The Lethal Fisherman

The Lethal Fisherman

by JJ Burke

ISBN: 9781626946491

Publisher Black Opal Books

Published in Mystery & Thrillers/Mystery, Literature & Fiction/Contemporary, Mystery & Thrillers, Literature & Fiction

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Book Description


Six years as a covert operative had left Jon with a lot of memories--most of them bad, all of them bloody. He retired, seeking refuge in commercial fishing. A simple solitary life. His only ghost, occasional very realistic flash backs. An unusual event spawned a reawakening of a deadly memory & the beginning of a very real nightmare.

Sample Chapter


Six years as a covert operative had left Jon Morton with a lot of memories…most of them bad, all of them bloody. He returned to civilian life, seeking refuge in commercial fishing. This simple, somewhat solitary life allowed him to avoid the dark side of humanity. Hopefully the ocean would, in time, wash away his mind searing memories. He had learned to live with them, and the occasional flashback, accepting the fact that this was just how it was going to be…the price he had to pay. That was until one ordinary day that was to become the first in a series of unusual events, which spawned a reawakening of one deadly memory, and the beginning of a very real nightmare.


Day Break

Two men lay completely concealed, maintaining total silence, among the crevasses and boulders of a mountainside in Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border. They had climbed up the back side of the mountain to their secure position under cover of night. These men weren’t friends, just acquaintances of the moment--neither fully trusting the other. One was an American, the other Albanian.

Both were both dressed in white Alpine winter camouflage suits and everything they carried was also carefully concealed in white. It had been snowing lightly and sporadically for the last two hours, adding little to the already existing, heavy accumulation. The Albanian whispered two words. “Snow good.”

The American simply nodded. They both knew the snow acted as a muffler, deadening any slight sounds they might make.

Jon Morton, a covert operative, was there as a spotter for the Albanian, Tovar Kostarovich. Kostarovich was arguably the world’s best known extreme distance sniper. Eleven hundred yards away was a tiny village, just a group of huts clustered together, alongside a rough dirt road. Intel indicated the village to be this day’s destination for one of the world’s most notorious white slave traffickers, dealing only in boys and girls under the age of sixteen. This human vulture, Anton Breshlav, was their target.

Jon had been continuously scanning the single road that serviced the town with ultra-high power optics. He tapped Tovar’s arm and whispered, “Car coming.”

Tovar snapped the protective lens covers off the telescopic sight mounted on his fifty caliber, Russian-made sniper rifle.

Tovar had become a free agent--a rogue--for sale to anyone willing to pay his price. The price for this hit was fifty thousand US dollars. In his light backpack was a bundle of cash, twenty-five thousand dollars. The arrangement was simple. Twenty-five up front, the other twenty-five when the hit was confirmed. But there was to be no second payment after this target was hit. Intelligence had confirmed that Tovar was the shooter who had terminated a high-ranking British MI-6 agent. Tovar was playing both sides and now had to be eliminated.

The air was amazingly still, snowflakes fell straight down, perfect for the shot. Jon confirmed the target, now out of the car. “Black fur hat. The only one.”

Jon kept his optics trained on the target. He heard the hiss as the silenced weapon fired and, in just under two seconds watched the target’s head explode in a burst of red droplets. That son-of-a-bitch sure can shoot.

Both men hugged the frozen ground, crawling quickly back over the ridge until well out of sight of the village. Tovar held out his left hand, sniper rifle in his right, a sardonic smile on his lips. The meaning was dangerously evident. At the same time, he kept a wary eye on Jon’s side-arm and right hand. Jon reached back, pulling off his light backpack. He zipped it open and reached in. “Your completion payment.”

When his hand came out, it was not with money, but a silenced, semi-automatic, Beretta M9. The first shot hit Tovar in the forehead and the second, an instant later as Tovar’s head snapped back, in his mouth. A scattered spray pattern of crimson now profaned the new snow. Jon quickly retrieved the initial payment from Tovar’s pack. He then proceeded to pour a small vial of powerful acid, into the breach of the sniper rifle. In minutes, it would be useless. Jon left the scene with both missions accomplished. He carried but one addition--the twenty-five thousand dollar deposit for the hit. The snowfall was getting heavier as he started down the back side of the mountain toward his extraction point--


Jon opened his eyes and sat up abruptly. Damn! Didn’t need that. Rehashing a seven-year-old op. Got to work on getting away from that habit. He glanced at the clock on his night table. Three-forty-one. Why do I even bother? He reached out to shut off the alarm clock, pre-set for three-fifty.

The start of each day was usually a carbon-copy of the one before. Not that it was planned that way, just that it had become a smooth and comfortable procedure. Toilet, wash, shave, brush teeth, comb hair, and then dress. He would, occasionally, stop in the kitchen for a glass of orange juice then out the door for his solitary walk to the docks. His routine was purposely simple and repetitive--a direct opposite from his former, covert world.

“God, it’s dark!” That softly whispered statement was the first conscious thought in today’s solitary and daily journey. This morning was one of those rare mornings when the moon, and the last scattering of morning stars, had fled the night sky. However, the first vestiges of dawn were late in brightening the eastern horizon. It was often, at times such as these, that his mind would mercilessly dredge up and replay the multiple scenes of cruel death, torture, and violent destruction that had, at one time, been an integral part of his existence. The aftermath of these flashbacks were at times so vivid, he could actually see the carnage, smell the stench of death. One of these episodes would usually leave him drained, both physically and emotionally. His early recognition of this mental stress had been the primary cause for his retirement from the service. On several occasions, he had considered that these unwanted mental regressions into his past could be a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. Jon would not, however, allow himself the truth of a clinical diagnosis. For this reason, he carried a hidden inner resentment toward special ops--not for what he had done, but for what it had done to him. He took another deep breath, inhaling the mildly pungent salt air. The air, close to the sea, was laden with the ocean’s overtones of seaweed and fish. Each breath allowed the cathartic value of the ocean air to envelope his mind and body, driving the demons of his past back into his subconscious. I hope that, in time, they’ll stay buried forever.

He had been a superbly trained operative, with a unique mindset that had allowed him to run covert operations throughout the world, exterminating the scum of humanity, whether criminal or political then return home as if it had been just another day at the office. His superiors had called him “one of the best”. Now all he wanted to do was put that life far behind, buried in the recesses of his mind, to stay there forgotten and undisturbed.

Jon was neared the water’s edge. He could now hear the persistent, yet still faint, sound of the gentle swells, sweeping the shore as if attempting to brush away unseen specks of dirt. There was a light contact on the back of his left hand. Reflexively, he swiped it across his pants leg. Damned mosquitoes.

Within minutes, the coal black sky began to gray then brighten and undergo a metamorphosis into multiple shades of blue. In the previously indefinable distance, a hairline crack in the fading black void appeared. At first just a faint line, with subtle hues of white and pink, dividing the ocean from the sky and beginning to define the existence of objects, living and inert. The line slowly expanded and began to glow with an orange hue and then as if by magic, the top edge of the huge, fire red sun appeared over the horizon. It was as if the foreboding, dark, ocean had suddenly given birth to this radiant symbol of life and a new day. The sun continued on its upward path, burning off the predawn, gossamer haze as it rose. The surface of the ocean, once a black, undulating and unknown expanse, took on a new life, painted with shades of blue and turquoise with bright, shimmering, hues of reflected red and gold sunlight.

Jon left the narrow path and made his way over the wet, moss-covered rocks that were littered with a vast assortment of seashells. These were the weather-bleached external skeletons of thousands of shellfish that had, as all life, served their brief purpose and passed into oblivion, leaving only a hint of their former existence. His high rubber boots, designed to be both warm and waterproof, were scarred from long use on such surfaces, cut by the razor edges of the numerous shells and gouged by both the unforgiving surfaces of the rocks as well as the spiny fins of his daily catch. By now the sea birds had begun to appear, filling the air with their raucous cries, once again to start their daily, and endless quest for food.

The rocks under his feet gave way to pebbles and then just sand. He turned toward the small cove, which sheltered the pier where his boat was docked. There was definitely a much easier way to the pier--down the main road and then onto the paved path to the harbor, but the path he chose to travel each day gave Jon a feeling of inner peace and a closer, more welcome relationship with his present life. The white and green excrement from one of the circling gulls hit the sand nearby and splattered onto his right boot.

“Shit!” Then he laughed aloud, realizing that his utterance was both a statement of annoyance as well as a fact.


Excerpted from "The Lethal Fisherman" by JJ Burke. Copyright © 2017 by JJ Burke. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

JJ Burke

JJ Burke

I was born in Brooklyn NY, and through subsequent moves spent the majority of my formative years in New Rochelle, NY (Westchester County).

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