The National Rare Blood Association is suspected of laundering money to terrorist groups. When Private Investigator Mark Matthews and FBI Agent Susan Harrington collect evidence against the NRBA, they become willing combatants in the “War on Terror."
John Portman, Director of Security for the NRBA is equally intent on avoiding detection. When he traces Mark’s and Susan’s probe into the NRBA’s computer, Agent Harrington soon finds herself the victim of a savage abduction. Mark is called in for his highly developed techniques for locating missing persons in the hopes of finding her.
Recovery of Susan only fuels the romance building between the two law enforcers. However, unknown to both, Portman’s assistant Mel Tarkington is hell bent on revenge against the pair, waiting for the right opportunity to penetrate the shield of protection the FBI erects around them.
Mark Matthews, a Private Investigator operating out of Centerville, Ohio, came into the world at three p.m. on October 6, 1972. He was born in Kettering, Ohio, the son of academics. His father was a Professor of Romance Languages at the University of Dayton. His mother was a private school teacher for over forty years. She died from ovarian cancer about six years ago. Mark’s dad died last year from a massive coronary thrombosis.
Mark was in business as a Private Investigator for around five years. All of his training came compliments of Uncle Sam. He was recruited during his last year at Indiana State University at Terre Haute, where he earned a Masters degree in Criminology. He was told that the Department of Defense needed his talent. That certainly beat military service. Of course, the recommendation of Professor Martin Gross, with his contacts in the Clinton White House, didn’t hurt a bit. So off he went to the Pentagon to work on top secret projects involving missing persons. There were four others on the team, two women and two men, all recruited from the graduate programs of their schools. The team was led by Chris Carter, a no-nonsense Air Force Colonel assigned to the Pentagon to manage this wide range of specialists. The code name (every project had to have one) for this group was “Hide & Seek.” The assignments certainly lived up to the name.
Mostly, Mark searched the globe for AWOL soldiers, terrorists, missing business executives and every manner of missing men, women and children assigned to him. His winning percentage was in the eighties, which was extraordinarily high given the cold trails that he usually had to follow. Mark had at his disposal the most up-to-date software and experimental code, supplied by large information services companies looking for government contracts. Most of the software was state-of-the-art.
Unfortunately, all good things eventually come to an end, and as the Clinton years ended the covert activities of the team were turned over to the Bush administration and the new broom swept things clean. They all went off in different directions. Mark returned home to Centerville, Ohio and moved back in with his father. He had a career decision to make.
During the first two months, he had a few interviews with corporations in Dayton and Cincinnati. There was very much interest in his academic and government credentials. Several of the offers were generous, but Mark just couldn’t get excited about corporate life. Some of the perks were very tempting, but what he wanted was work similar to what he had been doing for the government. He had gotten used to the freedom and flexibility.
Government pay had been good, and with the money Mark had saved came options. The skills developed over the past four years qualified him for doing private investigations. Mark was certain that he could make a decent living at it. Once again, Mark visited his friend and mentor Professor Gross for some career guidance. Before leaving Indiana he had not only made the decision, but had all the right doors opened to facilitate getting a PI license. Within three months, Mark’s office was set up and he started making contacts. He never regretted making that decision. He was one of those lucky people who was able to do work they enjoyed.
Mark’s social life was limited since his return to Centerville. Building a business didn’t leave much time for meeting women. In this line of work one meets mostly people with problems. He did, however, meet someone two years ago at a private gathering in Columbus. Her name was Cynthia Turnquist. Her father was an Ohio State Senator. The social life that was inexorably a part of the political scene was both time-consuming and tiresome. Most activities took place in and around Columbus, which is a good two hours from Centerville. In spite of his reservations, they became engaged after several months. Then all hell broke loose. Cynthia wanted Mark to give up his business and run for political office. Anyone who knew Mark knew that he had absolutely zero interest in politics. So, that wasn’t about to happen. This became a major bone of contention between them, and after three months they mutually decided to end the engagement. Her final words to Mark were, “I feel sorry for you, Mark. You have no idea what a great future you’re giving up.” She had that all wrong. He knew exactly what he was giving up, and was glad to do it.
Mark’s Private Investigation business grew rapidly. The tri-cities of Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus are home to many large corporations with large payrolls. Numerous sub-contractors for defense companies have plants and offices in this triangle. Thanks to his experience and exceptional references from friends at the Pentagon, he had no difficulty building a large clientele by performing security checks on prospective executives and office and plant personnel. His checks were more thorough that most. He had a reputation for researching beyond the obvious, often uncovering character flaws and, sometimes, criminal records that the candidate believed had been expunged. He dug as deeply as his skills permitted and submitted the results without any personal judgment on his part. The final decision had to be made by the client. Only once did he highlight questionable behavior of a candidate, needing to assure that that section of the report was not missed. The transgression was for several incidents of indecent exposure. The position to be filled was for a County School Board Administrator.