Skip to main content

Excerpt - TARGETS DOWN by Bob Hamer

Camy here: Mucho thanks to B&H Publishing Group for sending me the ARC of this title. Here's the excerpt for your enjoyment!


Targets Down is the follow-up to retired FBI agent Bob Hamer's Enemies Among Us (on sale for just $0.99 for Kindle format!), which Publishers Weekly hailed as "a page-turning roller coaster that feels like Jack Bauer’s 24 without sailing over the top."

When an FBI wife is critically wounded and two people are found dead on a mountain pass, special agent Matt Hogan is tasked with identifying those responsible. The undercover assignment takes him into the shadow world of Russian organized crime, neo-Nazis, and the sex-slave industry. Matt's cover is almost blown twice—once by accident, once by incompetence within the FBI ranks—making violence appear to be his only solution. As he confronts evil, Hogan relies not only on the strength of his wife's faith but his own quest to find God. He also finds terror and terrorism on this heart-pounding journey.

Excerpt of chapter one:

Chapter One

The powerful hand gripped the silenced Russian-made weapon, and the tattooed arm straightened. As the teenager talked to the killer’s two associates in the darkened parking lot, she had no

idea she was about to be erased by the threat behind her. It was all so impersonal, but career criminals operated on a different plain. Morality was never an issue; expediency was. The Ukrainian girl was a liability and thus expendable.

The ever-constant traffic on Ventura Boulevard masked the sounds of the two muted gunshots fired in rapid succession. From just a few feet away, either shot to the back of the head was fatal. Before anyone exited the rear door to the Russian Veil, the three men threw the limp body into the bed of the pickup truck and were gone: another anonymous victim of Los Angeles street jus- tice, a judicial system lacking due process or fairness. Even a quest for freedom was a capital offense.

Matt Hogan stood in front of the mirror admiring his greased biker-hair look. His rugged battle-scarred features were in sharp contrast to the metrosexuals parading up and down the Sunset Strip on any Saturday evening. The undercover agent then sprayed a 70 percent solution of alcohol on the left side of his powerful neck. He carefully placed the Tinsley transfer, blotted the paper, waited a few seconds, and just as carefully removed the transfer. Satisfied with his work, he finished with a dash of baby powder to aid in drying the large prison-like tattoo. A movie studio German “SS” now complemented the stubble. But even clean shaven, Matt could be a menacing figure, a no-holds-barred, man’s man.

If it’s true, the hotter the fire the stronger the steel, then Hogan was as strong as they came. A member of the FBI’s small cadre of undercover agents, he successfully played the role of contract killer, drug dealer, and when cleaned up, a sophisticated white- collar criminal. A psychologist described him as a “synthesist,” a person who could void himself of his own personality and take on the characteristics, mind-set, and mannerisms of whatever the part required. Matt was good, maybe too good. Sometimes even he questioned who he was.

Working undercover meant more than a fake driver’s license and a fictitious name. It was living life as a liar for hours, days, even months at a time. It meant becoming one of them without becoming one of them. Distance offered detachment, but when you went undercover, it became personal. It was getting close to people you will ultimately betray and probing the darkest side of humanity, including your own. Unlike Hollywood, there were no retakes; a botched line, a missed mark, a mistake could mean instant death. Matt Hogan walked in the flames many times; he experienced the fire.

As he began writing the letters H-A-T-E on the fingers of his right hand, Steve Barnett walked into the Joint Terrorism Task Force locker room.

“Well, if it isn’t the Mary Kay of the FBI,” said Steve. “You enjoy putting on makeup way too much. I hope you aren’t switch- ing sides on me.”

“Don’t ask. Don’t tell,” said Matt concentrating on his artwork.

“Why don’t you just pierce your ear and grow a ponytail, like every other undercover agent I know?”

“Caitlin won’t let me. She’s got a pretty strict dress code around the house. In fact, these biker undercover assignments keep me sleeping on the couch until I take a shower.”

“I guess that’s why she’s been spending so many nights with me at my place.”

“In your dreams big guy. I know for a fact she doesn’t date the follicly challenged with a bad weave.”

Steve pulled out a comb and began to rake his sparse locks styled in a weak comb-over. “That’s how much you know. I’m a Hair Club for Men honor graduate, and she loves to run her fingers through these amber waves.”

Matt didn’t even look up, still writing on his fingers. “I’m surprised you’re awake. Isn’t this way past your bedtime?”

Steve looked in the mirror, moving his face even closer, carefully examining his skin, searching for tell-tale signs of aging, “These late nights are causing all kinds of wrinkles.”

“I’m not sure eight hours of sleep or Mary Kay will help,” said Matt without cracking a smile.

“What about Botox?”

“Yeah, that might fill in a few of those deep crevices around the eyes, but you still don’t have a shot with any skirt rated higher than a three or four.”

“You’re probably right. I keep hoping my near-perfect shooting scores at the Leisure World pistol range will attract some blue-hair with money, but I’m even striking out there.” Steve paused, turned serious, and then said almost in a whisper, “Dwayne said we’re ready to start the briefing when you are.”

An FBI office is like a locker room with the requisite jock snap- ping and sarcastic sniping. The thin-skinned need not apply. A sense of humor is almost a requirement, sometimes the sicker the better. Those on the outside would never understand or appreciate the need to talk or act the way grown men in law enforcement do. Those in the military understand. Those on the front lines fighting evil know the need. It brings a sense of relief from the tensions the real world throws at you every day, the constant reminders of your mortality. It also brings a sense of camaraderie. You can’t count on judges, lawyers, lawmakers, or administrators. Like the combat soldier or Marine, you can only count on the man next to you on the urban battlefield.

Matt blew on his fingers to accelerate the drying time of the ink from the tattoo makeup pen and followed Steve to the room at the end of the long hallway.

Chapter Two

Darkness blanketed the hilltop road. This section of the mountain pass didn’t burden taxpayers with streetlights, and only a faint glimmer of illumination from Los Angeles’s San Fernando

Valley could be seen through the thick, damp fog. It was well past ten, and Lydia Mitchell was hopeful she could make it home by the eleven o’clock news. Her two young daughters would be asleep, and her macho FBI agent husband, exhausted from just a few hours of babysitting, would probably be stretched out on his favorite leather recliner in the family room. Lydia valued her volunteer work at the community food bank. She chaffed, however, at the late-evening committee meetings at various members’ homes.

Her husband’s Mustang sputtered as she pulled from the Laurel Hills development off Mulholland Drive, and now the car seemed even more irritated as she tried to accelerate up a small rise in the road. The twenty-eight-year-old brunette glanced at the fuel gauge. Of course it registered full; she just filled the tank earlier in the evening. Flip babied his car and always insisted on brand-name gasoline, but Lydia thought his obsession was silly—after all, gas is gas. The local independent dealer a few blocks from her home always beat the Mobil and the Shell on opposite corners by several pennies so she filled up, saving nearly ninety-seven cents. Now she wondered if her frugality was a mistake. Would cheap gas cause all this clanking? She wasn’t looking forward to explain- ing to her husband why she entrusted his “precious pony” to off- brand fuel.

She rounded the bend of this two-lane road, and a fire team of coyotes greeted her. The animals stopped in the middle of the road, four pairs of eyes glowing in her headlights, and they stared as if telling the Mustang it had no right to be trespassing. When the engine sputtered, the animals raced into the roadside under- brush, giving way to the machine belching its dinner.

Lydia drove another mile, and the car continued to cough, more frequently as the trip progressed. Her efforts at variously giving it more gas and taking her foot off the pedal were ineffective. Eventually it died. She struggled to steer the vehicle to the side of the road, resting it just off the pavement. Frustration began to build.

Fishing through her purse, she found her cell phone lodged at the bottom hidden beneath her wallet, checkbook, and an assortment of cosmetics. She opened the door to activate the dome light, and the alarm signaled the keys were still in the ignition. The annoying sound only added to her frustration. She looked down at the phone pad and, using the speed dial feature, called home, hoping her husband could provide answers and a rescue. Closing the car door to silence the alarm, she waited for the sound of the familiar ring of her home phone. Nothing. She opened the door, the alarm sounded, and she tried again, speed dialing her home number. Her efforts were futile as she realized she was out of her cell phone provider’s service area.

“Great!” she muttered, “Now what?”

She knew absolutely nothing about cars, so even raising the hood to examine the engine was a useless gesture. She tried the cell phone one more time but to no avail. The heavy fog was a mist-like rain, and the windows were quickly covered in moisture, obscuring her visibility even more.

Fear began to envelope her. She was unfamiliar with this section of town and had little idea of where to seek help. Was it safe to start walking in either direction? Maybe a cop would stop to help a stranded motorist, but this seldom-traveled section of the road offered little hope. She couldn’t wait here all night. She knew somewhere on this road there were homes, but she could see no lights behind gated entrances. Her friend’s home was several miles back. She hated the thought of walking that far in the dampness and the dark. Was it even safe to leave Flip’s car? Maybe if she walked a little way in either direction she could at least get cell- phone coverage.

Just as she was about to exit the car, she saw the reflection of headlights in her rearview mirror. A chill ran down her spine. This seemed like a scene from a cheap Hollywood horror movie—a dark, lonely road, and a stranded female who became tomorrow’s headline. Always the drama queen, as her husband liked to point out, she tried to squelch her fear.

She took a deep breath and watched the vehicle approach. Her heart began to pound; her palms began to sweat. Should she flag down the motorist? Before she could even decide, the car passed. At first it was a feeling of relief, then confusion, and finally irritation. She was safe but still stranded. As she began to capture a second thought, the car stopped and made a u-turn in the road. She watched the car slowly return. Her heart was almost pounding through her chest, and her hands were shaking.

The vehicle pulled alongside the Mustang. The driver’s side win- dow of the dark blue Chrysler 300 retreated into the door frame, and a warm, black face appeared.

Lydia relaxed and breathed a sigh of relief. The driver was Benjamin Hobbs, a minister from a church in Baldwin Hills, who also worked at the food bank and was at tonight’s meeting.

“Need some help?”

“Oh, thank God, it’s you. My car stalled, and I can’t get cell- phone coverage. I wasn’t sure what to do.”

“Let me pull over, and let’s see if I can get it started,” said Ben.

Lydia exited the Mustang as Ben pulled his car to the side of the road, parking near a large tree whose low-hanging branches almost concealed the Chrysler.

A tall, lean man with dark chocolate skin, Ben Hobbs played basketball in college in the mid-eighties. Still athletic, he bounded across the street to Lydia’s car.

“Glad I turned around. I couldn’t see inside the car but wanted to make sure no one was stranded. Course, wanted to be careful, thought I might find a couple attempting to violate the Seventh Commandment.”

Lydia smiled as the mist fell gently on her shoulder-length hair. “I’m glad you took a chance. I think I got some bad gas this evening. My husband insists on brand names, but in the interest of good stewardship, I went cheap, and it may have cost me.”

Ben laughed. “Maybe I can help. I know God wants to reward the wise steward.”

Just as Lydia was about to hand him the keys to the Mustang, she spied a dark Dodge Ram Mega-Cab stop short a hundred yards from her location. She knew it was a Dodge because a similar model sat in her driveway at home. It was her husband’s surveillance vehicle.

Three men exited the truck, grabbed a large limp object from the bed of the pickup, and heaved it over the side of the road. The men quickly returned to the truck and sped off, now heading toward Lydia and Ben, almost clipping them as they stood by the side of the road.

“Crazy kids,” barked Ben.

Before Lydia could respond, the truck skidded to a stop. The driver threw the vehicle into reverse and raced back toward Lydia’s car, tires spinning on the wet, slick pavement, water spitting in all directions. Three men jumped from the truck.

The driver was short and powerful. His head was shaved, and Lydia could see a tattoo on the left side of his neck. The other two were much taller, one muscular but both menacing, wearing dark knit caps, which they immediately pulled down over their faces as they exited the muddied pickup. Both arms of the largest of the three were covered in tattoos. The other wore a long-sleeve black Harley-Davidson shirt which would have concealed any markings.

Initially paralyzed with fear, Lydia stood by as the men moved with ferocious speed toward Benjamin Hobbs. She then screamed as the three men attacked and began to pummel Ben with their fists and feet. She watched as the minister attempted to fend them off, but following a blow to the windpipe, he quickly collapsed. The kicks were made with blinding speed; steel-toed Doc Marten boots their weapons of choice.

Ben curled his body into a fetal position, unable to protest, craving a breath, and attempting to ward off the blows.

Lydia’s pleas for the men to stop fell on deaf ears; they evidenced no intention of stopping. She tried to intervene, grabbing the driver by the arm, but he used his free arm landing a devastating punch to her face, shattering her nose.

The men were too quick, too powerful, too many. When the driver’s left foot landed a well-placed strike to the head, Ben’s body went limp.

The brutal, random, and spontaneous assault took less than a minute. The largest of the three men grabbed a silenced 9 mm from his waistband and pumped two shots into the minister’s dead body. He then walked over to Lydia and fired two more rounds.

Print book:
Barnes and Noble



Popular Posts

Lady Wynwood's Spies 4 vignette - Lady Stoude

This is a really random scene I wrote that occurs in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer right after chapter 23, after Keriah returns home and before Phoebe comes to pick her up later that night. The team has finished making all preparations for the trade for Michael at Vauxhall Gardens. *** “Oh! I have no wish to go to the ball tonight!” Lady Stoude stood in the open doorway to the drawing room of her husband’s townhouse, hands on hips, with a disgruntled expression that looked faintly like a drowned cat. Her husband, Jeremy, Lord Stoude, glanced up at her from where he was leaning against the mantle of the fireplace, drinking something amber-colored and peaty-smelling. He merely gave her a mild, inquiring look. “Why not, my dear?” “I have just heard from my maid, who heard from Mrs. Butterworth’s maid, who heard from Miss Farrimond’s maid, that Miss Farrimond will not attend the ball tonight, because an unfortunate accident with hair dye caused her to now sport a gia

What are you crafting today?

I always have multiple knitting projects, and over Christmas I started a new one. I’m working on developing a pattern for the arm-warmers (called muffatees or manchettes in Regency and Victorian England) that are mentioned a few times in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer and Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 5: Prisoner . My character, Phoebe, has a rather deadly pointy thing hidden in hers. :) The pattern is based off of antique knitting books which are scanned by (You can download .pdfs of the books, which I think is really rather cool.) The book the pattern is from was published after the Regency era, but I’m reasonably sure the pattern was in use in the Regency, just passed down by word of mouth. Are you crafting anything today?

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year! This year is the Year of the Rabbit. The Chinese zodiac is split into 12 animals, and their years are 12 years apart. My mom was born in the Year of the Rabbit, so you could calculate her age if you wanted to. :) My humorous Christian romantic suspense serial novel, Year of the Dog , is a reference to the Chinese zodiac because the heroine is a dog trainer. It’s a prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series, which is set in my birth state of Hawaii. Here’s the book description: Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irat

Talk of the Town by Joan Smith

Talk of the Town by Joan Smith Daphne Ingleside’s visit to her Aunt Effie in London was meant to add a little spark to her placid country life. And it did—once the two women decided to write Effie’s memoirs. For Effie, a faded divorcée, had been the beauty of London in her day, and many of the ton feared their misbehavior would be disclosed. The Duke of St. Felix, misinterpreting their project as a means of blackmailing his family, antagonized the sharp-witted, beautiful Daphne to his peril. Regency Romance by Joan Smith; originally published by Fawcett *** I first read this Regency romance years ago in mass market paperback and remember liking it. But when I saw that the author released it on ebook, I found that I didn’t remember the story at all, so I decided to re-read it. It was just as enjoyable the second time around. This story is full of witty banter and is a light, cute comedy of manners. I like how forthright the heroine is, although her tongue is at times a trifle


「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** 28 「ねえビーナス、お願い」装具をもっとしっかり脚に巻きつけようともがきながら、レックスは肩で携帯を持とうとした。 「ごめん、すごく仕事が忙しいの。トリッシュに行ってもらうように電話したから」 「トリッシュ? いつから彼女が私のお気に入りになったの?」立ち上がり、段ボール箱の間を通って、トイレにたどり着いた。 「ジェン、今週末は出かけてるの——ほんと、都合がいいわよね。だから、トリッシュかマリコのどっちかなのよ」 (うわっ)「分かった。何時に来てくれるの?」 「あの子

Camille Elliot's January newsletter

My Camille Elliot (Christian Regency Romantic Suspense) newsletter went out last week, but in case you missed it, the link is below. In my newsletter this month, I posted a link to a special extra scene from Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer , information about an experiment with my current Facebook group, and the date for an upcoming sale on Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 2: Berserker . I also mentioned a sweet Traditional Regency Romance that I’m reading. Click here to read my Camille Elliot newsletter for January.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Did you do anything special to honor today?

Year of the Dog serial novel

About Year of the Dog : A month or two ago, I remembered an old manuscript I had completed but which hadn’t sold. It was a contemporary romance meant for Zondervan, titled Year of the Dog . The book had gone into the pipeline and I even got another title ( Bad Dog ) and a cover for it, but eventually my editor at the time decided she didn’t want to publish it, for various reasons. She instead requested a romantic suspense, and so I cannibalized some of the characters from Year of the Dog and thrust them into the next book I wrote, which was Protection for Hire . Honestly, I didn’t take a lot from Year of the Dog to put in Protection for Hire , aside from character names and a few relationship ties. I was originally thinking I’d post Year of the Dog as-is on my blog as a free read, but then it occurred to me that I could revamp it into a romantic suspense and change the setting to Hawaii. It would work out perfectly as (yet another) prequel to the Warubozu series and introduce

Merry Christmas! Enjoy The Spinster's Christmas

As a Merry Christmas gift to all my blog readers, I’m going to be posting my Christian Regency romantic suspense, The Spinster’s Christmas , for free on my blog! I’ll be posting the book in 1000-1500 word segments every Tuesday and Friday. (When I do the calculations, it’ll finish around the end of May.) Why am I posting a Christmas story when it won’t be Christmas in a week? Because I can! :) The Spinster’s Christmas is the prequel volume to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series . Right now I’m editing volume 1 of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, and it’s on track to release in 2020. (If you’re on my Camille Elliot newsletter , you’ll be sure to hear when it’s available for preorder.) I anticipate that the Lady Wynwood’s Spies series to be about ten volumes. I think the series story will be a lot of fun to tell, and I’m looking forward to writing up a storm! Below, I’ll be listing the links to the parts of The Spinster’s Christmas as I post them. (I created the html links by hand so please l