A trained government agent. A sabbatical-turned-nightmare. A secret puppet master whose hold on the strings is brutally tightening…
Seasoned CIA officer Richard Hart is burnt out. Agreeing to meet a top spy during a much-needed month-long break, he gets a sinking feeling of a setup when his car breaks down in the searing heat of the desert. But after he stumbles across a couple of locals in an abandoned town, he makes a horrifying discovery: no one can leave.
As Hart investigates a community full of suspicious characters, he’s shocked to realize he’s been transported one hundred years in the past. Now trapped in the Old West, the hardened operative is battling ghost riders, half-living creatures, and deadly desperados…
Can Hart escape this hellish place before he ends up six feet under dust?
Targeted Age Group:: 18-50
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wrote this book after graduating from UCLA and I was intrigued by the Cold War of the 80s. I had read a lot of Robert Ludlum, Bourne Identity etc. and and wanted to explore the inner workings of a disillusioned spy.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I started with the simple idea of a burned out spy who somehow ended up in a desert ghost town. Then I kept asking myself who else would be there and what would make the characters in the plot interesting? I came up with an ex-governor and a Las Vegas dancer. Of course I needed a bad guy. Thus Moodbain, the master spy and manipulator who was playing with time travel — for real.
V. M. Moodbain was about to breach the door to the study when he heard voices shouting in a Russian dialect inside the oak-paneled chamber. He couldn’t make out what they were saying, but he could guess. He fingered the tarnished ring of keys clipped to his belt. For the last seventeen months, he’d entered this office without thinking twice. But this time he paused. The clamor escalated. Moodbain set his janitor’s broom and bucket aside for not more than five seconds before the door burst open.
A Russian colonel-general barely glanced at him as he stormed out and turned away. Moodbain dunked his mop into the bucket and continued to swab the hall floor until the echoing footsteps receded in the distance. The fragile janitor turned the handle and entered the room.
An impressive uniformed man behind the desk, preoccupied with the computer screen in front of him, ignored him.
“Ok?” Moodbain asked.
Moodbain dusted the shelves and emptied the ash trays. Then, from an inner pocket, he withdrew a 5-inch Rosewood Italian Switchblade, and with the agility and speed of a young, well-trained agent, he sliced the man’s neck.
The carotid artery pumped blood out of his body. It spilled onto his red and gold one-star insignia. Moodbain ejected a disk from the man’s computer and tucked it into his blue work overalls. He had what he came for.
He proceeded to the janitor’s closet, where he stashed his gear. The three-star colonel-general suddenly reappeared around the corner.
“All locked up?” he asked in Russian.
“Enjoy the New Year.”
* * *
Hours later found Moodbain standing alone like an ancient statue, unbeaten in the desert at night. Gale force winds tore at his brown canvas jacket. The spewing Gobi sands searched for every opportunity to get at the thief. Tiny darts needled his ankles, stung his neck, lashed at his face, but Moodbain hung on.
In days past, he had waited extreme lengths of time without flinching a muscle. He’d withstood Norway’s chill in the winter of ’54 in Karasjok when his second had not arrived after months of hasty, filtered messages and pale reassurances.
In the Arctic’s sub-zero temperatures, Moodbain understood firsthand what it felt like to freeze to death. At the same time, he learned to expect nothing from anyone, nothing from the weather, nothing from friends, nothing from other American agents.
As the wind howled at his back and the sand shifted all around, the desert roared at him to leave. But Moodbain stood and he waited. He counted from one to ten, never more. When he reached ten, he began again at one, went through the numbers, and repeated them until that’s all he knew, the beating of his heart, the wait, and the count.
It was a practice he’d picked up from a Zen monk in Burma after assassins had killed his second wife, and he was holed up in Rangoon recovering from a bout of amoebic dysentery.
Hours of standing on tireless legs gave way to this small feeling of accomplishment for him.
The blackness of the sky faded to the west. Gray predawn light had not yet filtered down to the desert floor. The wind let up as if even it had grown tired of the long, unproductive delay. But Moodbain had not. For his age, his limbs were strong, his body firm. He fixed his eyes on the distant horizon. His mind was alert. The numbers were coming to him slowly, rhythmically like precision notes on a cold, winter day. Any minute he expected to see the familiar shimmer of headlights over the ridge.
He had to deliver the information before the Russians discovered what he did. He scanned the area. There was no one in sight, no sign of life in the mountains, no trace of motion on the highway.
He took a deep breath. “Perhaps he’d guessed wrong,” he thought to himself. “Maybe there would be no visitor.”
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