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149 pages
1 heure
Jan 1, 2020


As usual, Pam Robinson doubts herself at times, exudes confidence at others. She can be sensitive and sympathetic or sarcastic and abrasive. A stubborn employee, a pushy visitor, and a legal complication demand her attention as Acting Director of the ATF. Then a domestic terrorist strikes at a time that her headquarters obligations prevent her from responding directly. She must rely on other agents to do what she would prefer doing herself. Adding to her anxiety is the possibility that her boss may not be able to resume his duties as Director. Her own job could be in jeopardy anyway after her outspoken manner alienates a representative of the powerful American Firearms Association. Making compromises is not part of her nature, and refusal to do so now might end her career.

Jan 1, 2020

À propos de l'auteur

Native Texan and Vietnam veteran Hal Williams is the author of twenty-six novels including fifteen books of the "Persephone of the ATF" series. His writing style reflects his wealth of experiences ranging from rock-n-roll musician and racecar driver to working journalist and book manuscript editor. In addition to writing and still working around racecars, Hal enjoys playing bridge, target shooting, and collecting vintage revolvers. He lives in the Dallas area.

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Ricochet - Hal Williams


A novel


All rights reserved under International and Pan American copyright conventions. No part of this eBook may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without the express written consent of the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

This is a work of fiction. The characters and situations—other than public figures identified by their real names and documented historical events—are products of the author's imagination and are not intended to portray actual persons or events. All references to actual locations and establishments are intended only to give the novel a framework of reality and are used fictitiously.

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this eBook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this eBook and did not purchase it, or if it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Copyright © 2019 by Hal Williams

ISBN 9780463255889

Smashwords Edition

A special thank you to Dr. Matthew F. Davis of Inpatient Physician

Associates, Dallas, Texas, for his review of and contribution to the

medical passages in this novel.


PLEASE DON’T do this to me.

Take it easy, Rick Conroe told Pam Robinson on that sunny early April Thursday. It’s not like I have an option.

She ran both hands through her pixie-cut blonde hair. I’m barely keeping my head above water as Deputy Director. I can’t take over for you.

It’s only temporary, Pam. I’ll only be out for a couple of weeks, so the doctor tells me. I just can’t put off this surgery any longer.

Oh, Rick, I know. I’m sorry for blowing my top. But Acting Director of ATF? How am I supposed to handle that?

With a lot of support from Meredith, Tricia, Christine, and your Assistant Directors. You’ll have to put leashes on your temper and your sarcasm, and I know you can do that. You’ll also have weekly meetings with Attorney General Fielding, and you can handle that, too.

I’m not sure he likes me.

What he doesn’t like is having you shoot people. When we got bombed back at Christmas, he wanted you to brief the press because he knows you’re the best at it. He respects you a lot. On a personal level, I think he likes you very much.

I hope you’re right.

Conroe smiled. It won’t hurt if you go out of your way to be nice.

My mother used to tell me the same thing.

Wise woman.

Yes, she was. When’s your surgery?

Monday, he said. I have to be at Walter Reed at six in the morning.

They’re removing your gall bladder, right?

Right. Supposedly that will alleviate the pain I’ve been having.

I know you’ve had some bad days, Pam said, so I sure hope it works.

Thanks. So do I. Now, I wont be incapacitated once I’m home, so you can call me any time you need to, okay?

Okay, Rick. Should I move to your office?

Well, it would be far more convenient for Meredith and Tricia if they didn’t need to come to yours.

Enough said. I’ll do that. You just behave and get back here as quick as you can.

In only three months on the job, Darcy Temple had managed to alienate dozens of employees in the Ariel Rios Federal Building, national headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives..

What’s the purpose of this request? she asked Pam on Monday.

I’m changing my name.


My divorce has become final. Finally.

Did Director Conroe authorize this?

I’m authorizing it.

I don’t think you can do that, Temple said.

Pam’s green eyes narrowed as she glared at the woman who had replaced Carol Hoskins, a Christmas bombing fatality. Carol had been pleasant and accommodating, always smiling and always helpful. Temple brought impeccable industry credentials as a human resources specialist, but in Pam’s view, none as a nice person.

Ms. Temple, Director Conroe is on medical leave. As of today, I am Acting Director. If you think I can’t authorize it, you’d better think again.

I think you’ll have to wait until he returns. Come back when you have a written authorization from him.

If I have to come back, I’ll be bringing your pink slip with me. Pam stalked out of the HR office, now situated in a different area. Workmen continued to repair damage to the east corridor where Carol’s office location had been. Where Carol had died, Pam recalled sadly.

She went to her newly temporary office and left her black canvas duster on the rack before approaching Meredith Clay, Conroe’s long serving executive assistant.

What do I have to do to fire somebody? she asked.


You guessed it.

Well, you have to have a reason based on work performance, Meredith said. Rude and uncooperative doesn’t count.

It should.

I’m not disagreeing with you there, but unless she’s done something substandard or illegal, it would be really hard. That’s the way it is with federal employees.

Rick fired Cunningham.

Yes, he did, but he had documented proof that Cunningham was using work time for another unrelated purpose.

So there’s nothing I can do?

What brought this on?

I told her I wanted to change my ID name back to Robinson. My divorce is final. She told me she wouldn’t do it without Rick’s authorization.

But you’re Acting Director.

Pam nodded. That’s what I told her, but she decided to be stubborn.

"Oh. Okay. Let me call her. Maybe I can make her understand that you are the Director for the time being."

Thanks, Meredith.

In the meantime, you need to call this contractor. There’s a problem.


Pam sat in Conroe’s chair feeling totally out of place. Guess I have to do this. She called the number on Meredith’s lengthy note.

That’s not acceptable, she said after hearing the explanation. We expect you to adhere to the timetable you submitted with your original bid.

The federal government had long allowed civilian contractors ranging from top architects to day laborers to undertake construction and repair projects, but the General Services Administration demanded performance. Unlike with first-time procurements, engineering change orders did not relieve the contractors of their on-time and on-budget obligations.

Promise the moon, deliver moon pies. I can always cancel your contract, she said. I don’t want to, but I will if you can’t get the job done by the date specified. You can call me back. She hung up.

Not good? Meredith asked.

The company says it can’t get the ballistic glass we want before May. They bid based on a completion date of April fifteenth.

That’s what I thought. Okay. I think you can go see Temple now.

I don’t think so, Pam said. She can come to me.

I’ll tell her that, but you may be crowding your luck.


MARIAN WORTHAM greeted Renee Owens with a huge smile and two cinnamon rolls even larger.

You’re wrecking my diet, Renee said, but she accepted a glazed pastry from the sturdily built black woman who now led the Arson and Explosives Division.

Mine, too, Marian said, but these are so good.

Remind me to hate you when I get on the scale at home.

Oh, no, no, no. I’m not twisting your arm. You put that thing in your mouth and the responsibility is all yours.

Renee took a bite. I love these things. Did you get them at the shop over by Dupont Circle?

No. I never go near that place if I can help it. These came from a little bakery not far from my house. I don’t stop there very often.

I can see why, Renee said. Then again, I can’t. I’d probably go there every day.

If I did that I’d weigh three hundred pounds. What’s happening today?

Lots of the usual. Requests for information, requests for depositions. There is one odd one, though.

What is it?

A lawyer in Annandale wants all the documentation on that parking garage fire last year.

So? There’s no reason not to give him what we have. Nothing conclusive came out of that investigation. The Arlington Fire Department should have a similar report.

Okay, Renee said. I didn’t want to send it out without asking you first.

Marian took her pastry into her office and picked up the phone.

Director’s office, greeted Tricia Soileau, Conroe’s secretary and receptionist.

Good morning, Tricia. Is Pam available?

She is, but she’s not in a very good mood.

I’ve seen her that way before. Go ahead and hook me up.

What’s up, Marian?

Not too much, Marian said. How is it wearing the big hat?

Makes my head hurt, Pam said. I’ve already had run-ins with our new HR bitch and the window contractor, and it’s not even nine o’clock.

Welcome to the big leagues.

What’s going on over there?

Renee got a request from a lawyer wanting our report on that Arlington parking structure fire.

That was months ago, Pam said. What’s he been waiting on?

No idea. I told Renee to go ahead and send it.

Sure. That’s what we’re here for.

What was the issue with Frau Temple. Did you not click your heels?

She says I can’t change my name back to Robinson on my ID.

What the hell? You’re the Director until Rick gets back. You should be able to call yourself Cleopatra if you want.

"Persephone would be more apt, but Meredith was going to speak to her. If she bucks me again, I’m going to find a reason

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