Cover image for Kingdom come
Kingdom come
Hougan, Jim.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Ballantine Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
340 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



As a CIA agent "without official cover" in London, Jack Dunphy sets up commercial fronts and banking facilities abroad for unsavory clients with money too hot to handle--a lucrative business that allows him to spy under a false identity. But after someone he has under surveillance is brutally slaughtered, Dunphy is immediately ordered back to the U.S. "Don't bother packing, and don't go to your flat. . . . Just take the first flight out." On his return to Langley, Dunphy is relentlessly interrogated and dumped into a tedious desk job that seems calculated to make him quit. Determined to learn why, he uses all his CIA tradecraft on the agency that has turned against him. Gaining access to the murdered man's classified file, Dunphy discovers a cryptic list of names, including reference to the 143rd Surgical Airwing, a military unit that officially doesn't exist. Tracking down a former member of that covert unit, he hears the shocking pieces of an extraordinary story that seem too wild to be true--providing damning evidence of a vast conspiracy deeply entrenched within the CIA. But searching for the truth proves a deadly enterprise when someone close to him is killed. Fearing he is next, Dunphy runs for his very life, from Langley to Paris, Prague to London. With no one else to trust, he turns to Clementine, the girlfriend he was forced to abandon when he fled England. Pursued by CIA agents out for blood and a ruthless former client out for vengeance, following a twisted trail of lies and denial, Dunphy uncovers the existence of a clandestine fraternity whose origins are ancient . . . and connections are global. Embroiled in a plot far more elaborate than they ever could have imagined, with players too powerful and consequences too deadly, Dunphy and Clementine must unlock the secret of the Society's dark mission--before it consumes them in its ferocious rush toward destiny. In a gripping novel that combines brilliantly imagined characters with the machinations behind this century's greatest unexplained mysteries, Jim Hougan has created a stunning international thriller of psychology and intrigue, espionage and prophecy, hairbreadth escapes and endless suspense.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Here's something for pretty much everyone: a realistic thriller (slightly reminiscent of Brian Garfield's Hopscotch) that also happens to provide clever explanations for such far-out happenings as cattle mutilations and UFO sightings. Jack Dunphy, a CIA agent stationed in London, has been keeping an eye on a seemingly uninteresting professor. When the subject of his surveillance is gruesomely murdered, and Dunphy is reassigned to a desk job back in the States, he realizes the CIA is "burying" him. Determined to discover the truth about the professor's death--not to mention protecting the girlfriend he left behind in England--Dunphy turns renegade, using the CIA's own information-gathering tools against it, and discovering the existence of a centuries-old secret organization of almost unimaginable power. Hougan, the author of three nonfiction books, has combined realism and fantasy in a way that shouldn't work but does--splendidly. His characters are fresh, and his story is fast paced and reasonably unpredictable. Readers looking for something a little unusual, a change of pace from the typical spy-on-the-run thriller, will be delighted by this accomplished first novel, which will benefit from a pull-out-all-the-stops marketing campaign. (Reviewed December 1, 1999)0345433246David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

Veteran journalist and spy-craft expert Hougan (Spooks; Secret Agenda) puts his inside knowledge to fictional use in this intelligent and pulse-pounding debut thriller about a CIA agent who pokes his stick under one too many rocks. John Dunphy, working undercover in London, finds his career in tatters after a college professor he had under surveillance is viciously murdered. Though the murder was neither his doing nor his fault, Dunphy is called back to D.C., interrogated for days and finally relegated to a desk job processing the agency's vast backlog of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Since nobody at the CIA will tell Dunphy why he has been handled so harshly, Dunphy devises a way to find out. Using a fake name, he makes FOIA requests about everyone and anything having to do with his demotion, then routes the requests to himself for investigation. What he learns makes him a marked man. A secret society of world leaders, Dunphy discovers, has shaped history for hundreds of years, and now has its home base at the CIA. Now a marked man, Dunphy and his beautiful sidekick, Clementine, rush from one European capital to another, staying just ahead of their pursuers. With each stop, they gather more disturbing details about the secret network, which dates to medieval France and now controls world politics, economics and even the arts. (Historical figures who enter Hougan's story include famed spymasters Allen Dulles and James Jesus Angleton and poet Ezra Pound.) A former Washington editor for Harper's, Hougan demonstrates fine command of his material. His familiarity with the ways of spies, amply shown in his nonfiction, permeates his novel. Better yet, his writing is punchy and spare, his characterizations lively. Hougan slips only at the end: his finale seeks to defy convention, but may just leave readers fumbling for answers. Audio rights to Brilliance. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

When he's dumped in a boring desk job after someone under his surveillance is murdered, CIA agent Jack Dunphy investigatesÄand discovers a huge CIA conspiracy. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



PROLOGUE 2 May 1945 Northern Italy Major Angleton floated through the moonless heavens above Sant' Ambrogio, suspended in the night air by nylon cords and a canopy of black silk. He could see a line of fire burning along the forested ridge above the town, and wondered whether lightning or bombers were its cause. There was little else that he could see, still less to be heard, and only the wind to feel.      To build the city of Dioce whose      terraces are the colour of stars. As he drifted lower, the smell of woodsmoke came at him from the nearby fires, a whiff of hyacinths and the fragrance of scrub pines. The pines were shadows, swelling against the dark hillside, until, quite suddenly, he was among them, falling past them, flying laterally across the face of the hill. And then, with a shock, he was on the ground, staggering forward on his heels, pulling against the chute, rolling it up. The air was cool. The major's destination was a large and crumbling villa set amid ruined terraces on the slopes above where he'd landed. A soft yellow light spilled from the villa's windows, gilding the untended vineyards that sprawled in every direction. Major Angleton unholstered his .45 and began walking up the hill until he felt the crunch of gravel underfoot and knew that he was in the courtyard. Crossing to a shuttered window, he peered between the slats. The man whom he'd been sent to find, reviled at home and hated in Europe, a poet of inestimable talents and a violent baiter of the Jews, sat at a worm-eaten library table, surrounded by books. He was writing by the light of a kerosene lantern in what appeared to be an enormous, leather diary. Behind him, hanging askew from the cracked plaster wall, was a painting of Poussin's, a small and wonderful oil in a cheap wooden frame. A soft breeze brought the scent of wisteria with it, and Major Angleton realized that he had been holding his breath, though he didn't know for how long. The hand with the gun was clammy with perspiration. Leaving the window, he went to the villa's door, sucked the cold night air into his lungs, pushed the door open, and stepped inside. The poet looked up, shocked to find an armed man so suddenly in front of him. Then his eyes focused on the soldier's face, and his shock turned to incredulity. "Jim?" he asked. Angleton nodded. "Well ... are you here to arrest me?" Angleton shook his head. His mouth was dry. "Helmsman," he said, dropping to one knee and lowering his eyes. "Maestro di color che sanno...." 8 May 1945 FROM: 15 Army Group   92 Division     OSS, X-2 TO: Commanding General Mediterranean Theater of Operations SIGNED: Maj. James J. Angleton American civilian writer EZRA LOOMIS POUND, reference FBI cable 1723, indicted for treason by grand jury, captured by Italian partisans 6 May at Sant' Ambrogio. Held MTOUSA Disciplinary Training Center for confinement pending instructions on disposition. All security measures taken to prevent escape or suicide. No press. No privileges. And no interrogation . Chapter 1 Dunphy huddled beneath the warm sheets, half-awake, his back to Clementine. He could feel the coldness of the room beyond the bed and sensed the gray London light seeping through the windows like a cloud. The time was anyone's guess. Early morning. Or late. Or afternoon. Saturday , in any case. He mumbled something about getting up (or maybe not) and listened for her reply. "Mmmm," she murmured, then arched her back and rolled away. "Dream ... " He sat up with a low grumble, blinking himself awake. He swung his legs from the bed, pinched the sleep from his eyes, and got to his feet. Clementine whimpered and purred behind him as he shivered his way across the cold floor to the bathroom, where he brushed and spat. Filling his cupped hands with water from the tap, he lowered his face into the cold of it. "Jesus," he gasped. And again. "Christ!" he whispered, and taking a deep breath, shook his head like a dog. The man in the mirror was thirty-two years old, broad-shouldered and angular. An inch over six feet, he had green eyes and straight black hair. The eyes glittered back at him from the surface of the mirror as Dunphy, dripping, pulled a towel from the rack, then buried his face in the raised letters of white pile. Dolder Grand . And that reminded him: he'd promised Luxembourg that he'd send a fax to Credit Suisse, inquiring about a wire transfer that had gone awry. There was no point in shaving. It was the weekend. He could jog to work, send the fax, do a bit of paperwork, and take the Underground back to the flat in time for lunch. Returning to the bedroom, then, he pulled a ragged sweatshirt from the dresser and dragged it over his head. Clementine remained in a fetal position, the sheets and covers bunched inefficiently above her knees. There was a quizzical look on her face as she slept, her lips slightly parted. Dunphy stood for a moment in the still, cold air of the room, wondering at her immaculate complexion, the paper-white skin brushed with pink and framed by a cascade of dark curls. It occurred to him to make love to her then and there, but the cold had had its effect. Shivering, he pulled on a pair of sweatpants and white socks and jammed his feet into his running shoes. As he tied the laces, his eyes never left the soft parabola of hip beneath the sheets. Clementine shifted, turning onto her back. Dunphy stood. Maybe later--unless, as seemed likely, she'd returned to her own place. A sigh ran through him as he went out the door. Running was important to him. Though his life in London was a good one, it was suffused with a low-voltage anxiety that never really went away. He lived with a constant static charge of tension and a slight adrenal drain--the consequence, he knew, of spending his days in the cheap suit of a false identity. So he ran. He ran five times a week, about ten kilometers a day, following the same route from his apartment in Chelsea past the houseboats at Cheyne Walk, along the Embankment and across the Albert Bridge. This was the unpleasant part of the run. Even on Saturday mornings, the air was heavy with diesel fumes, the streets choked with trucks--lorries, he reminded himself--and cabs. There were a dozen streets to cross before he reached the Embankment, and, all in all, it was a dangerous way to stay in shape. Even after a year in England, Dunphy instinctively looked to the left for cars--which, of course, bore down upon him, horns blaring, from the right. The middle of the run was lovely, though. It took him into Battersea Park, along the south bank of the Thames, and past the park's improbable pagoda. There was a sort of wildlife refuge among the trees, too pretty to be called a zoo. It held spotted deer and sheep, and a herd of wallabies that looked for all the world like prehistoric rabbits. In the early morning stillness and gloom, the wallabies reminded him of the statues on Easter Island, immobile against the hillside, gazing down at him with stony indifference. Dunphy smiled as he strode past the beasts, moving easily and with the virtuous feeling that the passing miles gave. This was the midpoint of his run, the place where he usually returned home the way that he had come. Today, however, he continued on through the park to Chelsea Bridge, across the Thames, and on to Millbank, heading toward his office in Gun House. It was bad tradecraft to run the same route every day but, then again, this was London, not Beirut. Running through the park, Dunphy was entirely at ease, not only with himself, but with the person that he was pretending to be. A light mist settled on him as he ran, soaking his sweatshirt, but never quite coalescing into rain. He was listening to the sound of his breathing and thinking about Clementine. He'd seen her for the first time only three months before, standing behind the cash register in a used bookstore on Sicilian Avenue, the one with the funny name. Skoob . And though Dunphy was not one to hustle clerks in bookstores, he'd known at a glance that if he didn't talk to her (or as Merry Kerry would put it, if he didn't chat her up ), he'd never forgive himself. It wasn't just that she was beautiful, or that she had the longest waist he'd ever seen. It wasn't just that, he told himself. There was something else, a sweet vulnerability that made him feel guilty for the cover story that he'd given her, and for the fact that when she whispered his name, it wasn't really his name , but an alias. He'd make it up to her, he told himself, though he couldn't say how. Coming upon Grosvenor Road, with his mind adrift in the Eden between Clementine's navel and her knees, Dunphy glanced to the left and, striding out into the street, set off a fugue of horns and shrieking brakes that startled him into a reflexive sprint. A column of cars, taxis, buses, and trucks, approaching from the right, slammed on their brakes and, shuddering to a stop, erupted in curses. Dunphy waved ambiguously and kept on running, irritated with himself for succumbing to distraction. You have to be careful, he thought. In the business he was in, it was easy enough to get blindsided. Excerpted from Kingdom Come by Jim Hougan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.