David Stone Books






























The Venetian Judgment

     "Ever heard of The Venona Project? Anyone? You, in the back row? You have? Good for you! And what do you do for a living? Ah! You're a CIA plant, here in the audience, trying to set me up for a honey trap later? Okay. Thank you for your honesty. Anybody else? No? I didn't think so. Don't take it personally. You weren't meant to. At least, the New York Times and The Nation sure didn't want you to. Venona was a Top Secret – so Top Secret they didn't tell FDR about it, or Truman – cable surveillance program set up in the later years of World War Two to intercept and decrypt Soviet cable traffic between Moscow and New York and Washington DC. Over the course of ten years, this secret operation – composed largely of women – intercepted over thirty thousand cables, all of them heavily encrypted, cables between Stalin and his spies in almost every important US government organization, including The State Department, the War Office, the OSS – yes the OSS! – and even on the President's personal staff.

     VENONA, as it came to be called, managed to decrypt – not in real time – with a lag of two to three years – over three thousand of the thirty thousand cables intercepted. And they were dynamite, literally, proving beyond any hint of uncertainty that the US had been heavily compromised by spies working for Stalin, spies deeply in sympathy with the aims of the Soviet Union, which was to bury the US.

     VENONA transcripts proved conclusively the prolonged treason of people such as Alger Hiss, Lachlan Currie, the Rosenbergs, literally hundreds of others … and retroactively partially-rehabilitated the ruined reputation of one Illinois Senator Joseph McCarthy. At least among the people who actually got to hear about VENONA in the first place, which was practically nobody.

     Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan lobbied for the release of the VENONA transcript for years, finally succeeding in 1995, in a massive ceremony on Capitol Hill covered by … none of the major news outlets, most of whom were heavily invested in officially denouncing anything Joe McCarthy had ever stated, including "Thanks" and "Good Morning".

     Anyway, a wonderful premise for a story-behind-the-story and that's how THE VENETIAN JUDGMENT got started."

David Stone.

A Short Conversation about The Venetian Judgment with David Stone

You have another Micah Dalton book on the stands now, The Venetian Judgment. Is it a direct sequel to The Echelon Vendetta and The Orpheus Deception?

David Stone: It's a direct sequel in the sense that it picks up right where The Orpheus Deception leaves off, but the story turns into a pretty wild ride for Dalton. This time out, he's trying to find out if there's a mole in the CIA or if what's going on back in Langley is just another KGB Confusion Op -

What's a Confusion Op?

DAVID STONE: Classic espionage tactic. Since the integrity of any espionage network is so vital, any kind of doubt that can be created about agents and sources can literally paralyze your operations. It's often done with false defectors, sometimes with cooked data planted where you'll trip over it. That's the basic story behind The Venetian Judgment.

The Venetian Judgment is also based on real events?

DAVID STONE: As real as they come. I think most spy story fans like to know they're getting solid operational data and real trade-craft details in the novel. Besides, nothing you could make up could begin to match what really goes on in the covert world.

And you keep up with that covert world?

DAVID STONE: Yes. I stay on it. I'm on it every day. And so is my wife, Catherine. That's why I dedicate every book to her. She's a hunter, and she never gets tired. She's the one who found the real files behind The Echelon Vendetta.

I hope you pay her well.

DAVID STONE: Fifty-fifty is our deal. Always has been. Always will be.

The KGB plays a role in The Venetian Judgment. Do you see the KGB on the rise again in the real world?

David Stone: They never went away. And now that Putin has a good grip on the levers, you can expect to see a hell of a lot more of them. Just ask any of the fifty or so people he's had killed in the last year alone.

Is this a new Cold War?

David Stone: No. It's just the old Cold War on a different battlefield.

In The Echelon Vendetta, one of your characters - Jack Stallworth - says "the Islamic terrorists will always be with us. Like Herpes Simplex or Noam Chomsky" -

David Stone: Yeah. That's Stallworth all over. I really liked that guy.

Yet, so far, you haven't focused on Islamic Extremism very much. They are a brooding presence, a threat, but not in the foreground. Why is that?

David Stone: Two reasons. First, because guys like Daniel Silva and Vince Flynn are already doing a hell of a job on that file, and I'd only clutter up the playing field. Second, and this one is closer to my heart, because I can't stand to think about Islamic Jihadists for very long. I get too angry, and I lose my sense of proportion. I don't want to write about them because, to be honest, if I concentrated on those psychopathic little creeps, I'd end up writing incoherent ravings full of crazy rage, and I don't like incoherent ravings full of crazy rage. That's what The Koran is for.

Yow! You want to take that back?

David Stone: Sure. Just as soon as Catherine and I can have a nice little dinner again at Windows on the World.