad guys which were middle eastern terrorists have created a lab to produce biological weapons to be released on the infidels. Jericho Quinn is sent to track the sheikh who is responsible for this latest terrorist threats into Pakistan and Saudi Arabia who harbor many of these terrorist groups.Although this book was a page turner the violence especially exhibited by the middle eastern terrorists caused me to skip pages. Pulling out toe nails and eyeballs as well as the hemorrhagic effects of the people on the plane who suffered from the biological weapon were too graphic and disturbing. Although this book's plot is probably occurring on a regular basis as I write this was not an escape read and I am expecting nightmares for .weeks to come
This is the most exciting book I have read in a long,long time. It marries the reality of the threats to our nation with fact,fiction and intellect to produce a work that makes you read it not once but twice, then makes you go out and purchase copies for your friends who appreciate a great read. It gives you a peak into the bond that the men and women who fight our war against terrorism have,and give you a chilling look into the possibilities of a terror attack against us. This book has it all. Look out Dirk Pitt, here comes your big brother!!
If you're an action junkie, be prepared for some long reading sessions, because you won't be able to put this book down. The main character is a believable hero, not just a one dimensional action bot. Cares about family, duty, honor, and staying alive, not necessarily in that order. He employs all things that come to hand as tools in his trade, including his motorcycle riding ability. I enjoy books that have a credibility about them, don't try and put things past me that are clearly impossible. or highly improbable. This author stays on the right side of that premise, unlike a lot of books of this genre. I gave it a high rating because I never lost interest at any point, and was eager to pick it up again. My only complaint was I was sorry when it was over, would have liked more. Looking forward to the next one.
Though the story was very simplistic and somewhat predictable lacking anything in the way of complicated plot twists or surprises, the author does a good job of keeping the reader's attention with straight-forward action and decent character development, at least where the main characters are concerned. It was a good freshman effort and interesting enough to make me want to read the next installment, though I would not yet place Mr. Cameron in the same class as Thor or Clancey.
Cover to cover this was an excitng and refreshing great book. Keep'em coming!
I loved this read! From start to finish it was packed with action. I could see the scenes unfolding in my mind as if I were watching a movie that's how detailed it was. I can't wait to read the next one!!!
I’m not entirely sure how to feel about this book. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great. Thoroughly middle of the road. There was some action but not a ton of it, there was some character development but not a ton of it. The story just didn’t reach out and grab me but it kept me interested enough to finish it but not want to read the next book. One redeeming quality is that I think Jacque is probably one of my 10 ten favorite characters. I wish he had more time in the book.
Generally not the type of book I usually read but the title got my interest. WOW ! Was I in for a surprise. Gory in places just where it was needed and a small amount of a love interest. This book had it all. Just wishful thinking that there are men out there to really protect the rest of the population. Enjoyable from the first to the last. Start reading this one and you will not be disappointed.
Suspense was constant. The story was believable
Hey what do you expect...He kills a bunch of bad guys, does amazing things, the lead female has a crush on him. He saves the US. Easy and fun read.
If you enjoy Brad Thor and the late Vince Flynn, pick up and read This series. Outstanding action.
Good characters and almost constant action. However, the dialogue and story can be a little cliche at times. I would have given it 3.5 stars if they allowed half stars. It did keep my attention though.
This to me was one of the better war on terror books to date. The team of Quinn, the big Cajun and the doc worked so good together that I hope to see them together in the future. I look forward to the next book with Jericho and friends and enemy.
Fast paced, exciting from start to finish.
Great read. Fast paced. I didn't care for the cliffhanger at the end, but now i'll have to read the next one. I enjoy this as much as Brad Thor.