Two years ago Ben Anderson woke up in a rundown motel, three thousand miles from home, his family missing, and the words LET THE GAME BEGIN written in blood on the back of the bathroom door.
Now, with his past life gone, Ben has become a soldier in Carver Ellison’s army against Caesar.
But when a mission goes wrong and one of their team members is murdered, it’s the last cryptic word spoken that will lead Ben and the team one step closer to the Inner Circle — a step that may bring them salvation … or get them all killed.
Praise for The Inner Circle:
“The Inner Circle is a crafty, clever, white-knuckle thriller. If you haven’t yet read Swartwood, you’re missing out.” —Brian Keene
“Not for the faint of heart.” —Cannonball Read
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Read An Excerpt From The Inner Circle
We were headed south on I-95, about forty miles outside Miami, when the Kid called.
It was Saturday night, just past eleven o’clock. A heavy rain was coming down, the dark clouds occasionally illuminated by a scattered flicker of lightning.
Carver reached into his pocket, pulled out his phone, put it on speaker.
The Kid said, “We got a problem.”
I was driving the Corolla we’d picked up the day before in Atlanta. It was a small four-cylinder thing that still reeked of cigarettes and coffee from its previous owner. I’d paid one thousand dollars for it, cash, and now here we were, Carver in the passenger seat, the radio off, neither of us saying a word.
A quarter mile ahead of us was Ronny and Ian in the SUV. A quarter mile ahead of them was the target. The target was driving a black Crown Victoria, a camera set up in the foot well of the passenger seat so those who wanted to could see what the man looked like behind the wheel of the car, instead of getting the view of the highway from the mini-camera in his glasses. The target was listed simply as The Racist. He was a large bald man with a thick goatee and tattoos of swastikas and racial slurs all over his body. He’d only been in the game for less than forty-eight hours and had already killed someone.
“What’s the problem?” Carver asked.
“Another link appeared five minutes ago. I started saving it right away, and … ah, well, you just gotta see it. I’m emailing it to you now.”
Then the Kid was gone.
I said, “Should we call Ronny?”
Carver had already replaced the phone in his pocket, was now reaching in the backseat for his bag. He pulled the MacBook from the bag, along with the wireless card. Then he had the computer on his lap, opened the lid, pressed the power button. Seconds later the Apple logo appeared and the main screen came up and then Carver was working quickly, opening the web browser, opening his email account, then opening the email the Kid had just sent.
There was a minute or two of silence as Carver downloaded the file. When the download was complete, Carver played the video. At once the atmosphere in the car changed. Carver’s body visibly stiffened.
“How bad is it?”
“Bad enough,” he said, and tilted the laptop so I could see.
Most of the screen was black except for the usual box in the middle. In that box now was a small room. The camera was positioned in one of the ceiling corners, staring down at a bed. It was the only piece of furniture in the room, besides a single lamp standing in the corner.
And on the bed lay a small dark-skinned girl, who couldn’t have been any older than ten. She was completely naked, her arms and legs stretched toward the ends of the bed, straps tying her wrists and ankles. How long she’d been there was impossible to say, but it was clear whatever fight had been in her was long gone. She just lay there, her body jerking every couple of seconds, sobbing the sob of a child who has cried so much she has no more tears left to shed.