Ex-CIA agent Jordan Sandor races against time to prevent a worldwide terrorist plot in the page-turning thrilling prequel to Targets of Opportunity.
When Jordan Sandor resigned from active service with the Central Intelligence Agency, it was before September 11th, before the fall of Saddam Hussein, and before the world had so dramatically changed. He is reluctantly drawn back into action when a series of violent events leads him to suss out a new al-Qaeda conspiracy to initiate cataclysmic assaults with poison gas.
Sandor follows the deadly trail from New York to Florida to Paris and, ultimately, to the small town of Portofino on the Italian Riviera. Never sure who he can trust and who may be an enemy, Jordan relies on his experience, instincts, and skills as he risks his life to uncover plans for attacks against the United States and its allies. When Sandor discovers a rogue agent behind the plot, he realizes he is the one man who can prevent the catastrophe that could put the lives of millions of people at stake.
|Product dimensions:||4.80(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Jeffrey S. Stephens is a native New Yorker who now lives in Greenwich, Connecticut with his wife Nancy, where they raised their two sons, Graham and Trevor. Stephens is the author of the Jordan Sandor thrillers Targets of Deception and Targets of Opportunity.
Read an Excerpt
Jordan Sandor had no reason to expect this quiet autumn morning to erupt with the familiar sounds of his violent past.
It was nearly ten. The air felt crisp and cool, the calm sky bright and clear and blue. The two-lane blacktop in upstate New York was deserted, except for Dan Peters’ old station wagon where Sandor slouched in the passenger seat, a casual observer of the passing countryside. He and Peters had been riding in silence when a pickup truck came into view then turned across their path.
“That’s practically a traffic jam around here.”
Sandor nodded. “Doesn’t seem to be much doing.”
“Nope, not this time of year. Summer you get the tourists, hiking, camping, and all that. Winter, they come up to ski.” Peters eased the wagon along a wide curve. “Fall, some people drive up on the weekends to see the leaves turn color. Other than that you get nothing.”
They passed a makeshift billboard that boasted authentic home cooking at some nearby restaurant. The poster looked so old Sandor wondered whether the restaurant even existed anymore. “You don’t miss the city at all?”
Peters thought it over, surveying the barren road. “Sometimes. The places, you know. Not the people. The food, mostly. When I get a taste for good Chinese or Thai, and especially Japanese, that’s when I really miss New York. No Sushi Yasuda up here.”
Sandor smiled at the road ahead. “Still need your sushi fix.”
“Old habits die hard.”
“You were the one convinced me to try it, remember? Raw fish! Man, how many years ago was that?”
Peters didn’t answer.
“Well,” Jordan said after another mile or so, “I give you high marks. Looks like you’ve done a good job of making the transition to the quiet life.”
“Quiet everywhere, except up here,” Peters said, pointing to his head. Embarrassed by the confession, he fell silent again.
“You’re entitled to some peace,” Jordan told him.
“What I saw over there . . .” Dan paused, “it never gets peaceful for me. Sometimes I manage to ignore the noise, that’s all.”
The two men had fought together in the Gulf War, the first one, when they drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait, leaving behind a mess that needed to be cleaned up a dozen years later. Before that, Peters saw duty in Vietnam. He had been a career soldier, and although he was nearly fifteen years older than Sandor, Jordan outranked him when they served in the Persian Gulf.
“Well,” Sandor said, “maybe peace and quiet are overrated.”
“Yeah, tranquility is a bitch,” Peters said, then uttered a short laugh. “So what about you? How do you like your new gig? What are you supposed to be, a reporter or something?”
“I’m a journalist, if you don’t mind.”
“Oh yeah, a journalist, beautiful. You talk about transition, man. I suppose you don’t miss the good fight, eh?”
Sandor faced forward again. He had an uneven nose, earned in too many close-order scuffles, and a jaw etched in a strong, firm line. His complexion was tanned and a bit weathered for a man not yet forty. His hair was brown and cut just long enough to allow him to run his fingers through the waves, front to back, which he habitually did when he took time to consider a question or reflect on something that troubled him. He was doing that now, his dark, intense eyes visualizing something beyond his actual line of sight. “I gave up the good fight the day they left my men for dead in Bahrain.”
“Yeah,” Peters said as shook his head. “Bastards.”
After his tour in the Middle East, Dan returned home to finish his military career stateside, take his pension and disappear. Jordan remained abroad, working on special assignments until an undercover team he was assigned to in Manama was betrayed. It had been more than a year since that incident in Bahrain. The day after they pulled him out and left the others behind to die, Sandor submitted his resignation from government service.
“Not everyone comes home.”
“Strange how things never work out the way you figure.”
Jordan let that go too. “So what about this Ryan guy we’re going to see?”
“What about him?”
“What does he think of the quiet life, now that he’s back?”
“You’re the journalist, you ask him.”
“I will,” Sandor said.
Peters rolled down his window, letting a cold breeze whip through the car.
“If this guy was really a mercenary,” Jordan said, “he’s got some explaining to do before I’ll believe a thing he tells me.”
Peters turned to his old friend and showed him a crooked grin. “Good old Jordan, Mr. Black and White. The mercenary business is immoral because you play for money. But if you put the same guy in a uniform, underpay him, and send him out to shoot someone, that makes it okay.”
Sandor shook his head.
“You sure know how to wave the flag, buddy.”
“Yeah, I suppose so,” Jordan said. “Flag’s not the problem.”
Morning sunlight sparkled on the trees, an October spectacle of colors lining the road as they continued on Route 32 towards Jimmy Ryan’s house.
“Close your window, will you, Dan?”
Peters chuckled as he put it up half way. He was a burly man with wide shoulders and thick arms. “Blood a little thin these days, Sandor? Winter’s coming, you know. Time to bulk up.” He patted his ample stomach, evidence that he no longer bothered with the physique he maintained while he was in military service.
Sandor, who was still trim and fit, eyed his friend’s gut. “If it’s all the same to you, I’ll pass on the donuts and put on my jacket instead.” He grabbed his sport coat from the back seat, pulled it on, and rubbed his hands together.
“So how well do you really know him?”
“Jimmy? I told you, I only met him last month, when he first got back from Europe.”
“I thought you said he was in North Africa.”
“He was. Spent some time in France, too, before he came back to the States.”
“Uh huh. And how’d he find his way to you?”
“I met him in a bar.”
“Picking up guys in bars, Danny?”
“You still a Budweiser man?”
“Loyal to the end. You still going steady with Jack Daniels?”
“You think he was looking for you, or was it just a coincidence?”
“Looking for me? I don’t think so. We were watching a ballgame, talking shit, found out we were both in the Army, started gabbing about it. Save the third degree for him, will you? We’ll be there in ten minutes.”
“Just curious. Occupational hazard.”
“I see. New occupation, new hazards. I think I liked you better in the desert.”
Peters slowed down as they approached an intersection and swung into a left turn that led them onto another two-lane road. It was a narrower stretch than Route 32, but just as quiet—until a sharp crack rang out through the clear morning air.
“What the hell was that?” Even as Dan asked the question, they heard a second pop, the sound unmistakable.
“Gunshots,” Sandor replied flatly.
“There’s no hunting this close to 32,” Dan said.
“That didn’t come from any hunting rifle. Those are low velocity rounds.”
As they rounded the next curve they saw, just ahead and off to their left, two cars stopped on the grass shoulder. One was a police car, the other a sedan parked in front of the cruiser. Beside the driver’s door of the sedan an officer had fallen to the ground in a leaden heap.
Dan instinctively jammed on his brakes, tires screeching as the station wagon shuddered to a halt fifty yards from the two cars.
Jordan hollered a warning as a small, dark man jumped from the passenger side of the sedan and leveled an automatic pistol at them. “Move it!” he shouted. “Go!”
Dan was pulling at the column gearshift, about to throw the wagon in reverse when the first shot smashed through the windshield, covering them in a spray of fractured glass. The second round tore into Dan’s right side, piercing him with the awful, numbing sensation of jagged ice slicing through his flesh before giving way almost at once to a searing shock of pain. Peters lurched backward from the impact then slumped forward onto the steering wheel. His foot slipped from the brake and the station wagon rolled slowly ahead towards the approaching gunman.
A third shot exploded through what remained of the windshield as Jordan dove below the level of the dashboard, showering them again with broken shards of safety glass. He struggled to pull his friend out of the line of fire, keeping himself as low as he could manage, even as another round whistled above him and went crashing through the side window. The car was still moving forward, now no more than thirty yards from their assailant.
Another shot sounded.
Sandor managed to yank Dan down, pulling him off the steering column onto the seat. Kicking his friend’s feet out of the way he slammed down on the accelerator and the car surged forward with a surprising burst of power. He grabbed the wheel and tried to hold a steady course but careened wildly to the right. Jordan knew that if he ran them off the road they would be finished, so he tugged slightly to the left, judging his position with the help of a quick look above the dash. Making several reflexive adjustments, swerving left and then right, Sandor was nearly even with the two parked cars when he veered sharply left again, aiming for the gunman, who had to jump backward out of the car’s path. The shooter quickly regained his balance and fired again, the bullet crashing through the rear window, sending more glass cascading across the back seat.
Jordan heard yelling in some foreign language as he reached up to tilt the rear-view mirror for a look behind.
The driver of the sedan had gotten out of the car and was waving his arms. It appeared he was ordering his companion back inside. He was tall and blond, as dissimilar in appearance from the short, swarthy gunman as he could be.
Jordan remained low, peering just above the dash now, keeping the pedal pinned to the floor, doing the best he could to put some distance between his car and theirs and wondering how he was going to survive a high-speed chase driving from the passenger seat with Dan Peters’ bleeding body on top of him.
Several more shots popped behind them as he headed down the long, straight stretch of road. When it seemed the firing had finally stopped he checked the mirror again, and was surprised to see that the two men were not turning around to pursue him. Instead, they had hurried back into their car and were speeding off in the other direction, towards the main highway.
He watched as they disappeared around the curve from where he and Dan had first spotted them. Sandor knew they might turn around and come back after him, but he brought Dan’s wagon to an abrupt stop and threw the gearshift into park. If they were returning, he would have no chance to outrun them unless he got behind the wheel.
“Dan, can you hear me?” He tried to raise him.
“My side,” Peters muttered. “I’m hit bad.”
“I know,” Jordan told him, relieved to have him say anything at all. “Can you move?”
Dan nodded slightly and Jordan checked behind them again, making sure the sedan did not suddenly roar back into view, then helped Peters slide to the middle of the seat and scrambled over him to get behind the wheel. He turned to have another look back, but there was no sign of them. Not yet.
Sandor turned back to his friend, and seeing the growing stain of blood running onto the seat amidst the broken glass, pulled off his jacket, folded it up and placed it under Peters’ head.
“Here,” he said, grabbing Dan’s parka from the back seat of the car and shaking it free of glass fragments, “hold this against your side. Hold it tight.”
Jordan shifted the car into reverse, completed a high-speed turn, then sped back to the police cruiser. The sudden stop drew a groan from his friend. There was still no sign of an ambush. Jordan watched and listened intently but heard nothing except the hum of the station wagon’s engine through the empty frame where the windshield had been. The quiet was eerie now, unsettling after the explosion of gunfire, the shattering of glass and the wailing of tires that had resounded along this desolate strip of highway. Sandor, now aware of the pounding in his chest, took a deep breath to steady himself before stepping quickly from the wagon. He ran around the front and knelt beside the wounded officer.
“Can you hear me?”
He gave no response. Jordan checked for a pulse along his carotid artery. He was still alive.
Sandor removed the pistol from the trooper’s holster, which he found was still snapped shut. All the while he kept returning his anxious gaze ahead, searching for what might appear without warning from around the turn. He pulled at the slide of the officer’s automatic, drawing a round into the breech, then climbed into the police cruiser, picked up the radio mike, and spoke into the open channel.
“We have an emergency. Officer down. Just off Route 32. Repeat, officer down. Emergency.”
He released the button on the side of the microphone, waiting only an instant before a voice crackled over the speaker, and Jordan knew that for now, at least, it would be all right.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The only way I know how to describe this book? Wow! I have read a lot of spy/espionage thrillers in my lifetime, but this one absolutely blew me away. From the very beginning, I was captivated, as the author takes you through the exciting world of secret government agencies and their dangerous yet exciting sacrifices to keep people like me safe and sound. I actually read this book from cover to cover without a break. I walked through the house with it, did laundry while I was reading, and stayed up late to finish it. It was unbelievably good! And the best part? You find out that the characters in this book are based off of ACTUAL people and ACTUAL events. Holy cow!!! That made what I read all the more awesome. The main character in the story, Jordan, is an ex-CIA agent who is brought in to stop a rogue agent (his former mentor!) from helping al-Qaeda from using a poison gas in a terror scheme. His character is in the same ranks with Jason Bourne, Jack Ryan and so many other beloved spy-like characters who totally kick butt! He is smart, determined, stubborn, strong, and the author has done a wonderful job developing him to a point that you can relate to him, feeling every bit of his emotion as he travels the globe to save so many. The secondary characters add depth and mystery to an already spine tingling plot that takes you through exciting twists and turns to an ending that leaves you screaming for more. This is one of the best thrillers I’ve ever read. I cannot wait to find out what the next book in this series has in store. Because if it’s anything like this one, I am in for one hell of a great ride! Reviewed by Marie for Cocktails and Books.
Targets of Deception by Jeffrey S. Stephens is the first installment of the Jordan Sandor series. It’s an exciting saga of intrigue and adventure. This novel is extremely well written, intelligent and, for me the scariest part of all, – realistic! Not full of “Bond” gimmicks and devices…just really intelligent observations and skills. I love the determination and patriotism of Jordan Sandor; he’s my kind of hero. Jordan starts out as a disappointed ex-agent turned journalist…and quickly leads into an adventure of espionage, murder and terrorism. This story has many intriguing twists and turns, making it one of the most interesting thrillers I’ve read. It’s descriptive, but never boring! Exciting action and thrilling fight scenes are exquisitely written. Exotic travel and romance are part of the charm without taking over the story. This is a wonderful read and I highly recommend this series. I look forward to more in this most interesting of series from this talented author!
When Jordan Sandor resigned from active service with the Central Intelligence Agency, it was before 9-11, before the fall of Saddam Hussein, before the world had so dramatically changed. He is reluctantly drawn back into action, when a series of violent events leads him to search out a new al-Qaeda conspiracy to initiate a new wave of cataclysmic assaults with poison gas. Sandor follows the deadly trail from New York to Florida to Paris and, ultimately, to the small town of Portofino on the Italian Riviera. Never sure who he can trust and who may be an enemy, Jordan relies on his experience, instincts and skills as he risks his life to uncover plans for attacks against the United State and its allies. The terrorist strategy is cunning and far-reaching, with the lives of millions of people at stake.When Sandor discovers a rogue agent behind the plot, he realizes he is the one man who can prevent the catastrophe. At the end we find that we have been taken on a really fast-paced tale of international intrigue and suspense. With terrific lead character, and many plot twists, and great characters..I hope there is a sequel!!
This book grabs you and holds you tight until the conclusion. Jordan Sandor was one of the best agents of the American Central Intelligence Agency when he quit in disgust. Despite the horror of the attacks on the twin towers on 9-11 and the subsequent push to tighten security and increase inter-agency cooperation, the bureaucratic mentality still reigns. Sandor had been on a mission to a small Islamic country and his team was abandoned by his superiors, which led to the deaths of his teammates. The story opens with Sandor now acting as a journalist and he is with his friend Dan on their way to meet with a man that claims to have information about a terrorist group. As they are on the road they encounter two men that have shot a police officer. These men prefer to leave no witnesses so they begin shooting at Sandor's car. They hit Dan, but Sandor is able to drive the car past them and then double back after they leave. The two men had tortured and killed the man that Sandor and Dan were going to meet. Since it is immediately clear that the men are most likely members of a terrorist group, this injects Sandor back into the environment he had resigned from. However, his frustration is our delight as his adventures make for a tale that keeps you moving the pages to the exclusion of all except the most critical of body functions. Set in the modern world of international terrorism, Stephens has created a strong and ruthless villain, an equally strong and resourceful main character: essential ingredients for a tale of this type. Watch out Jason Bourne, Jordan Sandor is here!!
There's nothing more I like about a book than its ability to make me want to keep reading and reading. Honestly, there was no good stopping point. I would stop then quickly skim the first line of the next chapter and before I know it, I've read into two more chapters. Very entertaining and enjoyable from beginning to end. Loved it!
An inrcredibly fast paced and deeply moving story that makes for quite the delectable weekend read/vacation! The morning I dove in to the Target of Deception I barely made it to the surface to catch my breathe by nightfall. I was Thoroughly impressed with the energetic nature of Jeff Stephens work as my seatbelt was fastened from the very begining. Looking forward to future works.
When Jordan Sandor resigned from active service with the CentralIntelligence Agency, it was before 9-11, before the fall of Saddam Hussein, before the world had so dramatically changed. He is reluctantly drawn back into action, when a series of violent events leads him to search out a new al-Qaeda conspiracy to initiate a new wave of cataclysmic assaults with poison gas.Sandor follows the deadly trail from New York to Florida to Paris and, ultimately, to the small town of Portofino on the Italian Riviera. Never sure who he can trust and who may be an enemy, Jordan relies on his experience, instincts and skills as he risks his life to uncover plans for attacks against the United State and its allies. The terrorist strategy iscunning and far-reaching, with the lives of millions of people at stake.When Sandor discovers a rogue agent behind the plot, he realizes he is the one man who can prevent the catastrophe.At the end we find that we have been taken on a really fast-paced tale of international intrigue and suspense. With terrific lead character, and many plot twists, and great characters. Great book to read on these cold winter days, but be warned.. Your hot chocolate will get cold. Hope there is a sequel to this one, would no mind reading more of Jordan Sandor.
I'm not sure if there was a prequel to this story but I'm going to find out! It seemed as if there were pieces to Jordan's story that were told elsewhere so that was a bit confusing. However, if you like government action and intrigue then this book is for you.
Lots of action. Entertaining. Good read!
Good, not grear
This is the first book I have read by Stephens and it was pretty good. The characters are well developed and the story line seemed plausible. I would buy another book in the series.
Fantastic mystery writer. Enjoyed this book immensely. If you're looking for intrigue, mystery, and don't want to put it down reading, then you must read all of his books.
I really like this author. I agree with another reviewer; Stephens blends fact and fiction so well it is hard to believe the story never really happened. Great spy thriller.
I'm almost done with the book and have enjoyed it the whole time. I will be picking up the next books in this series.
Excellent book. I enjoyed it very much - book was very fast moving and kept my interest until I had read the entire book at one sitting.
Amazing! Such a fun read. I don't want the series to end and I hope Stephens is working on a fourth book in this series, because these are some of the best thriller/suspense novels I've ever read. Sandor kicks some serious ass. Would make a great movie character!
Ex-CIA agent Jordan Sandor races against time to prevent a worldwide terrorist plot in the page-turning thrilling prequel to Targets of Opportunity.When Jordan Sandor resigned from active service with the Central Intelligence Agency, it was before September 11th, before the fall of Saddam Hussein, and before the world had so dramatically changed. He is reluctantly drawn back into action when a series of violent events leads him to suss out a new al-Qaeda conspiracy to initiate cataclysmic assaults with poison gas. Sandor follows the deadly trail from New York to Florida to Paris and, ultimately, to the small town of Portofino on the Italian Riviera. Never sure who he can trust and who may be an enemy, Jordan relies on his experience, instincts, and skills as he risks his life to uncover plans for attacks against the United States and its allies. When Sandor discovers a rogue agent behind the plot, he realizes he is the one man who can prevent the catastrophe that could put the lives of millions of people at stake. Goodreads Summary Stephens writes this novel about terrorism, betrayal, and death of loved ones. It’s set in New York and has the 9/11 tragedy tied into it, which should tell you in itself how this plot will turn out. I enjoyed reading about all of the characters and their background and the actions they make because of who they are. There’s ONE person who we don’t get to know much about which is a pity, but ignoring that aspect the story was great. I’m personally not into really sad books and this takes the cake, but the storyline makes up for it. Be prepared to think over the events and characters in this book; it is very difficult to forget about this book. Other reviewers are correct when they say the book moves at a very fast pace. It definitely keeps you on your toes… there’s always something going on. At times, I felt confused and had to reread a sentence twice, but that doesn’t bother me too much. In order to get the most out of a very fast-paced plot, the reader will likely have to reread a few chapters or sentences. In the end, I would recommend this book to people that like this genre. If you’re getting into thriller then I don’t believe this is the best start.