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Live Wire: A Simon Leonidovich Novel Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 2006

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416503471
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416503477
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,581,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"MacLarty is thriller writing's gold standard. Nobody does it better!" -- Brad Thor, bestselling author of Blowback

"Live Wire is jam-packed with sizzling action, exotic international locales, and brilliant political brinksmanship!" -- Brad Thor

"Leonidovich is a fascinating character." -- Publishers Weekly

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

The White House, Washington, DC

Friday, 21 May 17:18:59 GMT -0500

The two Marine guards snapped open the side-by-side doors, allowing Tucker to enter the West Wing without breaking stride. It was one of those little perks he would miss, all the bowing and scraping to his position. Tucker Stark, Director of Central Intelligence, he would miss that too. The job, the title -- everything.

Christ Almighty, how did it come to this? What if the President hadn't made that one slip of the tongue -- his acute interest in oil leases off the coast of Alaska -- and what if Tucker hadn't started to investigate? What if he hadn't found the offshore corporations, the hidden accounts, the bearer bonds, and the foreign depositories the President used to hide his ownership and illegal profiteering? Accounts buried so deep, hidden behind so many shell corporations and false names that no official investigation -- one that would need to abide by international regulations of confidentiality -- would ever uncover.

The young woman behind the reception desk, a uniformed Secret Service agent, grinned with chirpy enthusiasm. "Good afternoon, Mr. Director."

Tucker forced his thoughts back to the here and now and somehow managed to conjure up a smile. "Good afternoon." If only it was.

"You're looking very good today."

He knew better. Beneath his easy-fitting, summer-weight Armani suit, his six-foot, four-inch athletic body had started to go soft, a consequence of too many take-out meals since the death of his wife and children. For the first time since puberty, he looked older than his age -- fifty-six -- his hair having gone from black to steel gray in less than two years. "Thank you."

He scratched his name into the logbook and started down the hall, still questioning what he was about to do. But how could he not? Like it or not, he knew too much. And now that he understood the pattern, he could see how the President made financial decisions based on legislation he would either sign or veto. And worse, how he pushed for legislation simply to benefit his portfolio, even when it hurt the country. That was too much. Way too much! The man was a menace and had to be stopped.

Bette Ann Collins flashed an irritated scowl, just enough to let Tucker know this unscheduled late-afternoon visit was not appreciated. Though her title -- Personal Secretary to the President of the United States -- came with no special powers, Bette Ann was guard dog to the most powerful man in the world and wasn't shy about expressing her feelings, not even to the Director of Central Intelligence. "He's waiting."

Tucker didn't bother to respond -- if he had his way the old bitch would be working for an ex-President soon enough -- and pushed open the door to the Oval Office. John Paul Estes, the President's Chief of Staff, an unattractive man with more nervous tics and twitches than a hyperactive two-year-old, was pacing impatiently back and forth in front of the desk. The President was slumped in his chair, looking bored and anxious to escape his gilded cage. Tucker purposely ignored Estes -- it was a game they played, one of mutual disrespect -- and focused on the President. "Mr. President, thank you for seeing me on such short notice."

The President -- tall and urbane in a perfectly tailored bluish-gray worsted suit -- stood and extended his hand across the desk, a rosewood showpiece containing a stylish array of mementoes and photographs, and not a single file or scrap of paper. Just like the man, Tucker thought, all flash and facade. "No problem," the President said, showing his perfect and freshly whitened teeth. "No problem at all. The people's work must be done."

"I hope this is important," Estes said, "I've got a shit pile of reports I need to get through."

That Tucker believed. For all practical purposes, John Paul Estes ran the Executive branch of the government while the President campaigned, something he did sixteen hours a day, 365 days a year, election year or not. "When I call, Mr. Estes, you should pray it isn't important."

Estes smiled without humor and motioned toward one of the chairs facing the President's desk. "What's so critical it couldn't wait until morning?"

Tucker ignored the question and kept his eyes focused on the President. "I'm afraid it's a Red Issue, sir. Your ears only."

The President nodded with great solemnity -- the perfect visage of Presidential concern and attention -- and turned to his Chief of Staff. "I'm sorry, JP, you'll have to excuse us."

Estes expelled a long breath, letting Tucker know exactly how he felt about private conversations with the President. No one understood the man's intellectual limitations better than John Paul Estes, a secret he had diligently tried to protect for more than twenty-five years. "Is this really necessary?"

"I don't make the rules," Tucker answered. "If the President wants to share the information, that's up to him."

Estes recognized the trap immediately. If the President made such a decision before hearing the information he would look stupid, and if Estes insisted on sitting in, it would make the President look weak. "I'll be in my office." He gave the President a look, a secret exchange only the two of them understood. "Please call me when you're done." Despite the "please," it sounded more like an order than a request.

Tucker waited until the door closed before speaking. "I think we should move to your private office, sir."

"Oh?" A momentary look of confusion spread across the President's face, the time it took for him to grasp the implication, that this was not an Oval Office discussion, where conversations were routinely recorded. "Of course." For the first time he looked half interested, as if he expected Tucker to expose some juicy bit of political scandal. "Excellent idea."

That the President would assume it was "an excellent idea" only confirmed what Tucker now knew to be true: in addition to being an avaricious profiteer, the man had a room-temperature IQ -- and the sooner he was gone, the safer the country would be.

Though Tucker had been Director for nearly two years, it was his first visit to the small room where Clinton had his infamous tryst with Monica Lewinsky. That history and the voyeuristic image it conjured up was more interesting than the room itself, which was rather plain and unimpressive, the walls decorated with photographs of the President and world dignitaries.

The President circled around behind his desk -- a mahogany Chippendale style partners desk with drawers on both sides -- and settled into his chair, a tufted leather wingback. "Okay, Tuck, what's up?"

"It's bad news, Mr. President." Tucker opened his laptop, wanting to check his countersurveillance scanner before saying too much. "Very bad."

The President frowned, apparently realizing that when the Director of Central Intelligence said "very bad" he wasn't referring to some innocuous bit of political scandal. "I'm listening."

Satisfied there were no active listening devices, Tucker activated the recorder and positioned the laptop on the edge of the desk, where the microphone could easily pick up their conversation. "It's North Korea."

"Again! I thought we settled all that."

"Yessir, but I'm afraid we dramatically misjudged the situation."

The furrow between the President's perfectly plucked eyebrows deepened significantly. "We?"

Exactly the response Tucker expected -- the political response -- the only language the President understood. Not how or why, but an immediate attempt to distance himself from the epicenter of any problem. "The Agency, Mr. President. Contrary to all the assurances we've received, and what we believed -- " Tucker paused and took a deep breath. "We've now confirmed their nuclear program is not only active, but is much further along than we ever anticipated."

The wrinkles tightened around the President's eyes. "Define 'further along.'"

"Their efforts at miniaturization have been successful."

It was obvious from the President's expression he understood the ramifications. Without miniaturization America was relatively safe; a nuclear weapon was useless to any country without the missiles to deliver it, but once a bomb was miniaturized, it could be hidden and moved without limitation. "You're absolutely sure about this?"

"Yessir, we should have caught it earlier." Tucker tried his best to look appropriately contrite. "Much earlier."

"This is very bad news, Director. Very bad."

Tucker noted the shift from Tuck to Director, but that too was expected. "It gets worse."

The President rolled his hand impatiently. "Continue."

"It's on the street."

"On the street? You mean they're actually trying to sell the damn thing?"

"To anyone with money. And I mean anyone. Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah -- "

"They wouldn't dare."

They both knew that wasn't true; North Korea was one of the biggest arms dealers in the world, and they didn't get that way by judging the moral standards or intentions of their clients. "Yessir, I'm afraid they would."

The President shook his head angrily. "Christ Almighty, I guess we all knew it would come to this eventually."


"You're absolutely sure?" he asked again, clearly hoping for a different answer.

"Yessir. One hundred percent."

"That's what you said about Iraq and WMD."

"That wasn't on my watch, sir."

"A distinction I doubt the UN will find convincing."

"The UN, sir?"

"Of course the UN," the President answered without any hesitation or doubt. "They're the ones who will have to handle this thing."

Tucker nodded, being careful to show only the slightest disapproval. "Yessir."

The President opened his mouth, then hesitated, a look of uncertainty creeping into his eyes. "You don't agree?"

"You said it yourself," Tucker answered, trying to make his disagreem...

More About the Author

An entrepreneur since the age of twenty-one, Jay MacLarty turned to the writing profession somewhat late in life. His first manuscript was deemed "too long and literary" for a first-time novelist, and he was told to "go write the popular book first." That book became THE COURIER - the first in a four-book series of thrillers published by Simon & Schuster - drawing on MacLarty's unique background in business, politics, and high-tech.

That book was followed by BAGMAN, LIVE WIRE, and CHOKE POINT. All four books have received literary recognition.

MacLarty is currently working on a stand-alone work of fiction.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Book Babe on March 29, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Yay! Jay Maclarty has once again written a terrifyingly realistic scenario. Simon Leonidovich is hired as a courier by the US president. His package? Documents indicating US support for the overthrow of the Korean government. Only when the hand-off goes terribly wrong, does Simon start to suspect that his mission may not be what it seems. Now all he has to do is find out who is setting up the President, and stop them, avoiding people who would love to see him dead.

No one can send a reader careening around the world like MacLarty. From the too-tight seats on an airplane to a lock-box on a Mekong river trawler, he sends his readers places most people never go. And with good reason.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on May 19, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Jay MacLarty's fictional universe, Simon Leonidovich is the best at what he does, which is to make deliveries of just about anything --- documents, computer discs, whatever you want --- quickly. MacLarty has infused his character with a unique appeal. By no means is Leonidovich a tough guy, which makes him more believable than many in the thriller genre. He doesn't drop kick through doors or scissor-jump his way out of cars the way I saw someone else in his chosen field do in a movie recently. What Leonidovich can do, however, is think on (and with) his feet, a skill that has served him in good stead and that he utilizes once again in LIVE WIRE.

LIVE WIRE is the third of the Leonidovich novels, and it is possibly the most ambitious one to date. Leonidovich is retained to transport different sets of documents back and forth between the United States and North Korea. The whole setup seems a little bizarre to him, and sure enough, he's been selected as both the vessel and sacrificial lamb as part of a plot to carry out a coup d'etat upon the U.S. government. Leonidovich doesn't sacrifice well, however, and the plot begins to unravel almost from its unfortunate beginning. The problem is that Leonidovich knows much more than is good for him, even though he really doesn't know much at all.

One thing he doesn't know is that an old and deadly adversary of his has been unleashed, one who will stop at nothing to avenge himself upon Leonidovich and who is greatly looking forward to getting the job done. Leonidovich may have the might and majesty of certain elements of the United States government against him, but he is not without resources of his own. Big Jake Rynerson is there to help, of course, as is Victoria Halle, Leonidovich's intrepid assistant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on April 4, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Director of the CIA has discovered that the president has committed many felonious acts to fill his financial coffers; if POTUS' actions become known, he will be impeached and probably convicted of crimes. Knowing the country cannot absorb such a traumatic crisis at this time, the CIA head comes up with a clever way of overthrowing the President and replacing him with the General, his superior in the army.

Tucker convinces the President that North Korean possesses a nuclear bomb that the rogue nation plans to sell on the weapons market. To prevent that from happening, he convinces POTUS to back rebels who want a democratic unified Korea. For Tucker's hidden agenda to succeed, someone must be caught in North Korea with papers describing the President's intent to overthrow the regime, an illegal act. Courier Simon Leonidovich is the chosen fall guy, but he escapes the trap. Tucker's minions have orders to assassinate him on sight. Simon knows what has occurred and hopes to reach DC where he figures he faces further attempts on his life to shut him up.

LIVE WIRE is a frightening thriller because the events seem plausible. The characters with the exceptions of Simon and the CIA Director are stereotypes symbolizing ideas and concepts rather than people; to a degree so are Simon and the CIA chief with the courier trying to do the ethically correct thing and stay alive while the spymaster wants the crook out of the White House. There is plenty of action and political intrigue in Jay MacLarty's cat and mouse thriller, which depending on who survives will determine the direction of the United States.

Harriet Klausner
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