SHOWCASE: Web of Betrayal by Clare Price

Posted by Ryder Islington, author of ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery and coming soon: ULTIMATE GAME, A Trey Fontaine Mystery



Web of Betrayal

by Clare Price

on Tour at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours October 20 – November 21, 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller

Published by: CFP Media Group, LLC

Publication Date: June 28, 2014

Number of Pages: 412

ISBN: 978-0-9903723-0-1

Purchase Links:



There’s No Hiding in Cyberspace

The year is 1994, the dawn of the Internet Age, when companies from Silicon Valley to London are fighting to claim the billions to be made on the new information highway.

Peter Ellis, an aggressive investigative reporter struggling to repair his damaged reputation after being framed for rigging a story, attends the Consumer Electronics Show and learns that a skilled programmer known for cracking secure computer code has mysteriously disappeared.

Peter’s quest to find the missing programmer unwittingly pits him against a brilliant hacker and deranged killer with an agenda of his own: taking revenge on the man who ruined his life—computer industry luminary David Lockwood—who is now poised to introduce a product that will change the Internet forever.

As Peter is drawn into the deadly game of betrayal and murder, he is faced with losing everything he holds dear: his career, his one true love, even his own life. Can he find the programmer’s encoded disk—which the holds the key to the killer’s identity—before his luck runs out?


Read an excerpt:


November 10, 1993: Cali, Colombia

The day Arnold Tollie burned alive was ordinary in every other respect.

It was business as usual as Toby Eastman unobtrusively parked his Piper Super Cub at the far end of the jungle landing strip just outside Cali. Toby instinctively chose secrecy over exposure whenever possible. He adapted like a chameleon, blending naturally into any background or situation. This trait had served him well in the past and it would do so again today.

Arno—as Toby called Tollie—was late. Arno was often late. Toby habitually threatened to take off without him; it was an empty threat and they both knew it. Toby and Arno protected each other in this jungle just as they had when they served together in Vietnam. It was Arno who had arranged for Toby’s introduction to Colombian drug lord Enrique Valdez when Toby needed cash and connections and didn’t care where he got them.

Toby walked to the edge of the landing field, peering down the path. Nothing.

The chatter of monkeys and screams of macaws above heightened his awareness of the silence on the trail. Come on, Arno, Toby thought, as impatience slid into nervous irritation. It was more than the flight delay that made Toby nervous this time. Arno was taking chances again, the way he had when they’d run drugs in ‘Nam. Nothing too big or too obvious, just a little bit off the top here and there. It was stupid and risky but Arno seemed to think he was invincible. Invincibility, Toby knew well, was not a factor of the human condition.

First Toby heard the footfalls, then the grunts and groans. Valdez’s men were walking down the trail. They were half-pushing, half-carrying Arno, bound and gagged, between them. Arno was barely walking. His face was pulverized.

Toby dove behind a stand of mangroves, watched, and waited. Arno was a big man. It took four of them to drag him to the open field where the bush pilots landed, where his death would serve as a warning to any other pilots who thought they could steal from Valdez. They staked him spread-eagle to the ground and began cutting holes in his clothes, exposing naked skin with the dispassionate precision of a surgical team. Arno writhed in the tight ropes as they dipped frayed sections of his clothing in kerosene. Kneeling, one of them massaged Arno’s hair with the oil as if for a shampoo.

Their methodical preparations, Toby realized with a sickening lurch in his stomach, were meant to avoid an explosive conflagration that would end quickly. They favored an excruciatingly tortuous burn that would slowly melt living flesh from bone. A human torch. As Toby waited through the night, unable to escape the sight, the smell and the screams, a human torch was exactly what Arnold Tollie became.

* * * * *

December 18, 1993: Palo Alto, California

The fire crackled. A tongue of flame broke free, reigniting dying embers, warming the room. Toby leaned back in his chair, took a small sip of his brandy and glanced around the tight space.

Henry Rhodes’s bachelor’s quarters held the same comfortable clutter that Toby remembered. A sagging green sofa and two wingback chairs faced the now-cheerfully crackling fire. An oversized bookcase against the wall held evidence of Henry’s two passions–volumes of the classical literature he loved and, in a testament to Henry’s thirty-five years of gainful employment, a wide range of computer manuals.

Henry sat in the other armchair, his feet barely reaching the floor. Like his home, Toby thought, enjoying the constancy, Henry hadn’t changed much in the last eighteen years. He was a small man, now sixty-two, rounded from his enjoyment of food and drink. His eyes closed in pleasure with his first sip of brandy.

“It’s good to see you, Toby,” Henry said. “I enjoyed all those letters, but it’s not the same as a real visit. Are you back in the Bay Area for good?”

“I’m not sure yet. What about you? Have you been traveling much?”

“Not as much as I’d like. I thought when I retired I’d have more time, but my consulting has almost become a full-time job.”

“The secret’s out, Henry–everyone’s finding out how good you really are. Of course, there were some of us who always knew it,” Toby replied, allowing himself another small sip of brandy.

Despite the warmth of the fire and the brandy coursing through his veins, Toby knew he couldn’t afford to relax; not until he had the computer disk back safely in his possession. He touched the glass to his lips once more and then pushed it aside, watching with pleasure as Henry finished his first drink.

“And how are your boys?” Toby asked.

“I’ve got a couple of boys who are real crypto-wizards. Give even you a run for the money,” Henry said, chuckling mildly as he set down the empty glass.

Henry referred to all the young engineers he’d shepherded through the company as “his boys,” even the women. Although Henry had been a talented software programmer in his own right, his company soon recognized he had an even greater ability to mentor the young college recruits they hired. Henry still kept in touch with most of them. Toby had been one of Henry’s boys, once, though his tour of duty in Vietnam had given him a later start than most of the others.

“I’ve got pictures. Would you like to see them?”

Toby nodded.

Henry disappeared into his bedroom and returned with a large manila envelope. He peered over Toby’s shoulder as Toby flipped through the pictures of a recent camping trip. Toby remembered those camping trips. This one was in Yosemite, with El Capitan visible in the background. Two young men stared at the lens. The young Asian man stood stiffly, uncomfortable in front of the camera. The impish smile on the other boy, a chubby-faced blond wearing a blue and white rugby shirt, tugged at Toby, snagging him with memories he thought he’d laid to rest years ago. Memories he could not afford to indulge, especially now.

“They look like great kids, Henry,” Toby said as he studied the prints.

“Smart, too. Like you. But I keep them on their toes. I’ve still got a puzzle game or two up my sleeve,” he said.

Henry sat down, poured a second glass of brandy and enjoyed a large swallow. He began talking about the old days, about the puzzle games, and how the competitive contests to crack encrypted computer code had helped discipline young minds like Toby’s and, in turn, had given Henry’s company valuable insights into the emerging field of cyber security.

The reminiscences were flowing as freely as the brandy. Another time, Toby thought, he could relax and enjoy them, but not tonight. Too much was at stake. Henry finished the last of his brandy with a flourish and stood, reaching for the bottle and Toby’s half-filled glass.

“No more for me, Henry. I have to go,” he said, rising. “I really just came to pick up that disk I sent you a few weeks ago.”

Henry looked up at Toby embarrassed, his smile sheepish.

“I know you told me keep that one strictly confidential, Toby. But your puzzles are always the best. It was just too tempting.”

“What do you mean?” Toby asked, forcing a casualness he did not feel.

“I couldn’t crack it. I tried, but it was beyond me.”

Toby smiled, starting to relax. “I’ll send you another. But I need this one back, tonight.”

“I don’t have it,” Henry said.

“What?” Toby fought to keep his voice calm.

“When I couldn’t solve it, I sent it to the boys to see what they could do with it.”

Henry’s tone was mildly irritated, as if Toby had forgotten who was the student, and who the master.

Toby’s mind spun, recoiling at the Hobson’s Choice Henry’s recklessness offered him. The one man he thought he could trust had betrayed him.

“Henry, that disk wasn’t just another puzzle,” Toby said vehemently. “That disk has information on it that belongs to some very powerful men.”

All the color drained from Henry’s face. “What kind of information?”

“Useful information, but only if you know what to do with it.”

Henry’s eyes blinked rapidly. He looked at Toby as if he’d never seen him before.

“Toby, what have you gotten yourself into?” he asked, his voice cracking.

“Nothing I can’t get out of. As soon as I get the disk back, everything will be fine.” Toby offered him a comforting smile. “You know me, Henry. Just tell me where the boys are and I’ll fix it,” he cajoled.

Henry gave Toby a concerned look. Then he turned, picked up pen and paper and rapidly scribbled names, email addresses and phone numbers. “I’m sorry, Toby,” he said, handing over the note.

You’re sorry? Toby queried silently. It’s too late for sorry. His mind flashed back briefly to the jungle, and the odor of the lump of burning flesh that had once been a man. The tension started in his neck and shoulders. Adrenaline kicked in, and with it the same rush of excitement and danger he’d always felt in the jungle right before the kill. Staring at his mentor, Toby felt uncontrollable rage explode inside of him, spouting like lava from an active volcano.

“You stupid old goat,” he snapped. “Why didn’t you do what I told you and keep that disk secure?”

Henry stood before him frozen in shock. His mouth sagged open in fear and protest. Toby understood his distress. The young recruit Henry had known wouldn’t dare speak to him that way. But Toby was no longer that man, if he had ever been. He reached into his pocket and palmed his stiletto, opening the blade. As it caught the bright light of the fire, Henry gasped. His expression changed rapidly from surprise to comprehension soaked with dread.

“Who are you?” Henry whispered, backing away. “What kind of animal have you become?’

Toby stared mercilessly at the man who had been his closest friend. Then, in one cat-like movement, he stepped across the room and grabbed Henry by the neck, pressing his fingers against the carotid artery. As the body went limp, Toby shoved his knife into the man’s back. The force of the thrust penetrated the kidney, twisting upward toward Henry’s heart. Black-red liquid oozed from the small wound, staining both their shirts.

The body shuddered and slumped against Toby. He stepped back letting it slip to the ground in the widening pool of its own blood.

His task completed, Toby paused, panting from exertion. Drawing a deep calming breath, he looked around the room investigating the scene, ready to cover his trail. He picked up his glass and swallowed the remaining brandy. A reward for a job well done. Then he pocketed the used glass and the photographs.

As he moved around the body lying lifeless on the floor, he glanced back for one last look. Henry’s eyes stared at the ceiling in surprise. A stream of pink blood trickled down his jaw.

The sight stopped him. His clean and uncomplicated exit from the house was suddenly impeded by a pull he hadn’t experienced in years, maybe since he’d sat under Henry’s tutelage at the company. Leashed by fleeting but honest remorse, he returned to the body and tenderly closed its eyes.

“I’m sorry, old friend. I truly am,” he whispered, his lips brushing against Henry’s ear. “But if it hadn’t been me, it would have been them.”


Author Bio:

Clare witnessed the birth of the commercial Internet firsthand as a research director with the Gartner Group, the global leader in information technology consulting. As a principle analyst in Gartner’s Internet Strategies Service, Clare assisted many of the world’s biggest technology companies (IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, HP, Sun Microsystems, Oracle) in their bid to make the information highway a reality.

That experience prompted her to write her first novel, WEB OF BETRAYAL, set in 1994 at the birth of the Internet. Fury is unleashed when a long simmering grudge match between a brilliant hacker turned killer and a renegade tech visionary erupts into murder and betrayal, and a struggling reporter risks his life and one true love to find the truth.

Clare began writing at age five with her short story, “My Dog Nicky.” In her career she has been a business journalist, tech industry journalist, Internet industry analyst and a VP of marketing for several software startups.

Clare is an Ohio native and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with a B.A. degree in Rhetoric. She currently lives in Sacramento, California with her two Shetland Sheepdogs, Dan and Toby.

Catch Up With the Author:


Tour Participants:

Win Web of Betrayal by Clare Price & a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

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SHOWCASE: The Silence by

Posted by Ryder Islington, Author of ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery



The Silence

by Alison Bruce

on Tour July 2014


Book Details:

Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Crime

Published by: Witness Impulse

Publication Date: 06/24/2014

Number of Pages: 293

ISBN: 9780062314208

Purchase Links:


DC Gary Goodhew searches for the link between an old woman’s terminal illness, a brutal murder, and a series of suicides in Cambridge.

Joey McCarthy is stabbed to death in a parking lot in a random act of violence. Shortly afterward, Charlotte Stone’s terminally ill mother dies and then, within weeks, two of her teenage friends commit suicide. With her home life disintegrating and both her father and brother racing toward self-destruction, Charlotte realizes that her own personal nightmare is just beginning.

When Gary Goodhew, a loveable, warm-hearted detective, finds the body of another suicide victim, he is forced to recall some deeply buried memories of an investigation that had a profound effect on him-memories that lead him to Charlotte Stone. Working together, they begin to wonder whether all these tragedies are somehow linked. And if they are, who will be the next victim?



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read an excerpt:


ONELibby wrote: Hi, Zoe, thanks for the friend request. How are you? Iheard you died.

‘Doing well for a dead person. LOL.’

There was a gap of a few minutes before Libby replied. Sorry, that was bad taste.

Then there was a gap of a few minutes more.

‘I heard about your sister,’ Zoe wrote. ‘You know she was in my year

at school?’

Of course. Your profile picture comes from your class photo. I think you’re standing just behind Rosie. She’s got a funny look on her face, told me once how you pulled her hair just as the flash went off.

‘Yeah, I was in the back row and we were all standing on gym benches. The kids in her row were messing around, trying to get us to fall off. Mrs Hurley saw me wobble and yelled at me. I tugged Rosie’s hair to get my own back. I reckon that was Year Seven or Eight. I don’t remem- ber seeing Rosie much after that.’

Libby had hesitated over the keyboard. She didn’t want this to become nothing more than awkward and pointless chit-chat. She had an opportunity here and, although she guessed it was going to be difficult to get things started, she knew that she needed to do it.

I have a proposition . . . a favour, I suppose. You see, I don’t have anyone to talk to. Rosie’s death left a hole, but there’s more and, if I’m honest, I’m struggling a bit. I’ve tried writing it down, but it just doesn’t

work. I get so far, then I’m stuck. So I wondered if I could message you?

‘Do you think that would work?’

I don’t know, but I’d like to try. I thought you might ask me some ques- tions, prompt me to look at things differently. Or maybe I just need to let things out, I’m not sure. The point is, I need to talk.

Those first messages took up little space on her computer screen, yet Libby felt as though getting even that far had taken up the equivalent effort of a 2,000-word essay. She had worked hard to balance her words, to load them equally between truthfulness and understatement. I need to talk had been a tough admission, as it stank of being unable to cope. The last thing she had wanted, through all of this, had been to load anyone else with any part of this burden. But she now accepted that it was the only way to move forward. She thought of Nathan and wished she could speak to him or her parents even, but they were almost as inac- cessible as her brother.

And what about Matt?

No, when she looked at him she recognized what other people saw when they looked at her. It was a hollowness that scared her.

She read Zoe’s ‘Okay’ and nodded to herself. This was something

she had to do.

I’m not sure where to start, she told Zoe.

‘Begin with Rosie.’

Libby took a deep breath. Rosie, Rosie.

Rosie was in your year, Nathan was one year below, and then there was me, two years below him. I’m 18 now, just to save you working it out, and I’m at sixth form college. The course is a bunch of ‘A’ levels and the college propectus calls them a ‘Foundation in Accountancy’. I’d always wanted to work with small children, but I assumed I’d just leave school and get a job in an office or something.

Instead I chose this course. I gave them all the spiel but, in truth, the only reason I’m doing it is because they were the same ‘A’ levels that Rosie took. She was going to get a degree. She wanted to be a primary school teacher one day, and I bet she would have managed it.

I’m explaining it this way because it shows what Rosie and I were

like; how we were similar but different. On a parallel track except I was always a little bit behind, and a little bit in her shadow.

‘But she was three years older?’

Yes, and I’m almost the same age now, but I still haven’t caught up with her in so many ways. And you’re misunderstanding me if you think I feel that’s a bad thing. I was happy in her shadow: it was always a safe and comfortable place to be.

For my entire childhood I could look up and see Rosie and Nathan. Rosie teased Nathan, and Nathan teased me; that was our pecking order. And if Nathan ever upset me, Rosie stepped in, or the other way round.

I can’t remember one single time when I didn’t have one or other of them to look after me.

Anyhow, now I feel like I need to follow in her footsteps, at least for a little while. I’m not ready to let go of her yet, so I sit in the same lectures and try my hardest to get grades as good as hers. That’s what got me through school. It’s like she’s been there before me and I can feel her looking over my shoulder. She says ‘Go on, Bibs, you can do it.’ No one calls me Bibs any more, and I wouldn’t want them to.

Then after a gap of almost twenty minutes, Libby added, Can I mes- sage you tomorrow?

‘Of course.’


What do you know about Rosie’s death?

‘Just bits and pieces – you know how fragments of information fly about.’

Can I tell you?

‘Only if you want to.’

The short version is that she went to the cinema and never came back. The short version is important to remember, because to me that’s how it happened. I was in my bedroom – my hair was three or four inches longer then, and I was straightening it. Rosie heard me swear- ing, came into the room and finished the section that I couldn’t reach properly.

I told her she looked nice, but I was too wrapped up in my own night out to pay her much attention; later that night, Mum and Dad asked me what she’d been wearing and I just couldn’t remember. I knew that, when she put the hair straighteners on my dressing-table, I noticed that she’d had her nails repainted a slightly metallic shade of purple.

And that’s really all I could remember. I can’t remember which cinema, which film or if she said who she was going with. I can’t remember a single word she said, just the touch of her fingers as she separated the strands of my hair, and the colour of her nails as she finished.

I tell myself that I can’t remember all those things because I never knew them, that she’d never shared the details with me. I don’t believe though that she would have ever gone to watch a film on her own. And I find it equally hard to believe that I wouldn’t have said, ‘Who are you going with?’

I went to the beauty salon a couple of weeks later and bought a bottle of that same nail polish. I’ve still got it in my drawer.

I returned home just before 1 a.m. I came back in a taxi and, as it pulled up, I noticed the lights on in our front room, with the cur- tains open. I could make out Mum and Dad standing apart from one another. It was only a brief glimpse but I felt uneasy and hurried inside.

Nathan was there too. You can see our kitchen as soon as you walk through the front door and he was standing by the kettle, pouring boil- ing water into three mugs.

‘What’s happened?’ I mouthed at him.

‘They tried to ring you because they can’t get hold of Rosie. But your

phone was off.’

In that case, I reasoned, they wouldn’t get hold of me either, would they? Why were they so worried about her when they weren’t worried about me?

I can’t really remember how I felt at that moment. I think I wondered why there was this amount of fuss. Or maybe I realized something was up. Mum’s always been a bit paranoid, and Rosie had only passed her driving test a few months before.

Dad called through from the front room and asked me what Rosie had said to me about her plans for the evening. Mum snapped at him, told him to get to the point. He snapped back.

Then he turned to me and started, ‘It’s probably nothing, but . . .’ Even now those words always fill me with dread.

Rosie had told Mum that she’d be back by eleven. No biggie on its own, but Nathan had been playing an away match for the Carlton Arms pool team, and she’d promised him a lift home. Her phone kept going straight to voicemail, so he waited for her till 11.30, then rang our par- ents as he walked home.

Like I said, it never took much to make Mum start worrying, and this was plenty. Nathan said she’d made Dad phone the police at half-past midnight. I suppose there wasn’t much the police could say at that point, except to let us know that they’d had no incidents involving anyone called Rose, Rosie or Rosalyn, or with the surname Brett.

Straight after I got home, Mum told him to call the police again. He was kept on hold for a while, and said they were being very polite and understanding, but I could tell that they’d left him with the feeling that he was totally overreacting.

I don’t know if you remember much about my dad, but he’s a stub- born bloke, and when he makes his mind up about something, it’s really hard to get him to shift. ‘That’s enough now,’ he decided, and demanded that we all go and get some sleep.

So of course Mum started to argue with him, and he refused to budge. I looked at Nathan, and he just raised his eyebrows. It wasn’t like we hadn’t seen it all countless times before.

We left them there to wrangle, although I don’t remember hearing another sound from them.

I lay down on my bed fully dressed, and let the rest of the house think I’d gone to sleep. I heard Nathan’s door close, and imagined him in the next room, doing exactly the same. I don’t think I slept at all. Maybe it wasn’t like that, but that’s how I remember it.

If I did stay awake, it wasn’t because I was scared for Rosie. I didn’t believe for one second that I’d never see her again. It was more that I kind of felt out of kilter.

Funny phrase that: out of kilter. I don’t even know what a kilter is. And that’s the point. I knew something was up, but I didn’t have enough experience to guess . . .

Libby’s intended words had trailed off to nothing. The minutes ticked by as she tried to finish the paragraph, but didn’t think she could. For a moment she was tempted to delete the whole page, but that would amount to avoiding talking about Rosie. She could promise herself to type it again, but she knew that it wouldn’t happen.

She pressed ‘send’.

Zoe’s reply was typically short: ‘Can you tell me what happened?’ Libby gave a little smile. In Zoe’s photo she had cropped dark hair

and the type of face that looked serious even in the middle of a grin. Zoe didn’t need her messages surrounded by frilly words. This was exactly the reason she had picked Zoe to talk to; with her it was okay to be blunt, which in turn took away the excuse to give up. Libby typed quickly.

They found Rosie’s car first, parked up on a bridge crossing the A14. Her body was about half a mile away down on the carriageway. She’d been run over. More than that, actually, but I think, to explain it all . . . I just can’t do that right now.

Can I just say ‘multiple injuries’ and tell you the rest some other

time? The press referred to it as suicide.

The police were more cautious and listed other factors: bad weather, poor visibility, heavy traffic and so on. The A14 is notorious for its high accident rate. They never found out what had really happened. At least that’s what they told us, but I have a feeling that they did know. They just couldn’t prove it, and in the end, the verdict was left open.

I couldn’t grasp it at first. It didn’t seem possible. Even at Rosie’s funeral it didn’t seem real, then finally, when I understood that she really was dead, the questions started to form in my head. Little things at first. Had she ever made it to the cinema? Which film had she seen? Who had she gone with?

I asked myself: what was it that had prompted her to drive out any- where near the A14?

I also wondered how long it’d taken for her to die. I didn’t go to the inquest, Mum and Dad were there, but I could hardly ask them. It’s questions like that which make me worry that I have become overly morbid.

My list of questions grows, and I can’t stop it. And when I don’t have proper explanations, I start to invent the answers. It’s a bad habit and I feel like my life is only half lit now, and instead of looking to the light, I’m turning towards the darkest corners. I’ve got it into my head that there is some evil lurking just out of sight. And I’m straining to see it.

You see, I thought things couldn’t get worse, and that losing Rosie was enough.

In fact, it was enough. But what has happened since is too much.

Author Bio:

Alison Bruce was born in Surrey but moved to Cambridge in 1998. She is the author of three other Gary Goodhew books, Cambridge Blue, The Siren, and The Calling. She is married with two children.

Catch Up With the Alison:

Tour Participants:


7/01 ~ Showcase @ Deal Sharing Aunt (USA)
7/03 ~ Interview @ 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!
7/07 ~ Review @ Savingfor6
7/08 ~ Showcase @ X-Mas Dolly
7/09 ~ Showcase @ The Pen and Muse
7/15 ~ @ Babs Book Bistro
7/16 ~ Showcase @ Books Books & More Books
7/22 ~ Review @ Real Army of Moms
7/24 ~ Showcase @ Ryder Islingtons Blog
7/28 ~ Review @ bless their hearts mom
7/29 ~ Showcase @ Hott Books
7/30 ~ Showcase @ A Blue Million Books


Check out the list of other participants in this tour by going to the bottom of this post! You’ll find interviews, guest posts, and reviews of THE JOSHUA STONE. And some sites are offering an opportunity to win a free copy!

The Joshua Stone

by James Barney

on Tour October 8 – Nov 30th

Book Details:

Genre: Thriller/Suspense
Published by: William Morrow Paprbacks
Publication Date: 10/8/2013
Number of Pages: 416
ISBN: 9780062021397
Purchase Links:


Some secrets belong to the past. Others refuse to stay there . . .

In 1959, in an underground laboratory in a remote region of West Virginia, a secret government experiment went terribly awry. Half a dozen scientists mysteriously disappeared, and all subsequent efforts to rescue them failed. In desperation, President Eisenhower ordered the lab sealed shut and all records of its existence destroyed. Now, fifty-four years later, something from the lab has emerged.

When mysterious events begin occurring along the New River Valley in West Virginia, government agents Mike Califano and Ana Thorne are sent to investigate. What they discover will shake the foundations of science and religion and put both agents in the crosshairs of a deadly, worldwide conspiracy. A powerful and mysterious force has been unleashed, and it’s about to fall into the wrong hands. To prevent a global catastrophe, Califano and Thorne must work together to solve a biblical mystery that has confounded scholars for centuries. And they must do so quickly, before time runs out . . . forever.

Read an excerpt:

Thurmond, West Virginia
October 5, 1959
IT was time. Dr. Franz Holzberg stood at the security desk of the Thurmond National Laboratory and waited patiently for the guard to buzz him through the heavy steel door that provided access to the lab. Funny, he thought as he waited. They don’t even know what they’re guarding. He shook his head and considered that thought for a moment.
If they only knew . . .
A second later, the door opened with a loud buzz, and Holzberg stepped into a steel enclosure about five feet square and seven feet tall. He turned to face the guard and pulled a chain-link safety gate across the opening.
“Ready?” asked the guard.
Holzberg nodded, and the compartment in which he stood suddenly lurched downward and began its long descent toward the laboratory spaces, nine hundred feet below the ground.Two minutes later, the elevator shuddered to a halt, and Dr. Holzberg exited into a wide, empty passageway, about twenty feet across and two hundred feet long. The cracked, concrete floor was sparsely illuminated by overhead industrial lighting. A pair of rusty trolley rails ran down the middle of the corridor—a remnant of the mining operations that had once taken place there decades earlier.
Holzberg took a deep breath and savored the pungent smell of sulfur and stagnant water. After three long years of working on this project, he actually felt more at home underground than in the charmless cinder-block rambler that the government had provided for him “up top,” in Thurmond.
He started off toward the laboratory at the end of the corridor, his footsteps echoing loudly throughout the vast space. As he walked, the protocol for Experiment TNL-213 streamed through his mind for the thousandth time. Today is the day, he reminded himself, allowing just the faintest of smiles. Today, God would heed his command. Just as God heeded Joshua’s command at Gibeon.
Holzberg passed through the laboratory’s heavy security door and entered a long, rectangular room resembling a tunnel, with unpainted cement walls, ceiling, and floor.
The middle of the room was dominated by a large pool of water, twenty by thirty feet across and thirty feet deep, with a steel catwalk extending across it. A sturdy steel railing circumscribed the edge of the pool. Overhead, four long rows of incandescent bulbs illuminated the entire room with bright, white light. High up on the walls, thick, multicolored bundles of wires and cables snaked like garlands across sturdy brackets, with smaller bundles dropping down at uneven intervals to various lab equipment and workstations around the room.
Holzberg spotted four technicians in white lab coats busily preparing the lab for the upcoming experiment. He acknowledged them with a nod and then quickly made his way to an elevated control room overlooking the pool. He entered without knocking and greeted the room’s sole occupant, a bespectacled man in a white lab coat. “Good morning, Irwin,” said Holzberg in a thick German accent. “How are the modifications coming along?”
Dr. Irwin Michelson swiveled on his stool. He was a wiry man in his midthirties, with disheveled black hair and a two-day- old beard. He pushed his glasses up on his nose.
“They’re done,” he said.
“Done? You’ve tested it?”
“We changed out the power supply, like you suggested, and increased the cooling flow to two hundred gallons per minute. We tested it last night and were able to generate a ninety tesla pulse for twenty-five seconds with no overheating. We probably could go higher if we needed to.”
“Good. And the sensors and transducers?”
“All set.”
Holzberg nodded appreciatively to his tireless assistant.
“Sehr gut. Then let’s proceed.”
It took nearly three hours for Holzberg, Michelson, and their team of four technicians to complete the exhaustive checklist for TNL-213.
This experiment had taken three years to plan and had required millions of dollars in upgrades and modifications to the lab.
Nothing would be left to chance today.
By early afternoon they’d finished their thorough inspection of the equipment. They’d checked, double-checked, and triple-checked each of the hundreds of valves, levers, and switches associated with the lab’s “swimming pool” test rig. Everything was positioned according to a detailed test protocol that Dr. Holzberg carried in a thick binder prominently marked top secret—winter solstice.
Michelson knelt on the steel catwalk that bridged the 160,000-gallon pool of water and carefully inspected a rectangular steel chamber that was suspended above the water by four thick cables. Numerous electrical sensors were welded to the exterior of this chamber, and a rainbow of waterproof wires radiated out from it, coiling upward toward a thick, retractable wiring harness above the catwalk.
“Transducers are secure,” Michelson said over his shoulder.
“Good,” said Holzberg from the railing. He made a checkmark in his notebook and read the next step of the protocol aloud. “Mount the seed.”
Michelson stood and turned slowly to face his mentor.
“So it’s time?”
Holzberg nodded.
Michelson dragged a hand over his unshaven face and cracked a smile. “God, this . . . this is incredible.” He was barely able to contain his excitement. “This’ll give us a whole new understanding of the universe.”
“Perhaps,” said Holzberg.
“Right, perhaps. And perhaps the Nobel Prize, too.”
“No,” said Holzberg firmly, his expression suddenly turning dark.
“But . . . if this works, we could publish our findings. By then the government—”
“Irwin, no. We’ve had this discussion before.”
Michelson sighed and looked deflated. “Right, I know. Not until the world is ready.”
Holzberg inched closer to his protégé. “Irwin, this is a responsibility you must accept. Einstein himself was confounded by this material.”
“Einstein was overrated,” Michelson mumbled.
“Perhaps. But that does not change the fact that we have been entrusted with something very special here. We must study and solve it. Until we do, it is simply too dangerous to expose to the world. That is our burden. Do you understand?”
Michelson nodded sheepishly. Holzberg patted his younger colleague’s shoulder.
“Good. Now, let’s get the seed.”
The two men made their way to the far end of the room, where a circular vault was mounted flush with the cement wall. The vault door was protected by a bank-grade, dual-combination lock with twin tumblers. “Ready?” Holzberg asked.
Michelson nodded.
One after the other, the two men turned the pair of dials on the vault door four times each, alternating clockwise and counterclockwise. When the last of the eight numbers had been entered, Michelson pulled down hard on the heavy handle in the center of the door, and the vault opened with a metallic ka-chunk. He swung the door open slowly, and, as he did, the vault’s lights flickered, illuminating the interior with an ethereal blue light.
There was only one object in the vault: a clear glass cylinder about eight inches high and four inches in diameter housing an irregular black clump about the size of a golf ball. “The seed,” Holzberg whispered as he reached inside and retrieved the cylinder, cradling it carefully in both hands. He held it up to the light and peered inside. “Your secrets unfold today.”
Thirty minutes later, with the seed securely mounted in its special test chamber, and the chamber lowered deep into the pool, the two scientists returned to the control room for their final preparations.
“Transducer twenty-one?” said Holzberg, reading aloud from the test protocol.
Michelson pressed a button on the complex control panel and verified that transducer 21 was providing an appropriate signal. “Check.”
“Transducer twenty-two?”
Michelson repeated the procedure for transducer 22.
That’s it then,” said Holzberg, turning to a new page in his notebook. “We’re ready.”
He checked his watch, which indicated 4:15 p.m. Then he picked up a microphone that was attached to the control panel by a long wire. “Gentlemen,” he announced over the lab’s PA system. “We are ready to commence experiment 213. Please take your positions.”
In the lab space below, the four technicians quickly took up positions at their various workstations. One after another, they gave the thumbs-up signal that they were ready.
“Energize the steady-field magnet,” announced Holzberg.
A loud, steady hum suddenly filled the lab, followed by the sound of rotating equipment slowly whirring to life.
Several seconds later, Michelson quietly reported over his shoulder that the steady-field magnet was energized and warming up.
“Remember,” Holzberg said, “bring it up slowly.”
Michelson nodded. “We’re at thirteen teslas and rising,” he said, his attention focused on a circular dial on the control panel.
“And the cooling water outlet temperature?”
Michelson glanced at another gauge. “Sixty-two degrees.”
Eight minutes later, Michelson announced they were at 25 teslas, the peak field for the steady-field magnet.
“Outlet temperature’s creeping up slightly,” he added with a hint of caution.
“What about delta T?”
Michelson pushed a button and read from a gauge on his panel. “Nothing yet. Zero point zero.”
Holzberg pressed the microphone button and announced to the lab, “Prepare to energize the pulse magnet.”
There was a flurry of activity in the lab space below as the technicians quickly went about opening valves, flipping switches, and starting various pumps and other equipment. Eventually, all four gave the thumbs-up signal.
“Ready,” reported Michelson.
Holzberg swallowed hard. This was it. He paused for a moment before giving the final command. “Energize it now.”
Michelson pulled down on an electrical breaker until it clicked loudly into place. A deep buzzing sound immediately permeated the entire laboratory. The overhead lights dimmed momentarily and then slowly returned to their original intensity. “Energized,” he reported nervously.
“Bring it up slowly.”
“Total field is twenty-seven point three teslas.” Michelson was slowly turning a large knob in the center of the control panel.
“Outlet temperature?”
“Seventy-eight degrees.”
“Keep going.”
Michelson continued turning the knob slowly until the magnetic-field strength had reached 70 teslas. There he paused and quickly checked his instruments.“Outlet temperature is one hundred twenty-two degrees and rising,” he said nervously. “We don’t have much more room.”
“Any delta T?”
Michelson checked again and shook his head. “No. Still zero point zero.”
“Keep going,” said Holzberg.
Michelson nodded and again twisted the dial clockwise. He read out the magnetic-field strengths as he went.
“Seventy-six point four. Seventy-eight point zero. Eighty point two . . .”
“Temperatures, Irwin.”
Michelson quickly turned his attention to the outlet temperature gauge. “One hundred forty-five degrees and rising.”
“Keep going,” Holzberg said.“My God,” Michelson shouted. “Look at that!”
Holzberg uncovered his eyes and gazed in awe at the spectacle now occurring in the lab below him. A brilliant aura of light was hovering directly above the reactor pool, swirling in undulating patterns of blue, green, red, and yellow. The aura lasted for several seconds before giving way to a violent, blinding column of light that shot suddenly out of the pool, straight to the ceiling.
Holzberg again shielded his eyes.
A split second later, there was a loud whoosh and the entire lab filled with blinding white light. The control room windows shattered instantly, and Dr. Holzberg hit the floor.
The blinding light and whooshing sound subsided after several seconds, leaving in their place a terrifying jumble of alarm sirens and horns and the panicked shouts of the technicians below. Holzberg groped on hands and knees through the broken glass until he found the prone body of Dr. Michelson, who was either unconscious or dead.
“Irwin!” said Dr. Holzberg.
There was no response.
With effort, Holzberg pulled himself to his feet and gazed in utter disbelief at the chaos unfolding below him.
“Mein Gott,” he whispered. “What have we done?”
A second later, a man in a black leather coat suddenly appeared in the lab space below, seemingly from nowhere. Who is that? Holzberg wondered, utterly confused. And why does he look familiar?

Author Bio:

James Barney is the critically acclaimed author of The Genesis Key. He is an attorney who lives outside Washington, D.C., with his wife and two children.

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Eighty-one teslas,” said Michelson nervously. “Eighty-two. Eighty-three.”
His voice cracked slightly. “Uh . . . we’re getting close to the outlet limit.”
“Any delta T yet?”
Michelson quickly checked. “No. Zero point zero.”
“We need a higher field.” Holzberg touched Michelson’s shoulder and nodded emphatically for him to continue.
Michelson’s voice grew increasingly nervous as he continued reporting the rising magnetic-flux levels. “Eighty-seven point three. Eighty-eight point four. Eighty-nine point six . . . ninety point one.”
Suddenly, there was a loud beep, and an amber light began flashing on the control panel.
“Outlet temperature alarm,” Michelson reported. “One hundred seventy-five degrees and still rising. Should I bring it back down?”
“No,” said Holzberg firmly. “We need a higher field.”
Michelson started to protest, but Holzberg cut him off.
“Irwin, the flux levels!”
Michelson snapped his attention back to the control panel. “Ninety-three point one . . . ninety-four point four . . .shit.”
Another shrill alarm sounded on the panel.
“Core temperature alarm!” Michelson shouted above the noise. “We’ve got to shut it down!” He began turning the knob counterclockwise.
“No!” Holzberg barked, grabbing his arm. “Check the delta T.”
Michelson wiped his brow and checked. “Delta T is . . . zero point one seconds.”
“My God,” Holzberg whispered. “It’s working!”
“Zero point two seconds,” Michelson reported, still holding down the button. “Zero point three . . . zero point four.”
“Bring it up just a bit more,” said Holzberg over the constant noise of the two alarms.
“Do it!” Holzberg snapped.
Michelson swallowed hard and slowly tweaked the knob clockwise to increase the power to the pulse magnet.
“We’re gonna lift a relief valve.”
“What’s the reading?”
Michelson pushed the delta T button. “Whoa . . .”
“What is it?”
“Ten point five seconds. That’s incredible.” He continued holding the button down. “Fourteen seconds . . . twenty . . . thirty . . . fifty . . .”
“We’ve done it!” Holzberg exclaimed, patting Michelson on the back. “Okay, you can bring it back down now.”
Michelson quickly began twisting the knob counterclockwise. After several seconds, however, he suddenly looked confused.
“What is it?”
“Outlet temperature’s . . . still going up.” Michelson quickly pushed the button for delta T again. “Holy shit.”
Holzberg leaned in close and observed that the dial for delta T was now spinning rapidly clockwise. An odometer-style counter below the dial indicated that the accumulated value was now at 500 seconds . . . 600 seconds . . . 700 seconds.. . . The dial was spinning faster and faster.
“Shut it down!” Holzberg bellowed.
“I am. Look!” Michelson showed that he had already twisted the knob for the pulse magnet all the way to the left.
“Cut the power!”
At that moment, a thunderous scream erupted in the lab space below, and thick plumes of steam instantly billowed up from the pool. The technicians could be heard screaming emphatically to each other.
“Relief valves are lifting!” Michelson yelled over the cacophony.
Holzberg was just about to say something when suddenly there was a blinding flash of white light below. Instinctively, he shielded his eyes.


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