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The Killing Hour

Chapter One

Quantico, Virginia

3:59 p.m.

Temperature: 95 degrees

"God, it's hot. Cacti couldn't take this kind of heat. Desert rock
couldn't take this kind of heat. I'm telling you, this is what
happened right before dinosaurs disappeared from the Earth."

No response.

"You really think orange is my color?" the driver tried

"Really is a strong word."

"Well, not everyone can make a statement in purple plaid."


"Man-oh-man, is this heat killing me!" The driver, New Agent Alissa
Sampson, had had enough. She tugged futilely on her 1970s polyester
suit, smacked the steering wheel with the palm of her hand, then
blew out an exasperated breath. It was ninety-five outside,
probably one hundred and ten inside the Bucar. Not great weather
for polyester suits. For that matter, it didn't work wonders for
bulletproof vests. Alissa's suit bled bright orange stains under
her arms. New Agent Kimberly Quincy's own mothball-scented
pink-and-purple plaid suit didn't look much better.

Outside the car, the street was quiet. Nothing happening at
Billiards; nothing happening at City Pawn; nothing happening at the
Pastime Bar-Deli. Minute ticked into minute. Seconds came and went,
as slowly as the bead of sweat trickling down Kimberly's cheek.
Above her head, still fastened to the roof but ready to go at any
minute, was her M-16.

"Here's something they never tell you about the disco age," Alissa
muttered beside her. "Polyester doesn't breathe. God, is this thing
going to happen or what?"

Alissa was definitely nervous. A forensic accountant before joining
the Bureau, she was highly valued for her deep-seated love of all
things spreadsheet. Give Alissa a computer and she was in hog
heaven. This, however, wasn't a back-room gig. This was front-line

In theory, at any time now, a black vehicle bearing a
two-hundred-and-ten-pound heavily armed suspected arms dealer was
going to appear. He might or might not be alone in the car.
Kimberly, Alissa, and three other agents had orders to halt the
vehicle and arrest everyone in sight.

Phil Lehane, a former New York cop and the one with the most street
experience, was leading the operation. Tom Squire and Peter Vince
were in the first of the two backup vehicles. Alissa and Kimberly
were in the second backup. Kimberly and Tom, being above-average
marksmen, had cover duty with the rifles. Alissa and Peter were in
charge of tactical driving, plus had handguns for cover.

In consummate FBI style, they not only planned and dressed for this
arrest, but they had practiced it in advance. During the initial
run-through, however, Alissa had tripped when getting out of the
car and had landed on her face. Her upper lip was still swollen and
there were flecks of blood on the right-hand corner of her

Her wounds were superficial. Her anxiety, however, now went bone

"This is taking too long," she was muttering now. "I thought he was
supposed to appear at the bank at four. It's four-ten. I don't
think he's coming."

"People run late."

"They do this just to mess with our minds. Aren't you

Kimberly finally looked at her partner. When Alissa was nervous,
she babbled. When Kimberly was nervous, she grew clipped and curt.
These days, she was clipped and curt most of the time. "The guy
will show up when the guy shows up. Now chill out!"

Alissa thinned her lips. For a second, something flared in her
bright blue eyes. Anger. Hurt. Embarrassment. It was hard to be
sure. Kimberly was another woman in the male-run world of the
Bureau, so criticism coming from her was akin to blasphemy. They
were supposed to stick together. Girl power, the Ya Ya Sisterhood,
and all that crap.

Kimberly went back to gazing at the street. Now she was angry, too.
Damn. Double-damn. Shit.

The radio on the dash suddenly crackled to life. Alissa swooped up
the receiver without bothering to hide her relief.

Phil Lehane's voice was hushed but steady: "This is Vehicle A.
Target now in sight, climbing into his vehicle. Ready, Vehicle


"Ready, Vehicle C?"

Alissa clicked the receiver. "Ready, willing, and able."

"We go on three. One, two, THREE."

The first siren exploded across the hot, sweltering street, and
even though Kimberly had been expecting the noise, she still
flinched in her seat.

"Easy," Alissa said dryly, then fired the Bucar to life. A blast of
hot air promptly burst from the vents into their faces, but now
both were too grim to notice. Kimberly reached for her rifle.
Alissa's foot hovered above the gas.

The sirens screamed closer. Not yet, not yet . . .

"FBI, stop your vehicle!" Lehane's voice blared over a bullhorn two
blocks away as he drove the suspect closer to their side street.
Their target had a penchant for armor-plated Mercedes and grenade
launchers. In theory, they were going to arrest him while he was
out running errands, hopefully catching him off guard and
relatively unarmed. In theory.

"Stop your vehicle!" Lehane commanded again. Apparently, however,
the target didn't feel like playing nice today. Far from hearing
the screech of brakes, Alissa and Kimberly caught the sound of a
gunning engine. Alissa's foot lowered farther toward the gas.

"Passing the movie theater," New Agent Lehane barked over the
radio. "Suspect heading toward the pharmacy. Ready . . . Go."

Alissa slammed the gas and their dark blue Bucar shot forward into
the empty street. A sleek black blur appeared immediately to their
left. Alissa hit the brakes, swinging the back end of their car
around until they were pointed down the street at a
forty-five-degree angle. Simultaneously, another Bucar appeared on
their right, blocking that lane.

Kimberly now had a full view of a beautiful silver grille gunning
down on them with a proud Mercedes logo. She popped open the
passenger's door while simultaneously releasing her seat belt, then
hefted her rifle to her shoulder and aimed for the front

Her finger tightened on the trigger.

The suspect finally hit his brakes. A short screech. The smell of
burning rubber. Then the car stopped just fifteen feet away.

"FBI, hands on your head! HANDS ON YOUR HEAD!"

Lehane pulled in behind the Mercedes, shouting into the bullhorn
with commanding fury. He kicked open his door, fit his handgun into
the opening made between the window frame and the door and drew a
bead on the stopped car. No hands left for the bullhorn now. He let
his voice do the work for him.

"Driver, hands on your head! Driver, reach over with your left hand
and lower your windows!"

The black sedan didn't move. No doors opening, no black tinted
windows rolling down. Not a good sign. Kimberly adjusted her left
hand on the stock of the rifle and shrugged off the rest of her
seat belt. She kept her feet in the car, as feet could become
targets. She kept her head and shoulders inside the vehicle as
well. On a good day, all you wanted the felon to see was the long
black barrel of your gun. She didn't know if this was a good day

A fresh drop of sweat teared up on Kimberly's brow and made a slow,
wet path down the plane of her cheek.

"Driver, put your hands up," Lehane ordered again. "Driver, using
your left hand, lower all four windows."

The driver's side window finally glided down. From this angle,
Kimberly could just make out the silhouette of the driver's head as
fresh daylight surrounded him in a halo. It appeared that his hands
were held in the air as ordered. She eased her grip slightly on her

"Driver, using your left hand, remove the key from the

Lehane was making the guy use his left hand, simply to work the law
of averages. Most people were right-handed, so they wanted to keep
that arm in sight at all times. Next, the driver would be
instructed to drop the car key out the open window, then open the
car door, all with his left hand. Then he would be ordered to step
slowly out of the car, keeping both hands up at all times. He would
slowly pivot 360 degrees so they could visually inspect his form
for weapons. If he were wearing a jacket, he would be asked to hold
it open so they could see beneath his coat. Finally, he would be
ordered to walk toward them with his hands on his head, turn, drop
to his knees, cross his ankles and sit back on his heels. At that
time, they would finally move forward and take their suspect into

Unfortunately, the driver didn't seem to know the theories behind a
proper felony vehicle stop. He still didn't lower his hands, but
neither did he reach for the key in the ignition.

"Quincy?" Lehane's voice crackled over the radio.

"I can see the driver," Kimberly reported back, gazing through the
rifle sight. "I can't make out the passenger side, however. Tinted
windshield's too dark."


Tom Squire had cover duty from Vehicle B, parked twenty feet to the
right of Kimberly. "I think . . . I think there might be someone in
the back. Again, hard to tell with the windows."

"Driver, using your left hand, remove the key from the ignition."
Lehane repeated his command, his voice louder now, but still
controlled. The goal was to remain patient. Make the driver come to
you, do not relinquish control.

Was it Kimberly's imagination, or was the vehicle now slowly
rocking up and down? Someone was moving around . . .

"Driver, this is the FBI! Remove the key from the ignition!"

"Shit, shit, shit," Alissa murmured beside Kimberly. She was
sweating hard, streams of moisture pouring down her face. Leaning
half out of the car, she had her Glock .40 positioned in the crack
between the roof of their vehicle and the open door. Her right arm
was visibly shaking, however. For the first time, Kimberly noticed
that Alissa hadn't fully removed her seat belt. Half of it was
still tangled around her left arm.


The driver's left hand finally moved. Alissa exhaled forcefully.
And in the next instant, everything went to shit.

Kimberly saw it first. "Gun! Backseat, driver side--"

Pop, pop, pop! Red mushroomed across their front windshield.
Kimberly ducked and dove out of the vehicle for the shelter of her
car door. She came up fast and spread cover fire above the top of
her window. More pop, pop, pop.

"Reloading rifle," she yelled into the radio.

"Vince reloading handgun."

"Taking heavy fire from the right, backseat passenger

"Alissa!" Kimberly called out. "Cover us!"

Kimberly turned toward her partner, frantically cramming fresh
rounds into the magazine, then realized for the first time that
Alissa was no longer to be seen.


She stretched across the front seats. New Agent Alissa Sampson was
now on the asphalt, a dark red stain spreading across her cheap
orange suit.

"Agent down, agent down," Kimberly cried. Another pop, and the
asphalt exploded two inches from Alissa's leg.

"Damn," Alissa moaned. "Oh damn, that hurts!"

"Where are those rifles?" Lehane yelled.

Kimberly shot back up, saw the doors of the Mercedes were now swung
open for cover and bright vivid colors were literally exploding in
all directions. Oh, things had gone definitely FUBAR now.

"Rifles!" Lehane yelled again.

Kimberly hastily scrambled back to her side, and got her rifle
between the crack of the car door. She was frantically trying to
recall protocol. Apprehension was still the goal. But they were
under heavy fire, possible loss of agent life. Fuck it. She started
firing at anything that moved near the Mercedes.

Another pop, her car door exploded purple and she reflexively
yelped and ducked. Another pop and the pavement mushroomed yellow
one inch from her exposed feet. Shit!

Kimberly darted up, opened fire, then dropped back behind the

"Quincy, rifle reloading," she yelled into the radio, her hands
shaking so badly now with adrenaline that she fumbled the release
and had to do it twice. Come on, Kimberly. Breathe!

They needed to regain control of the situation. She couldn't get
the damn rounds into the magazine. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Hold
it together. A movement caught the corner of her eye. The car. The
black sedan, doors still open, was now rolling forward.

She grabbed her radio, dropped it, grabbed it again, and yelled,
"Get the wheels, get the wheels."

Squire and Lehane either heard her or got it on their own, because
the next round of gunfire splattered the pavement and the sedan
came to an awkward halt just one foot from Kimberly's car. She
looked up. Caught the startled gaze of the man in the driver's
seat. He bolted from the vehicle. She leapt out from behind her car
door after him.

And a moment later, pain, brilliant and hot pink, exploded across
her lower spine.

New Agent Kimberly Quincy went down. She did not get up

"Well, that was an exercise in stupidity," FBI supervisor Mark
Watson exclaimed fifteen minutes later. The vehicle-stop drill was
over. The five new agents had returned, paint-splattered,
overheated, and technically half-dead to the gathering site on
Hogan's Alley. They now had the honor of being thoroughly dressed
down in front of their thirty-eight fellow classmates. "First
mistake, anyone?"

"Alissa didn't get her seat belt off."

"Yeah. She unfastened the clasp, but didn't pull it back. Then when
it came time for action . . ."

Alissa hung her head. "I got a little tangled, went to undo

"Popped up and got shot in the shoulder. That's why we practice.
Problem number two?"

"Kimberly didn't back up her partner."

Watson's eyes lit up. A former Denver cop before joining the Bureau
ten years ago, this was one of his favorite topics. "Yes, Kimberly
and her partner. Let's discuss that. Kimberly, why didn't you
notice that Alissa hadn't undone her seat belt?"

"I did!" Kimberly protested. "But then the car, and the guns . . .
It all happened so fast."

"Yes, it all happened so fast. Epitaph of the dead and untrained.
Look--being aware of the suspect is good. Being conscious of your
role is good. But you also have to be aware of what's right beside
you. Your partner overlooked something. That's her mistake. But you
didn't catch it for her, and that was your mistake. Then she got
hit, now you're down a man, and that mistake is getting bigger all
the time. Plus, what were you doing just leaving her there on the

"Lehane was yelling for rifle support--"

"You left a fellow agent exposed! If she wasn't already dead, she
certainly was after that! You couldn't drag her back into the

Kimberly opened her mouth. Shut her mouth. Wished bitterly,
selfishly, that Alissa could've taken care of herself for a change,
then gave up the argument once and for all.

"Third mistake," Watson demanded crisply.

"They never controlled the car," another classmate offered

"Exactly. You stopped the suspect's car, but never controlled it."
His gaze went to Lehane. "When things first went wrong, what should
you have done?"

Lehane visibly squirmed. He fingered the collar of his brown
leisure suit, cut two sizes too big and now bearing hot pink and
mustard yellow paint on the left shoulder. The paint guns used by
the actors in the drills--aka the bad guys--stained everything in
sight, hence their Salvation Army wardrobe. The exploding shells
also hurt like the dickens, which was why Lehane was holding his
left arm protectively against his ribs. For the record, the FBI
Academy trainees weren't allowed paint guns but used their real
weapons loaded with blanks. The official explanation was that their
instructors wanted the trainees to get a feel for their firearms.
Likewise, they all wore vests to get used to the weight of body
armor. That all sounded well and good, but why not have the actors
shoot blanks as well?

The students had their theories. The brightly exploding paint
shells made getting hit all the more embarrassing. And the pain
wasn't something you forgot about anytime soon. As Steven, the
class psychologist, dryly pointed out, the Hogan Alley live-action
drills were basically classic shock therapy on a whole new

"Shot out the tires," Lehane said now.

"Yes, at least Kimberly eventually thought of that. Which brings us
to, the Deadly Deed of the Day."

Watson's gaze swung to Kimberly. She met his look, knew what it
meant, and stuck her chin up.

"She abandoned the cover of her vehicle," the first person

"Put down her weapon."

"Went after one suspect before she finished securing the

"Stopped providing cover fire-" "Got killed-"

"Maybe she missed her partner."

Laughter. Kimberly shot the commentator a thanks-for-nothing glare.
Whistler, a big burly former Marine-who sounded like he was
whistling every time he breathed-smiled back. He'd won Deadly Deed
of the Day yesterday when, during a bank robbery of the Bank of
Hogan, he went to shoot a robber and hit the teller instead.

"I got a little lost in the moment," Kimberly said curtly.

"You got killed," Watson corrected flatly.

"Merely paralyzed!"

That earned her another droll look. "Secure the vehicle first.
Control the situation. Then give pursuit."

"He'd be gone-"

"But you would have the car, which is evidence, you'd have his
cohorts to flip on him, and best of all, you'd still be alive. A
bird in the hand, Kimberly. A bird in the hand." Watson gave her
one last stern look, then opened up his lecture to the rest of the
class. "Remember, people, in the heat of the moment, you have to
stay in control. That means falling back on your training and the
endless drills we're making you do here. Hogan's Alley is about
learning good judgment. Taking the high-risk shot in the middle of
a bank holdup is not good judgment." Whistler got a look. "And
leaving the cover of your vehicle, and your fellow agents, to
pursue one suspect on foot, is not good judgment." A fresh glance
at Kimberly. Like she needed it.

"Remember your training. Be smart. Stay controlled. That will keep
you alive." He glanced at his watch and clapped his hands. "All
right, people, five o'clock, that's a wrap. For God's sake, go wash
all rlat paint off. And remember, folks-as long as it remains this
hot, drink plenty of water."


Quantico, Virginia

5:22 P.M.

Temperature: 94 degrees

Twenty minutes later, Kimberly stood blessedly alone in her small
Washington Hall dorm room. Given this afternoon's debacle, she'd
thought she'd have a good cry. She now discovered that as of week
nine of the Academy's sixteen-week program, she was officially too
tired for tears.

Instead, she stood naked in the middle of the tiny dorm room. She
was staring at her reflection in a full-length mirror, not quite
believing what she saw.

The sound of running water came from her right; her roommate, Lucy,
fresh off the PT course, was showering in the bathroom they shared
with two other classmates. Behind her, came the sounds of gunfire
and the occasional exploding artillery. The FBI Academy and
National Academy classes were done for the day, but Quantico
remained a busy place. The Marines conducted basic training just
down the road. The DEA ran various exercises. At any given time, on
the sprawling 385-acre grounds, someone was probably shooting

When Kimberly had first arrived here back in May, first stepped off
the Dafre shuttle bus, she'd inhaled the scent of cordite mixed
with fresh-cut lawn and thought she'd never smelled anything quite
so nice. The Academy seemed beautiful to her. And surprisingly
inconspicuous. The sprawling collection of thirteen oversized beige
brick buildings looked like any kind of 1970s institution. A
community college maybe. Or government offices. The buildings were

Inside wasn't much different. A serviceable, blue-gray carpet ran
as far as the eye could see. Walls were painted bone-white.
Furniture was sparse and functional-low-slung orange chairs, short,
easily assembled oak tables and desks. The Academy had officially
opened its doors in 1972, and the joke was the decorating hadn't
changed much since.

The complex, however, was surprisingly inviting. The Jefferson
Dormitory, where visitors checked in, boasted beautiful wood trim
as well as a glass-enclosed atrium, perfect for indoor barbecues.
Over a dozen long, smoked-glass corridors connected each building
and made it seem as if you were walking through the lush, green
grounds, instead of remaining indoors. Courtyards popped up
everywhere, complete with flowering trees, wrought-iron benches,
and flagstone patios. On sunny days, trainees could race
woodchucks, rabbits, and squirrels to class as the animals bounded
across the rolling lawns. At dusk, the glowing amber eyes of deer,
foxes, and raccoons appeared in the fringes of the forest, peering
at the buildings with the same intensity the students used to stare
back. One day, around week three, as Kimberly was strolling down a
glass-enclosed corridor, she turned her head to admire a white
flowering dogwood, and a thick black snake suddenly appeared among
the branches and dropped to the patio below.

In the good news department, she hadn't screamed. One of her
classmates, a former Navy man, however, had. Just startled, he told
them all sheepishly. Honestly, just startled.

Of course, they had all screamed a time or two since. The
instructors would've been disappointed otherwise.

Kimberly returned her attention to the full-length mirror, and the
mess that was her body now reflected there. Her right shoulder was
dark purple. Her left thigh yellow and green. Her rib cage was
bruised, both shins were black and blue, and the right side of her
face-from yesterday shotgun training-looked like someone had gone
after her with a meat mallet. She turned around and gazed at the
fresh bruise already forming on her lower back. It would go nicely
with the giant red mat burn running up the back of her right

Nine weeks ago, her five-six frame had been one hundred and fifteen
pounds of muscle and sinew. As life-long workout junkie, she'd been
fit, trim, and ready to breeze through physical training. Armed
with a master's degree in criminology, shooting since she was
twelve, and hanging out with FBI agents-basically her father-all of
her life, she'd strode through the Academy's broad glass doors like
she owned the joint. Kimberly Quincy has arrived and she's still
pissed off about September 11. So all you bad people out there,
drop your weapons and cower.

That had been nine weeks ago. Now, on the other hand...

She'd definitely lost badly needed weight. Her eyes held dark
shadows, her cheeks were hollowed out, her limbs looked too thin to
bear her own weight. Her shoulders were slightly hunched, the
posture of a woman who's been beat one too many times. And her
fingernails were torn and ragged where she'd started biting

She looked like a washed-out version of her former self. Bruises on
the outside to match the bruises on the inside.

She couldn't stand the sight of her own body. She couldn't seem to
look away.

Inside the bathroom, the water shut off with a rusty clank. Lucy
would be out soon.

Kimberly raised her hand to the mirror. She traced the line of her
bruised shoulder, the glass cool and hard against her

And, unbidden, she remembered something she hadn't thought of for
six years now. Her mother, Elizabeth Quincy. Dark, softly curling
brown hair, fine patrician features, her favorite ivory silk
blouse. Her mother was smiling at her, looking troubled, looking
sad, looking torn.

"I just want you to be happy, Kimberly. Oh God, if only you
weren't so much like your father..."

Kimberly's fingers remained on the mirrored glass. She closed
her eyes, however, for there were some things that even after all
these years she still could not take.

Another sound from the bathroom; Lucy raking shut the curtain.
Kimberly opened her eyes. She moved hastily to the bed and grabbed
her clothes. Her hands were trembling. Her shoulder ached.

She pulled on dark blue cunning shorts and a light blue FBI

Six o'clock. Her classmates would be going to dinner. Kimberly went
to train.

Kimberly had arrived at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, the
third week of May as part of NAG 03-OS-meaning her class was the
fifth new agent class to start in the year 2003.

Like most of her classmates, Kimberly had dreamt about becoming an
FBI agent for most of her life. To say she was excited to be
accepted would be a little bit of an understatement. The Academy
accepted only six percent of applicants-a lower acceptance rate
than even Harvard's-so Kimberly had been more like giddy,
awestruck, thrilled, flabbergasted, nervous, fearful, and amazed
all in various turns. For twenty-four hours, she'd kept the news to
herself. Her own special secret, her own special day. After all the
years of educating and training and trying and wanting

She'd taken her acceptance letter, gone to Central Park, and just
sat there, watching a parade of New Yorkers walk by while wearing a
silly grin on her face.

Day two, she'd called her father. He'd said, "That's wonderful,
Kimberly," in that quiet, controlled voice of his and she'd
babbled, for no good reason, "I don't need anything. I'm all set to
go. Really, I'm fine."

He'd invited her to dinner with him and his partner, Rainie Conner.
Kimberly had declined. Instead, she'd sheared off her long, dirty
blond hair and clipped down her fingernails. Then she'd driven two
hours to Arlington National Cemetery, where she sat in silence amid
the sea white crosses.

Arlington always smelled like a fresh mowed lawn. Green, sunny an
bright. Not many people knew that, but Kimberly did.

Arriving at the Academy three weeks later was a lot like arriving
summer camp. All new agents were bundled into the Jefferson
Dormitory where supervisors rattled off names and crossed off
lists, while the new trainees clutched their travel bags and
pretended to be much cooler and calmer than they really felt.

Kimberly was summarily handed a bundle of thin white linens and
orange coverlet to serve as her bedding. She also received one
threadbare white towel and one equally threadbare washcloth. New
agent trainees made their own beds, she was informed, and when she
wanted fresh sheets, she was to pack up the old bunch and go to
linen exchange. She was then handed a student handbook detailing
all the various rules governing life at the Academy. The handbook
was twenty-four pages long.

Next stop the PX, where, for the bargain-basement price of $325,
Kimberly purchased her new agent uniform-tan cargo pants, tan belt,
and a navy blue polo shirt bearing the FBI Academy logo on the left
breast. Like the rest of her classmates, Kimberly purchased an
official FBI Academy lanyard, from which she hung her ID

ID badges were important at the Academy, she learned. For one
wearing ID at all times kept students from being summarily arrested
by Security and thrown out. For another thing, it entitled her to
free food in the cafeteria.

New agents must be in uniform Monday through Friday from eight A.M.
to four-thirty P.M., they learned. After four-thirty, however,
everyone, magically returned to being mere mortals and thus could
wear street, clothes-excluding sandals, shorts, halters, tube tops
or tank tops. This was after all, the Academy.

Handguns were not permitted on Academy grounds. Instead, Kimberly
checked her Glock .40 into the Weapons Management Facility vault.
In return, she received what the new agents fondly referred to as a
"Crayola Gun" or "Red Handleî a red plastic gun of
approximately the same weight and size as a Glock. New agents were
required to wear the Crayolas at all times, along with fake
handcuffs. In theory, this helped them grow accustomed to the
weight and feel of wearing a handgun.

Kimberly despised her Red Handle. It seemed childish and silly to
her. She wanted her Glock back. On the other hand, the various
accountants, lawyers, and psychologists in her class, who had zero
firearms experience, loved the things. They could knock them off
their belts, drop them in the halls, and sit on them without
shooting themselves or anyone else in the ass. One day, Gene Yvves
had been gesturing so wildly, he whacked his Crayota halfway across
the room, where it hit another new agent on the head. Definitely,
the first few weeks, it had been a good idea that not everyone in
the class was armed.

Kimberly still wanted her Glock back.

Once piled high with linens, uniforms, and toy handguns, the new
agent trainees returned to the dorms to meet their roommates.
Everyone started out in the Madison and Washington dormitories, two
people to a room and two rooms sharing a bath. The rooms were small
but functional-two single beds, two small oak desks, one big
bookshelf. Each bathroom, painted vivid blue for reasons known only
to the janitor, had a small sink and a shower. No tub. By week
four, when everyone's bruised and battered bodies were desperate
for a long, hot soak, several agents rented hotel rooms in
neighboring Stafford purely for the bathtubs. Seriously.

Kimberly's roommate, Lucy Dawbers, was a thirty-six-year-old former
trial lawyer who'd had her own two-thousand-dollar-a-month Boston
brownstone. She'd taken one look at their spartan quarters that
first day and groaned, "Oh my God, what have I done?"

Kimberly had the distinct impression that Lucy would kill for a
nice glass of Chardonnay at the end of the day. She also missed her
five-year-old-son horribly.

In the good news department-especially for new agents who didn't
share particularly well, say perhaps, Kimberly-somewhere around
week twelve, new agents became eligible for private rooms in "The
Hilton"--the Jefferson Dormitory. These rooms not only were
slightly bigger, but entitled you to your very own bathroom. Pure

Assuming you survived until week twelve.

Three of Kimberly's classmates already hadn't.

In theory, the FBI Academy had abandoned its earlier, boot camp
ways for a kindler, gentler program. Recognizing how expensive it
was to recruit good agents, the Bureau now treated the FBI Academy
as the final training stage for selected agents, rather than as a
last opportunity to winnow out the weak.

That was in theory. In reality, testing started week one. Can you
run two miles in less than sixteen minutes? Can you do fifty
pushups in one minute? Can you do sixty sit-ups? The shuttle run
must be completed in twenty-four seconds, the fifty-foot rope must
be climbed in forty-five seconds.

The new agent trainees ran, they trained, they suffered through
body fat testing and they prayed to fix their individual
weaknesses-whether that was the shuttle run or the rope climb or
the fifty pushups, in order to pass the three cycles of fitness

Then came the academics program-classes in white-collar crime,
profiling, civil rights, foreign counterintelligence, organized
crime and drug cases; lessons in interrogation, arrest tactics,
driving maneuvers, undercover work, and computers; lecture series
on criminology, legal rights, forensics science, ethics, and FBI
history. Some of it was interesting, some of it was excruciating,
and all of it was tested three times over the course of the sixteen
weeks. And no mundane high-school scale here-it took a score of 85
percent or higher to pass. Anything less, you failed. Fail once,
you had an opportunity for a make-up test. Fail twice, you were
"recycled"--dropped back to the next class.

Recycled. It sounded so innocuous. Like some PC sports program
there are no winners or losers here, you're just recycled.

Recycling mattered. New agents feared it, dreaded it, had
nightmares about it. It was the ominous word whispered in the
halls. It was the secret terror that kept them going up over the
towering Marine training wall, even now that it was week nine and
everyone was sleeping less and less while being pushed more and
more and the drills were harder and the expectations higher and
each day, every day, someone was going to get awarded the Deadly
Deed of the Day...

Besides the physical training and academics, new agents worked on
firearms. Kimberly had thought she'd have the advantage there.
She'd been taking lessons with a Glock .40 for the past ten years.
She was comfortable with guns and a damn good shot.

Except firearms training didn't involve lust standing and firing at
a paper target. They also practiced firing from the sitting
position-as if surprised at a desk. Then there were running drills,
belly crawling drills, night firing drills, and elaborate rituals
where they started out on their bellies, then got up and ran, then
dropped down, then ran more, then stood and fired. You fired
right-handed. You fired left-handed. You reloaded and reloaded and

And you didn't just use a handgun.

Kimberly got her first experience with an M-16 rifle. Then she
fired over a thousand rounds from a Remington Model 870 shotgun
with a recoil that nearly crushed her right cheek and shattered her
shoulder. Then she expelled over a hundred rounds from a Heckler
& Koch MRS/10 submachine gun, though that at least had been
kind of fun.

Now they had Hogan's Alley, where they practiced elaborate
scenarios and only the actors actually knew what was going to
happen next. Kimberly's traditional anxiety dreams-leaving the
house naked, suddenly being in a classroom taking a pop quiz-had
once been in black and white. Since Hogan's Alley, they had taken
on vivid, violent color. Hot pink classrooms, mustard yellow
streets. Pop quizzes splashed with purple and green paint. Herself,
running, running, running down tong endless tunnels of exploding
orange, pink, purple, blue, yellow, black, and green.

She awoke some nights biting back weary screams. Other nights, she
simply lay there and felt her right shoulder throb. Sometimes, she
could tell that Lucy was awake, too. They didn't talk those nights.
They just lay in the dark, and gave each other the space to

Then at six A.M. they both got up and went through it all over

Nine weeks down, seven to go. Show no weakness. Give no quarter.

Kimberly wanted so desperately to make it. She was strong Kimberly,
with cool blue eyes just like her father's. She was smart Kimberly
with her B.A. in psychology at twenty-one and her master's in
criminology at twenty-two. She was driven Kimberly, determined to
get on with her life even after what happened to her mother and

She was infamous Kimberly, the youngest member of her class and the
one everyone whispered about in the halls. You know who her father
is, don't you? What a shame about her family. I heard the killer
nearly got her, too. She gunned him down in cold blood...

Kimberly's classmates took lots of notes in their eagerly awaited
profiling class. Kimberly took none at all.

She arrived downstairs. Up ahead in the halt, she could see a
cluster of green shirts chatting and laughing-National Academy
students, done for the day and no doubt heading to the Boardroom
for cold beer. Then came the cluster of blue shirts, talking up a
storm. Fellow new agent trainees, also done for the day, and now
off to grab a quick bite in the cafeteria before hitting the books,
or the PT course, or the gym. Maybe they were mentoring each other,
swapping a former lawyer's legal expertise for a former Marine's
firearms training. New agents were always willing to help one
another. If you let them.

Kimberly pushed her way through the outside doors. The heat slammed
into her like a blow. She made a beeline for the relative shade f
the Academy's wooded PT course and started running.

Pain, Agony, Hurt, the signs read on the trees next to the path.
Suck it in. Love it!

"I do, I do," Kimberly gasped.

Her aching body protested. Her chest tightened with pain. She kept
on running. When all else failed, keep moving. One foot in front of
another. New pain layering on top of the old.

Kimberly knew this lesson well. She had learned it six years ago,
when her sister was dead, her mother was murdered and she stood in
a Portland, Oregon, hotel room with the barrel of a gun pressed
against her forehead like a lover's kiss.

Excerpted from THE KILLING HOUR © Copyright 2003 by Lisa
Gardner. Reprinted with permission by Bantam, a division of Random
House, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Killing Hour
by by Lisa Gardner

  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553584529
  • ISBN-13: 9780553584523