Publisher: Miller Mosaic, LLC
Book rating as per the author: PG (not necessarily suitable for children)
BookBios.com (BB.com): What is your book about?
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (PZM): This romantic suspense spy story takes place in 1997 when Beth Parsons is called to CIA headquarters and asked to identify someone from when she worked for a U.S. Army intelligence unit in Munich, Germany.
When what Beth is told doesn’t add up, she fears she may become a fall guy for the CIA. She escapes her CIA “babysitter” and sets off to discover why she is suddenly back in the world of espionage.
Her quest takes her to Europe and then back to the U.S., and pairs her with the man who may have been responsible for her husband’s death.
BB.com: How did you pick the topic for CIA Fall Guy: A Spy Thriller?
PZM: I wanted to use knowledge that I had learned while working as a civilian for the U.S. Army’s 66th Military Intelligence Group in Munich, Germany, from 1972-1972. I also wanted to use the actual event of the bombing in May 1972 of the U.S. Army’s Frankfurt Officers Club.
BB.com: How is CIA Fall Guy: A Spy Thriller different from other books that cover the same or similar information?
PZM: Besides being partly based on real events, CIA FALL GUY is what I would call a “gentle” thriller (no gore or sex scenes). The story is especially for fans of of the romantic suspense spy stories by Helen MacInnes and Dorothy Gilman.
Phyllis Zimbler Miller
BB.com: What did you like most about writing this book?
PZM: I most enjoyed describing places in the U.S. and Germany that I had personally visited.
An excerpt from CIA Fall Guy: A Spy Thriller:
Prologue – Berlin – 1997
The letters shimmered on the plain of the yellowed paper, the moisture in his eyes fogging the squiggles into botches. Letters birthed by an ancient East German typewriter, standard issue.
David Ward coughed. The dust in these old East German Stasi — State Security Police — files penetrated his lungs. He was alone in the basement room eight years after the fall of the Berlin Wall had brought down the Stasi.
He had taken precautions not to be recognized.
A black trim wig enclosed his blond longish hair. One of those ridiculous German hats with the little feathers, as if he were about to climb the Zugspitze, held itself up next to the file. A cheap “East German” polyester suit hung loosely on his muscled body. He had even padded his flat midriff with a cushion of cloth — the typical beer belly. He could be mistaken for a gastarbeiter — foreign worker — or one of those worker drones of the former German Democratic Republic. His clothes concealed his weapons.
He pushed his disguise glasses farther up the bridge of his nose, then rose to return the file. He had people to see.
Berlin 1997 —
Hans Wermer hunkered in a disintegrating armchair in the reception room of the CIA’s office in Berlin.
At least that’s what his contact had called it more than 20 years ago — when he had a contact. Then he passed reports of economic progress in the workers’ paradise across the Iron Curtain. Before his fall from grace. Did they still call it the Library?
He shifted his beer-fed figure in the chair — one seam had sprung a leak, the padding sprouting whiskers. He was not good at waiting. No, not good at all.
Three days ago he’d been informed by the liaison officer at the CIA reception center in Berlin, a young man speaking in school-learned German, that Hans’ case would take some time. “Ist das klar?” the young man had asked.
it was not so simple. No, not so simple as the other refugees:
A short interview at the reception center, perhaps a few days, even a month, at a “hotel” the army maintained, then some marks and a “good luck and auf Wiedersehen.”
Sometimes there could be more, if the story were interesting enough. He’d talked to old acquaintances so he understood this.
It was not gemutlich — cheerful — sitting around the army’s transit housing for foreigners waiting to talk to someone who would remember his past importance. At last he had been invited here.
The inner door opened and a young woman approached. “Herr Smith will see you now,” she said in English.
Although his mother had been British, he hadn’t spoken English in years. All English-speaking in his Dresden home had stopped when Hitler marched into Poland on September 1, 1939. “Englisch ist verboten,” his mother had said. It was for his safety, she’d explained. And although he was five at the time, he had understood what she meant.
After the war and her death he had found hidden in a schrank her old English poetry books — poems of Shelley, Keats, Browning, the ones she couldn’t bear to burn, the ones she risked their lives to keep. He had struggled to read the poems, sounding out the words the way he’d been taught by his mother. Later he’d studied English at the university. Still he wasn’t comfortable in her language, would never be truly comfortable. He was too old now.
He rose and grabbed his hat from the seat, using his other hand to slick back his grey hair cut close to his head. The woman led him through the door and down a narrow hallway. She paused outside a closed door, opened it without knocking, and motioned him inside.
Herr Smith unfolded his tall body from his desk chair to shake hands in the proper German manner. He appeared to be in his mid forties, his pin-striped suit jacket and pants tailored to his thin frame. Hans was aware of the contrast with his own stocky figure, his shiny suit pulled across his stomach. Herr Smith’s face could be German, round like his own. Herr Smith’s accent, when he opened his mouth to say “Guten Tag,” was definitely a foreigner’s. Hans answered in his British-accented English, “Good day.”
Herr Smith’s face relaxed at the English reply. “Please have a seat,” he said in English.
What did the man want from him? Would he demand a lengthy recitation of the case history? Or had he read the case beforehand?
Herr Smith peered at the papers in front of him. “We’ve reviewed your file. Washington has reviewed your file.” He paused.
“I don’t believe a word of it.”
Hans Wermer’s breath caught in his chest. He had failed.
Herr Smith’s eyes pierced his own.
“They do. We’ve booked you on an early plane to Washington tomorrow morning. The people in Langley want to talk to you.”
Gut. Sehr gut. Hans’ caged breath hissed from his mouth. He would be meeting with important people. Much more important than Herr Smith in Berlin.
Herr Smith stood. “Here are your tickets and a German government-issued passport. That’s all you’ll need.”
Hans stood too and took the documents. He shook hands and inclined his head, then walked out of the office.
In the hall he smiled. He had passed the first test.
Copyright© Phyllis Zimbler Miller.
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