"The Saladin Affair is equal parts Graham Greene, John Le Carre, and Ian Fleming, rounded out with a generous dash of Robert M. Parker. Pour a glass of wine and enjoy this timely thriller." Ben Giliberti, former Washington Post Wine Critic
"Having served with Bill Shepard in Viet-Nam, I value his diplomatic skills highly. In The Saladin Affair, his imaginative and accurate depictions of Vienna, Dublin and Riga, which I know well, put you into those cities and the world of high stakes diplomacy." Vernon Penner, former Ambassador to Cape Verde (1986-1990) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs.
The Embassy car deposited Robbie and Smiley in front of the rather nondescript government office on Robert Dillman’s business card, just down the street from the Prime Minister’s office, at two minutes before nine. The door opened by itself, it almost seemed, and they were led through a hallway and into a small office. It had a window and basic furniture, but no pictures, either artistic on the walls, or of family, on the desk. There was just one framed photograph on a side table, in clear view of the visitor’s chair by the couch, of Prime Minister O’Bryan and Robert Dillman. Clearly that was all that was needed. There were no preliminaries, and Robbie came right to the point. He first introduced “George Smiley, our Deputy Chief of Mission, who will be our contact. I’m still travelling with Secretary Adams. When we were here, you’ll recall, Prime Minister O’Bryan told us that an agent in place had warned about an assassination plot against our President, and also against Secretary Adams.” Dillman nodded in acknowledgement. “Well, as to the President, as we’ve just seen, your agent was right on the mark. Thank you again for the warning. Now I’ve been asked to see if you could get any further details about the possible attempt against Secretary Adams. For example, is it to take place this week, on this trip? If so, where? The itinerary is public. He is now in Paris, leaving shortly for Vienna. Then he is going to Moscow, Riga and London. Anything that could be found out would be highly appreciated and helpful, to say the very least.” Well, that was the message. It was not necessary or advisable to mention that their earlier confidence had not been the first time that the American side had heard about the plot against the President. Better to give the Irish full credit for untangling things. It encouraged more confidences. “Yes, well. As the Prime Minister implied, the agent is a sleeper, left over from previous days, if you will. It is one thing to pass on something that is said in the agent’s presence. It is quite another, and highly dangerous, to have the agent make inquiries. For one thing, it calls attention, too much attention.” Robbie noticed that once again, the use of a personal pronoun had been avoided, this time rather awkwardly. The agent must be a woman. Either that, or Dillman’s semantic skills were extraordinary. “Certainly. We all appreciate that.” Dillman nodded and took George Smiley’s card. That effectively ended the conversation. Dillman was not one for small talk, apparently. It was appreciated, the Americans thought, that neither had stressed the importance of a fast response. Some things were too obvious for comment, and comment would therefore annoy. As they left Dillman’s office, Smiley’s cell phone went off insistently. “Never use the bloody thing,” he said. “I nearly always forget that I have it. Can’t always recall what button to press, and when I can, the damned things are so small, that I don’t press the right one and the call is cancelled.” That sermon over, he found the right button, pressed it, and impatiently put the cell phone to his ear. “Yes, Bob. WHAT THE HELL? Say again? Are you sure? “Of course, stay put. Don’t notify anybody until we get there. We’re coming now. And don’t touch anything, for God’s sake. We’ll be right there. A few minutes. Just hang on. We’re coming right now.” Ashen, he barked at the Embassy chauffeur to drive to the Ambassador’s residence in Phoenix Park. Then he turned to Robbie. “It’s Ambassador Mary McGowan. She’s dead. Murdered. Bob Starett has just found her body in an old spare meat freezer in the residence in Phoenix Park.”
Bill Shepard is a former career diplomat who served in five American Embassies overseas. While assigned to the State Department in Washington, he helped arrange trips on Air Force Two for the Secretary of State. In retirement on Maryland's Eastern Shore, he has created a new mystery genre , the diplomatic mystery, with Robbie Cutler, a young career diplomat, as sleuth. In The Saladin Affair, fourth in the series, a new dimension is added, as Robbie accompanies the new Secretary of State to his European rendezvous with the leaders of six nations - and an Al Qaeda assassination plot.