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Authors: Brendan DuBois

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Primary Storm

BOOK: Primary Storm
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Primary Storm

Lewis Cole [6]

Brendan DuBois

USA (2014)

In
this Presidential Election primary season, Lewis is set-up for the attempted assassination of a  candidate, and is quickly put in the spotlight for this
crime. With the Secret Service shadowing his every move, with his
budding romance with a campaign volunteer in jeopardy, and with the
threat of continued violence against him and the candidate, Lewis
desperately tries to find out who set him up for the attempted killing,
and who is still stalking him. 

Kindle edition Copyright 2014 by Brendan DuBois.

 

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the express written permission of the author or publisher, except where permitted by law.

 

All Rights Reserved.

PRIMARY STORM: The Special Edition

A Lewis Cole Mystery

By

Brendan DuBois

To Jeannette Pinette, Paul Pinette, and the memory of Roland Pinette

 

Qui habitent dans les montages et dans mon coeur.

 

 

Acknowledgments

 

 

The author wishes to express his thanks and appreciation to his wife, Mona Pinette, for her sure touch as an editor’ to his St. Martin’s Press editor Ruth Cavin, and her assistant, Toni Plummer; and to his agent, Liza Dawson.  Special thanks as well to the dedicated staff at both the Stratham-Newfields Veterinary Hospital of Newfields, New Hampshire, and the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter of Fryeburg, Maine.  And thanks, too, to those members of the news media and political campaigns who bring a special sort of madness to my home state every four years.

 

 

 

Forward

 

Welcome to this, my sixth novel in my Lewis Cole mystery series, and in some way, the most personal.  Often I’m asked what I have to do in terms of research to write a book, and while I’ve done considerable research in my other works, such is not the case here.  For having lived in New Hampshire all my life, the research for PRIMARY STORM was just living here every four years, when the New Hampshire primary kicks in.   The mention of the campaign signs, rallies, endless phone calls and mailboxes stuffed with campaign literature is not exaggerated one bit in this novel.

It may not be fair, and may not make real sense, but I and so many others in my quirky home state take pride in hosting the first in the nation’s presidential primary.  True, we’re not typical when it comes to demographics or income, but we take our responsibility very, very seriously.  We listen to the candidates, we attend campaign rallies, and unlike the bigger states, we force them to answer our questions.  There’s an old joke that says something to the effect of a reporter asking a resident if he intended to vote for a certain candidate.  The answer: “I don’t know.  I’ve only met him three or four times.”

True, we’re spoiled.  And we know it.  And when I was a newspaper reporter during the 1984 primary, I knew just how spoiled we journalists were.  Senator Alan Cranston is in town.  Would you like a one-on-one conversation with him?  Sure.  Senator Gary Hart will be in town tomorrow morning.  Would you like to have breakfast with him?  Absolutely.  Governor Reuben Askew would like to share some conversation time with you.  Why not?

In fact, the only candidate who didn’t approach me and my little newspaper at the time was Vice President Walter Mondale, who later got stomped hard when the votes were finally cast in the primary, being defeated by Senator Hart.

Guess you should have stopped by, eh, Walter?

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Two days before I was arrested for attempted murder, I was driving down the snow-covered collection of ruts that mark my driveway when I spotted the man standing outside my home on Tyler Beach, New Hampshire. To get to my driveway, one has to pass through the parking lot of the Lafayette House, a huge Victorian style hotel set on the opposite side of Atlantic Avenue, and past the odd collection of SUVs and luxury vehicles that belong to guests at the hotel. The past month or so had seen a rash of break-ins among the guests' parked vehicles, but I didn't see any broken glass as I drove through the lot, so maybe the forces of light were winning over the forces of darkness, or at least, the forces of vandalism.

What I did eventually see was my unanticipated visitor. The man standing at the doorway did not seem to be a hotel guest; there was no apparent luggage in sight. He was in his early thirties, slim, wearing a dark gray heavy coat that reached mid-thigh, dark pants, and some sort of sensible winter shoe. He looked at me and I looked at him as I pulled into the unattached shed that served as a garage, right next to my home.

I gathered up my mail --- retrieved a while ago from my PO box at the Tyler post office --- and got out of my Ford Explorer, knowing I would probably have to go back to town later in the day to take care of a forgotten errand at my local bank. Outside, the cold salt air felt refreshing, but I didn't like the look of the guy as I approached him. He had sharp hunter's eyes, and his black hair was cut close and trim, and looked perfect, like it had been trimmed by someone who charged three figures for a haircut. Up close, I could see that he was wearing a blue striped shirt and a red necktie underneath the long coat. There was a light snow falling from the gray sky.

"Lewis Cole?" he asked.

"That's right," I said. "What can I do for you?"

He said, ''1' d like to ask you a few questions, if you don't mind."

Being the middle of January, it was cold, and I wondered how long my visitor had been waiting for me outside. "Sorry, I do mind."

"Excuse me?"

"I said, I'm sorry, I do mind. I don't know you, and I don't know why I should answer your questions."

He nodded. "A good point. My apologies."

He reached into his coat pocket, took out a thin leather wallet, and flipped it open. As I looked at his photo and the cardboard identification slip and the nice shiny badge, the man decided to be redundant and announce himself.

"Mr. Cole, the name is Spenser Harris. And I'm an agent with the Secret Service, from the Boston office."

I looked up to his sharp face. "All right," I said. "I guess I don't mind after all. Let's get inside."

"Thanks."

I unlocked the door, kicked the snow off my boots, and went inside. Before me was a closet and closed door that led to a small cellar, flanked by a stairway that aimed up to the second floor. To the left was the small living room and sliding glass doors for the rear deck. Next to the sliding glass doors was a tiny kitchen that had a nice view of the Atlantic Ocean. Most every room in my house was described as being small, which happens when one's house is more than a hundred years old and once was a lifeboat station that rescued mariners on their way in and out of Porter Harbor, just up the coast.

I tossed the mail on the couch and followed it up by my coat, and looked over at my guest, standing there, slim and polite. I said, "Curious to know why the Secret Service is visiting here today."

"Strictly routine," he said, offering me a smile that said the visit was anything but. He started unbuttoning his clean coat and said, "Mind if I sit down?"

"Go right ahead."

Any other guest I would have offered tea or coffee or some other liquid refreshment, but I didn't like the look of Agent Harris, and I didn't like the way he had barged in on my day, standing out there like that. He could have easily called me to make an appointment, away from my house, like at a coffee shop or something. Instead, he had stood outside in the cold January weather, knowing I'd be back soon. Which meant some sort of surveillance, which meant some sort of effort on the Secret Service's part, which meant this visit wasn't routine, no matter his cheery nature.

From his coat he took out a small notebook, flipped it open with an experienced toss of the wrist, and said, "Mr. Cole, in just over a week, the New Hampshire primary will take place."

"As a resident of New Hampshire, I don't think I need the reminder."

"I'm sure," he said. "And part of our duties within the Secret Service is to do a threat assessment of the area whenever prominent candidates come by to make an appearance. For example, tomorrow Senator Jackson Hale will be stopping by the Tyler Conference Center."

"So I've heard."

"And my job is to interview those people who appear on our list of... well, people we're interested in."

This was becoming fascinating. I eyed him and said, "Are you telling me that the Secret Service considers me a threat?"

"Not at all," he said, protesting just a bit too much. "It's just that we have a list of people who have come to our attention over the years. Most of the time, it's just cranks. Guys who tend to hate anything and everything. Guys who've been overheard at bars making threats against prominent candidates. There are also a couple of high school students on the list as well, who've written e-mails threatening to kill the president. Unfortunately for them, they're going to get visited every few years if they come within a certain distance of the president or a presidential candidate."

"And how did I come to appear on your little list?"

"Something about your background, Mr. Cole."

"I'm sure," I said. "But I've been a resident of New Hampshire for a number of years. Why now?"

He shrugged. "I gather that we've been tasked to be more wide-ranging and thorough in our reviews. Now, from the records I've reviewed, I see that you used to be with the Department of Defense. Correct?"

"Yes."

"You were a research analyst with a little-known intelligence interpretation group within the department."

"Also correct."

"Now," he said, shifting his weight on my couch, "this is where it gets a bit interesting. According to the records we've been able to review, you left this group under ... under questionable circumstances. And being with the Department of the Treasury, we were also able to ascertain that you receive a monthly compensation payment from a certain disbursement fund within the Department of Defense. It appears that for a number of years, even with your position as a columnist for
Shoreline
magazine, that you have received a healthy payment from the government."

I looked at Agent Harris and wondered if I should boost the thermostat up a notch, for there was a wicked wind coming off the Atlantic, finding its way through some odd nooks and crannies by the sliding glass doors.

I kept on looking at him.

“Well?" he asked.

"Yes?"

"I'm sorry, I didn't hear your reply."

"Oh," I said. "I'm equally sorry. I didn't hear a question."

There was a tiny bit of a struggle on that composed face, and

I wasn't sure if I had angered him or humored him, but he pressed on and said, "I guess I'm just asking you to confirm what I've just said."

Well, there you go. Aloud I said, ''I'm sorry, when I left the employ of the Department of Defense, I signed a standard nondisclosure form. I have nothing to say."

"Can you tell me why you left the Department of Defense, Mr. Cole?"

"No, I cannot."

"Can you tell me if your departure had anything to do with your mental state or capacity?"

I was going to say something rude and sarcastic about that question, but thought better of it. Open that door, just a tiny bit, and Agent Harris could slip in and raise merry hell for the rest of the day, poking and probing. I was going to have none of that. So I said, "I'm sorry, I can't say anything more than what I just said."

"Can you tell me if your experiences in the Department of Defense have left you angry? Bitter? Holding a grudge?"

"Yes, yes, no," I said. "Clear enough for you?"

"Not really."

"But it'll have to do. I'm sorry."

A flip of the page. "Do you have any opinions about Senator Hale?"

I shrugged. "Last I checked, he's one of four candidates for his party's nomination. Having won the Iowa caucuses, he might be unbeatable if he were to win in New Hampshire."

"Excuse me, Mr. Cole, but that's not an opinion. That's a news report."

"Maybe so, but my opinions I keep to myself." A tiny bit of a smile.

"Good for you then."

"Are we almost done?"

"Almost."

"I believe that you are... let's say romantically involved with a member of Senator Hale's campaign staff. Correct?"

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