Edge of Apocalypse: pages 271-276 (Chapter Forty-Seven)
And now we’re back into the swing of things with Edge of Apocalypse. Let’s follow John Gallagher now.
Agent Gallagher, having arrived in NYC at 7:30 AM, is now trying to make the meeting with his boss by 8:30. On the way, he chats with the digital photo expert, Sally Borcheck.
“Great timing,” Gallagher said. “I need this for a conference. What’s the bottom line?”
“Oh, no, I’m not giving it to you,” she snapped back. “Not until I go over some preliminaries first.”
In the cab Gallagher pretended to strangle his Allfone with both hands.
He said, “Sally, can’t we skip that stuff? I’m really in a rush.”
“Look, you’re the one who caught me in my comfy pj’s in front of the TV. I was already halfway into the old version of The Detective with Robert Mitchum. I love that movie. And they almost never run that one on television. So back off, John–“
There’s a bit more of a rough ride she gives John, fully deserved, of course, but the bottom line is:
Borcheck sighed. “Yeah, minimally adequate. Now there are eighty facial variants we use to create a face print. Skull size, facial measurements, interrelationships between facial structures…”
“I rated your video image at a sixty-seven percent certainty that the facial characteristics in the video matched that of the known subject, Atta Zimler.”
Unfortunately, in Zadernack’s office, things do not go well. Gallagher’s being put on a desk job and the Zimler investigation is being closed. We know why this is – Demas got Tulrude to push for a quick end to it based on the totally phony “similar named diplomat” story which has a million holes that got poked through it in the previous writeup involving the conversation between the two of them.
Gallagher momentarily rallies his cause with the biometric match info, but Zadernack cuts him off with a report that a “Zimler” got arrested in Paris.
But Gallagher was going to bull his way through. “I have a facial match between Atta Zimler and a suspect who just tortured and murdered the son-in-law of a former high-ranking Pentagon general. It just happened. Over in Philadelphia. We have a forensic match, Miles. Come on–“
Zadernack gave his favorite emotionless, plaster-of-paris expression. He spoke in something just above a monotone. But what he had to say was outrageous. “Okay, John. Take a deep breath. All right? Relax. Here’s the story. We’ve been told that Atta Zimler is in custody. In Paris.”
After some of Gallagher’s fulminating and Zadernack reminding him of the mandatory courses in Bureau professionalism he’s supposed to take, that’s pretty much it. Gallagher gets his desk and he ruminates:
He would be retiring before long. He had put too much into his work at the Bureau to trash it all now. So there was a serious question pending: Was he going to throw it all away for a mere sixty-seven percent certainty? The more he thought about it the more it didn’t make any sense. Man, sixty-seven percent isn’t even a passing grade. That’s flunking.
Cute, but in most places 67% usually gets you a C+. 😛 That’s passing, Agent Gallagher! He’s being too hard on himself. According to him the facial match was enough for probable cause to get a warrant, anyway; Zadernack didn’t disagree with that part.
Finally, he decides chasing after Zimler is worth losing his career, and he quietly calls Agent Leary over at the CIA. His final words sum up the conversation quite neatly:
“Uh, figure it out, John,” Leary said with a laugh. “We’re going to discuss possible clandestine information from the CIA about a world-class terrorist, and I chose a Korean dry cleaners as the meeting place. What does that tell you?”
If the Gallagher-chasing-Zimler subplot was in any book but this one it could really be made into a great tale on its own. Aging FBI agent near retirement wants to close one last case, and his superiors think he’s getting too personally involved. Said agent enlists secret helpers, and successfully nabs the bad guy, retiring with full honors and congrats on his derring-do. This kind of action-spy-adventure stuff can work really well, as Robert Ludlum’s proven amply with his books.
But because this subplot’s being shoehorned into the larger conflict involving Josh Jordan, this subplot necessarily takes a back seat and is tinged with some of the same political speechifying that renders aspects of the way the FBI is handling this somewhat improbable.
Next chapter we’ll meet back with Josh and Abby. Stay tuned. 🙂