Imagine BREAKING BAD meets THE SUM OF ALL FEARS.
In TWIST AND TURN, author Tim Tigner once again delivers a fast-paced, unpredictable ride destined to delight his fans. Replete with the clever characters, original intrigue and thought-provoking predicaments that distinguish his thrillers, the fourth chapter of the international bestselling Kyle Achilles series will turn your throat dry and keep your fingers flipping.
At the center of the action is a — well, we don’t want to spoil it.
And then there’s the — oh, best not to mention that either.
Suffice it to say that the villains are fresh, complex and fascinating. Their plots inventive and scary. But Katya is back at Achilles’ side, so we might not need to worry. Unless . . .
"Achilles is my new Mitch Rapp." —Robert Getty
"Reads like a Reacher novel with a little Ludlum and Flynn mixed in.” —Jeff Bowden
"My first thought was a new Jack Reacher—only better." —Lucia O'Brien
"Think of Tim Tigner as Tom Clancy without the filler." —Larry Nesbit
"Every bit as spellbinding as David Baldacci." —Kathryn Grady
Amazon named Tim Tigner an All-Star Author in December, 2017 and every month since for being one of the most popular authors in Kindle Unlimited.
His books are recommended for fans of David Baldacci, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Nelson DeMille’s John Corey, Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp, Mark Greaney’s Gray Man, Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X, Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, John Sandford’s Lucas Davenport, Daniel Silva’s Gabriel Allon, Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan, Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath, and Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon.
Release date: November 19, 2018
Print pages: 394
Reader says this book is...: action-packed (1) unexpected twists (1)
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Twist and Turn
In the Dark
WAS I DEAD? Had I died? If this was the afterlife, then I’d been deemed lacking. Less than sufficient, or sub-saintly at least.
I had killed. The Lord knew that Kyle Achilles had violated the Sixth Commandment on more than one occasion—therefore I shouldn’t be surprised by His judgment.
But I was.
I guess I’d expected an exception. A pass. A nod. My kills had been righteous, after all. For the greater good. I’d dedicated much of my life to fighting the honorable fight. The battle where the good had to do bad to win.
And Katya. Poor Katya. She was now alone again. I’d failed her … somehow.
These thoughts all raced around my mind, bouncing off the walls and sending reverberations through my soul, in two sticky blinks of my crusty eyes. I continued blinking as my other senses shucked off slumber and attempted to tune in to the waking world.
A new world.
A world like none I’d known before.
My eyes gave me nothing. Literally nothing. They funneled no information through my optic nerves and into my brain. They didn’t hurt. They didn’t feel different. They just reported black, like a television without power.
Was that it? Had someone or something used a drug to pull the plug? To chemically sever a connection? As logical as that seemed, my mind didn’t buy in. It took a different turn because my ears were also off-kilter.
Strain as I might, I heard nothing beyond my own biology—and the breathing of others. Not a sound. No passing cars or chirping crickets. No humming appliances or rustling leaves. Beyond the breathing, my auditory world was also dead. But the breathing was enough, enough to know that my system was online, while somehow, some way, the rest of the world was turned off.
My nose reported next, and it flooded my flummoxed brain with joy. The otherwise stale air held a familiar fresh, floral scent that never failed to warm my heart and lift my mood. Katya’s shampoo.
As I shifted my position to reach for her head, my kinesthetic awareness kicked in. I was resting in a three-quarter prone position, with my legs bent and interlocked and my head braced by both arms. It was close to a standard sleeping posture, but a bit too awkward and precise to be casual. The alignment even had a name.
Recovery position was used by medical professionals and knowledgeable laymen to prevent unconscious people from choking due to a closed or obstructed airway. The ensuing conclusion was inescapable. Like a piece of furniture, I had been arranged.
I reached slowly toward the scent, at once eager and hesitant, longing yet fearful of what I might find. I felt nothing. Nothing but thin air, rising adrenaline and a dropping stomach.
Propping myself up on an elbow, I became aware that I was lying on a floor rather than a mattress. A hardwood floor. I added that fact to the astounding array of puzzle pieces I’d been sorting in the seconds since first opening my eyes.
I extended my hand further toward the sweet scent and found my reward a few inches later. Silky soft strands with a slight curl.
I slid closer.
Her body was warm, her chest rising, her heart beating. She, too, had been situated in the recovery position.
I’m not sure why we strive to be quiet in silent situations. Probably residual programming, written in the lizard brain to keep us safe at night. In any case, I found myself compelled to whisper directly into her ear. “Katya. Katya, wake up.”
There is, perhaps, no more contented feeling than lying beside the woman you love and burying your nose in her hair. Despite the extreme and alarming circumstances, now that I knew my love was safe by my side, that simple act put me at peace.
I had no idea where we were.
I had no idea how we’d gotten there.
But by her side was where I wanted to be. The rest was reduced to the status of details. For the moment at least.
As I whispered, I became aware of something tucked into my cheek. Something small, circular and metallic. I carefully expelled it into my hand and instantly identified the familiar object. I’d studied it often in the preceding weeks, with a smile on my face and a swelling in my chest.
It was Katya’s engagement ring. Or at least, it was going to be. I hadn’t actually given it to her. Hadn’t quite proposed. At least, I didn’t think I had.
The last thing I remembered from before waking up in the black was reaching for that ring. That overpriced piece of metal and stone that would symbolize our union—if she agreed to make me the luckiest man alive.
I’d put my hand into my pocket while preparing to drop to one knee—and found it missing. Panic had shocked me like a Taser strike, a horrible, all-consuming visceral pain and then … nothing. My memory ended there like a cut comic strip.
Somehow in the span since that unfortunate event, we had ended up in the deathly darkness that now enveloped us, and rather than onto her finger, the ring had found its way into my mouth.
One Week Earlier
San Francisco, California
DR. BRUCE DEVLIN had never fought for his freedom in court. He’d never waited for a jury to announce his fate. Never had his future precariously poised on a single word. A judgment. A decision. But as he waited for his attorney to call, Bruce knew exactly how people in that position felt.
Fortunately, his attorney wasn’t of the criminal type. Bruce’s future wasn’t in the hands of the Justice Department. Angus MacAskill, Esquire, specialized in manipulating a different branch of the federal government. The Food and Drug Administration, to be precise.
Today, the FDA was scheduled to announce its decision on Bruce’s innovative acoustic anesthetic. If AcotocA, pronounced A-koo-t-ka, was Approved, he and his executive team would become wildly rich. If, however, permission to market AcotocA was Denied, the four would have nothing but bills and a bad reputation. Making matters worse for Bruce, this was his third time at bat as a startup CEO. If he missed, he would be out—and he’d never get another swing.
Developing new medical devices was very risky business. High-stakes roulette. They typically cost millions of dollars to design and tens of millions more to test. Only after all that money was on the table, riding on a single spin, did the FDA decide whether you could sell your invention. Or not.
After collecting hefty fees and taking their sweet time, a bunch of agency bureaucrats—underpaid academics who couldn’t make it in the corporate world—would render their decision from on high. Thumbs up or thumbs-down. Billions or bust.
It was maddening.
Like the other three founders seated around the small conference table in their Potrero Hill office, Bruce stared alternately at the phone and the silver bucket bearing four bottles of iced champagne—and speculated. Not on defeat, but on success. On the unbelievable transformation that would take place once their bank account balances boasted an additional comma.
“Will you finally tell us exactly what you think they’ll offer?” Seb asked. The they to which AcotocA engineer Joel “Seb” Sebastian referred was Galantic Pharmaceuticals, the gorilla in the highly lucrative general anesthesia market.
Bruce noted that his other engineer, Milton Webb, also appeared eager to bathe in the sweet words. So he obliged them with his best bit of speculation. “Galantic earned 1.2 billion off their injectable anesthetic last year. I figure they’ll lose half of that to us the first year AcotocA is on the market, and half again every year thereafter as the death spiral continues. But they won’t let it come to that. They’ve run the same calculations we have. They have no choice but to buy us out. For Galantic, it’s buy or die.”
Bruce knew that wasn’t an answer, but at the moment, he wanted to focus on that imagery. On the sweet sensation of vanquishing his enemy. And that’s what Galantic was. Not just a competitor, but an enemy, on account of their CEO.
Picking up on his mood, Webb asked, “You know Galantic’s CEO inside and out, right?”
Bruce had indeed seen the dark depths of Kai Basher’s mind. He’d worked at Kai’s right hand for years. Basher was smart, slick and a total prick. It would feel euphoric to grab his former boss where he hurt most—and squeeze. “I do. Kai will follow the numbers, and they are unambiguous. As much as it hurts his wallet and pride, he’ll do whatever it takes to save his company.”
“But how much?” Seb pressed. “Will we get two billion?”
As co-founders, Seb and Webb, each owned six percent of AcotocA. Bruce understood their eagerness to complete that equation. As the CEO with a ten percent stake, he had run the numbers many times. Add in the eight percent owned by his wife, Danica, the Chief Medical Officer, and the Devlin family was looking at a very pretty picture regardless of the valuation method used. “My best guess is three. Three billion dollars.”
As the ensuing calculations sucked all the air from the room, the phone rang.
Bruce grabbed the neck of a champagne bottle with his left hand and hit the speaker button with his right. Trying to control his enthusiasm, he said, “Talk to us, Angus.”
“Bruce, how nice to hear your voice. It’s Kai calling.”
Kai’s voice hit Bruce like a sucker punch to the gut. Not so much the words as his tone. The best word for it was mocking. Bruce endeavored to hide his discomfort, to camouflage the feeling that the bottom had just been ripped from his stomach and acid was flowing over his bowels and down his legs. “It’s good to hear from you, even if your call is a tad earlier than anticipated.”
“Forgive my temerity. I just wanted to be the one to share the news. AcotocA’s approval for sale—has been denied.”
“No!” Danica gasped, bringing a hand to her mouth as Seb and Webb buried their faces.
“Afraid so,” Kai continued. “Looks like my company just saved three billion bucks. Have a nice day.”
DANICA DEVLIN reached over and grabbed her husband’s wrist as he began to exit their white Range Rover. “Don’t do it, Bruce.”
He tugged, but not violently. He didn’t put his weight into it. Angry as he was, Bruce wouldn’t cross that line. Not with her.
She’d seen her husband clean a few clocks during the dozen years they’d been together, always late at night and over silly stuff. Pissing contests came with the high-testosterone territory. They went part and parcel with the drive to win that had thrice put him at the helm of Silicon Valley startups. But he’d never, ever, raised a finger in her direction. “What do I have to lose?” he asked.
It hurt her heart to see him suffer this way. Not as much as losing eighteen percent of three billion dollars, but it rivaled the news that they could never have children. It was the pain of a dream being ripped away. “Your pride. Your reputation. Your self-respect.”
Bruce didn’t close the door, but he released the handle and turned his fiery gaze her way. “Kai didn’t call just for the satisfaction of being the one to deliver my death blow. He didn’t call just to hear the anguish in my voice. He called because he couldn’t help himself. He had to let me know that he’d orchestrated the rejection. He found a way to rig the game, either through bribes or through extortion. I can’t just sit back and do nothing.”
“You can’t be certain of that, Bruce. AcotocA’s safety data is marginal.”
Bruce snorted. “You’re talking about a man who legally changed his name from Charles to Kai, in order to be Kai Basher. And that’s exactly what he did to me—to us. He put the kibosh on our hopes and dreams. It’s not like he needed more money, either. He’s already got a jet and two yachts and more vacation property than I can count. And now we’ve got nothing.”
“We’ve got each other.”
“I’ve got three strikes, Danica. And no runs. I’m out of the startup business—and in debt.”
“We’ll figure something out.”
“Yes, we will. And as the first step in doing that, I’m going to go into that fancy restaurant and rattle Kai Basher’s golden cage.” Bruce stepped out of the Range Rover and slammed the door.
They were parked beside Cinquante Bouches, the famous Michelin three-star restaurant perched high in the hills overlooking Napa Valley. Catering to the Bay Area’s elite, Fifty Mouths sold out reservations for its fixed-menu dinners two months in advance. If you wanted to score one or more of the fifty available seats, you had to be online within minutes of the booking period opening—and pay in advance.
Of course, few of the elite diners jumped through the virtual hoops themselves. Bruce knew for a fact that Kai had his executive assistant secure him four seats every Friday night. Failure to do so was a firing offense.
Danica and Bruce had occupied two of Kai’s four seats some eight years back. At the time, Kai was freshly separated from his third and final wife, and Bruce was his favored lieutenant. As Danica recalled, Kai had spent the evening regaling his date with tales of his business triumphs. Danica wondered who he had in there tonight. Was the woman, at that very moment, listening to how Kai had outmaneuvered his old protégé to the tune of three billion dollars?
Danica hustled across the finely crushed gravel to catch her husband before he opened the door. When she reached his side, she held out her left hand, not to block him, but to take his.
He looked over and gave her a smile. “Thank you.”
“I’m thinking we should just slip in and see what we can overhear,” she suggested.
“That sounds—very sensible.”
“But before we go in, do me one favor.” She led him a few steps from the door to where the travertine walkway turned toward the valley. Stopping there, she said, “Just look at that.”
The twilight view was magnificent. The lights of Napa Valley shone far below even as the stars were becoming visible higher up in the midnight blue sky. Surrounded by a lush forest, they were both connected to the human world and yet a million miles from it. Aside from the fifty diners behind them, and the supporting restaurant staff, there probably wasn’t another soul for miles around. The crickets were contentedly singing their songs, and the air was serving up a fresh pine scent. “It’s beautiful, but what’s your point?”
“Just wanted to take a second to broaden your perspective beyond today’s problems. Nobody out there has ever heard of Kai Basher. Don’t let him rule your life.”
Bruce squeezed her hand. “Point taken, and I thank you for the second of serenity. But the fact of the matter is, we don’t live in the stars. We live in civilization. Life on Earth requires economic resources—and Kai just stole ours. I refuse to let him walk away unscathed. I wouldn’t be a man if I did.”
Danica wasn’t about to argue with that. At their core, men were hunters—and she’d latched onto one of the best. Even though her husband’s next move might not be a wise one, deep in her heart Danica felt proud that her hunter refused to roll over and take it. “I understand. And I love you.”
The restaurant resembled a French chateau, with an elegant white façade and a steeply sloping slate roof. Originally designed for entertaining by a wealthy winery owner, Cinquante Bouches was now Northern California’s most exclusive restaurant. Under the inspired management of the owner’s daughter, Michelin granted its first star on the fifth anniversary of its opening, the elusive second star six years after that, and the exceptionally rare third star during the restaurant’s fifteenth year. Rumor had it that Cinquante Bouches now made ten times more money than the family’s wineries ever had.
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