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The Pisa Affair

The Pisa Affair

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The Pisa Affair

302 pages
4 hours
Jul 20, 2021


Vague clues from the theft of fissionable material lead an international contingent of spies to ferret out one person, known to them only as MB.

Reed Walker, a CIA agent in Pisa, Italy, receives photos of two autos passing a train, and is told that terrorists attacked the train, carrying fissionable material, and killed all the guards. The images reveal nothing, but he learns there may be a mole in the CIA.

In the course of his investigation, he uncovers five possible moles. Then the killing starts.

Reed now races against time as international agents continue to fall. He sets up a snare and closes in, but has he really found MB? What will the collateral damage be? Will Reed Walker ever be accepted again by his fellow spies? Will his newfound love survive?

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS a spy thriller introducing the intrepid Reed Walker, CIA, in a deadly game of international espionage, intrigue, and murder. [DRM-Free]


  • "The Pisa Affair"
  • Denny McConnell PI – Book 1: "A Family Feud Texas Style"
  • Denny McConnell PI – Book 2: "A Savvy Way to Kill"
  • Denny McConnell PI – Book 3: "The Texas Medicine Murders"
  • ...and Books 4-5 are works in progress, so stay tuned.


  • The "Michelle Reagan" Series by Scott Shinberg
  • "The Syndicate-Born Trilogy" Series by K.M. Hodge
  • The "A Point Thriller" Series by Jeff Altabef
  • "The Oz Files" Series by Barry Metcalf
  • The "PI Kowalski" Series by Chris Krupa


Jul 20, 2021

About the author

Kent Swarts was an aerospace engineer for 46 years, and is now an astronomer. He has edited the Central Texas Astronomical Society’s newsletter for 15 years. He’s published in six sci-fi and dystopian anthologies. Now retired, he finds retirement more demanding than any job he’s had. He lives in Waco, Texas with his wife and dog, and when not writing, he reads or goes golfing. Engineering has influenced his writing, particularly pertaining to characters and to penning sci-fi.

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Copyright © 2021 Kent Swarts


ISBN (EPUB Version): 1622538358

ISBN-13 (EPUB Version): 978-1-62253-835-5


Editor: Katherine McIntyre

Cover Artist: Kabir Shah

Interior Designer: Lane Diamond



At the end of this novel of approximately 59,564 words, you will find two Special Sneak Previews: 1) CONFESSIONS OF EDEN by Scott Shinberg, the first book in multiple award-winning Michelle Reagan series of spy thrillers, and; 2) RED ON THE RUN by K.M. Hodge, the first book in the Syndicate-Born Trilogy series of futuristic crime thrillers. We think you’ll enjoy these books, too, and provide these previews as a FREE extra service, which you should in no way consider a part of the price you paid for this book. We hope you will both appreciate and enjoy the opportunity. Thank you.


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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or the author has used them fictitiously.

Books by Kent Swarts



Book 1: A Family Feud Texas Style

Book 2: A Savvy Way to Kill

Book 3: The Texas Medicine Murders


The Pisa Affair




We’re pleased to offer you not one, but two Special Sneak Previews at the end of this book.


In the first preview, you’ll enjoy the First 3 Chapters of Scott Shinberg‘s multiple award-winning CONFESSIONS OF EDEN, the first book in the fantastic Michelle Reagan series of spy thrillers.





MICHELLE REAGAN Series at Evolved Publishing

In the second preview, you’ll enjoy the First 2 Chapters of the award-winning RED ON THE RUN, the first book in USA Today Bestselling Author K.M. Hodge’s The Syndicate-Born Trilogy.






Table of Contents


Books by Kent Swarts


Table of Contents



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18


About the Author

More from Kent Swarts

What’s Next?

More from Evolved Publishing

Special Sneak Preview: CONFESSIONS OF EDEN by Scott Shinberg

Special Sneak Preview: RED ON THE RUN by K.M. Hodge


For my two daughters, who bring so much joy to this world. Their travels, experiences, and enthusiasm for the unknown inspired me to write this story.

Chapter 1

Reed Walker sat holding an unlit cigar at a table in the Piazza of Miracles by the Leaning Tower of Pisa. He looked around the area for anyone nearby before pulling out photographs from a coat pocket. Then he studied three satellite images of a train.

The photos had been given to him by his CIA Station chief. The freight train was twenty cars long and pulled by one electric engine. A satellite took the images when it passed over the train at 10:42, 10:43, and 10:44 p.m. on September 23rd. According to authorities, terrorists raided the train at 11:02 p.m. last night when it stopped while a switch was thrown to change tracks. Lawrence Underwood, the Station Chief, told Reed the images might contain information about the terrorists that stormed the train, killing twelve guards and the two engineers. The murders occurred twenty-three miles south from where the photos were taken.

He gazed around the plaza, smiling. Hundreds of tourists studied brochures, looked up at the spires and the leaning tower, and took photos of nearly everything, from the tower to the convent. Even the two trees at the far end of the plaza were prime photo ops. Why wouldn’t the turistas be out in droves with how gorgeous a day it was? Reed wished he too could be enjoying the sunshine, rather than looking at photos that showed nothing.

Reed fiddled with his tie and shifted his focus to two autos in the second photo. Both traveled on the road next to the train. The lead car was clearly a Jaguar while the latter an Alfa Romeo Stelvio. Only the Stelvio was in the first photo and the third. Its position hadn’t changed relative to the engine. The Jaguar had more or less flashed by.

He reached in a suit pants pocket, produced his lighter, and lit the photos, tossing them in the grass as he rose. He lit the cigar and walked south toward the Arno River and his office. Reed stopped to pick up some travel brochures a tourist discarded and pitched them in a trash receptacle.


Tyree Brooks stood in the break room in the front building of the Station facing Lungarno Mediceo Drive, looking out a window at the Arno River. Two small boats putted upriver, and a barge traveled the opposite way. When the three crafts passed, one boat made a sharp turn toward the barge. Tyree jumped but realized the ass was having fun as the boat veered back onto its original course.

He turned to face a young blonde woman seated at the table and said, I could use a bottle of water. Hildebrandt died of poisoning. He studied her for a moment. She looked like a schoolgirl, not a trained spy.

Tyree turned back to check the progress of the three vessels. Not much, but one had slowed next to a small dock.

Jolee Beauchene, twenty-four years old and educated at the Sorbonne in Paris, had worked for the French Intelligence for eight months. Before joining the DGSE, she waited tables at an obscure restaurant on the Left Bank. Sixteen months ago, she joined the CIA. She sat reading a brochure about The University of Pisa. What did you say?

I need water.

Oh. She listlessly stood and walked to the tiny refrigerator. After she took out a bottle and closed the fridge with her foot, she set it on the table. She sat again with a grimace.

Someone has to go after Hildebrandt’s assailant.

Won’t be me. Jolee scowled.

Could be if you volunteer.

I haven’t been read in. Your comment is the first I’ve heard of it.

He moved toward the door. Thanks for the water. See ya round. He walked out of the room without closing the door behind him, but a moment before he turned into the hallway, he said, Better not volunteer. I’ll be fried.


When Reed Walker arrived at the colonnade that separated his building from the front administrative building, his phone rang.

In my office, please.

Walker jammed his cell in his coat pocket and stalked to his boss’s office. Looking at the photos had been a waste. Reed hated to squander time over immaterial things.

Reed Walker grew up in Minnesota. He stood almost six-feet tall and possessed the build of a middle-weight fighter. With blond hair and a boyish face, he looked younger than his thirty-four years of age. He had blue eyes that women found charming and wore glasses for driving. His smile welcomed others, but he tended to withhold it until he got to know a person. Then it became almost perpetual. He graduated with honors from Princeton and was affable, but his humor bent toward sarcasm. After college, he spent three years in Army Counterintelligence before he joined the CIA. Reed placed first in his training class and was offered his choice of positions in several countries. He chose North Africa.

Come in, said Larry, the Pisa Station chief.

Reed walked to the desk and gestured in dismay. Nothing in the photos indicated anything illicit. A car paced itself to the speed of the train, but that was all. Besides, there was an insufficient definition to make an identification. What was I supposed to see?

Larry nodded and pointed to a chair. "The Italian government recently told us their Secret Police took control of the train en route to Ljubljana once the Slovenians turned down the shipment due to the vote against building nuclear plants. Italy planned to transport the enriched uranium to Naples, where it would be put aboard a British Naval vessel. Unfortunately, the hijack occurred.

As you know, nine terrorists attacked the train outside Porto Badino and grabbed the fissionable material. One was a woman. I just received photos of the heist taken by a witness from a car passing the train. One picture isn’t very clear, but it definitely shows a woman. He paused and looked at the door. Because they killed the twelve guards, the question is who told the raiding group the train was headed to Naples? He handed Reed the photo of a few terrorists in the midst of the deadly robbery. By the way, no one has yet to take credit for the attack.

Tracking down the person is my job? said Reed.

More than ever, we need insight leading to the heist and what was going on behind the scenes. Someone told the extremists. You’re the right person to find the operative. It’s believed they’re from one of the agencies because so few knew about the transported uranium. We want to discount the possibility of an informant in the CIA. We heard a rumor the person could be CIA. Plenty of our friends, the British, Interpol, and Italian agents, including ours, are hunting the terrorists.

I’m not sure I want the job.

Underwood scowled and raised a hand like he was going to run it through his hair, but he didn’t. Chief Nixon asked that you be assigned. You’ve had an illustrious and distinguished career so far.

Nixon, huh? I met him once for at most three minutes.

The Company keeps track of its people, all of us.

Except for the mole.

Who said anything about a mole?

You did. That’s who I’m supposed to hunt—

I need you to keep your involvement close. Don’t tell anyone you don’t have to and certainly not the Rome bureau. Several stations are looking internally for that person. You are only responsible for Pisa.

He nodded. How long do I have?

As long as you need. Last night would have been perfect.

No leads? Walker had nothing to go on so far. The case was fantasy. The person he was supposed to find was a figment of everyone’s imagination. He needed some kind of help.

I was given one. Talk to Lombard De Luca with AISE. You can find him in Florence.

Anything else? He knew De Luca. Why would Larry consider a foreign colleague a lead? Hopefully, the agent would shed some light. Things were black right now, black like a coal mine and as sinister.

Watch your back. Everyone is edgy, and that includes the Slovenians.

Walker rose to leave. Sir, how do you want me to report and to whom?

To me for the moment. By any means you can. Twice a day would be acceptable.

As Walker turned the doorknob, his boss said, See Angela. She has your funds.

Once in the hall, Reed checked his pockets. He had no reason, but it was a habit whenever he met with Larry. After he left the front building, Reed walked along the colonnade to his office.

He enjoyed being outdoors, and the one hundred and seventy-five-foot trek through the colonnade gave him a chance to take in the sun’s warmth. The colonnade was constructed from arches spaced eight feet apart, so a patch of sun followed a short stretch of shade end to end. He liked the closeness he felt with the open air. While not completely outside, the contrasts of shade and light gave a hint of it.

He routinely analyzed crimes and statistically evaluated them. The offenses involved international issues, assassinations, and wars. Once in awhile, he’d be assigned a drug case if the drugs and their conveyance related either to espionage or terrorist attacks.

Reed found his work fascinating. His analyses took digging, talking with the agents, and interfacing with counterparts in other countries’ spy organizations. He even got the statistics right one time out of five operations, and that made him distinguished in Nixon’s mind. Reed had figured he would only be assigned to work the statistical underpinnings of the attack until Larry asked him into his office.

Well, he needed a break.

He took out a cigar and clamped down on it. He infrequently lit one, but it gave him something physical to do while he pecked away on his keyboard to input data and run models. However, he had to call De Luca, and that made him fidgety. He knew and liked De Luca, but he hated dealing with the Agenzia Informazioni e Sicurezza Esterna if for no other reason than their name was unpronounceable.

Larry had said to keep things tight, and in doing so implied he shouldn’t speak with other agencies. So, why had Larry told him to talk with the agent of AISE?

Chapter 2

Dwight Nixon uncomfortably sat in Senator Edwin McNaulty’s office, staring at the U.S. Flag with forty-eight stars. Nixon stared at it every time he visited the Senator but still had no idea what it represented to McNaulty. He knew the senator venerated the flag he inherited from his father, who served during WWII in the Air Corp, but that was about it. The flag stood in the corner by a window.

As I said, the Agency should have been on top of the situation. I hear the train was only protected by twelve police, said McNaulty, puffing up like a male pigeon courting a hen.

We’re investigating.

That’s exactly what I mean. You’re investigating on the back end. The CIA is budgeted to be on the front end.

Senator, we’re aware the Chinese sold the enriched uranium to Slovenia. Slovenian officials assured us and others it was to be used for a nuclear power plant. A pilot project is what they told us. We independently checked out the claim.


They were solid.

Then why did the Italian police intercede?

While the shipment was in transit, Slovenia passed a non-nuclear referendum like Italy did years ago. Because their government was concerned about the security of the shipment, they asked Italy to transport the uranium to Naples, where it would be shipped to Britain. Some British energy company bought the material. Italian officials told the Slovenian officials their state police would use an Italian freight engine.

The senator looked confused and changed the subject. I understand that shortly after eleven last night, the extremists stopped the train and killed all twelve guards.

Nixon scowled. We assigned an agent to look into that.

Only one?

The best, Senator, Nixon said in a casual tone, as if talking to a buddy about a golf game.

The Senator turned red as he spoke. You owe me explanations as soon as you find out anything. I want to be in the loop. Capitol Hill is pissed. McNaulty leaned forward, bracing himself on the desk on his arms.

You will be. Is there anything else? Nixon’s informal tone did not change.

Nothing. Leave.

Nixon was never so glad to be told to get out. He nearly ran for the fresh air outside the Capital. When he turned right to head to the parking lot and out of earshot of the Capitol, he grabbed his phone and dialed Underwood.

Larry, Senator McNaulty just told me that he learned shortly after the attack about all twelve guards getting killed.

How would he?

He shouldn’t. That’s what I want you to pursue. When I told him about the Slovenian resolution, he had no idea. The two don’t go together.

I’m on it, sir.

You have twenty-four hours. McNaulty has contacts we know nothing about. That’s also in our interest.

Both clicked off.


Underwood looked at the alarm clock next to his bed, 12:33, and considered the ramifications of the call he just received. As he thought about things, he dwelt on one aspect. McNaulty acquired, if that was the right word, information that only those within the Agency should have had access to given the secretiveness of the Italians prior to disseminating the horror story. He rolled his shoulders, stretched, and dialed Reed’s cell phone.

Reed, sorry to disturb your sleep. I heard from Nixon. He wants to understand how Senator McNaulty received details about the attack. That’s your new priority. Nothing else matters.

What do you mean by—

Outside of the Naples bureau, we were told after the fact the Italians conducted a clandestine operation, so information should’ve been nonexistent until the transfer to the British. But McNaulty heard about the twelve guards being killed immediately after the heist.

A weasel?

Yeah. Twenty-two hours, Reed.

Underwood canceled the call and kissed his wife, who lay next to him scowling. Night, dear.


Pisa, founded 180 years before Christ’s birth, was renowned for the Leaning Tower of Pisa. However, with several universities, theology schools, and trade schools, the city of 90,000 maintained one of the best-educated and enlightened citizenries in Italy. It sat in a valley surrounded by hills in western Tuscany and historically was a rival of Florence. Pisa was divided in two by the navigable Arno River that also flowed through Florence. Picturesque and vibrant, its buildings portrayed a medieval architecture across both public and private edifices. The city, like so many of Italy’s towns, was vibrant. Tourism gave pageantry to the town, and student life added animation. Pisa continued to flourish much the same as it did in 1298 when the tower was built.

The CIA decided to put a small station in the colorful city because of its geographic location in northern Italy and the lack of visitors. Unlike Rome that got millions of tourists, which made it hard to track opponents, enemies could easily be followed around the western and northern regions of Italy from Pisa. The office provided a quick response ability the Company needed. Also, being a little city, those who spied on the station were easier to identify.

Walker stood, stretched, and did a few jumping jacks to erase the torpor. He headed for the shower. I didn’t need sleep anyway, he mumbled caustically.

He dressed and walked to the train depot. He bought a ticket to Rome at a kiosk, boarded the Alta Velocità, and sat in coach. Everything about this case was evil and affected him in ways he hadn’t imagined. He was a statistician, not an operative. During the past two days while he scanned various databases to learn about the attack, he ate poorly, drank more, and was out of sorts. Reed kept glancing out the window without taking in the scenery. The possibility of a mole wouldn’t go away. Somebody left a Western novel on a seat near him. He picked it up, hoping to get his mind off the mole and thumbed through it, not really reading, only stopping momentarily on a page to graze.

He tossed the book onto the seat, looked out the window at a passing train, and muttered, All westerns, if they’re worth their salt, end in a gunfight. This wasn’t worth one grain.

What crossed his mind as the rising sun engulfed the train was high school. He’d joined the debate society primarily to meet a girl he liked. Over the course of a few months, he found debating suited him. It took logic like mathematics did. For one competition, he was given the position that spies were unnecessary and not good for a democratic society. At the time, it was not a position he believed. Upon accepting the appointed task, he delved into it with full vigor. He won the debate and consequently changed his opinion of espionage. Yet, he wound up in the world of subterfuge in both the Army and CIA. However, so far, his career didn’t involve functioning as one of the diehard spies, but he did work the periphery. Now, his boss had thrown him into the hornet’s nest. And he had no experience,

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