Special Agent Rick Cannon

Special Agent Rick Cannon is a patriot serving his nation during a time when CIA came under increasing scrutiny. Law enforcement wasn’t his first choice. He loved finance. Numbers and spreadsheets were as fun for him as strategic board games. He had his sights on being the Chief Financial Officer of a reputable firm one day. But at a job fair just before completing his masters in forensic accounting, a recruiter from the FBI bent his ear and changed his heart.

Now, a wife and kids and half a career later, he’s on his toughest assignment yet, spearheading an investigation for the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. It was all dollars and numbers until is became deadly serious.

Enjoy this following vignette from Valley of Wolves, the second novel in the Gypsy Spy series. Valley of Wolves is slated for release this summer. Click here to see the book trailer on YouTube.

Washington, D.C. – September 6, 1988

Rick Cannon sprang out of his seat and stood in front of the secretary’s desk, his throbbing fingers a reminder of the urgency of his errand. “How much longer?”

She peered at him over the computer monitor, her fingers clicking away on the keyboard. “Have a seat, Agent Cannon. Be patient. He’s a busy man.” Her head bent down. The clicking accelerated.

He stepped back, his heart mercilessly hammering pain through his broken fingers. Gasoline and bile painted the back of his throat like malevolent ghosts. Holy Moses! Two weeks! He invades my home, terrorizes my wife, threatens my children, and I’m supposed to sit?

He stared at the secretary—her gaze fixed on the document hanging beside her monitor, her fingers playing the keyboard in staccato bursts. He was invisible, the same non-entity she turned him into the minute after his arrival. Anger boiled up from his gut, balling his hands into fists.

“Son of a bishop!”

The clicking stopped. “Agent Cannon?”

He relaxed his hand. His fingers throbbed. He sucked air through clenched teeth and exhaled against pursed lips. Gasoline hung in his nostrils like bad cologne.

“Agent Cannon, are you okay?”

He blinked. “To heck with it.” Charging past her desk, he barged through his boss’s door.

Meme Monday – Cloak and Dagger

Cloak and Dagger Meme

Ever the catchphrase of espionage, cloak and dagger signify the two traditional functions of spies: subterfuge and sabotage. Assassination could be considered the ultimate sabotage. Carlos de Leon knows how to cloak, but he is a uniquely honed dagger. The novel is available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle editions.

Below is a picture of the prized Office of Technical Services (OTS) “Spyman” statuette awarded to CIA officers for honorable services while assigned to OTS.

CIA Spyman

Target #8: Claude Renault

Some characters are crafted with the express purpose of being casualties. After all, it’s difficult to write a story about an assassin without at least having one target that is destined to be eliminated. In The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins, former CIA operative Robert Baer lists “the bastard has to deserve it” as Law #1. Seeing that Carlos de Leon is an atypical assassin, it stands to reason that sooner or later he would disregard this cardinal rule. Just when you think you have the plot figured out, the twists keep coming all the way through to the end. This vignette comes from Chapter 37 – Confrontations.


He held his breath as he wheeled his cart to room 342. The guard didn’t even give him a second glance as he pushed the door open and stepped in. What he found was shocking. The room was large enough for two patients. But the other bed had been cleared out to make room for the life-support equipment. Why hadn’t they put him in the intensive care unit? Drake wondered.

Renault lay on the bed, motionless. His head was wrapped in heavy bandaging. Only his left eye and nose remained exposed. A blue, ribbed tube sprouted out of where Drake supposed Claude’s mouth to be and ran all the way into a hissing respirator. The mechanical accordion rose and fell in counterpoint with Claude’s chest. He had an IV in each arm. The bags dripped their liquids down the clear tubes in timed precision. His right hand was in a splint; his thumb, index, and second fingers taped to the metal stabilizers. A plastic bag hung on the bed rail, slowly collecting the urine brought to it by the catheter. The smell of disinfectant mixed with the odor of excreted medicine made Drake ill. He hated hospitals. “What have you done to yourself now,” Drake said, shaking his head.

He went into the bathroom and turned the water on as a covering sound. Going back to Claude’s bed, he inspected the patient more thoroughly. He lifted the bed sheets and examined Claude’s body. Not a burn mark on him. He picked up the chart and did his best to read the French medical mumbo-jumbo. Head injury caused by a shotgun blast, he read. Then his cronies must have released the fire injury to cover up the suicide attempt. It wouldn’t do to have the public know that their mayor elect had suicidal tendencies. They would ask him to resign before he was even able to take office. Smoke inhalation? He read it again. Yes, he had suffered from smoke inhalation. What happened?

“Claude,” he said into the man’s bandaged ear. “Claude, it’s me.” The left eye opened and swiveled about. It rested on Drake, then closed again. “Claude, what happened?” he asked. Claude opened his eye again and rolled his head from side to side. Drake placed a clean page of the chart on Claude’s lap and pressed a pen into the man’s left hand. “What happened?” he asked again. The hand moved slowly, deliberately.

“Kill me.”

“I can’t. What happened?”

“Pull plug!!”

“Tell me what happened,” Drake said.

“The Devil,” Claude wrote and dropped the pen. The Devil? What did that mean? Drake wondered. Claude pawed for the pen. Drake found it in the folds of the sheet and put it back into the injured man’s hand. “Will take Swenson,” he added to the line. The Devil will take Swenson?

“The Devil? Who?” Drake asked. In a swift motion, Claude jabbed the pen into his respirator line and pulled it out. The hiss grew louder. “Crap,” Drake said and placed his hand over the hole. It was no use. Claude’s left eye bulged slightly as his brain fought against his mind for life and tried to find air. A monotone replaced the background blip in the room. Drake looked up at the heart monitor. Flat line. Cursing, Drake slapped the blue button above the headboard.

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