Sunday, August 12, 2012

Excerpt:Thursday At Noon Book Week

Thursday at Noon 

ebook, 348 pages
Published June 6th 2012
As The New Yorker said, it is “a thriller in the purest cliffhanger vein, Mr. Brown’s technique is flawless. It could only have been learned in a thousand Saturday afternoon movie matinees.”

Cairo, 1962. Richard Thomson is already having a very bad day when someone leaves a corpse lying on his back steps. Its head had been lopped off like a ripe melon, left on the top step where it could look down at itself. Thomson is a burned out CIA Agent and the body belongs to Mahmoud Yussuf, a petty Cairo thief who tried to sell him photographs of a long-abandoned RAF base in the Egyptian desert. What the photos have to do with a dead Israeli Mossad agent, Nazi rocket scientists, the fanatical Moslem Brotherhood, and two missing Egyptian tank regiments could start the next Arab-Israeli War. Alone and on the run, no one believes Thomson’s answers -- not the CIA, the US Ambassador, Colonel Ali Rashid of Egyptian State Security, and most assuredly not Captain Hassan Saleh, of the Homicide Bureau of the Cairo Police.

Like Night of the Generals, this is a murder mystery wrapped inside an international crisis. Tick Toc, Tick Tock! Something is about to blow up in Thomson’s face at Noon on Thursday. 

Suddenly, however, in this old dilapidated hangar, his life changed. It now had an unwanted value equal to their secret. That was much more than it had ever been worth in the past, so he couldn’t die now. He must stay alive, at least long enough to warn Tel-Aviv, and that realization momentarily unnerved him. After seventeen years of not caring, the Dead Man was no longer certain he knew how to live.

Landau quickly looked around. To have any chance of escaping this place, he needed a diversion. A diversion? He smiled. Why not a very big one? Why not the biggest? Why not destroy all of this, before they can finish their evil work? That would stop the attack. It would set them back a few months, perhaps even years; and that would be a sweet bonus. Even if he did not get away and they killed him right here, it wouldn’t matter. Yes, Landau knew what he must now do, and quickly. He raked the narrow beam of light across the workbenches, desperately searching for something with which to destroy or at least damage the rockets. Unfortunately, he was traveling light tonight; so he had no explosives. He saw a large hammer lying on the bench. He picked it up and turned back toward the rockets but soon realized those damned things were far too big for him to put more than a few dents in them, and that would not be enough. Suddenly it came to him … fire! Yes! Find something that will burn, he thought. He spotted a pile of rags lying on the end of one of the workbenches. On the floor next to it sat a metal locker. He could only guess what was inside, but two sharp blows from the hammer made quick work of the cheap lock and hasp. He opened the top, and in the dim light of the flashlight beam he saw a half-dozen cans and smiled. It contained paint, rectangular cans of solvents, mineral spirits, and paint thinner in one-gallon cans. He pulled out one of the one-gallon cans and looked at the label. Benzene! That should do nicely.
Landau found a screwdriver on the closest table and quickly punched holes in the top of the can, grabbed the rags, and turned back toward the two trailers. The paint thinner would burn like Hell itself, and he smiled. How fitting. Where would the best place be to set it? The trailers themselves were metal and weren’t likely to burn very well unless they had been fueled and were ready to fire, which he doubted. As he turned, the thin flashlight beam crossed a large, concrete-block storeroom set against the hanger’s wall. A storeroom? It looked more like a bunker. How odd, he thought, as he let the light return and stop there. It looked new, newer than the surrounding building; but why would they build one in here? It made little sense to him. His brain wanted to ignore it, stick to the urgent task at hand, and start the fire; but his eyes kept returning to the storeroom and the flashlight beam followed.
“Forget it, he argued with himself. What does the storeroom possibly matter? Hurry and set the fire, you fool, before it’s too late,” he whispered to no one but himself.
Yet that storeroom continued to draw his attention like a magnet. Landau soon found himself walking toward it, the can and the rags hanging forgotten in his hands. As he got closer, he saw that the storeroom had a thick, reinforced-steel door and no windows. On the door was stenciled a yellow circle with alternating black and yellow quadrants. It was an international warning symbol and instantly registered deep inside his brain, sending an icy, terrified shiver running down his spine. He stepped closer, pointing the narrow flashlight beam at the words. They were in Arabic and in German, and he had to squint to make them out. The top line read ‘Achtung! Radioaktivitat!’ and he suddenly grasped the larger and infinitely more terrible secret this place held.
Radioactive! Landau stood frozen to the spot. Those bastards, he thought. He had assumed the worst, but he hadn’t guessed the half of it. How could the Egyptians be this foolish? Then he remembered. The Egyptians? Never. They didn’t have a fraction of the technical competency something like this would require. No, it was his old enemies in the black death’s-head uniforms, probably with the help of the Physics Department at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and the University of Berlin. Landau had never been more certain of anything in his life.
He stepped back, his eyes still riveted on the door. A diversion? No! He must destroy allof this if it was the last thing he ever did. He turned and staggered back to the trailers. Tripping over his own feet, he fell and dropped the can, spilling the paint thinner all over himself and the floor. He rose to his knees. Shaking with anger, he grabbed the rags and threw them in the puddle, sopping up as much of the paint thinner as he could. He dropped that can, grabbed two others from the locker, and set them on top of the rags. If he could get the rags burning, the cans would create a raging inferno right here inside the hanger. They were close enough to the rockets to make sure they never flew and delivered their terrible packages to Israel.
Landau fumbled in his pocket and pulled out a book of matches. Forget the storeroom, he told himself, forget the hangar, forget the rockets, and forget about getting away, too. None of that mattered any longer. All that did was lighting a match and destroying this monstrous evil before it was too late. He opened the matchbook, tore one lose, and scratched it across the emery backing, but nothing happened. The head of the match crumbled under his fingertip. The emery paper was damp with benzene and sweat and he could not even get a spark. He tried again and watched in agony as the second match head crumbled. He tore at another, just as the blackness of the hangar exploded with a blinding, white light. Someone had thrown the main breaker and the entire bank of overhead lights came on burning bright and illuminating the interior of the hanger. Landau covered his eyes with his hand and began shrinking back, but it was too late. He could not see them, but he was certain they had seen him. At that moment, the Dead Man knew his gravediggers had arrived.
The match! Light the damned match and start it burning, Landau’s brain screamed. It would be his last, defiant gesture to a cruel world. His head turned and he saw a man standing inside the front door. It was one of the guards, and he was less than fifty feet away. Landau could have been little more than a black shadow in the dim clutter inside the hangar, but the guard saw him and reacted instantly. Landau pushed the tip of the next match across the back of the matchbook as the first fusillade of gunshots echoed through the cavernous hangar. The heavy slugs hit him in the chest and punched him backward across the concrete floor like a rag doll, until he came to rest in front of one of the rocket launchers.
How odd, Landau thought through the haze. He lay on his back with his eyes wide open, staring up at the ceiling. He knew he had been shot, but he felt nothing … no pain, no anger, just a dull sadness washing over him. Slowly, he turned his head and saw the match lying near his hand. The match? Oh, yes, he remembered now. It was still burning, its pale orange flame resting only a few scant inches from the pile of solvent-soaked rags. It was so close, close enough to give him a glimmer of hope as he reached a shaking hand toward it.
He heard the loud Thump! Thump! of jackboots coming toward him across the bare concrete floor, and voices shouting in German, “Major Grüber, I found him!” That was when Landau knew all hope was gone. A pair of brightly polished boots appeared next to him. He heard a soft, satisfied grunt, as one of them came down on the match, inches from his fingers, grinding out the flame and any remaining hope Landau had. A painful moan escaped his lips as he looked up. Towering over him was a large, blond man in an Egyptian uniform. Egyptian? No, those were the same bright blue eyes and sadistic half-grin that Landau had seen in a thousand nightmares but clad in black and silver.
“Ja, Ja,” the nightmare spoke, staring down at Landau as if he was a trophy elk he had just brought down in the Black Forest. Slowly, the man’s face, his bright blue eyes, and even that hateful smile grew hazy. The colors and shapes faded to a dull gray, then a deep, and finally eternal black.

This book is free on Amazon for the following dates:
August 17
August 18
August 19
Mark your calenders and make sure you snag it up while its FREE!
Also come back for the Awesomeness Giveaway:
August 21st to August 25th

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