The Cabal (Kirk McGarvey Series #14)

The Cabal (Kirk McGarvey Series #14)

by David Hagberg

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CIA operative Todd Van Buren meets with Joshua Givens, a Washington Post investigative reporter who has uncovered a dangerous secret. Givens suspects that a lobbyist has formed a shadowy group called the Friday Club, whose members come from the White House, the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the FBI, and even the CIA. The journalist is convinced that the cabal is powerful enough to topple the United States . . . and he's terrified.

That afternoon, Van Buren—son-in-law of legendary spy Kirk McGarvey—is gunned down. That evening, Givens and his family are killed. Anything that might reveal the existence of the Friday Club is destroyed.

A devastated McGarvey is about to be drawn into the most far-reaching and perilous investigation of his career, one that could paralyze the government and shake the foundations of the world financial order.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765359872
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 06/28/2011
Series: Kirk McGarvey Series , #14
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 625,597
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

David Hagberg has published numerous novels of suspense, including his bestselling thrillers featuring former CIA director Kirk McGarvey, which include Abyss, The Expediter, and Allah's Scorpion. He has earned a nomination for the American Book Award, three nominations for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Allan Poe Award and three Mystery Scene Best American Mystery awards. He has spent more than thirty years researching and studying US-Soviet relations during the Cold War. Hagberg joined the Air Force out of high school, and during the height of the Cold War, he served as an Air Force cryptographer. He attended the University of Maryland and University of Washington. Born in Duluth, Minnesota, he now lives with his wife Laurie in Sarasota, Florida.

Read an Excerpt


The George was a trendy newly rebuilt art deco hotel one block from Washington's Union Station, its restaurant busy this Wednesday noon with a few congressmen, a number of television and print journalists, and well-heeled tourists who liked to be in the middle of things.

The noise level was surprisingly low, as if what everyone was discussing was confidential. The service was as crisp as the April weather, which, after a long damp winter, was energizing. The elections were over, a new president sat in the White House, and an optimistic mood had begun to replace the pessimism since 9/11.

Seated at an upper-level table that looked down on the first floor and entryway, Todd Van Buren sat nursing a Michelob Ultra, waiting for Joshua Givens, a buddy from the University of Maryland, where they'd both majored in political science. Todd had minored in international law and languages — French, Chinese, and Russian — and had been immediately hired by the CIA, while Givens, who'd minored in journalism, had started work for the Minneapolis Star, and over the past six years had worked his way up to a well-respected, if junior, investigative journalist with the Washington Post.

When he had called this morning and left a message on Todd's voice mail, he sounded frantic, almost frightened.

At twenty-nine, Todd was the youngest person ever to run the CIA's training facility, known unofficially as the Farm, with his wife, Elizabeth, at Camp Peary near Williamsburg, 140 miles south of Washington on the York River. His father-in-law was Kirk McGarvey, former director of the agency. He and Liz both had a fair amount of field experience, much of it alongside Liz's father, who'd arguably been the Company's finest field agent, bar none. They'd practically gone to school on his tradecraft, and once their covers had been blown they'd been recruited to run the training facility. Something they'd been doing with a great deal of success for the past three years. And after the first three months no one ever questioned their ages.

Givens knew that Todd worked for the CIA, just as he knew who Todd's father-in-law was, which made his message this morning all the more cryptic.

"Trust me on this one, Todd," Givens had said. "Don't tell anyone we're meeting. No one. Not your wife, and especially not her father."

Noon at the George, it was ten after that now, and Todd was beginning to regret driving all the way up from the Farm, and lying to his wife in the bargain, though that had been easy because she was spending the day on an exfiltration exercise with the new class. Tomorrow would be his turn, pushing the twelve field officer trainees as close to the breaking point as he could. He and Liz were hands-on administrators.

He would explain to her where he'd been when he got back. They'd been spies, but they had never lied to each other. She'd made him promise before they got married. She loved her father, but he'd been gone for almost all of her childhood because he had not been able to tell the truth to his wife, and she'd kicked him out of the house. Todd's relationship with Liz was the most important thing in his life, not just because he loved her but because of their two-year-old daughter, Audrey. He owed both of them at least that much.

Givens appeared in the doorway from the hotel's lobby, spotted Todd sitting upstairs, and came up. He looked out of breath and flushed, as if he had run all the way in from the Post. Unlike Todd, who was tall, solidly built with a broad, pleasant face, Givens was short and whip thin, his movements quick, almost birdlike. In college Todd had lettered two years as a running back on the football team, while Givens had lettered all four years in cross-country. He'd been incredibly fast with the endurance of an iron man, and it didn't look as if he'd changed much.

"Thanks for coming," Givens said, sitting down across from Todd. He laid a computer disk in a jewel case on the table and slid it across. "Don't hold it up, don't look at it, just put it in your pocket."

"Okay," Todd said. He slipped it into his jacket pocket as their waitress came over.

"Iced tea, with lemon," Givens said. "I'm not staying for lunch."

"So, here I am," Todd said. "And I'm curious as hell."

Givens glanced down at the entryway, and then at the other diners on the lower level, before he turned back. "Listen, for the past five months I've been investigating a power broker group called the Friday Club. And what I'm finding out is scaring the crap out of me. Everything I've come up with so far is on the disk."

"Robert Foster," Todd replied. Everyone in Washington knew of the so-called club whose ultra-conservative members called themselves American Firsters. Lobbyists, a number of high-ranking aides and advisers to some key senators and congressmen as well as at least one White House insider, and others. All men, all of them with power.

"He's the top dog," Givens said. "And when I started looking it didn't take me long to find out that some of his lobbyist pals represented people like the Saudi royal family, the Venezuelan oil minister, the deputy director of Mexico's intelligence service."

"What were you looking for?"

Givens hesitated. "This is going to sound far-fetched. But one of the guys on the list was your deputy director of operations, Howard McCann, who got my attention when he turned up dead in the line of duty."

Todd kept any hint of emotion from his face, but alarm bells were jangling all over the place. McCann had been a traitor who'd financed the hit on a Chinese general in Pyongyang, and before that was the moneyman behind a scheme to smuggle forty kilos of polonium-210 across the border with Mexico. When Todd's father-in-law confronted the man in a safe house just outside Washington, the DDO had pulled out a pistol and it had been Todd who'd opened fire, killing him. There'd been a lot more to it than that, of course, but to this point they'd not been able to figure out where McCann had gotten the money. It was a puzzle.

"You have my attention, Josh," he said carefully.

"I'm in the middle of something really big. Maybe even a shadow government. These guys have influenced elections, got federal judges removed from the bench, made sure some top banks and big financial companies got federal backing — bailouts just like what happened to Chrysler and just about everyone else a couple of years ago."

"Planning a coup?"

Givens shook his head. "Nothing so messy or dramatic as that. I think they've already accomplished what they set out to do. They're running things right now. Or at least the important stuff. Guys from the Federal Reserve are in the club, along with a couple of four stars from the Pentagon. This cuts right across the board."

Givens looked away for a moment, apparently overwhelmed by what he was saying. When he turned back he'd come to some decision.

"What?" Todd prompted.

"Could be the bastards engineered nine/eleven."

This was getting over the top for Todd. "Do you know how crazy that sounds? Just another conspiracy theory. Our guys deal with that kind of shit twenty-four/seven. Doesn't get us anywhere."

"Look what they've accomplished," Givens said.

"Tell me."

"A direct reduction of our civil liberties, for one. For Christ's sake, libraries and bookstores are supposed to inform the FBI what fucking books we're reading. Now you tell me who's crazy?"

"What do your editors over at the Post have to say about it?"

Givens dismissed the question with a gesture. "These aren't the Woodward and Bernstein days. We don't run partial stories hoping the exposure will make other people come forward. Everyone's gotten too smart."

"Who have you shared this with?" Todd was having a lot of doubts. He and Givens hadn't been close, but the guy had never seemed nutsy. And his investigative pieces in the Post had seemed first rate. But this now made no sense.

"No one. Not even my wife, Karson. Not until I have everything nailed down."

"Okay, I'll look at your disk," Todd said. "Then what?"

"How did McCann die? What was he working on?"

Todd spread his hands. "Even if I knew something like that, which I don't, I wouldn't be able to talk about it."

"Especially not with a reporter."

"Something like that."

"Give it to your father-in-law then. From what I hear he still carries some weight." Givens looked down at the entryway again, as if he was expecting someone. "Hell, I don't have anything solid yet. All I have are a lot of disconnected facts. Sudden changes in government policies, resignations of some key people here and there, upset elections in two dozen key states over the past couple of years. It's all on the disk."

"I'll see what I can do," Todd said. "But I can't promise anything. You've gotta understand that, Josh."

"Do what you can," Givens said. "What you think is right."

His iced tea came, and he drank some of it then got up. "I trust you, man. I think you're the only person in the world I can trust."

"I'll call you if I come up with something," Todd said.

"Not at the paper," Givens said. He handed Todd a business card. "Call me at home." He gave Todd a long, hard look then turned, went downstairs, and left the restaurant.


Tim Kangas, thirty-one, medium height and build, thinning light brown hair and ordinary brown eyes, laid a twenty-dollar bill on the downstairs table after Givens hurried past and left the hotel. His partner, Ronni Mustapha, picked up the nylon sports bag on the chair between them and casually reached inside and switched off the shotgun microphone's recording circuit. They'd heard everything.

They'd been following the Washington Post reporter for three weeks, waiting for the tipping point, which had apparently happened just minutes ago. An article in the newspaper would have meant next to nothing, but his meeting with a CIA officer, especially one with Van Buren's connections, could possibly be devastating.

"Get the car," Kangas said, and Mustapha, an ordinary-looking man in his late twenties with deep-set dark eyes and an easy, pleasant smile when he was in public, took the bag and left directly behind Givens.

No one would suspect he'd been born in Saudi Arabia; when he was five his parents had immigrated to Atlanta, where he'd completely assimilated, down to a soft Georgia accent. Nor would he be pegged as a CIA-trained NOC, non-official cover, field officer, the same as Kangas, who'd been born and raised in southern California. Both of them knew how to lie, how to fit in, how to fade into the woodwork, how to be anyone at anytime.

They had been picked for the program because both men had been born with a fiercely independent streak, exactly what the Company wanted. But after six years in the field, Kangas in Central America and Mustapha in Syria, Lebanon, and Iran — his parents had insisted that he learn Arabic as a child — they'd become too independent, which was all too common. And they'd also gotten fringe, over the top and in the end too brutal. Each was credited with half a dozen or more unauthorized kills of Enemies of the State and the Agency had pulled them in, offered them citations, and generous severance packages.

Kangas had left the Agency two years ago, and within five days he'd been offered a position with Washington-based Administrative Solutions — Admin — a private contracting firm second only to Xe, formerly Blackwater USA, in revenues, prestige, and the occasional missteps. S. Gordon Remington, an Admin vice president, had known just about everything in Kangas's CIA file, which had been nearly as impressive as the six-figure salary he'd offered.

The job had been boring most of the time, guarding high-ranking businessmen in Iraq and Afghanistan, making the occasional hit when it was needed, and usually as part of a firefight, which was ridiculously easy to engineer in countries where almost every male between the ages of twelve or thirteen and forty was armed and carrying a serious grudge — usually religion-based.

Mustapha had been recruited last year, and had joined Kangas in Afghanistan where they'd become partners. Their tradecraft was similar, their ambitions were about the same — hurt people and make a lot of money doing it — and they knew how to cover each other's back.

Van Buren was getting up, as Kangas took out his encrypted cell phone and speed-dialed a number that was answered on the first ring.

"Hello," Remington answered, his British accent cultured.

"The meeting has taken place."

"We're you able to record their conversation?"


"Is there damage?"

"Yes, sir. Just as you suspected, our subject handed over a disk."

Remington was silent for several beats, and although Kangas had never had much respect for anyone, especially anyone in authority, he did now have a grudging respect for Admin's VP. The man knew what had been coming, and he'd been prepared.

"The situation must be contained," Remington said. "Are you clear on your mission?"

"Both of them?"

"Yes. And they must be sanitized as thoroughly and as expeditiously as possible. This afternoon, no later than this evening."

"Give us twenty-four hours and we can cut the risk by fifty percent," Kangas said. Running blindly into any sort of a wet operation was inherently dicey, even more so in this instance because of who Van Buren was; his background was impressive.

"This is top priority," Remington said. "All other considerations secondary. Are we clear on that as well?"

Van Buren was coming down the stairs.

"Standby," Kangas said, and he avoided eye contact as the CIA officer passed by and left the restaurant through the hotel lobby to the valet stand.

Kangas got up, and left by the front door, which opened on the street, just as Mustapha pulled up in a dark blue Toyota SUV with tinted windows.

"We're in pursuit now," he told Remington. "But with the weapons we're carrying this won't look like a simple robbery."

Remington chuckled, which was rare so far as Kangas knew. "You've been out of the country too long to understand what the average bad guy carries."

"Yes, sir."

"Call when you're finished."

Van Buren was waiting at the curb, and as Kangas broke the connection, pocketed his phone, and got into the Toyota, a valet parker brought a soft green BMW convertible around and got out. Van Buren handed the man some money, got behind the wheel, and took off.

"Don't lose him," Kangas said.

Mustapha waited for a cab to pass, then he pulled out and, keeping the cab between them and Van Buren, started his tail. "Is it a go?"

"Yes, but right now this afternoon. Both of them."

Mustapha gave him a sharp look. "That doesn't make a lot of sense."

"That's what the man said. ASAP."


Lunchtime traffic west on Constitution was even heavier than normal because of a huge art show on the Mall. Todd had to pay attention to his driving until he passed the National Museum of American History and turned south toward I-395, which would take him across the river to I-95 and the two-and-a-half-hour drive to the Farm. Because of the sunny weather, tourists seemed to be everywhere, most of them without a clue where they were going.

Across the river, the Pentagon off to the right, traffic thinned out enough for him to phone his father-in-law in Florida, but after the fourth ring he got his mother-in-law's soft West Virginia voice on the answering machine.

"Hello. We can't take your call now, but after the beep please leave a message and number and we'll get back to you. Have a nice day."

"Hi, Mom, it's Todd. Have Dad give me a call on my cell. I came up to Washington to meet an old friend for lunch and I'm on my way back to the Farm now. It's quarter to one."

Ten miles later, through Alexandria, traffic thinned out even more as the highway branched off to I-95. Todd took the disk out of his jacket pocket and looked at both sides, but Givens hadn't written anything on the disk itself or on the jewel case. Whatever was really going on had no business being in the Post, especially not any sort of a connection to McCann's death. That was one can of worms that would probably never see the light of day. Some things were much too dark even for the Freedom of Information Act.


Excerpted from "The Cabal"
by .
Copyright © 2010 David Hagberg.
Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Cabal (Kirk McGarvey Series #14) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
GiovanniG More than 1 year ago
The newest novel from David Hagberg picks up right where The Expediter leaves off and burns a trail that is totally hot and scorching. The story line from the inside cover of the novel tells us that McGarvey's son-in-law, Todd Van Buren, is meeting with a reporter he knew from college. The reporter friend has info on a group that calls themselves The Friday Club. The reporter gives Todd a disk with info on it at a restaurant where they meet, and soon the two are killed. McGarvey of course is set to find out who offed his son-in -law and how it ties in The Friday Club and the events of the last few novels. Hagberg is in rare form with The Cabal. This is a must read if you are a fan and have followed Kirk McGarvey this far in his journey. If this is your first Hagberg novel, hold on. The ride is swift and the action just. No spoilers will be given here, but let the bad guys fall where they may. I love the characters Hagberg has created in this series and they are all present and accounted for in this novel. This for me was full throttle Hagberg, holding nothing back in his lean mean machine in Kirk McGarvey. But Giovanni how do you really feel? I have had the pleasure of late to read some really good novels in this genre in the last two to three weeks and this is right there with the best of them. Truth, Justice & the American Way the McGarvey way is an excellent read that is hard to put down. The Cabal takes no prisoners literally and figuratively. Hagberg takes McGarvey to the zenith and back with this one, honest injun. Be prepared to have some curves thrown at you, to gasp in surprise and wonder why and how he did that. The Cabal is a gut wrenching, fast paced force of a novel. Whether you are a huge fan like me, or a first time Hagberg reader, you are in for a treat. What is your favorite McGarvey novel? What are you reading today? Check us out and become our friend on Facebook. Go to Goodreads and become our friend there and suggest books for us to read and post on. You can also follow us on Twitter, Book Blogs, and also look for our posts on Amazon , Barnes and Nobles and the Bucks County Library System. Did you know you can shop directly on Amazon by clicking the Gelati's Store Tab on our blog? Thanks for stopping by today; we will see you tomorrow. Have a great day.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Washington DC, CIA agent Todd Van Buren meets his college friend Washington Post reporter Josh Givens at a D.C. restaurant. Josh mentions to Todd he's investigating an apparent top secret government cell the Friday Club. He insists the group consists of political and military insiders who from the shadows run the government. Not long after they depart, two snipers assassinate Todd, who ran the CIA training "Farm" with his wife Elizabeth, as he drives on the Interstate near Fredericksburg, Maryland. A few hours later, assassins murder Josh, his wife and their son in their townhouse. Former CIA Director Kirk McGarvey has no time to grieve the death of his son-in-law. Fuming, he vows to find the killers, their handlers, and their leaders as more people are murdered; some even closer to him. The latest ultra fast-paced McGarvey thriller is an exhilarating action-packed tale with several twists that even the hero never anticipated. Fast-paced throughout, McGarvey struggles with psychological trauma like none he faced before even when he dealt with a best friend mole inside the agency and staying alive as he climbs the pyramid of the Friday Club hierarchy. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sad that he had to lose his family
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book, fast paced, strong characterization. This was along the same genre, one man show against the bad guys. Involving, conspiracy, politics, murders etc; the only thing the author didn't make clear to me was, what was "The Friday club" all about. What was their agenda and what was it they hoped to accomplish and how. I liked the character of Mc Garvey, even at his age he accomplished what he set out to do. I did not like the ending, it left me wondering who the new neighbor might be. Is there going to be a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keeps you on the edge. Hard to put down.
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patflat More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down. Written as if you were right there in the middle of the action
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KenCady More than 1 year ago
We all grew up to love stories of good guys versus bad guys, and in today's climate it helps to throw in a secret cabal which really runs the government. Add a heavy dose of violence and the thinness of the plot might be excused. Except when the violence just gets tedious, as shootout after shootout always has the wanted result. (But you could bomb some lovable characters- would that help?) There are many entertaining pages in The Cabal, but, for me, it all became tiresome and I found myself putting the book down when I should have been caught up in the action. Perhaps I took the author too seriously when he wrote: "The possibility that somehow Foster...[the lobbyist]...and his group could have fomented trouble over there was unbelievable..."
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