In Margaret Truman’s Murder on the Metro, Jon Land’s first thrilling addition to the New York Times bestselling Capital Crimes series, Robert Brixton uncovers a sinister plot threatening millions of American lives!
Israel: A drone-based terrorist attack kills dozens on a sun-splashed beach in Caesarea.
Washington: America awakens to the shattering news that Vice President Stephanie Davenport has died of an apparent heart attack.
That same morning, a chance encounter on the Washington Metro results in international private investigator Robert Brixton thwarting an attempted terrorist bombing. Brixton has no reason to suspect that the three incidents have anything in common, until he’s contacted by Kendra Rendine, the Secret Service agent who headed up the vice president’s security detail. Rendine is convinced the vice president was murdered and needs Brixton’s investigative expertise to find out why.
In Israel, meanwhile, legendary anti-terrorist fighter Lia Ganz launches her own crusade against the perpetrators of that attack which nearly claimed the lives of her and granddaughter. Ganz’s trail will ultimately take her to Washington where she joins forces with Brixton to uncover an impossible link between the deadly attack on Caesarea and the attempted Metro bombing, as well as the death of the vice president.
The connection lies in the highest corridors of power in Washington where a deadly plot with unimaginable consequences has been hatched. With the clock ticking toward doomsday, Brixton and Ganz race against time to save millions of American lives who will otherwise become collateral damage to a conspiracy destined to change the United States forever.
Margaret Truman’s Murder on the Metro will be available on February 16, 2021. Please enjoy the following excerpt!
I’m not scared, Nana.”
Lia Ganz held her three-year-old granddaughter, Meirav, in her arms in waist-deep water. “You’re not?”
“I want to go higher! Make me go higher!” “You’re sure?”
“I’m brave, Nana, just like you.” “All right, then.”
Lia tossed Meirav higher into the air and watched her splash down into the warm, crystal-clear waters off Caesarea’s Aqueduct Beach. The Israeli schools were currently on spring break, accounting for crowding more typical of the weekend on this weekday, beneath the midday sun amid a piercing blue Mediterranean sky. Never a fan of crowds, Lia cringed as more beachgoers packed in around them, and she resolved to take her leave as soon as this swim was complete, assuming she could coax her granddaughter from the water.
The beach had been named for the ancient structure that adorned the sand, forming a natural barrier between modern civilization and this ancient site. The seacoast grounds of Caesarea, halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa had been proclaimed a national park. The site had been reconstructed over a long stretch of years to create one of Israel’s most attractive and fascinating archaeological locales, featuring an easy mix of the old and the new. The restored Caesarea amphitheater hosted modern-day concerts during the summer months, while the Old City featured a range of boutiques and restaurants. The new town of Caesarea itself, meanwhile, comprised luxurious neighborhoods, dominated by seaside villas, that claimed this beach as their own.
Lia watched her granddaughter bob below the surface and pop right back up, thanks to the arm floaties that her parents insisted she wear at all times if she was anywhere near the water. Lia found herself musing how handy those puffy blue things might have been when she was doing water training for the elite special ops Yamam team she’d joined after serving in the Israeli army as one of the most decorated female soldiers in the country’s storied history. For forty years, Yamam commandos had operated under a veil of total secrecy. Only recently had Israel even acknowledged the existence of the country’s most elite antiterrorism force, around the time the government had wanted to recognize her in a public ceremony after she had suffered wounds in a bold attack launched on a Hamas stronghold in Gaza. But she had declined, since it was all about being honored as a woman and not a soldier. And she didn’t believe in heroes anymore, because all of her heroes were dead.
“One more time, Nana,” Meirav pleaded, throwing herself back into Lia’s arms.
Reflexively, Lia’s gaze scanned the beachfront. Force of habit, she supposed, watching for anything in the scene that stood out, something different from the last time she’d checked. She couldn’t say exactly what she was looking for, only that she’d know it when she spotted it.
The Americans had an expression that went “If you see something, say something.” The phrase originated sometime after the infamous 9/11 attack, but seeing and saying had been part of the Israeli way of life for a half century prior to that. You learned to live defensively or, sometimes, you didn’t live at all.
Today, the unseasonably warm spring temperatures and tepid breezes had brought a flood of people to the golden sand, which was all but invisible beneath all manner of chairs, blankets, towels, and shade cast by the sprawl of beach umbrellas. Lia hated those for how they limited range of vision in the area they covered, either obscuring or obliterating her view. Still, she spotted no more of note on this scan than on the last one or the one before that. The lifeguard chairs were still manned by the same young men and women—one of Lia’s prime concerns, given that their height would make them formidable shooting platforms, from which any number of victims could be claimed by a decent marksman before some pistol-toting Israeli zeroed them in their sights.
“Nana?” Meirav said, pulling her grandmother’s hair. “I’m too tired, little one. My arms have nothing left.”
And yet, at forty-nine, she felt too young to be a grandmother and was in as good a shape as she’d been on her last day as a field operative with Yamam. After her wounds suffered in the Gaza raid ruled her out of future missions, they’d wanted to put her behind a desk. But Lia found coordinating missions from the group’s secretive headquarters in the Ayalon Valley between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem far less fulfilling than leading them, and the process left her with a helpless feeling. The Xs and Os, literal marks on a dry erase board or a chalkboard, represented operatives in harm’s way, who could die or be captured if the plan failed in any way. If she missed the slightest sign or signal, or neglected to consider some random factor, some of Israel’s best and brightest would pay with their lives. In the field, she missed nothing. Working behind a desk to dispatch others there in her place, though, left her fearing she’d missed everything. When her request to return to active duty was summarily denied, Lia announced her retirement to become a full-time grandmother.
“But you’re so strong, Nana,” Meirav said, snuggling up against Lia’s breast and letting her arm stray to the fleshy skin over her shoulder. “I found a hole.”
Lia felt her granddaughter’s tiny finger pushing and pressing. “It’s a scar.” “What’s a scar?”
“What’s left when a boo-boo heals.”
The little girl seemed to ponder that. “I have boo-boos, but I don’t have scars.”
“Only bad boo-boos leave them, little one.”
Lia felt Meirav press deeper into the scar. It felt like a tickle. “Was this a bad boo-boo, Nana?”
Lia hugged her granddaughter tighter, thinking of that final mission in Gaza. “From a bullet.”
Meirav cocked her head backward to meet her grandmother’s stare. “You were shot?”
“Did it hurt?”
“It did.” Lia nodded.
“I found another,” Meirav said, pushing her finger into a depression of ridged, pocked skin above the shoulder blade.
“From the same bullet, little one. Where it came out.” “Eww,” Meirav uttered, making a face. “Did it hurt?” “I don’t remember.”
More poking and pushing. “Who did it?”
“I don’t know. It could have been any number of people.” “Did you hurt them back?”
“Maybe,” Lia said, honestly not knowing the answer. “I’m not sure.” She’d suffered the wound in that nighttime Gaza raid on a Hamas strong-
hold where a meeting of the terrorist group’s cadre had been convened. The mission had been ill-timed and hastily prepared, an overly aggressive move undertaken by a government desperate for a major victory against an indefatigable foe. Lia was second-in-command of the ten-person team. Only six made it out alive, and she’d dragged two of the bodies out herself, shot-up shoulder and all.
The democratic world and the West exulted in Israel’s many successes in such missions but seldom learned of failures like this. Going back to Entebbe, Mossad had been celebrated for its dramatic strikes and never criticized for those that ended the way that night had in Gaza. That raid had been undertaken by Sayeret Matkal. Yamam was founded shortly after, to undertake missions that required the quick-strike capabilities of rapid deployment. Its superbly trained forces were originally umbrellaed under the Israeli National Police, but of late they were left answerable to Mossad. Lia had struggled to return fire with her wounded arm, while with the other she dragged one of the downed men from the firefight. Another man fell when the squad was racing back to the extraction point, and she abandoned further fire to drag him along as well. By the time they reached the American stealth chopper, same type of Black Hawk the Navy SEALs had used in their raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, both men were dead.
Her granddaughter scrunched her face up into a scowl. “They must have been bad people.”
“Somebody should punish them.”
Lia couldn’t help but smile. Though she was hardly a biblical scholar, she knew her daughter and son-in-law had named their first child after the daughter of King Saul, which seemed quite appropriate for a child who was a bundle of energy forever in motion, given that the word meirav also meant “to maximize.” Yet, in that moment, she also feared that her granddaughter would follow in her footsteps—too much of the Ganz blood pumping through her veins, which would leave her eventually wanting to spill that of Israel’s enemies.
She shelved that thought for the time being and positioned herself to toss her granddaughter into the air yet again. “I’m sure somebody did.”
That’s when she heard the buzzing sound, something like a lawn mower growing louder as it neared an open window, a soft engine sound that Lia first took for a small motorboat or Jet Ski, until a sweep of her gaze showed nothing of the sort anywhere about.
Then what . . .
Insects, Lia thought, when she first spotted the drones. They look like giant insects.
Each was about four feet across, flying in a triangular pattern. The next sound, the staccato burst of gunfire, was accompanied by flashbulb-like spurts of light springing from the barrel of whatever automatic weapons had been rigged to the low-flying murder machines. Lia watched the carnage unfold with her granddaughter clutched tight against her, the sounds of shots and screams reaching her a millisecond after the initial line of bodies fell, drenching the golden sand red. The effect was like watching dominoes fall, the drones closing on the last wave of beachgoers who were trying to flee. A few had the fortune or foresight to rush toward the sea. The rest, who charged off down the open sands toward the ancient aqueduct that had lent this beach its name, did not fare nearly as well.
Lia clutched her granddaughter to her tighter still, ignoring the child’s whimpers. The cries of pain and anguish from the beach pierced her eardrums like a thousand needles. A few armed Israelis bravely chased after the drones, their own pistol fire clacking away. One of the dreaded machines went down, then a second, while the third continued its deadly flight, stopping only when its ammunition was expended and it dropped from the sky with the others.
“You’re hurting me, Nana, you’re hurting me!”
Her granddaughter had felt more like a piece of Lia Ganz than a separate body. She eased her from her breast almost surgically.
“I’m scared, Nana! I’m scared!” Meirav sobbed, fat tears rolling down her cheeks to mix with the salty waters of the sea.
Lia hugged her tight again, both of them shaking, the warm water suddenly feeling like melted ice.
“So am I, little one,” Lia said, as soothingly as she could manage. “So am I.”
Copyright © 2021 by Jon Land
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