Wednesday, 28 January 2015 02:09

Robert Nielsen, government agent and nemesis.

[from Chapter 17]

author's note: I used to work with a great guy of the same name.

Back across the Atlantic, or the Pacific depending on perspective, Robert Nielsen stood on the threshold of another wasted day. Nielsen was wrong to put so much hope on one horse. He should have learned by now but he needed a diversion, something to take his mind off of reality once in a while. His reality had included dreams of enlisting to become an elite soldier, only to be dashed by a medically disqualifying pes planus, also known as flat feet. After that, a position in the FBI half of the Joint Counter-Terrorism Task Force seemed a natural fit for him, but his college grades hadn’t matched his efforts. Since the accounting degree became unattainable, he settled for marketing. After a stint in the private sector, he found the pace of government work more suitable and, for the last thirteen years, had occupied a position in a mid-level department assigned to investigate ephemeral crimes against an opaque criminal code.

‘It wasn’t supposed to be this way,’ he thought. That feisty mare, jumpy and restless in the warm-up, came out like a frickin’ lard ass in the last race of the day, finishing second-to-last. He pulled a stack of tickets out of the pocket of his worn gray windbreaker and reviewed his losses, flicking each one back with a battered thumbnail discolored by smoke and stress. First race, he put $100 on the smallest horse. At 3:1 odds, that win was his first and last of the day. Shoulda stopped there, he thought. Shit. Overconfident, he threw away $900 on the next six races, on horses that didn’t even place.

Not that he really had the money to play. Except for his government job and pension, he didn’t have much. Just an old house with faded siding, a broken A/C unit he couldn’t afford to fix, and, the man scowled, nothing but a jar of strawberry jelly in the goddamned fridge.

Justin Lowe, a brilliant young securities analyst specializing in international finance, is searching for purpose in a soulless world of wealth. Despite his uncanny ability to spot lucrative patterns, he is seduced by the prospect of a new career that isn’t what it appears. Between ocean-hopping adventures looking for treasure in the untamed frontier markets of the developing world, he sees hope for personal salvation in the form of a shimmering Iranian political refugee whose past is as complex as his own.

However, his globe-trotting exploits in search of windfall profits end when he is framed by his manager and an ex-colleague. Desperately trying to avoid prison, he races across the world to uncover the truth about his betrayers. Along the way, he unearths a nuclear-exporting scheme that topples a regime and takes away the one person who has given his life new meaning. In order to honor the woman he loves, Justin must forego his unbridled ambition and sacrifice a financial fortune.

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