Thursday, September 26, 2013
Michael O’Gara - Ambassador Death is featured in the HBS Mystery Reader's Circle today.
Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Historical Fiction
Website: Michael O'Gara Author
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I'm a full time novelist and I write mainly mysteries, thrillers and historical action adventure fiction. I think I must be a bit of a romantic because my stories all contain some romance. I live in Missouri with my wife Ronda; no I didn't spell her name wrong that's the way it's spelled. We are graduates of Fontbonne University in St. Louis and have degrees in fine arts. We have that "creativity thing" going on. Ronda took most of the photographs used on my book covers.
Before I met my wife I lived in the Canadian sub-arctic and even went to the arctic circle. There aren't a lot of people who can claim that. I now prefer more moderate climates; that is warmer ones. What was I thinking living in the far north? Hey a story idea just came to me; perhaps one day I'll write a novel set in the sub arctic about the Mounties (Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police). Maybe not. We writers are a fickle lot.
Anyway, good reading and enjoy.
To contact Michael direct follow this LINK.
The Cassandra Crossing Assignments
Author: Michael O'Gara
Cassandra Crossing is beginning to feel like the bishop on the President’s chess board. She is moved around to keep the country’s enemies at bay. Cassandra is no longer an unknown intelligence operative. Now she's a celebrity and hero after a very public assignment protecting the southern border. This time Cassandra is being assigned to foreign soil and to a very dangerous job. She will be a very public target for those who would sabotage her vital mission to help keep a continent at peace. It is a job she is uniquely qualified for by heritage, experience and training. To complete her mission the first order of business will be survival. She will also unexpectedly have to deal with something new; a serious romantic interest. It is an assignment that will require the balance of a tight rope walker, the Wisdom of Solomon, the courage of a hero, and unusual diplomacy. It is a unique challenge for an unusual woman.
Chapter 1 – Chance Meeting
Cassandra Crossing was used to being in the shadows for most of her professional life. She had been a successful intelligence operative and had been able to stay under the radar to the point that few people even realized Senator Crossing had three daughters. Her time as a covert operative had come to an early end not because of her father’s ambition but rather because she had very publicly killed the head of an international crime organization while defending a wounded member of her covert team. She had been able to extricate her team but in the process her cover had been blown and her photo released to intelligence services throughout South America and who knew where else.
Her next assignment was very public though just as dangerous. Her work in defending the southern border had resulted in Cassandra being given the prestigious award “Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction” by the soon to be former president of the United States. There was no doubt now that she could never again operate covertly. The television cameras that were everywhere gave evidence to that.
After she’d resigned her last appointment she had not gotten out of Washington. She had hardly resigned when she got a call asking her to meet with the director of national intelligence who was the nominee to be the next secretary of defense. The secretary of state was also at the meeting. She had been here in Washington since the meeting waiting for her father to be sworn in; Senator Craig Crossing was now President Elect Crossing.
It was the day before the inauguration of her father and here she was sitting very publicly to the right of her father at a concert that was a part of the festivities leading up to his formal swearing in.
Also attending with President Elect Craig Crossing were his wife Dorothy, Cassandra’s younger twin
Cal with his wife Maggie, and Cassandra’s younger sisters Katie and Molly.
Cassandra sat thinking that in spite of the events that had resulted in her no longer being a covert operative her career in covert intelligence would have come to an end anyway with her father’s election. It was just one of those things that one had to face in life. Cassandra half enjoyed the concert and half kept a wary eye out for trouble. Her vigilance was the result of many years in the field.
After the concert the family made nice with many dignitaries and then went back to their hotel suites. Cassandra slept well and was up very early the next morning doing a vigorous work out followed by a three mile run with two young secret service agents who were able to keep up her blistering pace. At five ten Cassandra’s long legs and superb conditioning gave her a stride that had won her many track races in college. In spite of the activity she was still dressed and ready for the formal breakfast before the rest of her family.
Anyone who was anybody attended the inaugural day events starting with the formal breakfast and all the Washington powerful and privileged were there. Cassandra had no trouble fitting in and due to the fact she had studied up on the key players she was able to call most of the important attendees by name. It was a combination of cultivated skill resulting from her field training and a good mind she had inherited from two very intelligent parents.
She was taken to her table at which was standing the chairman of the joint chiefs who greeted her.
Cassandra smiled and said, “Good morning sir.”
“This is a proud day for your family and the country.”
Cassandra replied, “Yes sir.”
The table was seated and introductory remarks were made regarding her father and there was polite applause and then an invocation. The food was served. It was not lost to Cassandra that the officers sitting at her table were all very high ranking military officials. They were discussing the situation in Mexico. One of the officers an admiral who was the vice chairman of the joint chiefs asked her in Spanish what she thought of the situation in Mexico.
Cassandra recognized the highland American Spanish and replied fluently in Spanish and with the correct variant, “Sir, the situation though somewhat stabilized seems to be still in a state of flux and somewhat worrisome and very dangerous.”
Cassandra noted the officer smiled at her and said in English, “Do you speak other dialects?”
“Sir I can manage Caribbean, South Pacific American and Central American as well as Peninsula Spanish.”
The admiral said, “Very impressive” in the Central American dialect.
Cassandra replied in the same dialect, “Thank you sir. I was fortunate to have some opportunity to practice in country.”
The admiral smiled and said in English, “Your accent changes with the dialect and I would have thought you were native to the region.”
“I take that as high praise sir as your Spanish is impeccable.”
The admiral smiled again, “I could see how you would fit in anywhere in South America. Your Mediterranean complexion would also help you blend in.”
“Yes sir. I get that of course from my mother.”
The topic of conversation changed and Cassandra sat listening and assessing. She wondered what this was really all about. She should have been sitting with her family and there was obviously a purpose to this meeting.
The chairman caught her off guard when he suddenly said, “Why do you think you are sitting with us?”
Cassandra didn’t break stride, “Sir, I was waiting for someone to tell me why I was seated with this august group and not with my family. There are too many variables sir for me to make a good assessment as to why that is.”
The chairman laughed and the others smiled or chuckled. The chairman said smiling, “We wanted to pump you for information.”
Cassandra replied, “Sir, my father is far too smart to tell me something you gentlemen were not already privy to. He knows I would do my duty and tell you unless he directly ordered me not to do so and he cannot do that yet as he has not been sworn in.”
The admiral said, “She has you there Sid.”
The chief of staff of the Air Force asked, “Is it true that Roger is going to be your father’s nominee for secretary of defense and that’s why he is retiring.”
Cassandra said, “Yes sir.”
The chairman smiled and said, “There you have it gentlemen. The president elect has our backs.”
He turned to Cassandra and smiling said, “Thank you Cassandra. You have put our minds at ease.”
Cassandra smiled, “Respectfully sir, why is it I suspect you already knew the answer?”
Those at the table broke out in smiles. Cassandra was glad these officers found her amusing.
The breakfast meal was very enjoyable and when they had finished the president elect and his family rose to leave and Cassandra said to the officers, “Please excuse me gentlemen.”
The chairman smiled, “Of course.”
Cassandra gave the men at the table her most charming smile, “It has been a pleasure sirs.”
As she walked away the admiral said, “I can see why she was recommended for the special assignment.”
The chairman said, “Yes she is very bright and as we know a very dangerous and competent warrior. She could operate in diplomatic circles and at the same time deal with the generals.”
The Admiral said, “Yet they would have to deal with a woman and that would have the right effect given their machismo but they will have to deal with her because of her father’s position. The opposition will hope she’ll fail so they will probably vote in favor of her appointment.”
The others agreed.
Cassandra joined her family. She enjoyed the inauguration ceremony. The music started the festivities and then there were the call to order and the invocation. The vice president was sworn in first and then after more music her father was given the presidential oath. Cassandra was very proud of her father as he gave his inaugural address. After the benediction and national anthem Cassandra joined the family as they witnessed her father signing the required papers. They then left for the congressional luncheon.
It was a somewhat formal affair but this time Cassandra got to sit with her family. She sat between her mother and her brother. She was to the right of her brother and Maggie his wife sat on his left. Her brother leaned over and asked, “Did the chiefs give you a hard time this morning?”
Cassandra said, “Not in the least. It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal. The gentlemen treated me well.”
After the luncheon the inaugural parade was held. It was a grand affair and Cassandra thoroughly enjoyed the pomp. As a member of the president’s family she got to be on the reviewing stand to watch the rest of the parade pass. It was then she realized the significance of her father’s position.
She also realized the military certainly knew how to parade.
After the parade the family went to their quarters to prepare for the evenings formal ball. The ball was a very grand affair. The family followed the president into the building. Cassandra knew she was drawing attention in her gown. She looked like a famous model rather than a warrior and her female endowments were evident but at the same time it could be said she was modestly dressed. Cassandra was glad she had gone to the expense of having her gown specially tailored. She was able to circulate and meet a number of people including some of those she’d had her photo taken with when she had received the Medal of Freedom for her work on border protection.
She had an entirely enjoyable time and danced with several senior senators and congressmen as well as some of her father’s closest allies and some of those who would be serving in his administration. She also met the wives of several members of the joint chiefs. She was resting when Roger and Kirsten came to her.
Four Star General Roger Shires (Retired) was the former director of national intelligence and her father’s nominee for secretary of defense. She and her family had recently spent their Christmas vacation with Roger and Kirsten. The smart money was that his nomination would fly through the confirmation process.
Kirsten said, “This is quite an affair Cassandra.”
Cassandra smiled, “Indeed. I am having a good time.”
Roger said, “I see you were networking.”
Cassandra said, “Yes sir. I have it on good authority the joint chiefs are happy with my father’s choice for a nominee for secretary of defense.”
Roger smiled, “Is that so?”
Cassandra smiled, “As if you and your old comrades at arms hadn’t already discussed it sir.”
Kirsten laughed and Roger smiled before saying, “You know how it is Cassandra.”
She replied, “Yes sir. You can take the man out of the military but not the military out of the man.”
Kirsten smiled, “That was a very nice play on words.”
Cassandra replied, “Thank you Kirsten.”
Roger shook his head in disbelief but he was smiling.
Kirsten looked at her husband and said, “Roger let’s dance,” and Roger took her glass and put it on a nearby table and they went to the dance floor.
A man Cassandra didn’t know suddenly was beside her, “May I have the honor of this dance?”
Cassandra looked at him and smiled. She had a reaction she had never experienced before.
There was an attraction between them that was almost electric. She knew he was experiencing it. He was a handsome man perhaps five or six years her senior and he had the accent of a well educated native Spanish speaker. He was about the same height as she but she perceived he had a military background because of the way he stood. She also suspected he was very fit.
She said, “Why certainly but first you must introduce yourself.”
The man said, “My pardon señorita, I am Alejandro Garcia Ramirez, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States. Please just call me Alejandro.”
Cassandra replied, “I am Cassandra Crossing. Please call me Cassandra.”
The Cassandra Crossing Assignments
Author: Michael O'Gara
Barnes and Noble
BORDER CRISIS! TERRORISM! ASSASSINS! What is an outed spy with political connections to do? Cassandra Crossing did not expect it to happen so suddenly; her days as an undercover operative have ended. Cassandra expected her career would come to an end because of her father seeking higher political office. That would have certainly brought her into the public eye; a career ending event.
Before this can happen, Cassandra kills the head of an international crime organization during an operation. This results in her cover being blown and her photo released. She is now known to intelligence services throughout South America and who knows where else. Cassandra returns home as events along the border with Mexico approach crisis stage. These are the kinds of dangerous events she had predicted in her reports. Mexico is on the verge of civil war and terrorists are entering the U.S. from the south. They are causing chaos. As the ferocity and number of attacks increase, the President chooses Cassandra to deal with the threat. The attacks create a political will to act and Cassandra faces a very dangerous situation. The fate of the country, her life, and her father’s long term political ambitions may depend on her success. She must protect the border. Now the nation’s enemies have become her enemies and her new public assignment makes her a very visible target. The stakes are high as her enemies offer a large bounty for her murder. They will find out there is a price to pay for Crossing Cassandra.
Chapter 1 - Quiet Confrontation
Cassandra Crossing was out of her element but she was not out of her comfort zone and this wasn’t the first time she had walked into the lion’s den but little did she realize the profound consequences of this meeting. She had voluntarily gone into much more threatening situations and she knew that now was a time for restraint; a time for reasoning.
Cassandra was in the second of four black SUVs that pulled up in front of the restaurant. The four vehicles looked out of place in this neighborhood and they were. This was a working class area and even the mobsters here drove cars that did not attract attention. Men in dark suits wearing sunglasses emptied out of the vehicles that double parked. One of the men in suits opened the vehicle door for Cassandra.
Cassandra had on an expensive pant suit and expensive jewelry. It was obvious to those who noticed such things that she was armed.
She strode into the restaurant with two agents following her. They took up positions on either side of the door. Cassandra looked around and saw the man she wanted to talk to. Another man was whispering in his ear and then left as Cassandra walked toward the man she wanted to talk to.
A rather large brute of a man moved to intercept Cassandra.
Cassandra’s five foot ten athletic frame moved with the grace of a jungle cat. She gave off an air of raw physical power and in her case it was not false. She glanced at the large man approaching and simply said, “Don’t.”
The man at the table nodded and the big man backed off. As Cassandra walked toward the man at the table, she was assessing him. She figured he was one of those men who could go from charming to pure evil in an instant. Cassandra knew that seeing a photo of someone was not the same as being in their presence. Her years in the field had sharpened her ability to size people up.
The man was a Kelly and his father had been an Irish Republican Army enforcer and his mother had been the daughter of a Mexican drug lord. Their marriage was not one made in heaven but both had lived long lives and done many evil things together. They had raised their sons to follow in their footsteps.
Cassandra sat down without being invited. She folded her hands in front of her on the table and said, “Mr. Kelly my name is Cassandra Crossing.”
The man looked at Cassandra sizing her up, “I know who you are. You are a little out of you area of operation aren’t you? I suppose that’s why you have all those federal agents with you.”
Cassandra sat back, “Of course.”
George Kelly asked, “May I buy you a coffee?”
Cassandra smiled because the man recognized she was here to negotiate. She said, “I would like that.”
Kelly pointed at his cup and a waiter brought another quickly.
Cassandra looked at the waiter, “Thank you.” She took a sip of the coffee and said, “This is very good. Thank you.”
The man sitting opposite her was about ten years her senior. Though approaching forty George Kelly was fit. He had a full head of thick jet black hair that he probably worked at keeping from being greasy. Cassandra thought he was almost good looking in a rugged way. Though well dressed in a custom tailored suit he had the look of a thug. Cassandra knew he was a very dangerous man.
Mr. Kelly smiled, “It is not often I have the company of a beautiful woman to share coffee with here.”
Cassandra smiled, “Thank you for the compliment Mr. Kelly.” She thought this man seemed charming but underneath was a man with the instincts of a hyena and the morals of an alley cat.
“Please call me George.”
Cassandra smiled, “You may call me Cassandra.”
George replied, “To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit Cassandra.”
“I would like clarification George.”
The man put down his cup and looked at Cassandra asking, “How so?”
Cassandra said, “Hypothetically, if one was in conflict with another over business matters those can be resolved by negotiation. If a matter on the other hand is personal then emotions enter into the matter and rational negotiations are not possible.”
George looked at Cassandra, “Ah, I see. Hypothetically speaking if one’s relatives were harmed in the normal course of business it would be desirable to know if the matter had become personal because of the harm?”
George said, “I have suffered a great loss.”
Cassandra said, “And I too. The business with your brother has brought my current ability to operate covertly to an end; too much publicity and my identity was revealed. So we both have suffered loss but the question is was it personal or business.”
George said, “Some businesses are dangerous by nature. One assumes those risks when they take up the occupation. If the harm is the result of normal business and without personal motivation then there should be no vendetta.”
Cassandra nodded and recognized the answer had been evasive. She asked, “In your opinion was Ernesto harmed in the normal course of business?”
George paused. Cassandra had been responsible for his older brother Ernesto’s death. Ernesto had reigned as head of the Kelly crime family for a decade since their father had passed. With his older brother’s sudden death, George had assumed control over the family business. Cassandra had shot and killed Ernesto when he tried to kill her in Columbia. George knew it was his brother’s pride that had got him killed. Cassandra was better than Ernesto and his pride had not let him consider the danger she presented. Even though Ernesto had the element of surprise it hadn’t been enough.
Cassandra watched for George’s reaction.
Cassandra said, “It’s too bad you are unsure. It seems some relatives of yours were involved in selling guns to terrorists. I have it on good authority that federal officials are considering adding a certain alleged crime family to the list of terrorist organizations and its senior members on the terrorist watch list. The present activities you are engaged in attract a certain kind of attention but I think a man of your intellect can appreciate that this terrorist aspect would raise the level of scrutiny to another more dangerous level.”
George’s demeanor had now changed. Cassandra realized she had hit a nerve. George Kelly leaned forward, “Are federal authorities threatening me?”
Cassandra said, “I don’t see it that way. I suppose the federal authorities in question don’t either.
I think it is being carefully considered at this time by certain high level officials. It could go either way.”
George sat back. He took a sip of his coffee and Cassandra did the same. They both knew that George was deciding what to do. They sat for a moment looking at each other.
George said, “It was unfortunate that Ernesto got caught up in that nasty business. I think it was an unfortunate outcome of his business that he came to harm and there will be no revenge sought.”
Cassandra said, “I think that is desirable.”
George said, “What do you think the federal authorities will decide on the terrorism issue?”
Cassandra sat back, “You know how the bureaucracy is. I think the matter will be in limbo indefinitely and may never be resolved. You know how short their attention span is if no one is reminding them about it.”
George nodded. He asked, “What do you think your father’s chances are of being elected president?”
Cassandra said, “Now that he has locked up enough delegates to be the party’s nominee, I’d guess the probability is six in ten that he’ll be elected.”
George nodded and said, “Yes. The polls seem to indicate that too.”
Cassandra said, “Well thank you for the coffee George. I’m glad we were able to talk.”
George stood up, “The pleasure is mine Cassandra.”
They shook hands to seal the deal and Cassandra left the restaurant. She came out into the sunshine with the two agents who had gone in with her. They walked to the SUV and one of the agents opened the door and Cassandra got in. The little cavalcade drove off.
In the restaurant the big brute of a man approached George and asked, “What do you think boss?”
George said, “That woman is entirely dangerous. Tell everyone to keep their distance. The price of seeking revenge is too high. As of right now we have a hands-off policy with regard to anything near the Crossing family. We have too much to lose and nothing to gain. Besides, we don’t need the extra attention.”
The man nodded, “Yes boss.”
At the same time one of the men in the vehicle with Cassandra was asking, “Do you think he’ll back off?”
Cassandra replied, “For the time being perhaps and when father is elected it may become long term. As long as we have leverage he might keep his distance but I don’t trust him at all. He is very mercenary and there is nothing on the upside and a lot of downside if he seeks revenge at this point.”
Cassandra was driven to the airport where she caught a plane home. It had been a successful trip and well worthwhile. Cassandra was met in the arrival terminal by her twin brother Cal.
He hugged her and asked, “How did it go?”
Cassandra said, “Better than I expected. I think we have an understanding that may work for a while.”
Cal said, “Sometimes it helps to have friends in high places.”
Cassandra smiled, “Yes it does. I think all the federal agents were just the right touch.”
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