For my brother,


The police repeatedly tortured prisoners, State Department officials wrote, noting that the most common techniques were “beating, often with blunt weapons, and asphyxiation with a gas mask.” Separately, international human rights groups had reported that torture in Uzbek jails included boiling of body parts, using electroshock on genitals and plucking off fingernails and toenails with pliers. Two prisoners were boiled to death, the groups reported. The February 2001 State Department report stated bluntly, “Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with limited civil rights.”—From “U.S. Recruits a Rough Ally to Be Jailer,” by Hans Rudolf

Oeser, for the New York Times, May 1, 2005

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices; however, police and the NSS routinely tortured, beat, and otherwise mistreated detainees to obtain confessions or incriminating information. Police, prison officials, and the NSS allegedly used suffocation, electric shock, rape, and other sexual abuse. . . . In February 2003, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture issued a report that concluded that torture or similar ill-treatment was systematic.—From “Uzbekistan,” in Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,

published by the U.S. Department of State, February 25, 2005

The government claims its efforts serve as part of the global campaign against terrorism. Yet in the overwhelming majority of cases, those imprisoned have not been accused or convicted of terrorism or charged with any other violent act. Human Rights Watch has documented the torture of many of those detained in the context of this compaign, including several who that [sic] died as a result of torture . . . including beatings by fist and with truncheons or metal rods, rape and sexual violence, electric shock, use of lit cigarettes or newspapers to burn the detainee, and asphyxiation with plastic bags or gas masks. A doctor who examined the body of a detainee who died in custody in 2002 described burns consistent with immersion in boiling water.—From “Torture World Wide,” published by

Human Rights Watch, April 27, 2005


A thank-you is owed to the following for their assistance in bringing this work to life.

Ben Moeling, for giving freely of his time, insight, and experience. All things considered, the late hit really wasn’t that bad.

In London, gratitude to Andrew Wheeler, Alasdair Watson, and Ade Brown; in Barnoldswick, to Antony Johnston and Marcia Allas. Thanks to all for giving me the lay of the land, the turn of the phrase, and the occasional couch to sleep on.

At Oni Press, where Queen & Country continues to thrive, thanks to James Lucas Jones, Randal C. Jarrell, and Joe Nozemack, not solely for their wonderful friendship, but for their continued support as well.

As before, I am indebted to all of the gifted artists who have worked on Queen & Country thus far—Steve Rolston, Tim Sale, Brian Hurtt, Durwin Talon, Christine Norrie, Bryan O’Malley, Leandro Fernandez, Jason Alexander, Carla “Speed” McNeil, Mike Hawthorne, Mike Norton, Rick Burchett, and Chris Mitten.

Once again, to Gerard V. Hennely, who spends a lot of time thinking about the kind of things the rest of us don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about. As always, your help has been invaluable.

To David Hale Smith at DHS Literary, and Angela Cheng Kaplan at the Cheng-Kaplan Company, who continue to represent me with diligence, passion, and only the barest hints of annoyance. Additional gratitude to Maggie Griffen.

Thanks again to the real Tara F. Chace, who would always rather be carried; to Ian Mackintosh, for creating a world where a fictional Tara F. Chace could be carried; and to Lawrie Mackintosh, who is truly one of the most profoundly generous men it has ever been my pleasure to know.

Finally, to Elliot, Dashiell, and Jennifer, who make the hard things easy.

Preoperational Background

Chace, Tara F.

As far as Tara Chace was concerned, she died in Saudi Arabia, in Tabuk province, on the rock-hard earth of the Wadi-as-Sirhan.

She died when Tom Wallace died, when she heard the chain of gunshots from the Kalashnikov, saw the spastic strobe of the muzzle-flash from across the wadi, one man, unnamed and unknown, lighting the other with gunfire even as he killed him. There were nights when she still heard her own howl of anguish, and she knew the sound for what it was, the little life within her stealing away into the desert air.

Tom was dead, and as far as Tara Chace was concerned, she was, too.

She’d been wounded in the Wadi-as-Sirhan, had fought hand-to-hand with the man who had murdered Tom. He’d tried to split her skull with the butt of his rifle, and when that had failed, tried to choke her to death with his bare hands. Chace had used her knife, and opened his lungs to the outside air, and at the School they would have called that winning. She might have called it that, too, if she’d felt there was anything left to win.

She was still numb from it all when she came off the plane at Heathrow to discover her Director of Operations, Paul Crocker, waiting for her at the gate itself. It was unheard of for D-Ops to greet a returning agent, and the surprise managed to penetrate the fogginess she now traveled in, and she had cause to wonder at it, but not for long. With Crocker as her escort she avoided Customs, winding through endless switchback corridors and through baggage claim until emerging into the drizzle of an early autumn morning.

Crocker guided her to a waiting Bentley, climbed in beside her, and the driver pulled out as soon as the door closed, and that was when Chace finally understood what was happening, and where she was being taken. Her mission in Saudi Arabia had been entirely unsanctioned, and Chace had gone AWOL to do the job. Even if they did

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