On Easter Sunday morning, the city of Boston is struck by a widespread and coordinated series of terrorist attacks: an explosion in the T, a suicide bomber at Back Bay Police Station, and heavily armed gunmen taking hostages at the Patriot Hotel.
For robotics innovator Louis Massina, aka the Puppet Master, this is far more personal than a savage act of political terrorism. Boston is his city—and one of his employees, Chelsea Goodman, is among the hostages facing certain death. As Chelsea fights from the inside, Massina leads his team of tech geniuses at Smart Metal to deploy every bot, drone, and cyber weapon at their disposal to defeat the fanatics and save his city and friend.
That’s step one. Step two: Find the twisted mastermind behind the attacks and make him pay.
Boston, Easter Sunday High noon
Louis Massina paced back and forth in the small high-security area, worried, anxious, and angry. But most of all, impotent. Boston was under attack.
The lives of dozens, maybe hundreds, of his friends were directly threatened. One of his closest employees, a young woman with tremendous promise, was among the hostages. Maybe even dead.
And all he could do, for all his money, for all his inventions—his robots, his drones, his computers, his software—was walk back and forth, trying desperately to suppress what could not be suppressed.
Anger. Rage. The enemy of reason, yet the core of his being, at least at this moment. There were other alternatives. Prayer, for one. Prayer is impotence. Prayer is surrender.
The nuns who taught him would slap his face for thinking that. They held the exact opposite: Prayer was strength, tenfold. But while in many ways Massina was a man of faith, he had never been much given to prayer. In his mind, actions spoke more effectively than words.
Prayers were all well and good, but they worked—if they worked at all—on a realm other than human. And the action needed now was completely human. Not even the Devil himself could have concocted the evil his city faced.
Light flashed in the center of the far-right monitor.
“They’re going in,” said the operator watching the hotel where Massina’s employee had been taken hostage. The light had come from a small explosion at the side of the building. “They’re going in.”
Almost in spite of himself, Massina started to pray.
Two hours earlier
Boston, Massachusetts Easter Sunday morning
There were few better hotels in Boston than the Patriot Hotel if you wanted to soak up the city’s history: city hall was practically next door, Faneuil five minutes away. You could catch a trolley for the Old Town tour a block or two down the street. Bunker Hill was a hike, but then the British had found that out as well. The rooms were expensive—twice what they would go for at similarly appointed hotels nearby—but money had never been a major concern for Victoria Goodman, Chelsea Goodman’s favorite aunt. Victoria had gotten a job as a secretary for Microsoft very soon after it started, and when she cashed out her stock in the early 1990s, invested in real estate in and around San Francisco, most notably Palo Alto and Menlo Park—the future homes of Facebook and Google. Victoria had that kind of luck.
Despite her luck, and her money, Victoria was especially easygoing, self-assured yet casual. She met Chelsea in the hotel lobby wearing a blue-floral draped dress that showed off toned upper arms and legs that remained trim and shapely despite the fact that she had recently passed sixty.
“Just on time,” declared Victoria, folding Chelsea to her chest. “I hope you’re hungry.”
“I wouldn’t mind breakfast,” answered Chelsea.
“How far did you run this morning?”
“It’s not the distance, it’s the attitude,” replied Victoria. “Only five miles. But it felt wonderful. It’s so marvelous running through the city.”
“You’ll have to try for the Marathon.”
“Those days are gone, dear,” said Victoria lightly. “I’d never qualify. But thank you for the thought. You didn’t bring your young friend?”
“We’ll meet her at the Aquarium,” Chelsea said. “She had to go to church with her dad.”
“Well, it is Easter.”
“Actually, they’re Russian Orthodox, so it’s Palm Sunday. He’s a single father, and lately he’s been trying to instill religion in her.”
Chelsea followed Victoria across the paneled lobby to the restaurant entrance, where a maître d’ greeted them with a nod. He had a fresh white rose in his lapel and the manner of someone who’d been looking forward to this encounter the entire morning. He showed the two women to a seat at the far end of the room, then asked if they would care for something to drink while they looked at the menus.
“Mimosas,” said Victoria. “And coffee.”
“Mimosas?” asked Chelsea.
“Why not? You don’t have to work today, and champagne always puts me in the mood for sightseeing.”
Chelsea was just about to ask how exactly that worked when a loud crack shook the room. The metallic snap was followed by two more, each louder than the other. The noise was unfamiliar to most of the people in the restaurant, but Chelsea had lately had a singular experience that not only made the sound familiar, but warned her subconscious that there was great danger nearby.
She leaped up from her seat, and before her aunt could respond, had grabbed her and pushed her to the floor.
“Someone is shooting!” Chelsea told Victoria as the crack of a fresh round of bullets echoed against the deep wood panels of the room. “We have to get out of here!”
Excerpt from Act of Revenge by Dale Brown. Copyright © 2018 by Dale Brown. Reproduced with permission from William Morrow. All rights reserved.
Dale Brown is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, from Flight of the Old Dog (1987) in 1987, to, most recently, Iron Wolf (2015). A former U.S. Air Force captain, he can often be found flying his own plane over the skies of Nevada. Jim DeFelice is the co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller American Sniper. DeFelice is the author of Omar Bradley: General at War, the first in-depth critical biography of America’s last five-star general. He also writes a number of acclaimed military thrillers, including the Rogue Warrior series from Richard Marcinko, founder of SEAL Team 6, and the novels in the Dreamland series with Dale Brown.