Matthew Palmer: Secrets of State
Can one man take down a group that has put a plan in motion that would create catastrophic results? What would happen if you worked for a private company and learned that a group of higher ups were planning to create a war between two countries? A private company as an analyst hired Sam Trainor. But, attending a conference he speaks out in turn against the speaker and this leads to a confrontation on many different levels. Working on South Asian intelligence matters for a private intelligence agency he begins to learn and picks up some intelligence that proves to be suspicious. What if the agency or people you are working for created a computer program that is described in the prologue in detail that can simulate a nuclear blast? What if this same program would show you the viewer that if implemented in real life would destroy an American city? A group of American citizens banned together to form a dangerous alliance creating a group hoping to lead both India and Pakistan to war. Aligning with a terrorist organization or Jihads they hope to achieve their goal. Hearing the training these young Jihadists endure, their willingness to die for the cause you realize that they are not much different than those running the show. Stoics they are called and they are devoid of emotion, feelings or expression. These groups are devoid of passion, unmoved by joy or grief and submit without complaint to unavoidable necessity. As he looks closer into the intelligence he comes across some MIS information related to India and Pakistan in an email server that is being shared as part of a “trust –building exercise.” Would this lead to war between these two countries? As Sam delves into emails more closely he involves a young analyst named Andy. At the time one set of emails were sent he was with the sender and there is no way the Indian Diplomat who he is seeing could have written them or what is said to have transpired in a phone call as she was with Sam in a hidden location in a remote cottage at the time these messages were supposedly sent. But, Andy agrees to help Sam and what he finds leads him to learn more about an incendiary email supposedly between two Indian diplomats. Using this sharing program the tensions between Indian and Pakistan might lead to war. Is this the intent? Discovering the Stoic group and learning that they might be housed right in the company he works for puts him in the front lines with this dangerous group. When approached by his boss and asked certain questions his responses do not meet what he wants and he is not grandfathered into this group. Sam needs help and he goes to several working within the State Department and someone else for help. But, what will happen if this jihadist group should steal a nuclear weapon and detonate it in Mumbai where Lena, Sam’s daughter lives and works? Trying to convince her of the danger does not help as she is stubborn and does not think he has enough intelligence to cause her come home. His daughter is half-Indian and this alone could bring her closer to the danger. As a systems engineers using her own salary to fund a school for children living in poverty and concerned that the government wants to demolish their simple settlement, she is working with a close friend of her father to stop what has been put in place. Seeking a meeting with those in charge proves futile but will she give up? This clandestine group of people are quite powerful and they believe in their own minds that they have the job of making difficult decisions during what they think or consider difficult times by manipulating policies, events and situations that they think are in the best interest of the Republic even if it means destroying an American City. Taking their time and methodically planning their strategies they are not aware as yet that Sam is working to take down what they started and have in place by pitting the leadership of Pakistan against that of India and with the end result a nuclear war!
Honoring and remembering her mother who came from Mumbai, Lean works at a job hoping to help these poor children. Janani is always in her heart and living in Dharavi is where she decided to remain. But, link the Jihadists, the Dharavi members of organized crime who live and breath the same air as Lena, Sam’s allies, the Stoics and the Pakistani groups that seem Sam needs to stop. Can he as one person stop what has been started?
Sam is persistent and finds himself in some tenuous situations while searching the burn bags of his own company trying to find out more about the plot and accessing the right databases. But, all of the information and sites that Andy was able to access have been deleted. There is no evidence of anything that he found. Before Andy could enlighten Sam he killed in an auto accident that was staged. But, just when you think Sam might be on to something and chooses someone to confide in think again. Someone in the State Department hears his story, understands what he has found and then the ultimate betrayal as he relates it all to Garrett Spears his boss and from there things will drastically change for Sam. As Spears is hoping to rise in the organization and next we learn more about a certain document written and just how the elusive Mr. Smith from our prologue and who is quite high up and never takes no for an answer is involved with more than just the Cassandra Project which would create this war.
Sam finds out after speaking with someone he thinks is trustworthy that not only did they kidnap his daughter but they tried killing him too. An old friend named Earl may just be a temporary answer and reaching out to Vanalika might prove more deadly than he thinks. Needing a passport and a visa he gets creative but when you learn more about Cold Harbor and its intent it is bone chilling to say the least. Deceits, lies, betrayals and one man who would change it all and the surprise ending will not only shock Sam but Lena too. Working with Uncle Ramananda and the Hard Men left to gather what they needed what would happen if the bomb would explode? Just whose side was Vanalika on? What about her kidnapper Khan? Who killed Khan’s mentor Solomon Braithwaite and what if he did not find the Intel that started it all? What part did Sam play and how did getting Andy involved alert the Stoics? Why did they justify their actions and what would happen to them at the end? An ending filled with surprises, a possible explosion that would destroy and kill millions of people and a group of people who just might return to finish what they started? The author flashes back to 1977 and even earlier to let readers know that this just might have started many years ago. The insights into Panoptes, the Stoics or Andy’s murder would lead Sam to places he would ordinarily not go and to having to race the clock and hopefully save his daughter before it’s too late.
An ending you won’t believe and a reference that will explain it all in Chapter 19 where you will meet Mr. Smith and learn more about what was planned. Just who is he? What is his goal and will he be back to finish what he started? “Smith,” Should he prove equal to the task, it may well prove that we should wish to procure his services again.” Stated by Tallmadge to Livingston in 1941. From Washington to Virginia to Mumbai to Hill Station Studios, Philadelphia in the past, Washington in the past and Virginia and Dharavi the author takes us on a ride to many places to stop what one group of men started and stopped but for how long? Characters that are strong, realistic and a story that reminds us how vulnerable we are to attack and why we need to keep awake, read those emails and follow those leads. Could this really happen? Let’s hope not but you never know! Sam Trainor: What’s next for him? Let’s hope the author brings him back again. There are many clandestine agencies and even more there are many Secrets of State yet to be revealed.
Fran Lewis: Just Reviews
Five Golden Stars of Peace of Secrets of State