A late-night talk-show host fascinated by the paranormal becomes entangled in a deadly conspiracy in Night Talk, from #1 all-night radio host George Noory.
Greg Nowell is a voice in the darknessa late-night talk-show host who tackles controversial subjects, from angels to aliens and government agencies so deep in shadow that the puppet strings they use to exercise control are invisible. His radio show is a world of the paranormal and paranoia, where claims of alien abductions, Big Foot sightings, and a mysterious world government are the norm.
Greg's world explodes when government agents accuse him of having received ultra-secret files from Ethan Shaw, a hacker intent on exposing a secret cabal with tentacles throughout the government. Greg knows nothing about the files. When Shaw is killed and the evidence points to Greg, the radio personality goes on the run, stalked by a demented assassin. As he tries to unravel the deadly secrets the hacker uncovered, Greg is helped by Alyssa Neal, a mysterious woman who says Shaw also dragged her into the boiling cauldron of intrigue.
Greg realizes his paranoia is really "heightened awareness" of strange machinations. He seeks help from callers to his show who don't trust the government, have gone "under the radar," or are angry and paranoid about the vast gathering of information and invasions of privacy by government agencies.
|Publisher:||Tom Doherty Associates|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
GEORGE NOORY is the host of the nationally syndicated program Coast to Coast AM, which is broadcast over 500 radio stations and streamed over the Internet to more than 10 million people per night. Night Talk is his fourth book.
Read an Excerpt
By George Noory
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2016 George Noory
All rights reserved.
"This is Night Talk with the Nighthawk. We're back on the phones with time for one more call before we sign off. Let's go to Josh in Grand Junction, Colorado."
Greg Nowell's late-night radio talk show ran from ten at night to three in the morning. He had been sitting in front of the microphone for five hours, still going strong but a little tired because the show required a lot of energy and staying constantly on his toes. Tonight's show had been filled with guests who had spoken about near-death experiences, a psychic who led the police to a child killer and a UFO incident over Stonehenge, followed by "Open Lines," in which callers from all over the country called in to discuss what troubled or interested them.
"Thanks for having me on, Greg. I listen to your show every night but I haven't gotten up the courage to call in. I ... I like your show because you listen to people; you aren't out there lecturing everyone, telling people what they should have done instead of what they did. But like I said, I haven't had the courage."
It was closing in on the time for Greg to make it a short call and hang it up for the night, to go home, put his feet up and have a glass of red wine. But something in the man's tone caught his attention.
Colorado was an hour ahead of L.A., making it nearly four in the morning for Josh. Greg sensed both fatigue and tension in the man's voice. Not just the nervous tinge some callers get when they suddenly realize they're on a national radio show, but sadness, even grief. Josh obviously wanted to talk but it was hard for him. Like he said, he had to get up his courage to make the call.
"You got the courage tonight and you're among millions of friends coast to coast and overseas. We have strength in numbers and we're here to share with you."
Greg shrugged as Vince, his broadcast engineer, gave him a grin and a shake of his head. The engineer had picked up on the stress in the caller's voice and Greg's empathetic response. His late-night talk show got all kinds of callers, some with fear and anxiety about the world they lived in, some with information or observations they wanted to share and sometimes a caller who just needed a sympathetic ear. Many sensed that they lived in a world manipulated by unknown forces that operated in secret and conspired to achieve complete control.
Greg was seated at the broadcast desk. In front of him, almost in his face, was a big microphone that hung from a flexible arm mounted on the desk. Besides the microphone, the large desk held his keyboard, computer monitor and other screens displaying information. Three other positions with computer plug-ins and mics were available for in-studio guests.
Vince was positioned at the control console across the room. To Greg's right was a large window that divided his soundproof broadcasting booth from the control room where Soledad, his producer, and her assistant were positioned.
Soledad was the show runner. She screened all incoming calls, putting the callers she approved in a queue. Their names, locations and subject matter appeared on a screen in front of Greg so he could introduce them.
The studio was located in L.A.'s historic Broadway Theater District, where twelve movie palaces, grand dames of the Golden Age of Hollywood, still stood.
"It's about what happened to my family," Josh said. "Three years ago, out near the Four Corners, where those states all bump. We were making our way home after visiting my wife's family in Albuquerque ... me, Emma and our baby."
"Four Corners; I've been there, out to the monument and some of the small towns in the area," Greg said. "Give me a second; I want to bring up a satellite view of it on my screen."
He brought up a map and then a ground image of the quadripoint where Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico came together, the only place in the country where four states touched. A short distance off Route 160, at the exact spot where the corners of the four states met, was a monument maintained by the Navajo Nation.
The region was sparsely inhabited at best and much of it was under the auspices of Native American nations. Rocks, dirt, stunted plants and not much else populated most of the region. Even the sagebrush looked lonely.
"That's quite a desolate stretch, Josh. Some of it looks like the moon."
"It's the dark side of the moon at night. You drive for miles and miles and there isn't anything but sagebrush and rattlesnakes in every direction."
"True. But it's a hot territory for UFO sightings. All of New Mexico is — Roswell, Aztec, Dulce, the secret experiments at Los Alamos. UFOs seem to flourish out there like orchids in a hothouse."
"Yeah, that's because there are places out there where nobody is going to see what's happening."
"You see something out there, Josh?"
"Yeah, but they won't believe me."
"Who won't believe you?"
"Nobody. Not one damn person." His voice cracked. "Not the police, my wife's family ..."
"What happened out there, Josh? What did you see?"
"It came down right in front of me with lots of lights, just like in the movies. A big disk, just hovering there over the highway."
"Yeah, a UFO with blinding lights. Lights that felt like they were sucking out my eyeballs. Hypnotizing me as I stared at them. I couldn't take my eyes off of them, I couldn't see the road, couldn't feel the steering wheel in my hand. I felt like I was being sucked out of the car, into the darkness, but no one believes me."
"What about your wife? What does she say?"
Soledad shot him a look with her eyebrows raised and Greg grimaced. He realized he had asked a bad question as soon as it rolled off his tongue. The man wasn't grieving because he saw a UFO, but because of what happened after he was blinded by the light.
There was a heavy silence on the other end of the line. Greg could hear Josh breathing, choking back a sob.
"She — she ... they ... Emma and the baby — Oliver, that was his name, the name of our son ..."
Greg's guts tightened. He wanted to crawl under his desk and hide but he had to help the guy out. The man had kept the story festering in his heart for too long. He needed to get it out and realize that he was not alone, that there were others who had had tragic incidents. Greg spoke softly. "They're gone, Josh?"
"They said I ran off the road. I told the cops that I was hypnotized by the lights, the blinding lights, but they said that it happens because the road is so damn long and straight and narrow that people just doze off and run off the road. We rolled — rolled over a couple of times."
Greg had heard the story before — cars drifting off long, narrow flatland roads and rolling. The highways in the Four Corners region were classic flat roads, slender black ribbons elevated a few feet off the desert floor on either side to keep them from being washed out by flash floods. Elevating the road with little shoulder room on either side meant it didn't take much to go off and roll.
With no houses or traffic for miles in any direction, it was also a perfect place for a UFO encounter — long distances with little traffic, especially at night, settlements few and far between.
"I told them but they wouldn't listen to me," Josh said. "They thought I was making excuses and there weren't any witnesses."
Greg felt the need to relieve some of the man's pain.
"Sure there was, Josh; you're an eyewitness, you were there. You saw what happened. You're just another witness that gets discredited because you saw something the powers that be don't want us to know about. That's how it's been since the beginning. The government discredits anyone who stumbles onto evidence that we have visitors from the beyond."
Josh sucked in a breath. "You're right, you're right, I saw it, I am a witness. They should have taken my word."
Greg eased Josh off the air and went through sign-off. He crumbled broadcast notes into a ball and tossed it at Vince. "Let's shut this place down."
Soledad came into the room.
Greg said, "You knew he'd be a tough one for me. You should have warned me."
She gave him a grin. "You're at your best when you suck in someone else's problems."
"The poor guy is consumed with guilt. And you know what, who knows what happened out there? It's the kind of place where you could set off a nuke and no one would notice."
"You're not off the hook yet. Your favorite hacker insists on talking to you."
She tried to hand him the phone and he waved it off.
"How does he sound?" Greg asked.
"Weird. Frightened. Scary."CHAPTER 2
A woman wearing a knee-length black cashmere hooded overcoat and boots walked quickly, purposefully, down Los Angeles's Broadway Theater District. Her boots were also black and came up to just below the knee. The overcoat she wore was more to hide her features than for the weather. She didn't want to be seen well enough to be identified.
Under the coat she was thirtyish, tall, a hair below five-ten, slender but toned from a gym membership she bullied herself into using three or four times a week.
Her feet forced her along as her mind wrestled with dilemmas. Serious-minded in ordinary times and not always approachable because she tended to become engrossed with whatever she was dealing with, she had a tendency to give a small, efficient smile even when brushing someone off. Tonight she was tense and anxious as she hurried to a rendezvous with a man she hadn't met before. They were to discuss taking part in a crime.
The night air in the City of Angels tasted like moist exhaust fumes recycled from tailpipes on the warm, dark, smoggy-foggy night.
It was late, just after three in the morning, long enough past midnight for few cars or people to be on the downtown street, but still not a safe place for a woman alone. Cops said nothing good happens on the streets after midnight.
Her right hand was in a side pocket of the overcoat gripping a can of wasp spray. The woman running a self-defense course she took had recommended it over pepper spray because it sprayed accurately up to thirty feet and would cause an attacker severe pain. The instructor also recommended that if she sprayed anyone that she should tell the cops she had been carrying it for a wasp problem and not to ward off a human attacker since it might damage the assailant's eyesight.
She was both practical and expedient. She didn't want to blind anyone, but if someone was going to get brutalized during a criminal act, she preferred it be the criminal. And she would follow her instructor's advice and tell the police the spray was for wasps.
She knew she was being filmed as she walked. Cameras on the street operated twenty-four/seven but they were CCTV units, closed-circuit television. Most likely she was being filmed but not observed because there was little chance security people were monitoring the images.
Her destination was a movie palace on the street. The movies were born in Los Angeles and no place showed it better than Broadway. There were still twelve movie palaces in six blocks, each a glittering work of art where the stars of yesteryear, like Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, walked — or danced — on red carpets to attend gala premieres while powerful searchlights on the street out front of the theaters sent beams of light into the night sky that could be seen for miles.
Not all the theaters were restored and some were being used as a flea market or church, but the Los Angeles, Million Dollar, Roxie and other surviving palaces were the tattered remains of grand dames from an elegant time before the center of the city had been abandoned by everyone who could afford the move, leaving the streets first to winos and the homeless and then to the undocumented immigrants who reclaimed it as the Hispanic outpost it had once been.
She was hurrying to the "newest" of the great movie palaces on the street, the Los Angeles. The theater opened in 1931 with a premiere of Charlie Chaplin's City Lights, a romantic comedy in which Chaplin's Tramp falls in love with a blind girl. Albert Einstein had been in the audience opening night.
When the location had been chosen for the rendezvous, she Googled the theater and found out it was on the National Register of Historical Places. The exterior of the building had tall Greco-Romanesque columns; the lavish interior had a crystal fountain that stood at the head of the grand staircase and was modeled after the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.
The theater hadn't been chosen because it was a historical landmark, however, but because it was convenient.
The boom — boom — boom of Latino rap rattled store windows as a black Cadillac Escalade low rider came down Broadway.
The woman picked up her speed and got under the marquee and back behind the box office as the low rider cruised by carrying four gangbangers. The hood of the SUV had a painting of a saucy senorita with bold dark eyes and incredibly large breasts riding a bull.
She almost jumped out of her boots as someone behind her offered the observation.
A tall man, bony, with a buzz cut, an ebony complexion and a musical Jamaican accent, asked, "Alyssa Neal?" She nodded.
"I'm Rohan," he said.
She let out a breath she'd been holding and relaxed her finger on the wasp spray trigger.
He wore a rimless soft cloth pull-on cap with red, yellow and green bands, an olive-drab mesh wife beater and green running pants. The formfitting shirt bulged from a protrusion of beer belly. He had facial hair that was too long and too frowzy for a fashionable two-day shadow.
The most significant impression he made on her was that he was frazzled. From fatigue and nervous exhaustion. And probably too many pills that wind you up and bring you back down, she thought.
"Ethan won't talk to me," Rohan said. "He's been smoking so much glass his head is spinning."
Glass was crystal meth.
"I can't get him to respond, either," she said.
"He says he's going to see Greg Nowell," Rohan said. "Wait for Nowell to come out of the building after the show. That's why I asked you to meet me. We better hurry."
She gripped the wasp spray in her pocket tighter.CHAPTER 3
"Ethan sounds pretty wired."
Soledad tried handing Greg the phone again.
"Tell Ethan I'm not available. Better yet, I've been beamed up and won't be back for a light-year."
Ethan Shaw was a computer hacker. Caught hacking, he was given the choice of working for the government to test the security of systems or going to jail. But Ethan didn't come across to Greg as an antisocial tech whiz who wanted to shut down Wall Street or the government just to see if he could do it. Greg welcomed him on the show because he brought good ideas and insider information to the discussions. Like Greg, Ethan believed that information gathering and invasions of people's privacy by government and businesses were way over the top.
In his first call Ethan had spoken about how connecting common household devices onto the Internet for access was creating an "Internet of Things" that threw private lives open to hackers — like himself.
"From anywhere in the world you can control your home alarm system," Ethan had said his first night on, "or use cameras to check on kids, babysitters and workers, set the temperature for the house and the fridge, turn on the sprinklers and open the garage door. Cars are getting electronic interconnections so you know how fast your kid's driving, check your tire pressure and brake fluid and even stop a car thief from getting away.
"But this Internet of Things is going to be the Internet of Everything Wrong because what you can do, a hacker can do. Someone with the fraction of the talent for hacking that I have can walk up to your house with their cell phone and turn off your alarm and open your door. Do you have a system that can turn off your engine remotely if the car's stolen? If you can, so can a hacker. The road rage incidents of the future are going to involve a hacker in the car behind you accessing your car's programming and ramping up the speed of your car while you're driving it or turning off its brakes or activating the anti-theft device that causes the car to come to a sudden stop.
"I can go on and on about what low-level hackers can do but check out this. You don't like people getting access to your computer and your money? Guess what, hacking into your house isn't that complicated. How are you going to like it when a neighbor hacks into that camera system you set up in your house to check on your kids and turns your family into reality show stars? And puts it online with you wandering around in your underwear."
Excerpted from Night Talk by George Noory. Copyright © 2016 George Noory. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
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