I originally posted an invitation to read my first fiction book "The Woman Below" in The Library forum, but was advised that I should post an excerpt here first. I admit I don't see the purpose, I would like comments on the whole book not the excerpt, but here it is nevertheless,
The Woman Below
This book is finished and available for download in three ebook formats.
I hope this short, randomly selected passage will pique your interest. Please comment as you wish. What I would like are general comments on the complete book. The second book in the series is in preparation, and I would welcome suggestions for improvement.
Miss Whyte, an old and skilled spy, has recruited a young agent, Peter Greene, to break into offices in the Department of Defence to gather evidence of an information leak that may lead to an employee spying for a foreign power. This is the first page and a half of Chapter 5
where he prepares to steal personal information from the first of several computer systems.
Excerpt about 800 words.
The week of interrogation after his luncheon with Miss Whyte, and the ease with which she had arranged his training, made Peter singularly aware of Miss Whyte’s influence and authority. He made casual, discreet inquiries among his few acquaintances in the Division, and casually mentioned her name to a couple of course instructors with no hint of recognition. Peter came to the conclusion an unknown inner circle existed in the Intelligence Division, and Miss Whyte was a charter member. After five years on the job, he realized if he became too curious, he would regret it. He resolved to follow instructions, do the best job he could, and stay out of trouble.
Following the rules meant he reported to the Administrative branch, indicated he was on assignment, and requested documentation to enter Ministry of Defence buildings. Next, he visited the Research and Development Branch, commonly known as “Gadgets,” explained the basics of his undertaking, and was given a black box instead of the personal system he expected. They explained it would operate for at least thirty hours, and the provided connecting cable and universal adapter, would fit most target systems. It sounded overly simplistic. The single button on the box controlled the process and siphoned out user files. The box would even search unused space not identified in the Global Directory in case something was hidden away. An indicator on the box would show white while operating, green when the operation finished, and red if no data transfer was taking place. The whole process should finish in minutes and leave no trace.
Believing what he was told, Peter called in at Operational Stores on his way out of the building and signed out a briefcase, a set of common burglar tools, an automated lock pick, and a few other items he thought handy. Packing everything into the briefcase, he sat down in the lobby and studied the list of Defence personnel Miss Whyte had given him.
The fourteen people on the list were located in six different military buildings, in four different areas. Their homes and apartments were scattered throughout the city. All except two were married. Three had dogs, and six had children. Peter hoped they were all lazy and left their portable systems at work, otherwise the job faced complications.
Peter knew Miss Whyte was not coy when she warned him about capture. With false identification in his pocket he was more than a common thief. If there was publicity, the Intelligence Division could disown him. One Ministry spying on another was too much of an embarrassment for the Government to wear, or the Press to dismiss. With no criminal record and a history of foreign travel, portraying him as a foreign spy was easy, and handing him over to a foreign country in exchange for some consideration was possible. Even conviction as a thief meant several years in jail. Arrest was not an option.
His preparations had taken a couple of hours, and it was approaching noon. As the closest Department of Defence building was a short distance away, he gathered up the briefcase and strolled toward it. His arrival should match lunch hour. He could locate the offices of the names on the list, and if he was lucky, find some systems unattended while their owners filled their bellies.
With an unrestricted pass, the one difficulty he had entering the building was making progress against the stream of hungry workers leaving for lunch. The elevator going up was empty and stepping off, he found the floor vacant. The office on his list was behind a barricade of missing secretaries and assistants, and when Peter gently pushed the door open an inch, the occupant was hard at work on the very system he sought. Two anomalies, Peter thought, a hard working civil servant working over the lunch hour. It was very suspicious. He backed away without disturbing him. Taking the stairs up two floors, he continued to the office of the next name.
There he found the system he was searching for on a desk, with no one around. A short moment was all he needed to open the briefcase, connect the cable, and push the button. Everything worked as intended and he was on his way in five minutes.
Offices three and four in the building presented some difficulty. He couldn’t find office three, and by the time he was approaching office four, workers were arriving back at their desks. He located office four, but could not enter it unnoticed. He took the opportunity to ask a secretary the location of office three, and received precise directions which he checked on his way out.
During the afternoon he made it to Building Two and Three, found the offices he was seeking, and had a peek at the occupants. He had no opportunity to dump their data because while a few people were working, the rest, career civil servants, were standing around talking. He would come back that night to do the dirty work.