David Stone Books



























































New York Times Bestseller David Stone

The Echelon Vendetta

The Echelon Vendetta HardcoverThe Echelon Vendetta PaperbackThe Echelon Vendetta UK cover

Order online today

David Stone's New York Times Bestseller

The Echelon Vendetta

Micha Dalton is not paid to ask questions. He's the man the CIA sends to clean up the mess when something goes wrong, an agent gets in trouble, or worse. When his colleague and friend Porter Nauman turns up dead in an idyllic Tuscan hill town as a result of an apparent and unimaginably gruesome suicide, Dalton can't help but ask questions, when Nauman's family is subsequently slaughtered back home in London, Dalton can sit back no longer.

Moving from Venice to London to Washington, D.C., to the unbearably beautiful mountains of the American West, Dalton tracks the specter who, with a penchant for intricate knifework influenced by Native American mysticism, is killing a disparate group of agents, former agents, and contract men-all of whom seem to have a connection to ECHELON, a mysterious company operation. The murders appear to be acts of retribution, but for what? Elegant, horrifying, and chillingly suspenseful, The Echelon Vendetta will keep you enthralled, through it's final, supremely satisfying twist.

Read the Story Behind the Story

An excerpt from The Echelon Vendetta:

Friday, August Thirty-first,
Two Moon Trailer Camp
Mountain Home, Idaho
11:59 local time.

     At six minutes after midnight everything changed: Runciman sensed it, even in his drunken sleep. He was not alone. There was a thing in the room with him, and an unfamiliar scent drifting on the stale air, mingling with the tang of cut pine and the rancid reek of grease from the Arby's across the highway - a sharp biting scent almost but not quite like eucalyptus - Runciman, his heart pounding against his rib-cage like a boxer working the heavy bag, snapped fully awake, lying on his back in the damp tangle of his sheets, staring up at the bars of blue light that rode upon the ceiling of his trailer, listening so hard to the breathing silence in his room that his skull began to ache.
     He looked carefully to his right and saw a dim man-like figure, wrapped in a formless darkness. It appeared to be standing in the middle of the long narrow room. Runciman slid a hand under the pillow, got his fingers around the grip of an old blue-steel Smith and Wesson, and rolled off his bed into a crouch on the side away from the shape, the revolver aimed out into the darkness.
       The shape in the center of the room did not move.
"You want to die doing this", Runciman said, his harsh grating voice oddly loud in the silence of the trailer, "you've come to the right place". Out in the humid night an eighteen-wheeler chuffed its air brakes and ground its gears down the falling grade that led into Mountain Home. The shadow in the room did not react to him in any way - if it was a shape and not a trick of the light - it seemed to Runciman that whatever it was, its attention was … elsewhere.
     Keeping the muzzle on the center of the dark mass, Runciman fumbled for the bed-side lamp and flicked it on. The warm yellow light spilled out into the room, picking out the shabby sofa, the yard-sale furniture, the card table littered with empty beer cans and the remains of Runciman's take-out Chinese. There was nothing there.
      No shape. No shadow. No … thing.
      He lowered the gun and wiped his sweating face with a shaking hand, steadied himself on the cot and stood upright, old joints cracking, weaving slightly, his head pounding, his lips and mouth dry.
     He sighed, wiped a hand across his parched lips, and turned to stumble down the narrow hall into the tiny stainless-steel bathroom, where he set the Smith down on the toilet seat and ran the water into the rusted cistern until the cold made his fingers ache.
     He scrubbed his face hard with a thread-bare towel that smelled of mildew and spilt beer, braced his hands on the edge of the cistern and stared into the mirror, seeing the remnants of a once-hard man whose features were now sagging into pouches and lines and seams, like a wax mask melting. He dried his hands on the curtain over the window, sighed, and stepped back out into the hall.
      A big man was very close, a tall shadowy shape, a skull with black pits for eyes; the skull-man lifted his open palm up to his lips and blew a cloud of fine pinkish powder into Runciman's face. Runciman caught a fleeting scent of eucalyptus - not quite like eucalyptus - before his world cracked wide open.
A pale green corpse- light poured up through the grates beneath his bare feet and the tin ceiling of his trailer peeled back to reveal a vast cobalt sky marbled with pale glowing mist. Runciman rose up and drifted through this limitless universe, disembodied, pierced through with star-light: his skin burned with the heat of violet suns. He watched, detached, as the thread that held his mind to his body stretched out into a thin golden wire that hummed like a plucked string …
     … after a long nameless time he came back to this world and was not surprised to find that he was naked and taped to a wooden chair under a bare bulb. In his heart he knew what was about to happen. He had seen this many times before. The only thing new to him was that this time he was the naked man taped to the chair, surrounded by darkness.
Just within the small circle of light containing him he saw the silver-tipped toe of a cowboy boot made of some sort of reptile hide, greenish-black, the frayed cuff of black jeans, a long leg rising to a patched knee, a crossed leg on the knee, a leathery long-fingered hand holding a thin stiletto with a narrow tapering tip. A quicksilver light shimmered along the edge of the blade. A voice, a hoarse whisper, spoke to him from out of the dark:
      "You know where you are?"
     Runciman, sighing softly, considered the man's question.
     "Sure. It's my Karma. What goes around comes around."
     "And you know what happens next."
     "I do. The way you took me, you're no hack . You're a pro. You're street. I figure you're maybe from The Agency, but you might be off the reservation. Maybe not. Somebody's nervous back east, or somebody wants to know something you think I know, or wants to find out if I don't know something I should know, or maybe you're just a freelancer come to make me pay for some evil-ass shit you think I did to you or somebody you loved and you're gonna fuck me up so bad I'll be happy to die."
     Here Runciman paused, squinting into the glare.
     "And you know what, pal? You know what the bulletin is? I really don't give a shit why you're here. This night's been coming all my life. I've got spots on my lungs the size of silver dollars, my liver's as hard as a stone crab, and I piss nine times nightly. So I really don't give a rusty fuck about your whiny little beef with me, your sorry-ass problems. I got enough of my own. Now, you tell me - what was that fine shit you blew in my face? That shit was truly righteous. So, who the fuck are you, pal? I know you? I think maybe I know you."
     "You know me."
     Runciman blinked into the light.
     "You do sound sorta familiar. I can't quite place the voice."
     "You know my name. You know who I used to be."
     "Jolly. We're old pals. Hugs all 'round. What can I do for you?"
     "Who was the man in the long blue coat?"
     "What the fuck does that mean?"
     "Who was the man in the long blue coat?"
     "No idea. Your turn. Where are the snows of yester-year?"
     "Who was the man in the long blue coat?"
     "Pal, I really don't know what the fuck you're talking about."
     "Who was the man in the long blue coat?"
     "You're boring me here, man. You gotta narrow it down."
     "Trinidad. Nineteen-ninety-seven."
     "Last year in Marienbad. Next year in Jerusalem. Your turn again."
     "Who was the man in the long blue coat?"
     "The man in the long blue coat … is that you, Milo? It's not Milo? Man, is that you?"
     "Yes. It's Milo."
     "Is it? You don't sound like Milo. Tell me something only Milo would know?"
     "Huey Longbourne sends his best."
     "Huey Longbourne?"
     "Talk to me about Trinidad."
     "If you're really Milo, you don't need me to tell you about Trinidad. Milo was there. Is it really you, Milo? We all thought you were dead. Dead in that freaking storm. We looked for you, man. We all did. If this is about that, then fucking undo me man, this is all a joke. Where you been all this time? Were you in Tularosa. Willard always said you'd be holed up in Tularosa. Milo, is it you? Is it really?
     "Who was the man in the long blue coat?"
     "Ah Jeez. Hey. Fuck you. You're not really Milo. How you know about Huey Longbourne I have no idea. I guess you hadda cut it outta Milo before you got to me. If you were really Milo then you'd know. There's nothing I could tell Milo about Trinidad that Milo didn't already know. None of us knew who the man in the long blue coat was. Not Willard. Not Pete or Crucio. Not even Moot. Maybe Bob Cole knew."
     "Bob Cole called him Cicero."
     "Cicero. That's what we called him. His name was Cicero."
     "Bob Cole called him Cicero. What was his real name?"
     "We were never told. And Bob Cole's dead. We all called him Cicero. Remember? That's how it works. That's field-craft. Nobody knows the cleaner's name on a thing like Trinidad. Everybody has a legend, other names – we all did, you skanky freak. That's the way it's always done. Know what, man - I'm through talking to you. You wanna know what happened at Trinidad, go ask somebody else. Ask Barbra Goldhawk, why don't you? See what you get outta that old bucket of grits. I don't like you, pal - I don't like how you do business, I don't like your fancy-ass Hollywood boots with the little silver toe-tips like you're some kind of pansy fucking range-elf and I'm not telling you shit. So it's howdy-go-bye-bye time, Hop-along. Let's get her done. Either un-ass my AO or start in cutting."
     "Who was the man in the long blue coat?"
     "Even if I knew I wouldn't tell a Jody like you. Lock and load."
     The man stood and stepped into the light. Runciman looked at him, at the man's face, at what was in it, and he knew that he had come to the final hours of his life. The first cuts were not the deepest.