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From the Back Cover
Rik Bogart built the 'In' Club in lower Manhattan with his separation check from the CIA and the anguish of a lost true love; at least it was in his mind. Ingrid Johanssen, an international news correspondent living in Baghdad, did not show up at the airport to accompany Rik when Saddam Hussein instructed him to leave in 1991, just before Desert Storm. Rik spent nineteen months in prison after going back in a failed attempt to get Ingrid out safely. But on a September evening a decade later, she walks into his club seeking his help. Understanding he cannot resurrect the love that has haunted him, Rik refuses, but comes face-to-face with his continuing love for her. Rik must overcome a decade of emptiness, and feelings of betrayal to react when he realizes she is in the New York World Trade Towers on the morning of the terrorist attack. That night he finally learns what happened a decade before and why; decides to undertake a dangerous mission that will not bring her back to him, and will make their reunion impossible. Resigned to his fate, he draws on relationships and talents unused for more than a decade knowing that even if successful he must let her go.
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Top Customer Reviews
It's the story of CIA agent Rik Bogart, who frantically begins bonfiring sensitive U.S. Embassy records after receiving word from a close contact that armed hostilities will soon ensue.
That "contact" also happens to be a woman Rik has fallen hopelessly in love with -- accomplished broadcast journalist Ingrid Johansson. Theirs is a problematic pairing, however. She reports the news delivered to her from highly placed sources -- one of whom is Rik.
And, as Saddam's forces begin to brace for the impending conflict, Rik declines evacuation with the rest of the embassy staff, hoping to protect Ingrid from potential harm.
But Ingrid, unbeknownst to Rik, has already been dispatched to Kuwait with a cameraman to await the start of the invasion. And so Rik is left to the mercy -- or lack thereof -- of Iraqi secret police, who detain him on espionage charges and throw him into the black hole that is Abu Ghraib prison.
This is where the book really shines, although in a grim way. The author's terribly realistic depiction of Rik's grueling nineteen months in the infamous penitentiary is enough to make even the stoutest reader squirm with discomfort.
He undergoes extended interrogation by an all-too-realistic bad guy: Iraqi secret police chief Tariq Yuhana. And the scenes in which Rik endures torture, ill treatment at the hands of brutal guards, and slow starvation, are tough to read.
Then Yuhana delivers the coup de grace -- a copy of the International Herald Tribune announcing Ingrid's death in a bomb blast.
Rik, devastated, withdraws even further into himself as the beatings continue.
Eventually, Rik is unexpectedly expelled from the prison, just ahead of an advancing coalition force, and put on a plane bound for New York City. It's a bittersweet moment for Rik, who boards the jet in ragged tatters, near death, but ultimately free at last.
Ten years pass and Rik is the owner of a successful bar and nightclub in New York. As the decade has rolled by, he has given up all hope of reuniting with Ingrid, but he still sees her nightly on the news.
Yes, she's alive. The falsified newspaper had just been another cruel trick to try to break Rik's spirit. But the fact remains that never, in the long ten years since his release, has she ever tried to find him. So, Rik withdraws again, this time into his leather and chrome nightclub, just watching what remains of his life go by.
Does Rik ever reunite with Ingrid? Or will he simply fade further into the dark recesses of his club, as surely a casualty of the first Gulf War as returning soldiers suffering from PTSD?
You'll just have to download a copy of this excellent story, based largely on actual events. It rates five stars for its stark examination of U.S. policy in the years leading up to Operation Desert Storm, and its absorbing tale of one man's tragic involvement in it.