BY: GINNY FITE
A DC conspiracy novel of grand proportions…
Washington, DC, housewife Margaret Turnbull’s world literally blows up after her husband, FBI agent Clay Turnbull, is falsely arrested and killed by agents working for an international drug cartel.
Unbeknownst to Margaret, her enemy’s tentacles reach all the way to the White House and control senior personnel. Their powerful enterprise in jeopardy, the assassins will stop at nothing to cover their tracks. With cutting-edge surveillance—CIA, FBI, and NSA technology—there is nowhere to hide, no one to trust. No one is safe—anywhere.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In No End of Bad by Ginny Fite, FBI Special Agent Clayton Turnbull is suddenly arrested on his way back from lunch and charged with being a spy. Shortly thereafter he is murdered, and his wife Margaret and teenage daughter Melissa are devastated. But Margaret and Melissa don’t have much time to grieve. Soon they are on the run for their own lives, trying to stay ahead of assassins out to tie up all lose ends, who don’t care who they have to kill to do it.
Well written, fast paced, and full of surprises, this one will grab you by the throat and hang on all the way through—a first-class thriller you won’t be able to put down.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: No End of Bad by Ginny Fite is the story of a good man trying to do the right thing. Special Agent Clay Turnbull of the FBI is working on an international drug cartel case and getting too close to the truth. In order to stop his investigation, powerful people in the government have him arrested and falsely accused of being a Russian spy. To make matters worse, they murder him and tell the press he died of a heart attack during interrogation. But not everyone believes it, especially when Clay’s wife and daughter become the targets of assassins. Barely escaping their home with their lives, the women go into hiding, but even there, they aren’t safe. With law enforcement officials and politicians on the payroll of the drug cartel, the criminals have a very long reach, and they are determined to leave no one alive who might have any evidence against them.
I was both surprised and delighted by No End of Bad—a very different book from Fite’s charming and somewhat laid-back mystery series, much more thrilling and intense. Extremely well written, with a solid plot, endearing characters, plenty of suspense, and an intriguing mystery, this one will keep glued to your seat, biting your nails from beginning to end. I loved it!
Until he was eyeballing glass fragments embedded in the asphalt walk winding from the Washington Monument toward Constitution Avenue in the nation’s capital, Special Agent Clayton Turnbull thought it was a beautiful day for making plans about the future.
He finished his brown-bag lunch, stuffed all the refuse back into the paper bag, pocketed the note that came inside the bag, rolled up the top of the bag, and tossed it in a nearby garbage can. He hated it when tourists left their fast-food wrappers lying around on the ground. He judged a man and his family by their neatness, by their willingness to step five feet out of their way to do what was right. One day’s litter could destroy the beauty of the park. He’d always thought those protest packs that came to DC by the hordes were a bunch of hypocrites, yelling about jobs, peace, justice, or God, or whatever the most recent cause was, and leaving the area totally trashed when they got on their buses to go back to wherever they lived.
A man of habit, who enshrined his habits as good things in the way a philosopher elevated his thoughts to truth, Turnbull started walking back toward his office in the FBI building on Pennsylvania Avenue along the same path he took every day. About fifty feet away from the bench where he always sat for lunch, he noticed a discarded manila envelope that must have blown across the mall to the ground near the base of a cherry tree. He muttered, reached down to get it, and opened it to see what was inside.
The next few seconds were a blur. From all around him, men who appeared to be bored federal workers or casual tourists were running toward him, guns pulled, yelling instructions. In a split second, he was face down on the asphalt with a knee jammed between his shoulders, a gun butt had nicked his head, and his hands were yoked together by plastic cuffs. A burly man in a suit yanked him up and frisked him, confiscating his badge, cell phone, wallet, and his wife Margaret’s note. One of the guys picked the envelope up from the ground where Turnbull dropped it when they rushed him. Someone else retrieved his lunch bag from the garbage can. He was being read his rights like a radio ad, fast. They weren’t giving him time to think or react. They were doing it by the book.
But what the hell was the charge? He noticed the black SUV parked on the grass, the camera, and the cameraman. How did I fail to notice them before? Two more suits got out of the vehicle and walked briskly to him. The men weren’t from his department, he never recalled seeing them in the FBI building. They must be from some special unit.
This is not good, in anybody’s definition of the word. They wouldn’t have moved this way unless they thought they had evidence. It wasn’t on impulse. They must have been watching me for months. What have I been doing that would cause this kind of response? He re-ran his activities for the last year, where he’d been, who he had talked to. Then it hit him. The stuff about Larry Roland and his drug syndicate. That had to be it. They couldn’t possibly think I was involved in that. There is nothing to connect me to that dirty business but casual interviews I documented in the Bureau’s normal way. This doesn’t make any sense.
“Clayton Turnbull,” said one of the suits as they dragged him to his feet, “you’re being charged with espionage and treason.” They shoved him into the back seat of the vehicle.
Margaret Turnbull approached her own kitchen door with the joy children normally reserve for Christmas morning. She loved her home, enjoyed returning to it from every expedition away, relished being in it. With her husband Clay and daughter Melissa, her home was the center of her life.
“Melissa! Melissa!” Margaret called from the kitchen door. “Come and help me with the bags, honey!”
She lugged in two recyclable shopping bags from the car parked in the driveway, nearly dropped them onto the round oak table in the breakfast nook, and called her daughter again. She looked around her kitchen with satisfaction. This room with its lemon yellow walls and kiwi colored quartz counter tops made her blissful.
“Just a little elegance,” she’d said to Clay when he raised his eyebrows over the price and the color. Solid oak cabinets with leaded glass door fronts, a wide expanse of windows over the sink, a large bay window by the kitchen table in its little nook, and the wide-planked oak floors all made her feel she was standing in something solid, something that would last forever. This house was as different from the apartment in Newark, New Jersey, where she grew up, as light was from dark. She was safe here.
For her, although she would never tell Clay this, this kitchen stood for their marriage. Every inch of it represented some kind of compromise that, in the making, looked to her like a disaster but finished was a triumph. Every morning, she sat in her sturdy wicker chair, holding her cup of tea, and gazed out the window at the old oaks and maples surrounding the house. Even in winter, their branches seemed to hold out the promise of spring. She never wanted to leave here.
Margaret unwound the long purple wool scarf from her neck and put it over a peg on the coat rack near the kitchen door. She unzipped her red wool jacket, slipped it off, hanging it over the scarf, and called to her daughter again. She shook her shoulder-length auburn hair loose from the collar of her turtleneck and turned back to unpack the bags she had lugged in, pulling out the red-tipped lettuce, the long crusty baguette, a sweet onion the color of her scarf, and a red pepper. She looked at them lying on the green countertop and thought about the composition as a painting. Her eyes framed the vegetables and bread for a second, enough time for the exposure to develop in her mind, and then she called Melissa again. Where is that kid? She was tempted to call her daughter on her cell phone, or text her. Maybe then the girl would answer.
She could hear the TV on in Melissa’s bedroom, went to the doorway between the kitchen and the hallway, and called again, louder this time. Of course, she could carry all the packages in by herself, but she thought her daughter should help her. She’d been trying to instill the idea of a team, of working together, right now, before Melissa made it one step further into adolescence. She was a pretty good fifteen-year-old. Margaret had to give her that. But sixteen could be the bone-crusher year, and they were on the cusp. Margaret wanted to lay down a foundation for living together that might hold during the inevitable parental reactions to rebellion. She imagined tattoos, pierced belly button, blue hair—Oh God, blue over that luscious red hair would probably wind up being burgundy—multi-partner sexual exploits, known as orgies in her day, drug experimentation with pills she’d never heard of, and who knows what else.
“Melissa!” she called again. Still no answer from her daughter. Frustrated, she climbed the stairs, lightly holding onto the oak railing, calling her daughter’s name. Melissa’s paneled oak bedroom door was closed. Margaret opened it without knocking and saw Melissa lying face down on the purple quilt on her bed with a pillow held tightly on top of her head. The rest of Melissa’s long body encased in jeans, a T-shirt, and loose gray sweater was still, as if she had been shot. Not a nerve twitched. She had the news tuned-in on the TV, an odd choice for a teenager who didn’t know there was a world outside her school and friends.
“Melissa, what’s going on?” Margaret sat down on the bed. She stroked her daughter’s back and looked around the room. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It was the usual mess of clothes left lying where her daughter had taken them off, shoes turned on their sides, magazines lying open, school books spread out on the desk next to the iMac, a notebook with some quickly scribbled lines written in it, and her phone was on the night stand next to the bed. Melissa lifted her tear-stained face.
“Oh, Mom, oh God, didn’t you hear? It’s all over the news. Katie called me to tell me, and I’ve been watching every station. My God, Mom, it can’t be true.” And then the child started to sob again.
“What’s true, what are you talking about?”
Margaret wondered if some rock star had been shot or committed suicide. She had felt a small tremor when Kurt Cobain had died at twenty-seven, felt some shock that talent could not see a future worth living, but certainly nothing to sob about. Kids were so dramatic these days. She’d been an adult, years older than the teen idol, when he died. Perhaps she didn’t remember what it was to be a teenager. Today, she had been engrossed in her errands: running to the bank, the bookstore, and a brief stop in the local craft shop looking for the right-sized canvas for whatever project was nagging at the back of her mind. On her drive back from Whole Foods, she had been thinking about how the vaulted ceiling of trees looked in the winter, curving over the streets of her neighborhood forming an abstract of the sky. She hadn’t turned on the car radio. Looking at Melissa’s beautiful face, now splotchy from crying, she saw the girl’s thick, red lashes had clotted from her torrent of tears.
“Tell me what you’re talking about.” Margaret’s practiced motherhood strategy was to instill calm.
“It’s Dad. God, Mom, do you live on Mars? It’s Dad!” Melissa whispered between sobs, “The FBI arrested him. They said all over the news that he’s a spy and that he’s been doing it for years. They said he had money hidden in overseas banks.” She began to wail.
Margaret turned to the television, grabbed the remote, and flipped the station to CNN. Sure enough, there were some talking heads discussing her husband, Clayton Turnbull, the FBI brief against him, and how solid their information was. This can’t be real. This can’t be. There has to be a mistake.
“All right, honey, try to calm down. Crying isn’t going to help. We have to think. We have to act normally. Come down stairs and help me get the bags in from the car and put the food away.”
She stood up, gently pulling on Melissa’s hand, and realized she was trembling from head to toe. If any of this were true, there’d be agents watching the house. Someone would come to interrogate them; to see what they knew or didn’t know. She remembered hearing through the FBI wives’ grapevine about a CIA agent who’d been arrested for spying. His family had been harassed for two years until finally the FBI had shrugged and said, “Oops, never mind. Wrong guy.” Her phone would be tapped. They may have already searched the house. Someone had been in her house without her even knowing it—had been looking through their email and bills, listening in on her phone calls, searching through their trash, opening all their drawers, looking through the laundry bin, and God knows what all. How had I not noticed? She felt violated, shamed, infuriated. I haven’t done anything! None of us has done anything! Why is this happening?
Margaret stopped moving for a minute as the idea of someone peering into every crevice of her life wound its way down from her mind to her gut. She put her hand there, as if to stop its movement. What am I supposed to do, anyway? Should I call a lawyer? Will Clay be able to call me? He must be able to call me. Doesn’t he get a call?
There were too many questions. She had to do one thing at a time. Empty the shopping bags first, then make dinner, if they could swallow anything, and after that, wait and see what comes next. She turned off the television, put her arm around her daughter, pulled her off the bed, and walked with her out of the bedroom. “Let’s put a cold cloth on that beautiful face.”
She knew at least one thing: they would have no comment for the press. She would let the answering machine get the calls. The silence surrounding her house struck her. Why hadn’t the press besieged them? Wasn’t that their usual protocol? Maybe the Bureau somehow prevented that from happening. Were they afraid of what I might say? Unlikely. What could I say? Anyway, her mother and sister, her friends, would be calling. She needed to think of an answer for them. Maybe in this case, suddenly weary, she thought the best response would be the truth: she knew nothing about anything.
Margaret and Melissa went down the staircase with their arms around each other. If they let go, they would be alone to face their doubts. Margaret was thinking about all the times Clay was away, all the times she had no idea what he was doing or where he was. She had trusted him. It was the foundation of their relationship. She had always assumed that what he told her was the truth. He slept soundly. He didn’t pace or stare off into space when he was home, nor did he drink or go for long walks alone. He was always simply home, there for them, completely present. How could he have done something like this? How could he have done it without me knowing? Not possible! No, it simply is not possible! She would just hold onto that—her only lifeline in a sea of thoughts that threatened to sink her.
“Daddy couldn’t be guilty, Mom, could he?” Melissa was the first to say it out loud.
“No, sweetheart, he couldn’t be guilty.” Margaret hoped she sounded convinced, wondered if that was possible when her lips were quivering. “No way, not in a million years,” she said, as much to reaffirm it for herself as her daughter. “Not him.”
© 2018 by Ginny Fite