Books

To purchase books by Peter Sasgen: click here.


Read an excerpt from his new thriller, The Blood of Lost Empires—A Novel of the New Cold War.

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When Claire Hayden, a ruthless American intelligence agent, recruits aging ex-Stasi colonel Max Reinmann to identify the killer of a Kremlin insider with ties to the CIA, she opens the door on a secret operation at the heart of Vladimir Putin's regime.

Teamed with an old nemesis, ex-KGB agent Andrei Kozlov, Reinmann’s search for the killer blazes a trail of murder, revenge, and betrayal from France to a Ukraine fighting for independence from Moscow’s dream of a new Russian empire. 

EXCERPT

PRELUDES

EASTERN UKRAINE

Russian spetsnaz!

Kostya, interpreter and escort, points out an open window of the ransacked police headquarters building. Men in camouflage battle dress advance over a wooded, snow-covered rise.

You’re sure they’re Russians? says Claire Hayden. Not Ukrainian rebels?

Kostya lifts binoculars to his eyes. Yes, I’m sure. They’re armed with new Kalashnikovs. Wearing body armor. See for yourself.

She looks, passes the binoculars to Cassidy. They’re spetsnaz all right, he says, breath smoking in bitter air. We’d better haul ass. He starts collecting weapons and comms gear.

Hayden has binoculars to her eyes with one hand, Makarov pistol in the other. I count fifty or so. Must have crossed the border last night. Everything jibes with what she was told would happen.

Kostya says, Bastards! You can’t trust Russians.

No, you can’t trust anyone, thinks Hayden. Someone betrayed us.

Cassidy tugs Hayden’s sleeve. Come on.

Wait. She spots more commandos. Look over there.

Kostya, panicky, says, We’re trapped. His eyes cloud with fear.

Hayden crouches under the window sill, Cassidy beside her. She lifts her head. Listen.

They hear the wok-wok- wok of helicopter rotors. The building shudders under the heavy beat growing louder by the second.

Ukrainian or Russian? asks Cassidy.

The answer is a gray and black Mil-24 gunship, Ukrainian insignia on its flanks, rising above the trees like a giant insect searching for prey. The advancing Russian commandos wave to the crew who wave back.  

It’s one of ours, says Kostya. I told you they’d pick us up. Hayden looks at the approaching helo bristling with machine guns and rockets. As it dips toward the building the chopper’s black belly fills the sky outside the window. A searchlight in the nose washes the room probing for occupants.

Hayden spots a masked soldier in the helicopter’s open side door, Kalashnikov in his hands spitting fire. If it’s a Ukrainian ship something is deadly wrong.

Get down! Hayden’s warning is drowned out by thudding rotors, the chatter of machine guns raking the building, the open window. Bullets ricochet off stone and stucco, slap into wood.  

Hayden grabs a canvas bag, bolts into an adjoining room. Her hands claw inside the bag, lift out a MANPAD surface-to-air missile launcher. She crawls to another window, shoulders the weapon. She’s vaguely aware of Cassidy crouched back-to-back behind her with a stubby MP5, guarding their only escape route from the building. There’s no sign of Kostya.

 The Mil hovers in a tornado of swirling snow, rocking slightly as it hoses the abandoned room with machinegun fire.

Hayden squeezes the MANPAD’s trigger, feels the tube buck, sees the rocket ignite, throws herself down alongside Cassidy.

The Russian pilot tries to lift off and turn away. Too late, a burst of sunlight turns dusk to midday as flame engulfs the chopper. Pinwheeling out of control, the ship nosedives into a cluster of spetsnaz and explodes, unleashing a barrage of torn metal, broken rotor blades, body parts.

Hayden and Cassidy hear men screaming, dying. Heat from the funeral pyre blows through the open window. They smell burned fuel and scorched metal. Back on her feet, still holding the MANPAD, Hayden throws it aside. Where’s Kostya?

Gone, says Cassidy.

Find him!

Right. What do we do with him?

Kill him. 

*  *  *

PARIS  

Nuit Blanche—White Night—rules the city. So do breakdancers, mimes, laser light shows. Diamond Vision screens ring Notre Dame and Place de l'Hôtel de ville.

Alone, anonymous, he weaves through crowds, first to the quai then across Pont Marie to Île Saint-Louis. There’s an explosion, a flash of light—he ducks but it’s only fireworks.

Shouldering through knots of celebrants, carousers, drunks, no one sees him, cares who he is. Then—a man! Tall, dark-suited, searching eyes, striding toward him on Quai d’Anjou. A block of shadow haunts a doorway. He presses in, watches the man enter a courtyard cut through a wall of apartments. A beat, a breath, he pushes out of shadow. Around the next corner he spots the church of Saint-Louis-en-l’Île with its distinctive clock hanging out over the sidewalk. Threading through revelers dancing in the street, he  guides on the clock like a landmark.

A beggar outside the front door rattles coins in a paper cup to attract attention. Inside, the church is all shards of candle light, shadow, ancient incense. In the chancel a solitary tealight flickers at the feet of the Virgin. Nerves thrumming, he sits in a chair at the end of a row in the nave. He hears voices of celebration outside, voices of fear in his head.

He hears something else and discovers he’s not alone. An old woman kneeling on bare stone prays before an altar tucked into a corner of the nave.

Mouth dry, palms slick, the nausea of fear rumbles through his gut and bowels. Voices in his head demand attention:

Where are you going?

Never mind. Stay in the room. Say nothing.

The security detail . . .

I told you, say nothing.

He remembers a fast walk from the hotel at Place Vendôme to Rue de Rivoli, then a cab to Place de l'Hôtel de ville and Nuit Blanche. The church of Saint-Louis-en-l’Île to meet his American contact.

Finished praying, the old woman departs. Alone now, the voices in his head tell him to run away from the church, away from everything, even himself. The urge is overpowering. Then he hears feet shuffling on stone, the rattle of coins in a cup. The beggar’s smell arrives ahead of him.

A black-suited priest appears. Get out!

The beggar flees. The front door crashes open, crashes shut.

I’m so sorry. Did he molest you?

No, Father, not at all.

Do you need assistance?

I’m waiting for someone.

You are Russian?

Yes—He sees something in the priest’s hand catch a blade of light. He throws up an arm to deflect it but can’t escape the blinding, killing pain in his throat. He feels a hot fountain erupt from the gaping wound and has only a split-second to comprehend that the blood splashing onto his clothes, the chair, the stone floor is his blood and that he’s going to die.  


Read his historical thriller, The Days of Killing, a novel of treachery, betrayal, death, and redemption. 

Berlin, November 1945. Yuri Nosenko, a Russian army officer awaiting execution for a crime he didn’t commit, is released from an NKVD prison and sent to Berlin to find and kill Heinrich Müller, former head of Gestapo. 

Müller has top secret Soviet documents that prove Stalin ordered the Katyn Forest Massacre of 15,000 Polish officers. He aims to swap them for immunity from prosecution as a war criminal, and for sanctuary in the West. Their disclosure could shatter the postwar peace and sabotage the Nuremburg War Crimes Trials. For Nosenko, the documents are the key to his and his family’s freedom.

Nosenko stumbles through the ruins of Berlin searching for Müller, consumed by memories of his vanished wife and children whom he has vowed to find. His dual quest evolves into a perilous and deadly trek across Europe, one that propels him to a final reckoning with his past, his future, and the days of killing. Fiction. E-book.

 

An American naval officer is found dead in a Murmansk hotel, along with a young Russian sailor in what’s labeled a murder/suicide. But submarine commander Jake Scott thinks otherwise. Assigned to escort the dead officer's body back to the United States, Scott discovers that the man had uncovered a secret that got him killed.

Aided by weapons expert Alexandra Thorne, Scott uncovers a conspiracy of terror and vengeance calculated to target a summit meeting of the American and Russian presidents in St. Petersburg. 

Brushing aside political and bureaucratic obstacles, Scott takes the helm of a Russian sub and in a race against time, faces off against an undersea enemy in order to prevent a disaster that could ignite World War III. Published in Germany as Code Red. Fiction. Simon & Schuster Pocket Books. Softcover, e-book.

 
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A United Nations-brokered détente between North and South Korea is about to make history when two powerful bombs rock Midtown Manhattan, killing the warring nations' representatives as well as innocent bystanders. A renegade North Korean general, leader of a coup d’état in Pyongyang, is behind the attack. 

With a political firestorm unleashed on Washington, D.C., Jake Scott is ordered to infiltrate a secret meeting of the North Korean general and his supporters on an island owned by a Taiwanese drug lord.

There, Scott makes a chilling discovery. Miniaturized nuclear weapons stowed on a North Korean sub, Red Shark, are poised to destroy Pyongyang’s most despised foe: the USA. Scott’s new orders read: Find and destroy Red Shark.

Aboard the sub USS Reno, Scott and his crew are up against an enemy determined to ignite a war at sea and in American cities. Published in Germany as Red Shark. Fiction. Simon & Schuster Pocket Star. Softcover, e-book.

 

The true story of Cold War U.S. submarine espionage against the USSR, seen from the perspective of a Sturgeon-class SSN’s skipper. The narrative pierces the nearly impenetrable curtain of secrecy surrounding covert submarine missions, as it describes the sights, sounds, and dangers associated with spying operations in Soviet-controlled waters of the Arctic Circle. 

Though cloaked in virtual invisibility to avoid detection, U.S. submarine crews knew that the risks they took to carry out their missions were extraordinarily high and that anything could go wrong. Nonfiction. St. Martin's. Hardcover, softcover, e-book.

 

In 1945, American submarine force commanders believed that if remnants of the Japanese merchant fleet sheltering in the Sea of Japan were sunk, Japan would surrender. Because the Sea of Japan was all but walled off from the outside world by a barrier of deadly minefields, the ships seemed invulnerable to torpedo attack.   

This is the gripping true story of Operation Barney, a daunting mission in which nine submarines, nicknamed Hellcats, were tasked with threading the mines and attacking the enemy fleet. Drawing on original documents and the personal letters of one doomed Hellcat commander, the author crafts a classic tale of heroic submariners and one of World War II's most ambitious and dangerous underwater raids. Nonfiction. NAL Caliber. Hardcover, softcover, e-book.

 

As America builds the atomic bomb, President Roosevelt initiates a peace plan that could save millions of lives and end the war without using the bomb. To carry out FDR’s plan, a submarine commanded by a combat-tested skipper embarks on a secret mission into mine-infested waters ruled by the forces of Imperial Japan. 

In Washington, a cadre of White House advisors opposed to FDR’s plan argue that the use of atomic weapons will ensure a U.S. victory not only in the Pacific, but also in the looming postwar face-off with the Soviet Union. 

The president’s death sets the stage for an explosive confrontation between men determined to shape history, and courageous submariners fighting to survive in deadly waters. Fiction. E-book.

 

Adolf Hitler approves a plan for a U-boat to deliver biological weapons to Japan for use against American forces. Kapitänleutnant Horst Bekker is ordered to undertake the mission. Bekker, mourning his dead wife and daughter, agonizes over issues of loyalty and duty to a Führer and a regime he despises. Though he knows chances of survival are slim, he and his crew depart for Japan.

When the Americans and British uncover the Nazis’ plan, they deploy a task force to find and destroy Bekker’s U-boat and its deadly cargo. After the British find a Soviet mole in the highest levels of MI-6, the Allies are thrust into a race to keep the weapons from falling into Soviet hands. 

At sea, Bekker must decide whether to carry out Hitler’s orders and prolong the war, or consign the weapons of mass death to the North Atlantic deep. His decision could alter the course of history. Published in Germany as Red Alert. Fiction. E-book.

 

The USS Rasher sank eighteen Japanese ships during WWII. Her fifth war patrol is the stuff of legends: during a single night surface attack on a Japanese convoy, she sank an escort carrier and three marus. The author’s father served aboard the Rasher for all eight of her war patrols and this chronicle of submarine warfare draws from his letters and papers and those of his shipmates. 

An examination of the factors that contributed to the Rasher's success pays tribute to her skippers’ daring and aggressive tactics. A recognized classic of naval literature. Nonfiction. Naval Institute Press; Simon & Schuster Pocket Star. Hardcover, softcover, e-book.

 

To purchase books by Peter Sasgen: click here.