A Novel Experience

The purpose of this page is to allow the reader of my novels, Trapped in a Hall of Mirrors and Funhouse Mirrors, to gain further knowledge and experience with some of the locations, food, and gear featured in the novel. I hope this will further your enjoyment of this book.

Trapped in a Hall of Mirrors

Fort Meade

Location

NSA_fort_meadeThe Headquarters Building was only five years old at that time and it looked absolutely gigantic to me. It was said that the US Capitol could fit inside it four times with room to spare. This building was reputed to have the longest uninterrupted hallway in the world. It had darkened one-way glass and looked like a gigantic elongated black cube.

Gear

Model 360-95Next the digitized Cyrillic characters would be transferred onto the hard disk drives of our IBM System/360 Model 95. This was the largest supercomputer that IBM made at the time. It could perform a whopping 330 million multiplications per minute. The laptop I am using today to write this book can perform about 10 billion multiplications per SECOND, so you can see how slow this behemoth actually was compared to today’s computers.

Tehran

Food

Chello KababChelo Kabob was pretty much the national dish when I lived there and it tasted simply wonderful to me. Unique to Iran, it was made from ground lamb flattened and then grilled on skewers. It was then served on top of buttered saffroned Persian rice, flat bread, and grilled tomatoes. It tasted divine!

Locations

Grand BazaarTehran was an extremely modern and cosmopolitan city, yet still had a very ancient bazaar district: the Grand Bazaar. This was an amazing place, and was split into miles of corridors. Each corridor specialized in different types of goods: copper items, gold, carpets, spices, and innumerable other things. Modern goods and appliances were even available there. It was located in the southern part of Tehran and its corridors actually totaled over 6 miles in length.

Tehran SkylineTehran had a population of almost 5 million then and was located at about the same altitude as Denver. It sat right at the foot of the snow-capped Alborz mountain range. The climate was semi-arid, with the large central desert located immediately to the south of the city and a mountain range to the north. It was really a gigantic desert oasis.

KFC TehranI was put up in a Hilton hotel right in the heart of the downtown and just a short distance from the Ministry of War building. Improbably, right down the street from the hotel was a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. It was actually the only US fast food franchise in Iran, but when I first arrived it was a bit of a shock to me to see it there.

Yet Another Tehran Street SceneTehran traffic was simply horrendous, even in the middle of the day.

Russian Embassy TehranJake then said: “The big building on the right is the Soviet embassy.

cropped-violent-demonstration.jpgThe next month riots broke out in Tabriz and the police killed more demonstrators. Businesses, movie theaters, and banks were being burned to the ground there.

Iran AirI hurriedly loaded my suitcases into the cab, jumped in and shouted “Mehrabad”, the name of the International Airport.

Gear

PeykanThe streets were jammed with Peykans, a locally manufactured compact car.

Vienna

Food

WurstOne of my very favorite meals in this city was “wurst und semmel mit kraut”: a simple sausage on a roll with spicy mustard and a side of sauerkraut, all served on a paper plate. They were sold from little food carts stationed on street corners throughout the city for easy access by hungry lunch seekers. Simple food, but absolute taste perfection!

GoulashThis was followed by an amazing Austrian goulash, much richer and heartier than the Hungarian version of this dish…

Locations

StadtparkUpon my arrival I checked into the Hilton Hotel by the Stadtpark, a large park in the center of Vienna that contained a famous gilded statue of Johann Strauss.

StreetcarThe apartment was just off of Hietzinger Haupstrasse, a busy thoroughfare filled with restaurants, coffee houses, shops, as well as some small hotels. The Strassenbahn, or streetcar system, had a route that ran right down this street, making it easy for me to get around Vienna even without using a car.

Ministry of InteriorFrom there it was a short walk to the Ministry of Interior building where Captain Lehner’s office was located. The Ministry was located in a Hapsburg palace that had been built in 1811.

CobraI visited the headquarters of the GEK, the anti-terrorist and hostage rescue unit of the Gendarmerie. They put on a special training exercise just for me and I was amazed at how well they performed.

schloss-schoenbrunnI went back and visited the Schoenbrunn Palace again and walked every foot of its beautiful grounds.

Cafe-MozartHe asked me to meet him at the Café Mozart at 1:30 PM. When I arrived, I found it to be crowded with tourists.

cafe-dommayerOne Saturday morning I was sitting in a local coffee house near my apartment enjoying some sweet pastries and coffee, and reading the International Herald Tribune.

Gear

PPandP232002Franz insisted that we have a shooting contest between just the two of us. My Sig P230 against his Walther PPK.

Funhouse Mirrors

Austria

Food

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He had also ordered a Sacher Torte, just because it had the name of their hotel associated with it. He had no idea this was a classic and world famous Viennese dessert that had been created by Franz Sacher in 1832 for the Austrian Prince Metternich. It was a piece of chocolate cake unlike any dessert he had ever tasted.

Locations

vienna-general-aviation

I drove my car over to the airport’s General Aviation building and parked right in front of it. At this time of night there was no problem finding a close-by parking place.

hotel-sacher-bellhop_10804

They finally came to the Hotel Sacher, where the conference was being held and where they would be staying. As they arrived, uniformed bellhops greeted them and tried to take their suitcases.

wien_u-bahn-station_reumannplatz

The dead drop was near the Reumannplatz U-bahn station Kalin used every day when riding the subway to and from his home and the Bulgarian Embassy.

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This is what we call a shoot house. You can see all of the bullet holes in the walls, which is why it’s surrounded by these dirt berms and the hillside behind it. We do live fire training in it and the dirt berms and hillside absorb the bullets flying through the walls during the shooting. Inside, you’ll find hallways, rooms with open and closed doors, and people. Well, not real people, but cardboard images of people. Some of the people are innocents, and some are very bad people, indeed. The bad people all have guns that they want to use to kill you. So, what you need to do is to safely navigate through the shoot house leaving the innocents alone, and shooting the bad people before they can kill you. I’ll teach you how to do this. You’ll need to learn to use concealment and cover, how to avoid being ambushed, and how to neutralize the bad people without harming the innocents. So, are ready to learn how to do this?

Gear

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Stephen, it’s no toy. The Mini-Uzi is the newest model of the Uzi. It’s actually small enough to conceal under a coat with a special holster. I’m going to give you one of those, too. The Secret Service detail protecting your President now carries concealed Mini-Uzi’s.

Moscow

Food

syrniki-8

His favorite breakfast was actually symiki: cottage cheese dumplings served with jam and sour cream, but he didn’t want Galya having to cook anything for him in the morning.

Locations

other-structures-were-repurposed-these-eighteen-16-story-buildings-were-created-to-house-athletes-at-the-the-1980-summer-olympic

It was a fine June day in Moscow, so Artyom decided to skip the bus and walk to work. It would take him about forty-five minutes and would give him some time to think about what he would say to his boss, the Director of the Institute, about getting Galya medical treatment in the West. He passed by many modern high-rise apartment buildings on his way there, strolled past a park, and soon found himself at the Institute.

Northern Virginia

Food

eggs-benedict-horiz-a-1600

We soon fell into a routine. Art and I would rise fairly early each morning and come down to the kitchen for an incredible breakfast prepared by Martha. We soon arrived on a favorite for the both of us: eggs benedict. Martha could make this dish better than anyone else I had ever encountered. We had it at least three times a week.

Locations

giant

He then asked to go for a ride to the nearby town of Manassas and to walk around in a supermarket there. While in the market, he kept going on and on about how he couldn’t believe the amount of food and the number of varieties available in the market.

Gear

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The spacecraft weighs 2.2 tons and features a main engine and seventeen thrusters, enabling it to accomplish any conceivable orbital maneuvers, even the very energy demanding inclination change of its orbital plane. It is packed with explosives and maneuvers close to its target, explodes, and peppers the target with masses of high-velocity shrapnel.