The Vandenbergs are America’s favorite couple, despite their enormous wealth. Favorite, because they not only give millions of dollars each year to deserving charities and public programs, but also because they give their time as well. Wearing jeans and sweatshirts, they help build houses for the under-privileged, deliver meals to shut-ins, andvolunteer in charity clinics. In formal attire, they may be found at the White House, graceful, unassuming guests at state dinners, an extraordinarily handsome man and a stunningly beautiful woman. Vandenberg, whose mother was an O’Duggan, has just been named ambassador to Ireland. Theirs is a perfect world.
Perfect, until their eight-year-old twins, Mollie and Kevin, are taken from their schoolrooms in the presence of an unsuspecting principal and a security guard. Neither questioned the charming, well-dressed man who arrived with a note supposedly written by the twins’ mother. Thus began one of the best planned, most brilliantly executedkidnappings in history. No legitimate ransom demands follow. In fact, only a profound silence follows the bold abduction. The FBI gets the case, and Maggie Sachet is soon enmeshed in what appears to be the perfect crime that destroyed a perfect world.
Clues to the identity of the kidnappers essentially are non-existent. When the children’s bodyguard is found dead in an abandoned barn, along with the ambassador’s bloodied luxury sedan, hopes for finding the children alive shatter. Whoever took Kevin and Mollie were murderers.
Why the children were taken, and by whom, are keys to an incredible crime story that intrigues the entire nation. That it is also a love story is not apparent until the final pages. Here is a true international spy story, with intelligence and counterintelligence plots, secrets and tantalizing revelations, assignations and trickery in Prague, St. Petersburg, and in an antique hearse.
The departed, Tanya Langfeld (born Tasya Petrova) was a successful screen actress in Russia when US director Miles Mayheun signed her for a film epic already underway in Hollywood. US audiences immediately embraced the touchingly beautiful, charismatic Tanya and could not get enough of her. Before leaving Moscow, she already was deeply involved with X, chief of the First Directorate of the FSB (formerly the FBI). Once she had become a darling of the detested Americas, he moved in (only emotionally) and convinced her that she should spy for Russia. Easily swayed, she agreed. And then, later, when she met the irresistible (to all females but Maggie) Logan MacLean, he implored her to spy against the detested Russians. The result? Double-agent psychological disconnection.
Enter into the plot a highly respected, popular atmospheric scientist who apparently committed suicide by hurricane, an elderly Chinese widow with all the answers, a dead body in Maggie’s bedroom, and the plot thickens like her perfectly done Vin de Marchand sauce.Exhaustive investigation by the FBI—given jurisdiction in each case—leads nowhere, except to the conclusion that there is no connection between and among the cases. All three end up in cold storage, where they remain until, nine years later, they land on the desk of Special Agent Maggie Sachet.
Lighting a fire under the cold cases is Adrianna Bell, a tough investigative journalist determined to find a conspiracy behind the murders, prove that the FBI bungled its original investigations, and write a sizzling “ten-year-later” denunciation of the Bureau. Maggie begins a review of the cases and finds only one common factor involved—each of the victims had a list of enemies to rival the Manhattan telephone directory. This pleases her boss, Logan MacLean, an ill-tempered (but devastatingly handsome) Scot, who tells her to do a “quick and dirty” investigation, find not a single shred of evidence of a conspiracy, and exonerate the Bureau.
What begins as an uneasy, suspicious relationship between Maggie and the mysterious, difficult Adriana, develops into something else—a cautious, but friendly working arrangement with a lively spirit of competition. And great sadness.
Maggie’s investigation has more twists and surprises than a Mediterranean pasta salad. Intriguing and conflicting clues begin to surface, leading her back and forth across the country as the cold cases heat up, to a temperature that reaches the danger point. Life and death danger. Now, and not nine years ago.