After thwarting a plot to release a biological weapon on U. S. soil, FBI Special Agent Thomas Hawkins has been promoted to CIA Liaison. However, there is little time to enjoy his new position before his life is threatened and those he cares about most are put in jeopardy. With minimal backup and no margin for error, Hawkins and his allies are faced with a decades-old plot that only they can stop.
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Marcus Buckley has been a pastor and police chaplain in Florida and South Carolina for more than 25 years. He is a graduate of Stetson University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and earned his doctorate from North Greenville University. He lives in Florida with his wife and three children.
From the Author:
I've always enjoyed a good action story.
Guys like Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn, and Robert B. Parker were masters of the form. No other kind of book draws me in like a good thriller filled with espionage and suspense—car chases, shoot-outs, great good guys and nasty bad guys.
That said, as a Christian, I understand the awkwardness that comes from some of the material in this genre of books. I wanted to write a story that was entertaining, but also one you wouldn't be embarrassed for your kids to read.
I wanted to write an engaging story that featured a character who is a Christian. I didn't want to do this to be preachy or pushy, but rather to show the struggles people of faith face in some outrageous situations.
Thomas Hawkins is not a perfect character with all the answers—he struggles and he doubts; but he is a character who trusts God, even when it doesn't make sense.
An excerpt from the latest book in the Thomas Hawkins series, "Labor of Fools"
You met the AG?” Woodley asked. “And didn’t turn to stone?”
Hawkins tilted his head and turned his palms upward. “What can I say? I fear no man.”
“Well, you ought to fear that woman,” Jacksonville SAC Walter Simmons said as he pointed a piece of ribeye impaled on the end of his fork at Hawkins. He couldn’t help but notice that even at the end of the day Simmons’ dress shirt was as impeccably ironed as it had been that morning. There was likely a starch shortage in Duval County to keep the SAC’s shirts looking as smooth as they did. Now that Woodley was an ASAC he was wearing a shirt and tie as well, but his was loosened at the neck and the button of his collar was open. Hawkins didn’t mind that he was in a suit and tie again most days in the Washington FO, but Woodley chafed against it. The three men were eating in one of their favorite haunts, the Stonewood Grill and Tavern. Nice without being overdone, Stonewood had become the steakhouse of choice for several of the agents in the Jacksonville Field Office. It wasn’t particularly close to the office, which they viewed as a plus, and the steaks were always consistently excellent. “She was already a JAG when I left the Corps for the Bureau. She had a well-earned reputation as someone who would tune you up if you got sideways.”
“Maybe age has mellowed her,” Woodley offered. “That does happen sometimes.”
“Or maybe she was just softened by my winning personality.”
“Oh, that’s definitely it,” Woodley responded with a grunt.
“Whatever the reason, it’s a big deal,” Simmons said. “They’ve put a lot of confidence in you.”
“No pressure or anything,” Woodley interjected. “You’ve only got all of the honchos at the Bureau and Justice watching your every move. What could possibly go wrong?”
“Because you said that, when everything goes south, I’m taking you with me.”
Woodley laughed and raised his hands in mock surrender. Simmons continued. “There’s a lot of eyes on you, for sure, but you’re up to the task. Shear’s a good judge about who’s ready for what. He wouldn’t have put you in the position you’re in just because you made a big bust. If he didn’t think you could lead well and bear up under the pressure, you wouldn’t be where you are.”
“I appreciate the vote of confidence,” Hawkins said. The waiter saw the break in conversation and hurried over to check on drink refills and to clear away unneeded dinnerware. He refilled their glasses and carried away the refuse on a tray.
“And the Agency put you through some of their training, too,” Woodley reminded him. “Even a few weeks at the Farm and their other facilities is worth a lot in terms of prep for the real world.”
“No doubt,” Hawkins said. It was true that the training he went through since his entry into the liaison program had been rigorous, but it had also given him an edge he didn’t have before. The Bureau had an outstanding training program at Quantico, but to say that the CIA had a different way of doing things was something of an understatement. “It’s just still a little strange to me that I find myself in this world, you know?”
“This is your life now, Hawk,” Simmons said. “Better get used to it.”
That sentence stuck in Hawkins’ head on the drive back to his soon-to-be-former home on the river. His life as a pastor was far enough away now that it almost seemed like someone else’s entirely. Hawkins was confident that he was doing exactly what he was meant to do, and he enjoyed the work immensely. There were still times he felt as though he were role-playing though, pretending to be someone he was not. Here he was, a successful FBI Agent and CIA liaison, preparing to start an investigation on a world leader that stemmed from his own prior case. He found himself in the middle of history in the making and was humbled by his place in all of it. The stakes were certainly high enough. He prayed the rest of the drive home that God would give him what he needed to do his job well.
As he pulled into the driveway and opened the center garage door he was struck by a tinge of sorrow. His collection of his parents’ cars was visible in the LED-lit garage though the now open portal, and he thought again of all the years spent with them before they were taken in a terrorist attack in Spain. The cars were the most substantial link he still had to his parents. Hawkins knew he didn’t particularly need all of vehicles, but he found it hard to part with them. Even selling the Shelby with the house made him feel as though he was discarding their memory. He knew that was foolish, but he felt it, nonetheless. It was amplified by the fact that his new life, and his relationship with Sam, had made looking backward less important than it had been. He had said many times that God designed us to move forward, not backwards. There was also something in the Old Testament about looking backward and turning into a pillar of salt, but he was pretty sure the context didn’t fit. He got out of his car and noticed that the lights along the driveway and those that shone upwards onto the house were out. The home inspector probably turned them off and forgot to switch them back on when he had been there earlier. Still, Hawkins had a strange feeling about it. He quickly brushed the sensation aside.
He walked in the house and looked around at the furnishings, most of which had been sold with the house. Only a handful of items were already taken to either his condo in DC or his mountain retreat in Tennessee. It already felt like someone else’s house. Well, technically it would be someone else’s house the day after tomorrow. The buyers had cash, so they didn’t need to wait for a lengthy loan approval process. Hawkins had the title deed to the home, so they were able to move the closing along very quickly. A car hauler was supposed to arrive in the morning to pick up the remaining vehicles he was relocating to Tennessee, so he would oversee their loading. He would finish up a few things at the Field Office, go to the closing in two days, then leave Jacksonville behind for good. He was sorry that his neighbors were out of town and he couldn’t say goodbye to them in person. The Allens were sweet people and had been good neighbors. He would have to send them a gift of some kind as a way of saying thanks.
Hawkins made his way up the steps to his bedroom when he noticed movement outside in the driveway. It was still dark inside the house, and only the light from the open garage door shone outward, but he caught…what? Was it something really moving or just his imagination? That strange feeling that something was off ramped up significantly. He squatted low and moved to the window. In the slight wash of light from the open garage Hawkins saw four figures, crouched and moving fast along the dark side of the driveway. He couldn’t make out much detail, but he could tell they were wearing tactical gear, headsets, and what looked like suppressed MP-5 submachine guns.
It took a fraction of a second to register—there was a hit squad coming for him at his own home.
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