Home » Edge of Apocalypse » EoA: Gallagher the Gumshoe

EoA: Gallagher the Gumshoe

Edge of Apocalypse: pages 119-123 (Chapter Twenty-Three)

Since John Gallagher’s supposed to be a detective, this inspired my use of a slang term for such. πŸ˜›

One thing you will notice is that Craig Parshall, unlike Jerry Jenkins, seems to realize you need to have people doing the jobs you’ve assigned their characters. It is well-established that Buck Williams does very little actual reporting for all that he’s the Greatest Investigative Reporter of All Time (GIRAT). But Parshall actually writes Gallagher doing the job of detecting where a fugitive might be.

Let’s follow along as he meets with a CIA man.

“‘I have clearance to share this with you.’


‘Of course. You think I’m lying?’

FBI Special Agent John Gallagher wasn’t taking any chances. So he asked again. ‘You sure?'”

Considering that strictly speaking, the FBI and CIA are supposed to stay out of each other’s respective realms of jurisdiction it’s a wise idea to make sure all one’s ducks are in a row.

The next dialog snippet is actually not bad, though it’s tinged with the usual macho scorn for people who’re perceived as hidebound and straightlaced:

“‘Come on, John. What’s going on?’

The look in Gallagher’s eye clearly indicated that he wasn’t kidding. CIA Intelligence Officer Ken Leary decided to probe a bit deeper. ‘Why so timid, John? It’s not like you. Where’s the bull-in-a-china-shop John Gallagher we all know and love?’

‘Yeah, well, my supervisor’s been breathing down my neck lately.’

‘You mean cardboard-cutout Miles Zadernack.’

‘Right. The guy who goes to bed every night wearing a starched white shirt and tie.'”

After discussing Gallagher’s “interrogation techniques”, there’s a snarky reference to the ZOMG the silly liberals as Leary jokes “Liberals are running the show now…no more waterboarding the suspects.” I remind people that Rush Limbaugh has made it acceptable to joke about torture, and make ridiculously bombastic claims about its usefulness. The above quote is an obvious dog whistle to a conservative readership. I might note that Christopher Hitchens underwent a pretty close equivalent to the full shot, and I’ll just leave it to you to read how fast it was over.

Now, I like to think Gallagher’s less crude than Leary, but LaHaye and Parshall have other ideas:

“That provoked a deep laugh from Gallagher. Leary was one of the guys in the intelligence community who shared Gallagher’s cynical dark sense of humor. Somehow, laughter always helped to buffer some of the horrendous stuff they had to deal with on a regular basis. Occasionally, Gallagher would trek over to CIA headquarters in the New York Agency station to drop in on Leary. Gallagher exercised oversight on multiple investigations. But he also maintained a short list of a few special terrorism subjects that were his own primary targets. Some of whom he’d been tracking for years.”

I’m not sure how much of the above is “standard” FBI agent procedure, i.e. how many FBI agents do personally keep case files and request international intelligence from the CIA. Assuming that it is, Gallagher’s a pretty focussed kind of guy. I won’t say “mission-specific” though. πŸ˜›

Leary cuts to the chase and shows Gallagher the information they’ve met up to exchange:

Top Secret Clearance Required

Bucharest, Romania: A body found in room 417 at the Athenee Palace Hotel in Bucharest has been identified as Dr. Yergi Banica. The Romanian professor of international studies at the University of Craiova has been a person of interest to the Agency. The cause of death was strangulation. Dr. Banica is reputed to have associated with persons also of interest to the Agency, including persons making inquiries into international weapons systems and designs. Banica was not an Agency asset.

So we learn that the CIA was keeping tabs on this guy. How much do you wanna bet it was because Banica flapped his gums a little too much at one of those shindigs with his girlfriend’s friends?

And because they were keeping tabs on him, they know that his movements have been a little funny lately:

“[Leary said,] ‘We’ve been tracking Dr. Banica’s comings and goings. For the most part, just the usual stuff. Except there was one recent trip that was a bit odd. It seems our friend traveled from Bucharest to Glasgow. And from there to Iceland for a short stopover in Reykjavik. Then onto Quebec.'”

And sure as shootin’, the autopsy estimated time of death doesn’t agree with those flight times:

“‘Okay, what am I missing?’ Gallagher wondered. Had Leary called him across town just to go over the murder of a enemy informant?

We’ve got a reliable autopsy protocol on Banica along with an estimated time of death. The ETD is important.’


‘Well, you know the old saying…dead men don’t fly,’ Leary quipped with a twisted smirk. ‘At least not in first class.’

‘You tracked his passport?’ the FBI agent asked.

‘According to immigration, customs, and the airlines, Dr. Yergi Banica was in the air sipping white wine and eating microwaved chicken fourteen hours after he was strangled to death.'”

… I might add, being strangled to death after falling for the oldest trick in the book and turning his back on a guy he already had bad premonitions about.

Now we’re in for some more political button-pushing about how those weak-assed liberals are making the work of the RTPs soooooo haaaaaaaaaaaaaaard:

“‘Why wasn’t Banica’s passport on a watch list?’

Leary gave an airy laugh, the kind you let out when something really isn’t funny. ‘That’s a long, complex, and very sad story. Needless to say, travel watch-list procedures are not foolproof. And just because the CIA thinks someone is suspicious doesn’t guarantee that Homeland Security is going to agree. There are some rather intricate policy judgments involved.’

Gallagher threw Leary a dubious look. So the CIA official made it simpler. ‘To put it bluntly, the Corland administration has dumped a truckload of politics on top of the intelligence and counterterrorism business.'”

I could just roll my eyes at this kind of crap. Maybe I’ll make it a standard disclaimer that I am not responsible for peoples’ optic nerves feeling the strain of repeated eye-rolling at some of the stuff in this book.

After this we segue into the CIA-knows-stuff-but-is-not-officially-allowed-to-say aspect of the meeting. It’s supposed to be kind of cool and cloak and dagger but it just comes off a little silly after Leary’s practically spilled all the beans already:

“‘I get the picture,’ Gallagher remarked. ‘So, we’ve got someone, we don’t know who, using Dr. Banica’s passport–after he’s been murdered. Your bulletin says the professor may have been consorting with some guys with an unhealthy interest in weapons. Okay, so maybe one of them was using his passport. Have anything else?’

‘I can only give you this other thing on a verbal, no documents,’ Leary indicated. ‘This is Agency-only stuff, John. I’m treading on thin ice talking to you. So we’re going to have to play a little Q&A. Now, I can’t give you the answers. But nothing’s stopping me from asking you the right questions.’

[ … ]

[Leary said,] ‘Here we go. How many special terror subjects do you still have on your personal roster over there at the Bureau?’

[ … ]

Gallagher looked at Leary. Leary looked back and smiled. Then Gallagher started to shake his head. He had to know.

‘You mean Atta Zimler? Assassin-for-hire. Subcontract killer for Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Chechen rebels. Occasionally used by the old KGB, then flipped on a contract and turned around and killed some of them too. Did some murder projects for warring factions in Cyprus. Also skilled in intelligence theft, cyber crime, false identity. That Atta Zimler? Mother was Algerian, father was Austrian. Never caught. Never even close to being caught.’

‘Here’s what we know. According to a single source of ours, one of Yergi Banica’s contacts may have been Atta Zimler.'”

Gallagher then gets told there was a confirm on the passport’s entry into the United States, and dun-dun-DUUUUUUUUUUUUN.

So with that, Gallagher the Gumshoe’s going to be on the trail of this guy. Will he catch Zimler? Who knows…


14 thoughts on “EoA: Gallagher the Gumshoe

  1. Yes, make sure it’s authorised, but not by playing elementary conversational games – “let me see your authorisation” would be rather more to the point!

    “You mean cardboard-cutout Miles Zadernack.” — just doesn’t ring true as an English sentence to me. Maybe “You mean that cardboard cutout Zadernack” would have worked.

    People who joke about torture were always the bullies at school, never the ones who got bullied. I feel they should have to experience anything they are proposing be used on prisoners. Administered by someone who, if he gets the proposer to cry like a baby, gets a full-salary retirement.

    It’s true that laughter, and jokes that would make any outsider think you’re a monster, can help you get through a bad job. But it’s interesting… what I’m seeing here is the same sort of contempt for chains of command that we saw earlier with Josh and General Bridger. I find that somewhat hard to reconcile with the “every relationship is an authoritarian one” that we had in the family dynamic. Perhaps, once you’re a Man (i.e when your father gives permission), you bend the knee only to God, and nobody else can tell you what to do?

    If the guy had a CIA flag on his passport, it would certainly have made the console light right up when said passport was used in the border crossing. Never mind who else doesn’t care about it.

    (Incidentally, George Bush Sr dumped a truckload of politics on top of the intelligence business – he was the faction leader for what one might call the “new men”, who reckoned SIGINT was enough and you didn’t have to have those cowboys on the ground any more. This is why the CIA has been dropping the ball so much since the 1980s (when, admittedly, a lot of their station chiefs were entirely out of control); there’s only so much you can learn by listening to radio and telephone traffic.

    …I think that’s “contract killer”. A “subcontract killer” takes your money but gets some firm in India to do the actual assassination.

  2. I take it the substance of the joke wasn’t “The liberals got rid of waterboarding. Now if they could just get a SECOND thing done right sometime soon…”.

  3. Has anyone actually confirmed that waterboarding (or any other ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’) have actually produced any useable information that has saved lives? I mean, I know the hawks are always repeating it like it’s a fact, but has there ever been any actual confirmation? It wouldn’t even half to be public confirmation (they are right when they say that lives and/or ongoing operations could be jepordized). Has there ever been some kind of closed committee review of the interrogation practices at Gitmo? Has a Senator or Congressman ever gone on record as saying: “We can’t give you any details, but yeah, they’re saving lives with this stuff.”
    Not that it would make everything all better if they were, but I seriously got to wonder…

    • Evil Paul, I’m not aware of any such instance. I also know that anyone who’s actually experienced this stuff – military people who’ve done the Escape & Evasion course, for example, since that includes harsh interrogation – says that, after a few hours, the victim will say whatever he thinks you want to hear in order to get you to stop.

      So it doesn’t work and it’s morally repugnant (to people who can still make their own moral choices). The only reason to do it is because one’s mentally still back in school, making someone’s life not worth living simply because one can.

      • During the 70s and 8os the IRA were throwing quite a lot of bombs around, and there were no controls on interrogation techniques then – so much so that key IRA personnel were trained to withstand rough interrogation. But I can’t recall any reports about any bombings being prevented by half-killing a suspect during questioning.

      • Of course, it just gets worse if the enemy force has read “The Art of War” and taken Sunzi’s advice on giving some of their agents fake stats on your plans so that, if they ARE captured and interrogated (and in Warring States China, that included torture), you wind up preparing for precisely the wrong thing…

      • Yeah, that sounds about right. I couldn’t recall ever hearing about torture saving lives outside of the show ’24’ but I can’t always follow the news that closely.
        Still, you’d think some Senator or Congressman would have called them on it by now.

        There’s a pretty good post by Ebon Muse on the subject. Probably as good an answer as I’ve ever seen on the subject.


        @Sofia8. I think I remember hearing that one of the things that really got under the IRA fighters’ skins was not torture but being thrown into prison with common criminals. They felt that they should be treated like POWs instead.

        @Skynight. Good point. Information’s got a shelf life and terror cells are usually very self-contained to prevent just such a situation. By the time the guy talks, his buddies have already abandoned the safe house and called off the operation. And he wouldn’t know where the bomb factory was because that was another cell’s responsibility….

  4. Come to think of it, if you’re calling Gallagher a gumshoe, shouldn’t you be writing those quotes from in such form as “Really, pal?”, “You sure, pal?”, and “Okay, what am I missing, pal?”? {waits to see if anyone gets the reference}

  5. Ok, I just discovered this blog and have been reading through the EoA archives, but I had to comment on this part because LeHaye does something here that I hate in thriller fiction. He has subcontract killer Atta kill Yuri for no good reason except to allow his ‘gumshoe’ to find him. I mean if I was in Atta’s place here is how it breaks down:

    1. Yuri is already on your side. He is running errands for me. Just ask him for his passport, tell him he will get it back in a few weeks, and if he says anything to anyone he’ll be whacked, capisce.

    2. Where is Mr. Wolf? If I had to kill Yuri (again, why?)and I had contacts in the secret police why did not someone come to the hotel after I left and toss the body into some deep body of water? i mean have these authors even watched an episode of the sopranos? or the godfather?

    3. Finally, if I had to kill Yuri and had no outside support i would at least make it harder to figure out who he is. I mean no one knows he came to the hotel, I killed him silently, I thus have days to figure out what to do. I would strip the body naked, put it in the bathtub, and cut off the head, hands and feet. Then dispose of those in a fashion that it would make them hard to find, at the very least it will take a while before the police figure out who is the victim.

    I know I am asking a lot from the hack writers of EoA, but I came up with those solutions in less than ten minutes of thinking about it, and I have never killed anyone or anything bigger than a fly in my whole life, (that anyone has discovered at least πŸ™‚ Seriously, these books lack imagination…

  6. Pingback: EoA: CSI: Rough Sailing Ahead « Apocalypsereview's Blog

  7. Pingback: EoA: CSI: Intelligence Revealed « Apocalypsereview's Blog

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