Print Friendly, PDF & Email

the-cabal.JPGBy Mark Combes

In The CabalDavid Hagberg’s fourteenth installment of his Kirk McGarvey series, a Washington Post investigative reporter has uncovered strong evidence that a powerful lobbyist has formed a shadowy group. They call themselves the Friday Club, a cabal whose members include high-ranking men inside the government: a White House adviser, a three star general at the Pentagon, deputy secretaries at the State Department, Homeland Security, the FBI and even the CIA.

That afternoon CIA operative  Todd Van Buren–son-in-law to the legendary spy Kirk McGarvey–is brutally gunned down. That same evening the reporter and his family are killed, all traces of the shadow group erased.

A grief-stricken McGarvey is drawn into the most far-reaching and dangerous investigation of his career, the stakes of which could destabilize the U.S. government, and shake the foundations of the world financial order.

One of the main reasons for Hagberg’s continued success is his passion for science and research. “For as long as I can remember, since I was a little kid, I’ve been torn two ways–being a scientist (actually I wanted to be a theoretical astrophysicist), and becoming a writer, especially a novelist.

“So I studied and admired guys like Einstein, Heisenberg, Schrodinger and Dirac, as well as Fitzgerald, Hemingway and guys (who were more accessible to my abilities) like Nevil Shute, Ian Fleming, Alistair Maclean and to an extent John LeCarre.

“When I actually began studying graduate level physics and math I began to discover that writing was far more important to me.  I guess I wasn’t enough of a geek after all.

hagberg-david.jpg“So, Einstein working at a patent office figured out relativity, and Hemingway learned how to write on the Kansas City Star. I chose the Duluth (MN) Herald & News-Tribune, and the Associated Press…. My research for The Cabal (god I love the very notion that the word research brings to mind, which I suppose is the amateur scientists in me) actually has taken about forty years.  The fact is I’ve been studying what I call the geo-political/military situation since I became a cryptographer for the Air Force in 1960.  As a kid I was sent to Thule, Greenland about 800 miles from the North Pole, where one night the mammoth radar antennas watching for the Russian missile invasion over the pole, spotted what we thought was just that.  Turns out our radar signals were bouncing off the moon and coming back to us.

“Doesn’t get much cooler than that.

“There were National Security Agency guys up there, and then in Kaiserslautern, Germany (Ramstein AFB) where we built the largest cryptographic center in the world in what had been a Nazi bunker were more CIA and NSA guys running around, and I was hooked.

“During a joint forces exercise I got to meet GIs from Germany, Great Britain, France, Turkey, and Australia.   We drank lots of beer, swapped ethnic jokes, and had those boozy serious late night discussions about the state of the world.  Remember we were staring down the barrel of global thermonuclear war and ‘Nam was just beginning to heat up.  Those were interesting, personality- forming times.

“So The Cabal is just a continuing tale for me, of geo-political intrigue, with today’s issues plus the evolution of my main characters and me.”

Be sure to catch David this year at Craftfest for his course titled, “Know Thy Enemy.”

“It’s the bad guy or gal who drives the action in a thriller.  Without the villain, there’d be nothing for the heroes do.  Clarice Starling only reacted to what Hannibal Lecter told her, and in the end what Buffalo Bill tried to do to her.  Otherwise she would have remained at Quantico, just a young trainee.

“That said, you’d damn well better know your villains.  Who they are, what they want, how they see the outcomes of their actions, what they get out of things.  What do they love–who loves them?  So you need to build believable villains–so believable that in the end they become memorable.”

Mark Combes
Latest posts by Mark Combes (see all)