Titus has spent a lifetime reading people and his ability to do so has kept him alive.In the final chapters of Two Days in Caracas, Titus explains to a younger operative why he believes the younger man will make a good spy. He says, “You know how to read people and use that knowledge to achieve an objective. An analyst interprets facts and data; a covert operative interprets people and situations.”
As the story unfolds, Titus’ ability to interpret each character’s emotions, motivations, and actions is severely tested, and, in some cases, to his detriment, he doesn’t always get it right.
THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE:
Once the waiter had placed his coffee on the table and left, Mitchell leaned in toward me and asked, “What exactly do you think you’re doing?”
His smile had disappeared.
“I’m tracking a terrorist who killed one of our covert operatives in Dallas last month. Weren’t you briefed in on this?”
“Of course, I was briefed in.”
Mitchell picked up a spoon and studied it.
He appeared to scrutinize it so intently, someone might have thought he collected spoons for a hobby. After a few seconds, he laid it back down on the table and looked up at me.
I noticed his eyes were slightly dilated, and I saw a muscle on the left side of his face begin to twitch. I immediately recognized these as signs Ben Mitchell was having trouble controlling his temper.
I recognized the symptoms because I had often exhibited them myself.
He said, “I was told to meet you at the airport later today. Mind telling me what you’re doing here now?”
I was amused by his anger, and, until a few months ago, I would have enjoyed seeing just how much I could have harassed him before he finally exploded. Now, though, I resisted that temptation and explained myself—sort of.
“I took an earlier flight.”
He nodded his head but kept looking at me, as if he expected me to continue giving him an explanation.
I thought about the nonchalant way he’d done the recon on the cement house while appearing not to do so, and I decided to give him what he wanted.
“Look, I came in earlier than expected, because I’ve been doing this long enough to know my chances of staying alive are always better if I do the unexpected. Being predictable gets you killed.”