Whew! Well THAT took longer than I planned. I know many of you have been waiting a while for this one. For that, I apologize. Between the general craziness of the last year, some personal triumphs and challenges, and life getting in the way, the next book in the Thomas Caine Thriller series hit more than a few snags.
I also had some major life changes occur this year… All good stuff, that I can’t wait to tell you about in a later post. But the important thing is this:
The wait is finally over…
January 2022, Thomas Caine returns in… CODE GREEN.
From Singapore to Vietnam… From the towering heights of a luxury hotel, to the submerged depths of the world’s largest cave… Thomas Caine races against time to stop a deep state conspiracy from infiltrating America’s intelligence community.
A few long-time readers took an early look at the manuscript, and all agree – it may be the most action-packed Caine novel yet! In fact, I’m happy to say that the pre-order has already burst it’s way into Amazon’s Hot New Release List! I certainly wasn’t expecting that, but I’ll take it. Caine fans kick butt!!!
The book will go live on Amazon January 25th. I’d recommend pre-ordering now to ensure you can start reading the moment it is published. You can pre-order your copy here:
PRE-ORDER CODE GREEN ON AMAZON
In the meantime, to thank everyone for their patience, I’d like to present a sneak peak at an early chapter in Code Green. In fact, it’s the chapter that explains the meaning of the title, and why I chose it. I hope you enjoy, and I hope you’ll join me for Thomas Caine’s next adventure, January 25th, 2022…
Paulis took a sip of coffee. “Frankly, I’ve never seen anything like it. A privatized intelligence network. HUMINT, SIGINT, Spec Ops… Grissom can pull off anything from boots on the ground to sophisticated cyber-warfare. And despite your efforts, the Senate Intelligence Committee still doesn’t seem to grasp the threat that’s been sitting under their nose.”
Caine stared back at him. “So if you believe me, why the third degree? Why the armed men on the hill, and the cameras, and all these damn tests. What more do you want?”
Paulis leaned back in his chair. “Isn’t it obvious?”
Caine laughed again. “Enlighten me.”
The older man pointed a finger at him. “See, I think that’s part of the problem right there. You’ve been working on your own for so long now, you can’t see it. Hell, even your last few years in active duty in SAD/SOG, you were under Bernatto’s thumb. A secret division within the CIA, carrying out unsanctioned operations. Missions you hid from Rebecca, and anyone else in the official command structure.”
“I paid the price for that, didn’t I?”
Paulis set his coffee cup on the table and steepled his fingers under his chin. “Maybe. But at the end of the day, what I need to know is, can I trust you? And more importantly, can you trust me? Or anyone, for that matter.”
“Trust? Afraid that’s in short supply these days, Director.”
“Indeed it is. More than you know. I understand Rebecca briefed you on the raid Grissom arranged in DC.”
Caine nodded. “To set up something like that… the men, the planning, the firepower… Takes a lot of money. And the right people in your pocket.”
“Based on your reports, and what little we’ve been able to uncover, Grissom’s influence reaches into the highest levels of this country’s intelligence apparatus. He’s been able to compromise high ranking NSA officials, the former Director of National Intelligence, countless private military contractors and local officials… Hell, even operatives within China’s MSS.”
Caine clenched the side of the table with a white knuckled grip. “So why are we sitting here and talking?”
Paulis gritted his teeth for a moment, then sighed. “If I send you after Bernatto, Grissom, or anyone else… Well, like we used to say in JSOC, it’s ‘Weapons Free’ out there. I have neither the time nor the inclination to babysit you. I can’t micromanage your every move. If I can’t trust you to make the right decisions, if you’re permanently damaged and broken by the things Bernatto did, the betrayal you suffered… If you can’t trust, you’re useless to me.”
Caine stood and placed his hands on the table. “You’ve had me caged up here for months. That’s months of Bernatto and Grissom doing who knows what out in the real world. So don’t talk to me about trust. I trust Rebecca. I trust DuBose. As for you, if you want my trust, maybe you should try earning it for a change. I don’t give it blindly anymore.”
Paulis looked up at him. “Sit your ass down, or you can go back to your room.”
Caine glared back at him, but said nothing. He remained standing.
Paulis shifted in his chair and cleared his throat. “DuBose is part of the reason we’re here,” he continued. “All the doctors and psychological tests in the world don’t mean shit to me, Caine. I need to look a man in the eye before I make a decision like that.”
“And?” Caine growled.
The Director stared back at him.
“According to the staff here, you’re suffering from classic PTSD symptoms. Paranoia, nightmares, mood swings. You lash out at anyone and everyone who tries to get close, because you don’t want to remember what happened to the people you used to give a damn about. How am I doing? Sound familiar?”
Caine returned the man’s stare. “Why do I feel like there’s a ‘but’ coming?”
Paulis gestured to the chair. “For the love of God, Caine, will you please sit down!”
Caine slid into the chair. “Well?”
Paulis slid the folder of papers out of the way and rested his hands on the table. “Clayton DuBose is down. He’s alive, but he’s not returning to active duty anytime soon. And given Grissom’s track record of infiltrating US Intelligence agencies, that narrows down the list of people I can trust to exactly three… My D/NCS, an FBI Special Agent who’s barely able to contact me… And you.”
Caine narrowed his eyes. “What happened to DuBose?” he asked, unable to hide the note of surprise in his voice.
Paulis pushed the bridge of his glasses up with one finger. “While you’ve been cooling your heels in debriefings, Walter Grissom has been systematically wiping out loose ends. Anyone who could hurt him or his organization, or that could be vulnerable to CIA pressure, is winding up dead. Or missing, without a trace. We sent DuBose as an undercover observer on one of Special Agent Zavala’s operations. The raid in Texas. They took down a warehouse belonging to a Blackwing front company called Agromex.”
Paulis slid another folder across the table. Caine flipped it open, and held up a picture. He whistled when he saw the satellite photo of the obliterated warehouse.
“What the hell did this?”
“Some kind of high-grade explosive, military for sure. We believe the building housed a massive data server for Blackwing. The FBI Cybercrimes unit is sifting through the rubble, but there obviously isn’t much left. They haven’t released their findings yet, but whatever was on those servers, someone clearly didn’t want it to be found.”
“Which begs the question,” Caine muttered. “How did you know it was there?”
Paulis grunted. “An asset in Singapore tipped us off…. He used the codename ‘Larkspur.’ For obvious reasons, we’ve been keeping his identity classified.”
Caine continued flipping through the photos of the obliterated warehouse. “Larkspur, huh? Apparently his intel was good. So who is he really?”
Paulis tapped the table with his fingers for a moment, then sighed. “His real name is Andrew Seng, a financier Grissom used to launder money. After you blew up their operation in South Sudan, I guess Seng saw the writing on the wall. He wants to cut a deal, protection in exchange for what he knows. He contacted my office and revealed the location of that warehouse, to establish his bona fides. Then he turned himself over to the Internal Security Department in Singapore.”
“Which means he’s probably next on Grissom’s hit list.”
Paulis leaned forward and stared at Caine. “That’s right. Unless we get to him first. So I don’t have time to read a stack of reports about your nightmares, or a list of your physiological anxiety symptoms. I can’t make sure you’re eating properly. ”
“I’ll save you the trouble,” Caine replied. “The food here is shit.”
Paulis adjusted his glasses. “You suffered. You were betrayed. I get that. But right now, my only link to Blackwing is holed up in another country, with a target painted on his back. So I need to you to look me in the eye and tell me… Are you code green or code red? Go or no-go. That’s the only answer that matters to me right now.”
Caine closed the folder and looked up at Paulis. “Honestly? I have no idea.”
Paulis stared at him in silence for another few minutes. Then he stood up, gathered his folders, and marched towards the exit. “You leave Dulles Airport in three hours. Car’s waiting outside. Pack light clothes. Gets hot in Singapore this time of year.”
He closed the door behind him. Caine remained in the chair. He looked up at the ceiling.
Code Green… Go or no-go…
“Guess we’ll see,” he muttered to himself.