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The Assassin
Cover of The Assassin
The Assassin
Isaac Bell Series, Book 8

Detective Isaac Bell tracks a killer across the nation's oilfields in this adventure in the #1 New York Times–bestselling historical series.

As Van Dorn private detective Isaac Bell strives to land a government contract to investigate John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil monopoly, the case takes a deadly turn. A sniper begins murdering opponents of Standard Oil, and soon the assassin—shooting with extraordinary accuracy at seemingly impossible long range—kills Bell's best witness. Then the shooter detonates a terrible explosion that sets the victim's independent refinery ablaze.
Bell summons his best detectives to hunt down the mysterious killer. But the murders—shootings, poisonings, staged accidents—have just begun as Bell tracks his phantom-like criminal adversary from the "oil fever" regions of Kansas and Texas to Washington, D.C., to the tycoons' enclave of New York, to Russia's war-torn Baku oil fields on the Caspian Sea, and back to America for a final, desperate confrontation. And this one will be the most explosive of all.

Detective Isaac Bell tracks a killer across the nation's oilfields in this adventure in the #1 New York Times–bestselling historical series.

As Van Dorn private detective Isaac Bell strives to land a government contract to investigate John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil monopoly, the case takes a deadly turn. A sniper begins murdering opponents of Standard Oil, and soon the assassin—shooting with extraordinary accuracy at seemingly impossible long range—kills Bell's best witness. Then the shooter detonates a terrible explosion that sets the victim's independent refinery ablaze.
Bell summons his best detectives to hunt down the mysterious killer. But the murders—shootings, poisonings, staged accidents—have just begun as Bell tracks his phantom-like criminal adversary from the "oil fever" regions of Kansas and Texas to Washington, D.C., to the tycoons' enclave of New York, to Russia's war-torn Baku oil fields on the Caspian Sea, and back to America for a final, desperate confrontation. And this one will be the most explosive of all.

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  • From the book PROLOGUE
    1899
    PENNSYLVANIA

    "Do I hear a train?" asked Spike Hopewell.
    "Two trains," said Bill Matters. The heavy, wet Huff! of the Pennsylvania Railroad's 2-8-0 freight locomotives carried for miles in the still night air. "They're on the main line, not here."
    Spike was nervous. It made him talkative. "You know what I keep thinking? John D. Rockefeller locked up the oil business before most people were born."
    "To hell with Rockefeller. To hell with Standard Oil."
    Bill Matters had found their Achilles' heel. After thirty years fighting the "Standard," thirty years of getting driven into the mud, he was finally going to break their pipe line monopoly.
    Tonight. Under a sky white with stars, in a low-lying hayfield in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. Wooded slopes ringed the field. Pennsylvania Railroad tracks crossed it, bridging the dip in the hills on a tall timber trestle.
    Spike Hopewell was going along with the scheme, against his better judgment. Bill had always been susceptible to raging brainstorms that verged on delirium, and they were getting worse. Besides, when it came to driving independents out of business, John D. Rockefeller had personally invented every trick in the book.
    "Now!" Bill drew his big old Remington six-cylinder and fired a shot in the air.
    Whips cracked. Mules heaved in their harness. Freight wagons full of men and material rumbled across the field and under the train trestle—a framework of braced timbers that carried the elevated tracks above the low ground.
    Pipe lines that Matters and Hopewell had already laid stopped just inside the woods at either edge of the field. The west trunk stretched two hundred miles over the Allegheny Mountains to Pennsylvania's oil fields. The east continued one hundred eighty miles to their seaboard refinery in Constable Hook, New Jersey, where oceangoing tank steamers could load their kerosene. Pumps and breakout tanks were installed every thirty miles, and all that remained to join the two halves was this final connection on land they had purchased, under the railroad.
    Spike would not shut up. "You know what the president of the Penney said? He said, 'Imagine the expense I would save on locomotives, Pullman cars, and complaints if only I could melt my passengers and pump them liquefied through pipes like you pump oil.'"
    "I was there," said Matters. In Philadelphia, at Pennsylvania Railroad headquarters high above the Broad Street Station, asking, hat in hand, to lease a right-of-way. The president, high-toned owner of a Main Line estate, had looked down his Paris-educated nose at the oil field rowdies.
    "I envy you gentlemen. I would love to own a pipe line."
    Who wouldn't? Just ask Rockefeller. Shipping crude direct from the well to the refinery beat a train hands down. Instead of laboriously loading and unloading barrels, barges, and tank cars, you simply opened a valve. And that was just the beginning. A pipe line was also a storehouse; you could stockpile crude in your pipes and tanks until supply dropped and the price rose. You could lend money like a bank and charge interest on credit backed by the same oil in your pipes that the producer was paying you to deliver. Best of all—or worst of all, depending on your morals—when you owned a pipe line, you set the shipping rate to favor your friends and gouge your enemies. You could even refuse to deliver at any price, a Rockefeller specialty to bust independent refineries; Matters and Hopewell's Constable Hook refinery was sitting idle, dry as a bone, because the Standard declined to pipe them crude.
    Spike laughed. "Remember what I told him? 'We'll melt your passengers in our refinery, but...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 19, 2015
    Isaac Bell locks horns with John D. Rockefeller in bestseller Cussler’s uneven eighth adventure featuring the Van Dorn Agency detective (after 2014’s The Bootlegger, also coauthored with Scott). In 1905, Rockefeller is buying up all the independent companies that stand in the way of Standard Oil’s complete domination of the oil market, making sworn enemies out of many of the independents’ owners, in particular revenge-driven Bill Matters. A fiendishly clever assassin, who’s a superb sniper, has been killing the men who Matters has marked as his enemies. It’s Bell’s job to protect Rockefeller, help the U.S. government investigate Standard Oil for violating the Sherman Antitrust act, bring the mysterious assassin to justice, and keep himself alive in the process. An exciting trip to Russia and a whiz-bang ending compensate for the places where the action bogs down. A surprise epilogue set in 1940 will please series fans. Agent: Peter Lampack, Peter Lampack Agency.

  • Kirkus

    January 1, 2015
    Cussler and Scott (The Bootlegger, 2014, etc.) send detective Isaac Bell on his eighth historical action-adventure, this time tackling the "Octopus," otherwise known as Standard Oil.The authors turn the time machine to 1905, giving Bell a chance to romance the beauties Edna, "deep as the ocean," and Nellie, who "dazzles like a kaleidoscope," daughters of Bill Matters, a former Oil City, Pennsylvania, wildcatter co-opted into joining up as another John D. Rockefeller minion even though he was never "one of the boys." Van Dorn Detective Agency top investigator Bell has been hired by the Sherman Anti-Trust Corporations Commission to investigate Standard Oil. But things turn deadly. Spike Hopewell, Matters' old partner, is assassinated in a Kansas oil field. Then there's a Texas oil patch shooting, and other supposed accidental deaths are revealed as murders. Is the monopolist Rockefeller, who prides himself on dealing "fairly and squarely and aboveboard," resorting to murder to preserve the Octopus? Confused over whether he prefers Edna or Nellie, Bell goes undercover as Rockefeller's bodyguard and hits the road-Kansas, Texas, Washington, D.C., Russia's Baku oil fields-and gets embroiled in shoot-'em-ups between Tatars, Armenians, Social Democrats and bank bandits. Cussler loves historical factoids: The Pennsylvania-built Baldwin decapod engine was an oil-burner rather than coal-fired; a Cleveland-built Peerless Tonneau car made as good a bribe as a Rolls-Royce; and there's a difference between suffragette and suffragist. The usual Van Dorn detectives are useful background characters, Bell survives a balloon ride into the near-stratosphere, the psychopathic assassin gets comeuppance, and there's a well-choreographed flaming finale at New Jersey's Constable Hook refinery. Another action-movie-paced entertainment from Cussler's historical-thriller series.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    October 15, 2014
    Det. Isaac Bell is eager to secure an important government antitrust contract to investigate John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil monopoly. Then a killer picks off Bell's key witness and blows up the man's independent refinery--just the beginning of the shootings, poisonings, and staged accidents that darken the narrative.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Isaac Bell Series, Book 8
Clive Cussler
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