Cover image for Exposure
Russell, Alan, 1956-
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First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, [2002]

Physical Description:
viii, 370 pages ; 25 cm
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In Exposure , award-winning writer Alan Russell delivers an intricate, ambitious thriller that unfolds at break-neck speed against a glamorous and absorbing background.

England's most beloved philanthropist and her football-star lover die in a crash caused by a mystery car. A papparazzo-Graham Wells, the driver of that mystery car-would do anything to keep his terrible secret from getting out. So when a CIA operative blackmails him into engineering the scandalous downfalls of several high-profile celebrities, he has no choice. Nothing he's done is illegal-and his targets are certainly guilty of the acts he's caught on film-but he doesn't understand the purpose of his actions and the whole arrangement leaves a bad taste in his mouth.

Then Graham, desperately trapped in the hidden motives of the CIA, stops a superstar actress who thought she was alone from committing suicide. Lanie Byrne, the beloved Miss L, is perhaps Hollywood's biggest celebrity, and although Graham is feeling desperate himself, he has trouble imagining what could possibly cause this beautiful actress to want to die. This charitable act ignites a chain-reaction of political intrigue and personal danger from which there might be no escape.

Author Notes

Alan Russell lives in Cardiff by the Sea, California. He's the author of seven novels, including the Anthony and Macavity finalist thriller Multiple Wounds.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

With this novel of intrigue reminiscent of Eric Ambler, Russell (Shame; Multiple Wounds; No Sign of Murder; etc.) shows he's one of the best writers in the mystery field today. Like Ambler, who excelled at portraying the plight of the valiant amateur pitted against a diabolic ring of spies and assassins in such classics as A Coffin for Demetrios and Journey into Fear, Russell has a gift for telling a fully fleshed-out story with very human characters while supplying puzzles and corpses galore. Looking to land a major scoop, British paparazzo Graham Wells is chasing two of Europe's biggest celebrities, philanthropist Lady Anne Godwin (aka "Lady Godiva" after she posed nude for Playboy and donated the proceeds to a soup kitchen) and her French football-star boyfriend, Georges "Le Croc" LeMoine, when their car crashes in a Paris tunnel with fatal results. Our antihero flees the scene of the accident. Unlike the case of Di and Dodi, there actually are sinister forces at work here. Soon a CIA agent named "Mr. Smith" is blackmailing Wells into bringing about the downfalls of other celebrities. When Wells deviates from the script by stopping a leading actress's suicide, he really finds himself in trouble. Needless to say, no one is who he says he is, and everyone's motives are suspect. There's a delightfully wicked conspiracy that seems plausible in today's news and a charming, if blood-curdling, villain. It would be a crime to say more. This one is good to the last drop. (May 13) FYI: Multiple Wounds was nominated for Anthony and Macavity awards. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Is that a hit man or just Graham Wells, celebrity photographer, orchestrating his next shot? The comparison is more than apt when he accidentally causes the deaths of an English philanthropist and her secret sports-star lover in Paris. Wells escapes prosecution, but back in L.A. the CIA blackmails him into taking career-wrecking pictures of celebrities they've "hit-listed." He finds some expiation by preventing a superstar's suicide, but related events get him in trouble. Meanwhile, there's a real hit man on the loose. This work by Russell (Multiple Wounds) has it all: scorchingly intense action, intricate plot complications, and an appealing protagonist of capacious depth. Essential for most collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



One The hit had proved to be anything but easy. Her security was as tight as any he had encountered. She had eight bodyguards, and on those rare occasions when she did go out, they formed a protective phalanx around her. Behind their large bodies, you couldn't even see her. She was staying at the Copacabana Palace, a landmark neoclassical building styled after the great hotels of Europe. The Palace had opened in 1923, and was still considered the place to stay when going to Rio de Janeiro. Marlene Dietrich and Orson Welles and Madonna had been guests there, as had De Gaulle and Eva Peron, and Queen Elizabeth and Princess Di, but neither celebrities nor politicians nor royalty had ever claimed an entire floor as their own as she had done. Her tab was a hundred grand a night, but for her that was chump change. There was no getting to her by elevator or stairway; her men had those covered. And there was no chance of his posing as staff. Her people had made the upper floors off-limits to hotel personnel. She had even commandeered the private pool on the sixth floor. Graham Wells strolled along Copacabana Beach. Behind sunglasses, he monitored the hotel. As far as he could tell she hadn't made an appearance on the balcony for the three days she had been in Rio. If she was taking in the view of Copacabana and Leme's famous horseshoe-shaped beach, she was doing it from inside her room, making a point of staying away from the windows. His prey was wary. With rolled-up trousers, Graham walked along the white sand in his bare feet. The camera around his neck advertised his being a tourist, which made him a mark for the vendors working the beach. He hoped he wasn't a mark for others. Graham kept one hand on the camera strap, discouraging would-be thieves from attempting a snatch and run. His cash was tucked away in a money belt. The State Department had recently issued a tourist advisory warning on conditions in Rio, but Graham thought its caution was excessive. Rio's poverty was extreme, but he had visited spots that were much, much worse. He looked once more to the sixth floor. A few years back one of Graham's targets had holed up in a twenty-third-floor New York City apartment. To get to him, Graham had borrowed a window washer's rig. The lift was self-contained with an up/down button controlling the pulley system. As insurance, he stationed an accomplice above him just in case the rig jammed or failed to operate. He started from the thirtieth floor, and slowly made his way the seven floors down. All the while he descended, Graham kept telling himself it was just like being in an elevator. But this elevator had no walls, no reassuring and insulating cocoon. Even wearing a safety harness, he had found it hard to breathe. He kept asking himself what the hell he was doing in a position like that, and like always, he made the same promise: this would be the last time. He would leave the game for good. Graham remembered how it felt being so high. His mortality had revealed itself in so many ways; his pounding heart, his trembling flesh, the bile in his throat. When he made it down to the twenty-third floor he was shaking so hard he could barely hold the squeegee in his hands. The clean windows had made it easier to see in, though. There was always a way to get the shot. You just had to find it. The roof wouldn't work this time. She had one of her bodyguards stationed up there. If he was going to get to her, it would have to be away from the hotel. The problem Graham faced was time. She would be leaving soon, going back to her Bel Air estate. On her home turf, his big game hunting would be even tougher. Thus far Rochelle hadn't gone stir crazy. Rochelle--the world knew the pop star by the one name--had been on top of the music world for five years. For the recording business, that was almost an eternity. Everyone had thought Rochelle's Rio de Janeiro visit would be one long party. For the beautiful people, Copacabana is a high-octane twenty-four-hour experience. But Rochelle hadn't gone out to shake it in the many nightclubs along Avenue Atlantica. The old Rochelle would have been painting the town red, shopping along Rua Santa Clara, taking in the view and being viewed in the Forte de Copacabana, being risqué in the naughty nightlife strip called the Go-Go Copa, and going lip to lip at sunrise with a just caught fish at Fishermen's Corner. Those were the kind of shots the world had come to expect from Rochelle. But then again, with Rochelle you had to expect the unexpected. Rochelle had a habit of reinventing herself. She was a pop diva, not a flavor of the month. It wasn't only that Rochelle had great pipes--which she did--but her voice was complemented by the package and charisma that went with it. Carnival was a month away, but Rochelle usually created her own Carnival wherever she went. This time though she seemed to be all business. Her long-awaited album was due out in two months, and she was finishing a last video for one of the sound tracks, a hot love song with lots of Latin flavor. The Rio beat was being showcased in the video. The Ipanema drag queens had come to a set and strutted their stuff to the pounding beat of samba drums, Rochelle dancing with them. And two months earlier Rochelle had sent her film team to shoot footage of Rio's famous New Year's celebration along Copacabana's Atlantic shore. Times Square had nothing on Copacabana. Every New Year's more than two million people crowded together on Copacabana's beach to watch the huge fireworks display. Most of the spectators dressed in white, a local tradition for good luck. The midnight hour was built up to with the pounding of drums. Many of the celebrants indulged in pinga, Brazil's version of moonshine. Others came for spiritual counsel. Holy women, dressed in white cotton turbans, set up shop on the beach, offering an ear and guidance to the many who waited in their long lines. At midnight, the crowds rushed to the water's edge, throwing in flowers and other offerings for Lemanja, a sea goddess worshiped by the Brazilian African religion of Umbana. For one night at least, Lemanja had many followers. Rochelle's video was supposed to be a combination of Lemanja and Venus and Rochelle. She would emerge from the sea with a suit of long wet hair, perhaps a little imaginative seaweed, and nothing else. Graham looked at his watch. It was quarter to twelve. He had a meeting with his local talent at noon at a nearby food kiosk on the Lido. Graham wasn't sure which his confederate preferred more--the food or the view. Carlos Ribiera--called by friends and enemies Carlos the Jackal--knew whom to bribe and what questions to ask. Those were necessary talents for Graham's line of work. Carlos was twenty minutes late, but didn't seem to be in any rush to make up for lost time. In Brazil, clock watching is not a popular pastime. He was wearing dark sunglasses that complemented a white linen suit almost as oversized as one of David Byrne's. Carlos wasn't wearing a Panama hat, probably because he was vain about his wavy black hair. He walked along as if he was hearing a samba beat. Maybe he did. Music always seemed to be playing somewhere. Carlos ordered for them. Graham liked listening to the back and forth of Brazilian Portuguese. It wasn't the same tongue as spoken in Portugal. It was samba Portuguese. On paper plates, Carlos brought over a Brazilian stew of black beans, pork, kale, and rice that he identified as feijoada. The two men did their chewing, and drinking of beer, and talking, sitting on wooden boxes and looking out to the beach. There were plenty of dental floss bikinis to keep Carlos happy. He pointed out one sunbather who seemed to have on less fabric than the Emperor's New Clothes, offering up his jackal's smile with his words. "A few years back one of your kind, and a girl like that, got our president in trouble." "That's my job," Graham said, "and that's the job of girls like that." "It was during Carnival," said Carlos. "President Itamar Franco was in a fancy box reviewing the parade. This model came straight from her float, where she had been doing a lot of shaking and dancing for the crowd. Anyway, after performing, she took off her costume, which wasn't very much to begin with, and put on her change of clothes, which was a T-shirt. Being a very pretty thing, she was invited to the president's box. And once there, she and our president got along famously. She stayed at President Franco's side, and the two of them waved to all the passing floats. And people waved back. Oh, yes, they waved back. Because whenever she raised her arms, her shirt lifted, very clearly revealing her absence of panties. A photographer snapped some shots of the president and his companion, and that caused quite the scandal. You can imagine all the jokes and stories. In his defense, our president could only say, 'How am I supposed to know if people are wearing underwear?' " "The naked truth," said Graham. Carlos laughed. "Your job is to reveal that, yes?" "Sometimes." Graham tried to direct the conversation away from scantily clad women. "What did you learn?" Carlos shook his head, even lost a little bit of his smile. "Bad news," he said. "She won't be doing her beach scene here. She's made alternate arrangements on some island." Graham opened his mouth to question him, but was stopped by Carlos's raised hand. "I don't know where. No one knows. All I learned is that she'll be flying out of here tomorrow morning at eleven. Her pilot hasn't even been given a flight plan. Where they're going is a big secret for everyone. After they land, they'll be getting on a boat. I know that because she had one of her assistants go out and stock up on Dramamine." Rochelle wasn't usually so reclusive, especially with a new album about to be released. She had never been shy about showing her body before, but in doing the production for this last video, she was staying out of the public's eye. All that was left to shoot was what insiders referred to as her "spawning" number. Rochelle was supposedly going to be writhing on the beach with some boy toy eye candy, doing a risqué From Here to Eternity number in the sand and surf. "What did King Momo tell you?" Graham asked. This year's King Momo weighed in at almost five hundred pounds. Every year during Carnival Brazilians selected their King Momo based on the size of his belly. They wanted a real jelly--or Jell-O--roll to the samba beat. King Momo's job was to shake his stuff during the Carnival celebration. Rochelle had hired him to do some shaking for her. "He couldn't be sure," said Carlos. "Most of the time he was told to look straight at the camera. While he was shaking his belly, she danced around him. Most of the time she was shaking her--what do you call it?--booty. The camera was on her booty and his belly. That must have been quite a sight." That sounded like Rochelle. Provocative posing went hand in hand with her CD releases. "But," added Carlos, "King Momo did say she didn't look like any expectant mother he had ever seen." If Graham's information was right, in a few months Rochelle's belly was going to be as big as the King's. Small bits of information were adding up to a pregnancy. This video was being treated like a top-secret production, with the filming angles tightly controlled. Rochelle wasn't going out nights, or even mornings, and she was doing everything possible to avoid being photographed. Her usual skintight clothes had been supplanted by a more conservative wardrobe, and two days before Graham had photographed one of her assistants buying two boxes of saltine crackers. He suspected Rochelle was suffering from morning sickness. A month earlier one of his informants had told him that a disguised Rochelle had gone on a spending spree in an exclusive baby boutique in Beverly Hills. She paid cash, of course. Perhaps afraid that she'd been recognized, Rochelle told the clerk she was buying the items for "a friend." Her deliberations had seemed anything but impersonal, though. She had consulted a few times with a "buff" tagalong male. Her friend had been described as a "surfer type with muscles." It sounded like Jack Wilkinson, a sometimes model, sometimes fitness instructor, sometimes Rochelle lover. The same Wilkinson had accompanied Rochelle on this trip. Graham wanted a picture of the two of them together. He wanted a shot of a rounded Rochelle, in the first bloom of motherhood. Better yet, he was hoping for a maternal pose. There were good reasons for Rochelle to not want the same thing--maybe millions of them. Rochelle marketed herself as a sex symbol. While her music audience crossed the ages, more than half her sales went to the twenty-five and under market, a fact Rochelle was intimately acquainted with. With her album due out in less than two months, Rochelle knew her vampy videos would play a lot better if her pregnancy was kept secret. Women might look beautiful when they're pregnant--that's what their men have been telling them since time immemorial--but even Demi Moore's very pregnant, very nude Vanity Fair cover didn't work well for her as a Hollywood marketing tool. The entertainment capital of the world was still the same place where a producer had strongly advised pregnant actress Hunter Tylo to "lose it, or lose your job." Rochelle wanted the cash registers to sing along with her siren songs. That was reason enough to not want to prematurely trade in her tight spandex outfits for maternity clothes, or navel rings for prenatal vitamins. Maybe her next album would be a rendition of her favorite children's lullabies; this one was about steam, and eroticism, and sex. "We'll need to shoot her on the way to the airport," Graham said. Mountains and hills, in particular the Sierra da Carioca range, divide Rio into the generally impoverished North Side, the Zona Norte, and the more upscale South Side, the Zona Sul. There are many bends and turns to the roads as they follow the path of the terrain. Because of the mountain range, tunnels are common in and out of the downtown area of Rio. "The tunnels are a natural speed reducer," Graham said. "Even in this country, cars usually slow down as they approach a tunnel." Carlos offered a smile and wave of his hand as explanation. "For Cariocas," he said, "driving is a passion." Cariocas--what residents of Rio and the surrounding area call themselves--love to speed. The national speed limit is eighty kilometers per hour. Even in parking lots, Cariocas seem to exceed that limit. "I'll need you to arrange a roadblock as her car approaches a tunnel," said Graham. "Something that will make her driver stop." "A barrel on fire? A stalled car?" Graham shook his head. "Nothing like that. I want a shot of a maternal Rochelle, so it needs to be done with children on the scene. The more innocent the kids look, the better. Have them kicking a ball, or put a few bikes in the street, or tie a dog to a leash and make it look like the kids are trying to get him back. I want some real little ones, the kind with big eyes that look so adorable you can't help but say 'Ahhh.' That will be the honey that I hope draws Rochelle out of her car." For years ambition had ruled Rochelle. You didn't get to the top of her field without wanting to succeed more than anything else. But now he was betting she was pregnant and that something even stronger was calling her shots: maternal instinct. "We can assume they'll do their usual caravan to the airport," said Graham. "The Land Rover sandwich with the Mercedes filling." On their few outings from the hotel, they had used three cars. Between the scout vehicle and the shotgun car was Rochelle's Mercedes. "The first Land Rover usually keeps about a thirty-second lead on the Mercedes," said Graham. "That's our window of opportunity. As soon as the lead car passes, we have to act." "It will help that we make the stop just before the opening to a tunnel," said Carlos. "The lead car won't be able to turn around." "They'll still be in radio contact though," said Graham. "We don't want to spook Rochelle's car. I want the driver to come to a stop not because he feels threatened, but out of necessity. At the same time, we want to pique Rochelle's interest enough for her to get out of the vehicle." The Jackal showed all of his white teeth. "Don't worry about that, boss. I'll bait the hook and throw the line. All you got to do is tell me where we're going to do our fishing." "Cars go too fast along the Airport Expressway," said Graham, "so the Rebouças Tunnel is out. Ditto the Two Brothers Tunnel. Unless you can think of something better, I'd say our best bet is the Novo Tunnel." Carlos nodded. "That's where I'd do it," he said. "They finally finished widening the Princesa to four lanes. They even put granite walls on both sides of the center aisle, and expensive streetlights. The papers said a lot of developers got rich on the project. It's time we made some money too." He rubbed his thumb along his fingers. It sounded almost like the rubbing of sandpaper. Graham pulled out a map of Rio de Janeiro. The Novo Tunnel was located on Princesa Isabel Avenue, a street that ran down to Avenue Atlantica and was the border between Copacabana Beach and Leme Beach. "There's lots of foliage right over the entrance to the tunnel," said Graham. "I've already been up there. It's a perfect blind. I'll be up about twenty feet high shooting down. Assuming she leaves when you say, the sun's going to be over my right shoulder as I'm looking down." He pointed to an area on the map. "The closer you can make her car stop in relation to the tunnel, say two hundred yards and in, would be best for me. But if you have a problem with that, I can nail her from farther away." "No problem," said Carlos. It was a favorite phrase of his. Graham handed Carlos what appeared to be three palm-sized radios. "Family Radio Services," he said. "FRS devices. Have you used them?" Carlos shook his head. "They're like walkie-talkies," Graham said, "but you can lock into your own private channel, and you don't have to worry about electronic disturbances. Their only drawback is that they're only good over a relatively small area, but I did a test run already. I was at the tunnel and had a bellman transmit to me from the Copacabana Palace. The reception was perfect." Graham pointed to a button. "To transmit, all you do is press here. I've already programmed the code. That will allow our team to listen in on everything that's occurring. You're going to need to bring aboard two reliable lookouts, one at the hotel, and another right about here." He jabbed at the map, pointing out the corner of Viveiros de Castro and Princesa Isabel. "Lookout one will transmit to us when they leave. And lookout two will give you a one-block heads-up. That should give both of us time to have everything ready." "No problem," a smiling Carlos said. The more he heard those words, Graham thought, the more nervous he felt. Graham had attached one of his three cameras to a small tripod. He used it much like a spotting scope, swiveling it around to take in the lay of the land. There was a doubler on the 800mm telescopic lens. He zoomed in on Carlos and his group. His party, and that seemed to be the right word for it, were camped along the bicycle lane that paralleled the street. Carlos didn't look too worried over preparations. He and a group of children were busy playing hacky-sack. Carlos was a big hit with the laughing kids. Half of them seemed to be hanging on to him. Carlos and the children were behind a concrete embankment that ran along the street. He had told Graham the children were locals, kids he had picked up in a van from one of the nearby favelas--shantytowns. They were all related to one another, Carlos had said, with most of the children coming from just one family. The ringleader was the oldest, a boy who looked to be eight or nine. Carlos had explained what he wanted from him, and the boy seemed anxious to please. The children, especially the little ones, were as precious as Graham could have hoped. The two smallest girls were picture perfect, with huge brown eyes, heads of hair with rich dark curls, and colorful dresses. They were wonderful little peas of the same pod, the older one perhaps three, and her younger sister no more than two. The girls were barefoot. Carlos had brought the children to his waiting area almost two hours earlier. In all that time the girls had held each other's hand, never letting go. Graham snapped a few pictures of the girls just for something to do. Rochelle and her party were long overdue. He picked up his FRS and hit the transmit button. Carlos had brought in one of his friends, a fellow named Sergio, to monitor the hotel. Sergio seemed competent, but Graham was still nervous. "They still haven't left yet?" he asked. "Not yet," said Sergio. "But they loaded the luggage in the cars. Hotel security has roped off the entryway, and no one is getting by who's not a registered hotel guest. Her guards are keeping everyone well away from the cars. Most of the photographers have given up. They're making it impossible for them to get a shot." Graham didn't mind Rochelle's being so zealous about her privacy. It would ultimately make his product that much more valuable. He didn't have to say it, but he did anyway: "Call the moment it looks like they're leaving." It was big game hunting. Waiting around the watering hole hadn't worked, so Graham was making his own watering hole. In his work, he was the carnivore. Like any hunting animal, if he didn't get the kill he starved. Graham turned his camera on Carlos and saw him lower the FRS from his ear. By the looks of it, he wasn't suffering from Graham's case of nerves. He had brought a boom box along, and some of the children were dancing to its music. There was also food and drink, making it look like a roadside picnic. It was hot and humid. Biting insects had found Graham amid the green jungle above the bridge. There was no footpath to the top of the bridge; Graham had bushwhacked through the brush to his concealed spot. Though the greenery mostly shielded him from the sun, Graham could feel its hot presence on his head and back of the neck. As morning had stretched into the afternoon, the sun had grown ever hotter. Graham leaned over and looked through the viewer of his state-of-the-art Canon EOS. The camera automatically read the glare, and compensated accordingly. Most of the time all Graham had to do was shoot straight. "There's movement!" Sergio's excited voice emerged from the FRS. "You hear what I'm saying? There's movement!" "I copy," said Graham. "If you can, confirm that it's Rochelle getting into the Mercedes." He doubted she would be using a decoy, but stars wanting to avoid the press often used look-alikes, rushing them into cars. The dogs were usually only too ready to chase after the lure rabbit. Graham swung his camera down and focused on Carlos. He wasn't playing hacky-sack anymore. He was listening to Sergio. "They're pulling out," said Sergio. "The car and her bodyguards blocked my line of sight. I couldn't see her face." "I copy," said Graham. What was there about these devices that made him sound like a cop? "Does she have a police escort?" "No. Just the two Land Rovers." That had been their only concern. You don't fool around with the Brazilian police. They would have called off their operation if she had utilized them as an escort. "Are you in position, Leonardo?" His shouted reply made Graham hold his FRS out at arm's length. "I don't see nothing yet!" Leonardo was another one of Carlos's cronies. His English wasn't as good as Sergio's, but it was still understandable. He was positioned on the corner of Viveiros de Castro and Princesa Isabel, about two hundred meters from where Carlos was waiting. Timing was all important. Excerpted from Exposure by Alan Russell 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.