Shanghai, China: Inventor and patent attorney Marc Wayne is held captive until he produces a functioning model of his Meissner Field Generator. At stake, his ransomed sister’s life. At the request of the FBI, Marc submits a patent application based on a theoretical, but seemingly bogus device that has tantalizing military applications, to lure the technology thieves. The bait worked all too well, attracting the illegal patent hackers within the hostile foreign government. Now sequestered in an undisclosed laboratory far from his small Midwest town, Marc struggles to convert an unproven idea into a weapon of global superiority. He suspects that he will be killed if he succeeds…
USPTO: Alexandria, Virginia: Muslim Hatim Saad is in the grips of a sadistic international spy, blackmailed to leak vital inventions from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Motivated by a longing to repair relations with his estranged Jewish son, in a moment of passion, he tricks his blackmailer…
Washington D.C.: A team of FBI agents, led by young Mallory Wayne, strive to trace the stolen patent only to find its author – her brother – has disappeared. Unaware that Marc believes she is being held hostage, first-time project leader Mallory is cognizant of the danger to her brother’s life and struggles with doubts of her own abilities. So far, the kidnappers have remained one step ahead…
Israel: Dealing in illegal arms, Adi’s shipment contains not the expected weapons, but an American inventor. Realizing powerful countries on opposite sides of the globe have strong interests in the goods he suddenly finds himself holding, he sets in motion a daring plan that assures everyone gets something they want…
In this breakout novel, Max Garwood and Joseph Grisham combine scientific and engineering skills with fast-paced writing to create a page-turning suspense. When the world teeters on the verge of World War III, the nation that develops a patent attorney’s invention will be invincible in the race for global dominance. America’s enemies have stolen the plans and kidnapped the inventor. Marc must find a way of escape before his captors realize the invention is theoretical. Or is it?
Targeted Age Group:: 18-60
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My co-author Max Garwood is a brilliant patent attorney with a genius plot idea. Max is an engineer by training so his idea consisted of ten bullet points. I took his ten bullet points and turned them into 400 pages of thrilling suspense. Max is the expert who added plot twists and knew military and munitions details.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Marc is named for Max’s kids, Mallory’s middle name is Max’s daughter’s name. Hebron Heath was Max’s idea. Adi is a guy PeggySue (aka Joseph) met on a tour in Israel. Wilson is patterned after a Disney Imagineer. Michael Northington is alluded to by the spec ops guys and is from another novel Peggysue wrote titled Für Elise. Nancy and Lei were included because Max asked, “Is there going to be some romance in the story?”
Marc Wayne grabbed a fire extinguisher and doused the greedy flames. His eyes stung and fire erupted a second time. Emptying the contents of the canister, he ignored the chirp of his cell phone.
At last, Marc and the extinguisher prevailed and the flames died. Just to be certain, he stood at the ready, poised to combat another fiery outburst. When nothing happened, he relaxed and set his weapon on the granite kitchen counter next to the television. Movement on the screen caught his attention and he turned to the news channel report.
“In a grab for military superiority, the Chinese have leap-frogged the jet engine technology of the free world. This new Chinese engine powers a superior model fighter plane that according to Howard Vaughan, National Security Advisor to the President, ‘poses a serious threat to the safety of our borders.’”
The flat screen showed a gray jet slice through the clouds as seamlessly as a dolphin cutting through the surf.
The CNN report continued while Marc threw open windows to vent the smoke and fumes. He swept up the disappointing remains of his invention, dumped the ashes into the kitchen sink, and flushed the mess down the disposal.
While the faucet ran, Marc mentally recalculated the inter-connecting elements and sequence of steps that led to the now purged ingredients. It was supposed to be an adhesive. He kept one ear tuned to the TV where the morning news predicted overcast skies.
“Weather guessers.” He gathered his hair into a ponytail and switched off the television.
The routine bicycle ride downtown was short and pleasant, cycling past welcoming brick homes in the neighborhood where he’d grown up. As he leisurely pedaled, his bike wheels crackled over the early September leaves swirling along the sidewalks and pooling against the curb. He wheeled around a corner and biked down Main Street. Passing the bank, funeral home, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, he braked in front of a narrow brick building that once served as the post office but now was divided vertically into two narrower offices. The sign read Marcus Wayne, Patents.
Leaning the bike against the sign, he heard the phone inside. He fished his pocket for the key and unlocked the door. But the ringing had stopped. Recalling the year he was twelve and had worked his first paper route; he picked up the morning newspaper. Today’s front-page wire story asserted that rapid advancements in military superiority by governments hostile to the United States could be a precursor to World War III.
“Mornin’, Marc.” The voice was gravelly. “Did you see the news?”
Marc turned to see Thurmond Yoder peering over his glasses. As long as Marc could remember, Thurmond had been the local veterinarian. The building’s landlord, Dr. Thurmond housed his practice in the west section and rented the east side.
“How’s business, Dr. Thurmond?”
“Barking along.” The wizened old man appeared tall, thin, and angular like the brick office they shared.
“Glad to hear that.”
“I’m glad to hear anything at my age.”
When Thurmond had an especially mouthy Chihuahua hospitalized for several days, Marc understood why this rental space had been available so often. “And just how old are you, Dr. Thurmond?” This was their customary morning repartee.
“Old enough to remember when you used to come in to get your hair cut.”
Marc tossed the key inside where it landed on the receptionist’s desk. “I was five.”
“Business was slow, so I took up dog grooming. I was clipping your dog and you asked if those clippers worked only on dog’s hair.”
“And you said, ‘Let’s see.’”
Thurmond wagged a finger at him. “Looks like you could use another trim.”
“Obviously, the experience traumatized me.” Marc shook his head. “Haven’t been able to face a set of clippers since.”
“I might have medication for that.”
“I’ll keep it in mind.” Marc threw a casual salute. He started into his office but his neighbor called him back.
“About the news?”
Marc nodded. “I saw the new Chinese military jet engine.”
“Read today’s top news story.” Dr. Thurmond pointed to the paper in Marc’s hand. “During World War II, I served as crew chief aboard the aircraft carrier USS Monterey.”
Marc knew the story. Well. While a teenager, Dr. Thurmond had lied about his age and enlisted, making him one of the younger veterans of that war. “Along with future president Gerald Ford who helped you fight a fire below decks.”
“Fire erupted from colliding aircraft when swells caused by Hurricane Halsey tipped the ship 70 degrees. During that December of 1944 we lost 147 planes and 490 men.” Dr. Thurmond removed his glasses and cleaned them with his vet smock. “Do you see the connection?”
Like when he got caught daydreaming in school and the teacher called on him, Marc was unprepared for the question. “Connection?”
Dr. Thurmond held up his glasses and examined the lenses for smudges. “World War II was a clear case of good versus evil. Enslaving force against republic liberty.”
Unsure what to say, Marc shifted his weight.
“My generation fought fiercely with the technology we had.” He slipped the clean glasses back on and studied Marc. “What will you do about this new threat?”
“Me?” Marc felt like he wanted to loosen his tie, but he wasn’t wearing one. Didn’t even own one. “Or my generation?”
”Every generation needs leaders. Especially when the wolf growls at the door.”
Dr. Thurmond disappeared into his vet clinic. Marc opened the newspaper across the handlebars. Scanning the disturbing cover story, he pushed his bike inside and kicked the door closed. Marc felt insulated from the world’s conflicts in this small Midwest town of Dixon, Indiana. These new political developments had nothing to do with him. Surely someone else would handle the global situation. Someone else always did.
Special Agent Mallory Wayne checked the time and mentally rehearsed her argument.
“Relax.” Her partner, Fred Ridley joined her at the conference table.
“Then stop twirling your hair.” He tugged at his own short-cropped crown. “It makes you look like a novice.” He snapped his fingers. “Oh yeah, you are the newest member of the task force.”
Mallory shifted her twirling into a quick scratch behind her ear. “Welcome back from maternity leave. Have any photos of that new baby?”
“Introducing the reason I was out of the office so you got to be the lead on this project.” Fred unfurled the photo section of his wallet like an accordion. “Meet the third Ridley production.”
“People keep albums on their computer.”
“I can show you those, too.” He opened his cell phone where the wallpaper was a picture of his wife and children.
Special Agent in Charge Fielding Whitaker was talking as he entered the FBI conference room. Mid-forties, he sported a deep tan, and a perpetual cup of coffee. “Talk to me, people.”
Mallory opened her mouth to open the meeting but nothing came out. Her carefully prepared introduction vanished from her mind.
Fred cleared his throat and indicated the overhead screen. A wide-faced black man reared in Georgia’s historic Savannah, Fred had just celebrated his fortieth birthday. The counter-terrorism specialist took the remote from Mallory’s hand and pointed it at the overhead screen. “Here’s the segment of the CNN special that started this parade.” The news clip described a specialized jet engine manufactured by an Asian company and marketed to governments hostile to the United States.
A decade younger than her supervisor, Hoosier native and Purdue graduate, Mallory specialized in research and analysis. This was her moment to re-engage. To take charge. “According to Department of Defense analysts,” Mallory gestured toward the now silent screen, “that engine is an obvious copy of a General Electric engine under development for a new Boeing fighter/bomber.”
“That explains why the Defense Department has its underwear in a wad.” Whitaker unwrapped a stick of cinnamon-flavored gum. “Our directive is to stop the flow of industrial and defense sensitive information to foreign entities.”
Mallory passed a file to Whitaker. She opened her own copy and began to read. “Going back over the last two decades, Hsu Kai-lo and Chester H. Ho, naturalized citizens were arrested by the FBI in June 1997 and charged with attempting to steal the process for culturing Taxol.”
Whitaker raised an eyebrow. “Taxol?”
“Used to treat ovarian cancer,” Mallory said. “A trace element found in an endangered species of yew tree was used in the formulation of the drug. Bristol-Myers Squibb invested millions to develop the process for culturing commercial quantities of the material from plant cells.”
Fred added, “A federal grand jury returned indictments, eleven counts against Hsu, Ho, and a female accomplice, Jessica Chou.”
“Hsu, Ho, Chou?” Whitaker waved at the stack of files in front of Mallory. “Sounds like verses from Old MacDonald Had a Farm. With a ho-ho here and a chou-chou there … What else you got?”
“In August 1997 Harold C. Worden pled guilty to felony interstate transportation of stolen property.” She was talking fast. “A 30-year employee of the Eastern Kodak Corporation, Worden was project manager for a processing machine using a secret formula that determines the quality of the photographs.” She slid that file to the bottom of the pile and opened the next one. “Kuxuhe Huang sent U.S. trade secrets worth $300 million to China and Germany. Charged under the 1996 Economic Espionage Act, which was passed after the U.S. realized China and other countries were spying on private businesses.”
Whitaker held up his hands. “Okay. Got it. That stack holds how many such case examples?”
Fred fanned his own stack with his thumb. “I make it to be the size of a D.C. phone book.”
“Heavy on the research and evidence, Mallory.” Whitaker swept his hand in an exaggerated motion indicating the number of files. “What’s your point?”
“The point is that we have agents doing a good job tracking down industrial espionage.” Mallory tapped the files with a manicured index finger. “The successful development of that jet engine by the Asian company is the result of vital information secured before the engine was tested by the Air Force. Before it ever became another case of industrial espionage.”
“General Electric was working on the design, using strict security precautions. The functionality of the GE engine was in foreign hands before GE made the design public.” Fred emphasized the word ‘before.’ “The guts of this engine were disclosed in several patent applications that GE filed to protect the design for later commercial development.”
“Meaning,” Mallory leaned forward. This was the moment to press her leadership. To display her analysis and deductive reasoning on this case. She spoke each word with overstated slowness. “Somebody had access to the functional design before GE had it tested.”
Whitaker was quiet, thinking this over.
“Nor was the engine reverse engineered,” Fred added, “since there are none on the market.”
“Like Americans did to the sturdy and utilitarian German motorcycle during World War II, giving us the Harley Davidson.” Whitaker smiled. “My personal favorite piece of stolen technology.”
Fred smirked. “Yeah, we saw the new model in your parking space.”
“Boys and their toys,” Mallory noted flatly, eager to get back to her findings.
Whitaker tossed his empty coffee cup into the trash. “So, we know what it’s not. What do you have for moving forward?”
Quickly, Mallory handed a second file to her boss. “Patent applications are screened upon receipt at the USPTO – ”
“Us-pee-toe? Are we back with Old MacDonald’s farm? Speak English.”
She printed the initials on a legal pad. “United States Patent and Trademark Office. Patent applications that might impact national security are referred to appropriate agencies for consideration of restrictions.”
“If the agency concludes that disclosure of the invention would be detrimental to the national security, the Commissioner for Patents issues a Secrecy Order. Such an order withholds the publication of the application and of the grant of a patent as long as national interest requires.”
“Every pencil pusher has his moments of glory. Okay, so much for the boilerplate. What’s your theory?”
Fred nodded to Mallory. There was encouragement in his eyes.
She squared her shoulders. “Secrecy orders were issued for the GE patent applications relating to the fuel delivery and control systems for the engine.” To slow the nervous rush of words, Mallory took a deep breath. “The only disclosure of the design outside of the security perimeter was by way of patent applications that revealed the conceptualization.”
Whitaker looked at his watch. “And the bottom line?”
She set up her theory like setting up a three-point basketball shot. “Our theory is that the information in those applications was compromised in the patenting process.”
“Before,” Fred emphasized.
“Before General Electric delivered the first engine to the military?” Whitaker reached for a pen on the tabletop. “What about leaks at the GE plant?”
Mallory shook her head. “The fuel delivery and control systems were developed by separate teams.”
“The plot thickens.” He clicked the pen several times. “Meaning?”
“Only the Patent Office had all the applications together in one place.” With every click, Mallory’s nerves tightened. She glared at his pen.
Whitaker followed her gaze and clicked the pen faster. Louder.
“The common denominator is the Patent Office,” Fred said.
“Fred and I suggest that we investigate the possibility that the information flow begins at the Patent Office. That’s our starting point.”
“Is there an echo in here?”
Mallory felt herself flush at the jab and plunged on. “Particularly patent applications stamped with a Secrecy Order.”
“Ah – security’s weakest link is the individual.”
Mallory and Fred nodded.
“Your suggested plan of action?”
Mouth suddenly dry, Mallory wished for a stick of Whitaker’s gum. “Let’s submit our own patent application for an invention desirable for military applications. The goal is to trace the information channels.”
Whitaker stood and gathered his files. “Find the leaks. Shut them down, and while you’re at it – quite frankly – get some good PR.” Halfway out the door, he called back. “Eeeny, meany, miny-mo, catch a Hsu, a Chou and Ho. Work out the details, people. Back here in the morning.”
Shanghai. He hated the place.
Busy and overpopulated, the city offered plentiful opportunities to remain anonymous, a necessary convenience for Colonel Jai Yao’s business. China’s most populous city and one of the first to adopt the one-child population control policy, Shanghai presented the sadistic illusion of prosperity to countless peasants that immigrated from country villages. It also bore cruel memories that haunted his sleep and confounded his waking hours.
The dirty military vehicle dropped him in front of a tired looking building. The former temple was one of many religious structures confiscated by the government. Owned by the people. The People’s Republic.
Most of these historic structures were now Custody and Repatriation Centers. China was “cleaning up her cities,” according to the official statement. That meant rounding up beggars, street children, garbage gatherers, prostitutes, the homeless, and any unregistered workers. Anyone authorities opted to bully.
Inside, Yao was processed through a security checkpoint. Under vaulted ceilings, the place smelled of age and centuries of incense burned during religious ceremonies.
Passing an oversized room, sweat broke out on his top lip. Barely lit by narrow windows set far above a man’s head, he remembered a similar place years ago jammed with nearly 100 prisoners. Their only crime was that they didn’t belong. Yao didn’t belong. Insufficient ventilation in the overcrowded space left the inhabitants lethargic, their eyes dulled by hopelessness. Some lay curled on the filthy floor, seeking relief from intestinal complaints. All were plagued by pest infestations and desperate for access to toilets and water for washing.
He shook his head to push away the memory, reminding himself that this was not a Custody and Repatriation Center. This was entirely different.
In a concrete-walled corridor at the building’s center, two guards flanked oversized double doors.
Again, Yao flashed his identification and was waved through. What had served as the temple’s inner sanctuary currently resembled a laboratory not unlike the one he had studied in on the other side of the world at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States. Overhead lights were bright and the controlled air was cool and dry. Wearing white lab coats, two-dozen Chinese scientists and technical personnel were busy at workstations.
“Colonel Yao.” From the center of the room, one man broke away from what he was doing and came quickly to Yao’s side. “We are honored by your presence.”
The Colonel barely acknowledged the simpering department supervisor. “Walk with me.”
The two passed one workstation after another. Colonel Yao viewed each with a critical eye. “Tell me of your progress.”
Tim Saad massaged his temples. Maybe some coffee. Someone said caffeine could cure headaches. Or was that another American saying. What did they call them? Urban legends?
Stopping at the restroom he checked his sugar level and gave himself an insulin shot. In the break room, he was reaching for a cup when one of the support staff joined him at the coffee pot. His employer, the United States Patent and Trademark Office employed more than 8,000 people at the huge five-building campus headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. More than half were patent examiners. Fewer than 500 were trademark attorneys. The others were support staff.
“Hi Tim.” The pert woman had skin the color of his coffee with just the right amount of cream.
He held his cup under the coffee pot and attempted to fill it. “Hello.”
“How are you?”
The pot was empty. “Apparently too late for coffee.” Though he couldn’t remember her name, he did remember it was Hispanic. Being an agency of the United States Department of Commerce, the patent office resembled the San Francisco airport with half its inhabitants being foreign nationals. He pressed a thumb against his temple. “And this headache is distracting.”
“I know what you mean.” She stepped closer. “Taking a walk helps. I like to go to the atrium. For the view and some vitamin D.”
“Sunshine.” She waved her hand toward the ceiling. “Natural lighting instead of the indoor kind combined with blue computer screens.”
“A walk.” He was supposed to walk regularly to keep his sugar level balanced.
“I walk every day. Why don’t you come with me?” She rested a hand on her slim waist and he noticed her fingernails were shiny and red tipped to match her lipstick.
In his fifties, Tim guessed the pretty woman was twenty years younger. He looked at his watch. It was lunchtime. He nodded his thanks and they set off in the direction of the atrium.
Once downstairs, she pointed him toward the current display. “You go ahead and take in the new hoopla. I’ve seen it already. I’ll meet you on the other end with coffee.”
Protecting Intellectual Property was the new exhibit featured in the Patent and Trademark Office Museum housed in the impressive Madison Building atrium. The timeline illustrated the history of patents and trademarks in the United States. “Currently based in Alexandria after a 2006 move from the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia,” a plaque read, “the office has been fully funded by fees charged for processing patents and trademarks applications since 1991. The move to the new complex was made under the leadership of Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, Jon W. Dudas, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2004.”
Tim considered the modern USPTO campus and marveled at the equally immense revenue generated by intellectual property applications. Awarded in 1421 to Filippo Burnelleschi for an improved method of transporting goods up and down Florence’s Arno River in Italy, the first patent encouraged the spread of knowledge while protecting the inventor’s legal interests. The unlimited ability of the human mind to create was a constant source of amazement. This building was a credit to minds that had designed a process to amass income from the abstract ideas of others. Developed and maintained by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the museum and gift shop were favorites of tourists. For Tim, an occasional visit reminded him of the bigger picture, a view of the end product of his efforts.
Born where poverty and starvation shadowed everyday life, Tim grew up with the understanding that doctors and engineers were respected. Government positions carried prestige. Now employed with the United States government, he was respected and admired, at least in his native land. Patent examiners, like him, were generally scientists and engineers. Tim’s bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering qualified him for his examiner’s position, but his proclivity with electro-mechanical devices placed him in the art unit that examined electrical/mechanical devices.
Further along, the exhibit addressed the Invention Secrecy Act of 1951, “designed to prevent disclosure of new inventions and technologies that, in the opinion of selected federal agencies, present a possible threat to the national security of the United States.”
Tim leaned closer. Like a writer finding a review of his latest book, Tim read on to see how the exhibit described his particular responsibilities. “The Department of Defense, military agencies, The National Security Agency, Department of Energy, NASA, and the Justice Department provide a classified list of sensitive technologies that earn an invention a secrecy order.”
Reading the same information, a tourist pressed close. Tim moved farther down. “A secrecy order requires that the invention be kept secret, restricts the filing of foreign patents, and specifies procedures to prevent disclosure of ideas contained in the application.”
Smelling of spicy kimchi, the tourist bumped against him. Annoyed, Tim moved to the next section. “The types of inventions classified under this Act are a secret. By the end of 2007, there were 5,002 secrecy orders in effect.”
He looked sideways to see if the tourist without regard for personal space was bearing down on him, but the man was gone. So was his headache. Looking at his watch, he noted that break time was nearly over. Tim hurried his pace to the end of the exhibit. As promised, his co-worker met him with two coffees.
She smiled as he approached. “Here you go.”
“Thank you.” Tim sipped the strong brew.
“I took the liberty of adding some sugar.” She stirred her own cup and tossed the spoon into a trash. “Low blood sugar can cause annoying headaches.”
She remembered a lot about him. Perhaps they had spoke at the Christmas party but her name still eluded him.
“Feeling better?” They began walking back to their floor.
“A walk,” she confided, “can be life-changing.”
As usual, he was there before his secretary. Marc tossed the newspaper onto Nancy’s desk and parked his bike next to the oversized pottery crock that served as an umbrella stand. In colors of clear and turquoise, unmatched porcelain and glass insulators from abandoned power and telegraph poles were mounted on the wall and served as coat pegs.
Down the hall, Marc passed his own office in favor of his workroom at the rear of the building. He dropped his backpack on the worktable, slid open the zipper, and set several objects and a legal pad filled with scrawled notes on the already crowded surface. He snapped on the tabletop light and bent over his project.
That’s where Nancy found him later in the morning. He knew she had arrived when the overhead office lights came on. Moments later he recognized the honest fragrance of his favorite Earl Grey tea.
“Did you check your email?” From the kitchenette, he heard the ting of a spoon as it stirred. That would be the honey she laced in the morning’s tea.
He didn’t bother to look up. “Go ahead. Let me know if there’s anything important.”
She came into the room and peered over his shoulder. She smelled of spring lavender. “How’s it coming?”
“In the tinkering stage, but looking promising.”
Nancy set his John Deere mug near his elbow. “Here, hot and steamy. Cream and honey the way you like it.”
“By the way. Could you pick up another fire extinguisher?”
“I sent a new one home with you last night.”
“Yes. You did. Good thing, too. And I need another one.”
“Hmmm. Perhaps I can arrange a quantity discount.” She turned to leave but stopped at the door. “This isn’t another ice cream scoop, is it?”
He sighed. “You wound me, Nancy. I patented that while still a teen and sold it to Ronco.”
“Or a hairbrush that removes static electricity?”
He glanced at her from under his arm. “And used the static to cause the brush to glow. Very cool.” He returned his attention to his project. “I patented that design, too. Which led me from electrostatics to electro-magnetics.”
“Magnetic field sensors and superconductors and the Meissner Effect to be precise.”
“I see,” she said, and they both knew she didn’t. “All these inventions yet you can’t work the tea pot.”
“That’s why I need you, Nancy.”
She snorted. “You need me for a lot of things –” The phone interrupted her.
“Including answering the phone.” Marc’s elbow bumped the mug and sent it crashing to the floor where it shattered, sending ceramic shards scattering, and Earl Grey splashing across the room.
The phone rang again. “That’s the phone,” Nancy said as they both eyed the damage. “I’d better get it.”
About the Author:
Max Garwood has a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, a Juris Doctorate degree from the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, and is licensed in Indiana as an Attorney and a Professional Engineer. He additionally is licensed as a Patent Attorney and earns a living by pursuing patent protection for clients of the law firm of Taylor, IP, PC.
Joseph Grisham is the pen name for Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, PeggySue Wells. Including an audio finalist, her two-dozen books have been published nationally, internationally, and translated into five languages.
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