The year is 1978 and Iran is in turmoil. Political, religious and societal forces have coalesced to threaten the Shah’s reign, and imperil U.S. interests in the area at the height of the Cold War. Despite disarmament talks with the Soviet Union, the U.S. fears deception, and has taken steps to monitor Soviet activity in the area.
In a timely and perceptive prequel to his popular Clint Jagger series of international thrillers, award-winning author Mark Irving mines his public affairs experiences and expertise in Tehran in the mid-1970s to create a work of fiction that brings alive the people, places and events of that period, and the threat of a nuclear catastrophe in the Middle East.
Irving introduces the indefatigable Jagger, the former Special Ops veteran of Vietnam, who has settled in the Colorado Rockies to escape his wartime demons. Savoring the solitude of his new lifestyle, Jagger reluctantly accepts a special assignment from his former Marine commander to investigate the failure of secret underwater detection devices monitoring Soviet activity in the Caspian Sea.
Arriving in Tehran under cover as a telecommunications consultant, Jagger finds himself ensnared in political intrigue and civil unrest, and mistreatment at the hands of the sadistic commander of infamous Evin Prison. He is released in time to witness the Shah’s departure and the Ayatollah’s arrival. When the U.S. Embassy is overrun and the hostages taken, he is asked by the National Security Agency to remain in Iran, a mission that thrusts him into a series of life-threatening situations from the Elborz Mountains to the steps of ancient Persepolis, while surrounded by a cast of memorable characters.
The locations move from Iran to Italy, Switzerland, England and the U.S. and back to Tehran for an explosive climax that foreshadows current events. Action, suspense and intrigue abound in this novel by an astute writer of authentic thrillers.
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Dawn, early September 1978
The Caspian Sea, off the coast of the Soviet Union.
Through the murky waves, the snub bow of a miniature submarine emerged. Moments later, fully surfaced, she pitched silently in the saline swells like a whale at rest, her black skin absorbing the first faint rays of the rising sun.
Within the cramped confines of the narrow hull, the lone occupant peered intently at an electronic console, his face bathed in a series of pulsating red, green and amber lights. U.S. Navy Lt. Commander Jake Jameson glanced at his watch. Twenty minutes earlier he had switched on an experimental device while near the floor of the earth's largest inland sea. Now, the steady line moving across the monitor's screen told him the apparatus registered the distinctive signatures of other ships in the area. Jameson manipulated a knob on the console. On the screen, a series of blips left a tell-tale trail of a unique vessel.
"Hot damn! There she is!"
Jameson flipped another switch to transmit the data to an American listening station in nearby Iran. From there the data would be transmitted to the National Security Agency outside Washington,D.C.for analysis by a team of specialists monitoring Soviet nuclear activities at sea. Satisfied that his mission was over, he headed south toward the hidden cove on the northern coast of Iran from where the tiny sub was launched.
From his jacket pocket, Jameson pulled out a photograph of his family. His wife, Amanda, had been a freckle-faced freshman at Kansas State when he first met her. He was a senior, and he'd fallen hard the first time she smiled at him. Their daughter, Jill, was now fourteen and beginning to grow her own set of freckles. And little Luke was celebrating his eleventh birthday today. He studied the picture, feeling that same sense of loss he felt every time he missed an important date in the lives of any member of his family. He wished he could be with them at this moment.
An alarm shattered the cabin's stillness.
"Shit!" Jameson muttered between compressed lips, aware that his craft's presence had been detected and a surface-skimming missile now streaked toward him. He lunged at the steering control in a desperate attempt to change course.
It was the last thing he saw before he and his vessel disappeared in a brilliant flash of color.
About Mark Irving
Mark Irving is the pen name for Irv Sternberg, Denver Post bestselling author of five award-winning novels. A former journalist and speechwriter, he and his wife live in Colorado.