Ghosts of Panama book cover

The next true-life NCIS story from Mark Harmon and Leon Carroll, Jr.

Naval intelligence agents working the most dangerous beat in the world—the narco-state of Panama in the late 1980s—struggle to penetrate the dictator’s organization and protect their families on the eve of invasion.

Available November 19, 2024

Ghosts of Panama

A Strongman Out of Control, a Murdered Marine, and the Special Agents Caught in the Middle of an Invasion

Panama, 1989. The once warm relationship between United States and Gen. Manuel Noriega has eroded dangerously. Newly elected President George Bush has declared the strongman a drug trafficker and a rigger of elections. Intimidation on the streets is a daily reality for U.S. personnel and their families. The nation is a powder keg.

Naval Investigative Service (NIS) Special Agent Rick Yell has worked the job in Panama since 1986, and lives there with his wife Annya and infant child. Like most NIS agents, he’s a civilian with no military rank with a specialty in working criminal cases. The dynamic changes suddenly when Yell inadvertently develops an intelligence source with unparalleled access to the Noriega regime.

Now the agent is thrust into a world of spy-versus-spy, of secret meetings and hidden documents.

Yell’s source – known as “The Old Man” – warns when Cuban military personnel arrive and identifies anti-American officers within the Panamanian Defense Forces, provides information about an imprisoned CIA asset and helps track Noriega’s movements, agitating for the dictator’s kidnapping.

The reports created by Yell and his NIS colleagues shape the decisions made in Washington D.C., CIA headquarters in Langley and the innermost sanctums of Pentagon.

The powder keg is lit on December 16, 1989, when a young U.S. Marine is gunned down at a checkpoint in Panama City. Yell and his cadre of trusted agents deploy immediately to investigate the killing, and what they determine will decide the fate of two nations. When President Bush hears the details they uncover, he orders an invasion that puts Yell’s family, informants, and fellow agents directly in harm’s way.

Using a blend of research and interviews with the NIS agents who were directly involved, Ghosts of Panama reveals the untold, clandestine story of counterintelligence professionals placed in a pressure cooker assignment of historic proportions.

Ghosts of Panama book cover

About the Authors

Mark Harmon, Ghosts of Panama author

Mark Harmon, best known for his role as Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS, is the New York Times bestselling co-author of Ghosts of Honolulu. He's a multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominee, with acclaimed performances in The West Wing and Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years. His film credits include Comes a Horseman, Summer School and Freaky Friday. A cum laude graduate in communications, Harmon was a successful sportsman, leading UCLA to several winning football seasons and receiving the National Football Foundation's Scholar Athlete Award.

Leon Carroll Jr. headshot

Leon Carroll Jr., a former Major in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and Special Agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), is currently serving as the technical advisor for the hit television series NCIS. Operating in various locations, his career spanned over 20 years, including tours on the USS Ranger and as the Special Agent in Charge in Panama and the Pacific Northwest. Upon retirement, he brought his unique counterintelligence insight to the top-rated drama, holding the advisory position for 20 seasons. He is the co-author of Ghosts of Honolulu, a New York Times bestseller.

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