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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category on the right side bar. A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd has the main character Bess Crawford deeply involved in solving a “who done it.” As with all the books this strong female nurse is put in a situation where she has to help solve a case that is always surrounded in mystery. An added bonus is learning what it was like living during the World War I era. In this book readers are immersed in the culture of 1918. This includes how the medical profession began to use specialists, and how prisoners were not allowed to see their families, a decision determined by the police. The plot begins with Bess assigned to accompany a convoy of wounded soldiers to a hospital specializing in internal wounds. Nurse Bess Crawford is left stranded when her train is detained in the small town of Canterbury, Kent. While strolling, she sees a former patient, Major Mark Ashton, who insists she stay with him and his family. It is here she finds out two years earlier, the family business (a gunpowder factory), exploded, causing more than 100 deaths. Though the official investigation ruled out sabotage, rumor has it that Mark’s father, Philip, was responsible. Bess finds herself caught up in a malicious show of hostility, including how the family was terrorized and a whisper campaign blaming Philip, which leads to his arrest. Bess risks her life to find out the truth of what happened behind the explosion. This is a book about revenge. The most interesting part of the story is when the authors explore the mob mentality, as the townspeople attempt to create a believable truth. The campaign of terror includes the police and ranges from subtle to outright viciousness. The Todds told blackfive.net they wanted to convey how “people are eager to find someone to point a finger to, and wanted a scapegoat. People wanted answers and someone to blame considering the explosion took away the town’s economic livelihood and many lives.” A Pattern of Lies has a very interesting plot based upon the true event of the 1916 Oare Gunpowder Works explosion in Kent. Readers will enjoy how the authors weave into the storyline historical insight of the time period. The Todds also gave a heads up about their future projects. Coming out in September in print form will by a short anthology, Tales, which include two Bess Crawford and two Detective Ian Rutledge stories. Their next Bess book will bring back the American, Captain Thomas Barclay. Fans should look forward to this since the chemistry and interaction between the two characters makes for a lively plot. The next Rutledge book, also based on a true story, will take place in Cornwall, England where the detective must sort out if four young women actually committed murder. Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The USS Chung Hoon, USS Moble Bay and USS Russel follow the USS John C. Stennis during a show of force as they transit in the Pacific Ocean, Aug. 11, 2015. Sailors from the John C. Stennis Strike Group are conducting composite training and joint task force exercises, the final step in certifying to deploy. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andre T. Richard Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our author interviews and reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. Deadline by J. J. Livingston, a pen name for Jennifer Greer, is a fascinating read. It explores many issues women face including their treatment in Middle Eastern countries, and the timely issue of stem cell research. But it is also a book that everyone can relate with, through the action packed plot and the issues of trying to cope with PTSD, hold onto a job, being a single parent, and empty nest syndrome. The author has experienced many of the issues her characters have gone through. She commented, “My husband died when my two girls were nine months and two years old. I have been a widow for fifteen years now. My husband died instantly in a car accident. Being a single parent was a tough transition for me. First you go into shock because you realize at this moment the finality of death. Yet, you don’t feel it or process it then. It’s only over time that you come to accept it. I still remember being notified as if it were yesterday. The Fresno coroner personally drove to my house even though it was an hour away. He saw I was with my children and decided to wait for my two pastors to come over to inform me.” As a former police reporter she is able to use her past experiences to write a very realistic and believable plot. The main protagonist is Whit McKenna, a tough and driven journalist who seeks out the truth. She is a former war correspondent who had to overcome rape, torture, and her husband being killed in Afghanistan. Ending up going back to Medford, Oregon to raise her two children, she eventually finds a job at the local paper. Thinking that will be a safe environment for her two children, she finds out otherwise when a string of murders occur. While seeking out the truth about a certain clinic and attempting to connect the dots about the different killings, she must also cope with disturbing flashbacks about her time in Afghanistan. After writing a number of front-page articles McKenna receives the ire of the killer who will stop at nothing to silence her. Some of the most potent scenes are the descriptions of McKenna’s time in Afghanistan. Livingston describes the rape, the beatings with kicks, punches, and tree branches at the hands of Al Qaeda insurgents. But most powerful was this quote, “John (her husband) felt helpless and couldn’t stand watching me suffer…He shared my pain. I think he may have felt the same way about Afghanistan.” It brings into focus the real war on women and how hard it is for rape victims to cope. Livingstone noted to blackfive.net, “I was a journalist in Bosnia. We were at the war zone, five miles from the front lines. Periodically we were stopped and frisked at gunpoint. While there I covered a story about women and children refugees. A lot of people never made it into the camps before they were raped. My whole point of writing, whether journalism or a novel, is to touch the hearts and minds of my readers. When I pick up a book I like learning something new. It is like reading a news article in a different format. I like to take on social issues and incorporate them into a fictional story.” Deadline is a riveting and informative thriller. In addition to a fast paced and suspenseful plot it has well developed characters. Anyone that enjoys a story with a lot of twists and turns should read this book. Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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An MH-60R Seahawk helicopter prepares to land aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis as the guided-missile destroyer USS Chung Hoon follows behind during a show of force as they transit in the Pacific Ocean, Aug. 11, 2015. The John C. Stennis Strike Group is undergoing composite training and joint task force exercises, the final step in certifying to deploy. The Seahawk is assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 71. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Andre T. Richard Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our author interviews and reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. Devil’s Bridge by Linda Fairstein is a compelling read. Anyone who likes the SVU TV show should love these plots. This is the seventeenth book in this series, which follows sex crimes prosecutor Alexandra (Alex) Cooper and two detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace. This story is unique in that it is the first one told from Mike's point of view; where as all of the previous books in the series have had Alexandra as the storyteller. The author noted to blackfive.net, “There is a lot of skill involved and a reliance on science. I worry that sometimes young cops go straight to the science without using their investigative skills. The third element unquestionably is luck. One of my first cases after DNA became prominent included a bit of luck. The criminal used Clorox to scrub down the apartment. Then he stole jewelry so we got him when finding those fingerprints. Detective Mike is a pretty special guy since he is a composite of the great men I worked with over the years. As a prosecutor, I had the pleasure and honor of working shoulder-to-shoulder with the best detectives in the NYPD, and I just channeled them whenever I had Mike speak.” This plot is based on a real case in the NY City DA’s office. As with all of her books, the issue involves female victims. In this novel there were two events, one of which has Alex prosecuting a deviant person, and the second involved Alex herself. The story begins with Alex in court trying to indict a defendant for sex trafficking crimes. But she must also contend with an escaped convicted rapist who is stalking her and a hacker who has accessed her most secure information. But, these become the least of her worries when she is suddenly kidnapped. For the rest of the book she becomes MIA, allowing the reader to have the NYPD detective, and Alex’s recent lover, as their eyes and ears. As it becomes obvious she is a victim of foul play detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace pull out all the stops to get her back alive. Fairstein has become well known for having the setting of New York City as almost a secondary character. A history of the city is incorporated throughout the book, specifically the New York Waterfront that includes the George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River, and The Statue of Liberty. She highlights the nooks and crannies of the area, making it feel as if the reader is actually a part of the location. The author’s vast prosecutorial experience has allowed her to write believable and realistic plots. She is able to draw upon interesting facts having been chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan, the first in the country, for more than two decades and America’s foremost legal expert on sexual assault and domestic violence. In fact, people will wonder how much of Linda is Alex. She hopes readers will be entertained and “educated about the issues of domestic violence, sexual predators, and date rape. My passion is working with victims of violence. I keep my legal credentials current so that I can work on cases or help survivors get access to the system. Two of my nonprofit boards are “Safe Horizon,” the country’s largest victim-advocacy organization, and the “Joyful Heart Foundation”, founded by Law and Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay, where our current emphasis is ending the backlog of rape evidence kits across the nation. It’s work that makes you feel great.” But she also wants to issue a word of warning, “Alex and I understand that a prosecutor’s job is not necessarily to get convictions but rather to do justice to the system. A good prosecutor makes sure you get the right guy. I saw my job as convicting the guilty, with emphasis on the guilty as charged. Take for example the Rolling Stone article where the accuser outright lied. One of the things that saddened me the most was that smart young women said it did not matter she lied, because important issues were brought to light. Of course it should matter that she lied, truth seeking is a key role.” Although never a paid consultant she did work with the SVU TV team. She watches the show because she has not given up her passion of advocating for victims of violence. She worked with the original prosecutor on the show and the main detective, Olivia Benson, allowing them to pick her brain. It appears that the producer Dick Wolf gave a shout out to Fairstein by using the first name and last name initial for the show’s first prosecutor, Alex Cabot versus Fairstein’s main character, Alex Cooper. Devil’s Bridge keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. This novel has an action packed plot that allows readers to learn a little something about sex crimes; yet, also weaves in some history and trivia. Anyone looking for a suspenseful thriller should read this book. Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Soldiers help extinguish a small fire while battling the Rocky Fire near Clear Lake, Calif., Aug. 12, 2015. The soldiers are California National Guardsmen assigned to the 578th Brigade Engineer Battalion, and the 1st Battalion, 18th Cavalry, 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. California Army National Guard photo Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Jody Volz, adviser for Train, Advise and Assist Command South in Afghanistan, flies over Kandahar, Afghanistan, Aug. 4, 2015, with Afghan army and command leaders to gain situational awareness and a shared understanding of key terrain in southern Afghanistan. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Kristine Volk Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our author interviews and reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. X by prolific novelist Sue Grafton has three stories rolled into one book. Starting with the letter A, the author, has certain elements that can be identified with all of her books. The main protagonist is private investigator Kinsey Millhone. The plot takes place in the 1980’s, and the title of all of her books is an alphabetical letter. In this book Grafton broke slightly with tradition in that she still uses alphabetical titles, but did not indicate what it stood for. She did this because “I used the alphabet but did not put what it stood for. Because I made the rules I figured I could be the one to break them. I thought I would write about xenophobia, a hatred of foreigners. After I stated writing the story there was not a foreigner to be had. I did not want to just stick one in there so I could get a title out of it since it seemed like cheating. I never figured out how I could get out of this dilemma so I just called it X and weaved X traits into the story.” Grafton was able to include many “X” traits in this plot considering she named one of her characters, Xanakis. Another interesting way she intertwined the letter in the plot was having codes as clues to a crime. These codes are based on both numbers and letters that have the commonality with “X” since it is both a Roman numeral and a letter. They were used as a jumping off point for this part of the story, with the encryption proving that Millhone was wrong about her late partner’s morals and ethics. She is alerted that he was on the track of a serial killer. Millhone must find the killer before this sociopath causes more chaos that includes making her his next victim. Another storyline has Teddy Xanakis, wanting revenge on her divorced husband by attempting to steal a priceless painting from him. She hires Millhone to locate someone she put up for adoption many years ago that will help in the theft, but much to the private investigator’s chagrin she was paid with marked bills. Now riled up Millhone will not stop until she finds Xanakis and gets answers. Californians can relate to the third storyline, as Millhone attempts to help her neighbors. This includes the landlord, Henry Pitts, who takes drastic action to lower his water use during the 1989 California drought. A quote from the book is exactly what many Californians have felt abut this recent drought, “Then the government came along and proposed moving water from up yonder to down here and then on. They called it the State Water Project. More like Steal Water, if you want my opinion.” What makes the story even more interesting is the time period in which it takes place. An era where private investigators had to solve cases the old fashioned way using their mind, legwork, and ingenuity. There were no cell phones, very few Internet servers, and many did not even have a computer. She explained to blackfive.net, “A is for Alibi, my first book, was published in 1982. As it happened the next couple of books took place in June and August of that year. Without meaning to I painted myself into a corner. The other issue was the aging process. I did not want my main character to age one year for every book so I slowed the whole process down. This way I could get through all 26 letters of the alphabet without making her 109 years old in 2015. I might end the series in either 1990 or on New Years Eve 1989.” X has so many twists and turns it could be a rival to Lombard Street in San Francisco. Grafton keeps readers on their toes since what appears to be a minor event turns out to be something of importance. This is a riveting mystery. Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
Here are some awesome videos. [Reality videos after the "jump" (ha, I kill me).] In order to send the Air Force some love, there were two USAF Pararescue (PJs) HALO jump videos which are shared below and then one rockin' compilation video after the jump that's a must see: I swear, that @#%& is better than a cup of coffee... Jimbo posted these before: Oh man, that was fun. I don't care whether you have or haven't ever jumped out of an airplane, this is a great look at it. I think what it reminded me most is exactly how much of a giant bag of shite on a rope you are on a static line jump. Even so, I still felt the rush. Most of my drops ended this way: Weak exits mean TROUBLE! And... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Posting some humorous memes about the Airborne. Most will be after the Jump. Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The first official Army parachute exercise was conducted on August 16, 1940. The Army Test Parachute Platoon convinced "the powers that be" that forcible entry or mass vertical envelopement - or whatever you want to call dropping thousands of pissed off paratroopers to take and hold ground until reinforcements arrive - was possible. On August 15, 1942, the 82nd Infantry Division was re-purposed and renamed...well, you know damn well what they were renamed...AIRBORNE! This led to the creation of a force of airborne soldiers that included the 11th, 13th, 17th, and 101st Airborne Divisions. These men knew, as do Airborne men and women of today, that, in the air and certainly upon landing, will be outnumbered by the enemy, surrounded, and have to fight like hell until they are reinforced by heavier ground units...in many cases, surprising and quickly killing the enemy is the only way that they will survive. In November of 1942, just a few months after the unit was formed, those paratroopers would perform the first combat jump into North Africa. Airborne 1943 - Troops of the 82nd Airborne Division jump en mass, during a demonstration at Oujda, French Morocco, North Africa, on 3 June 1943, shortly before the Sicily invasion. (World War II Signal Corps Collection). Photo courtesy of SOCOM. In 2001, President George W. Bush proclaimed that August 16th was National Airborne Day. In 2002, he issued this proclamation, which more or less, has been designated by Congress. That means that you Legs have to deal with our glorious egos for one whole day. Here is the first proclamation from President GW Bush: The history of airborne forces began after World War I, when Brigadier General William Mitchell first conceived the idea of parachuting troops into combat. Eventually, under the leadership of Major William Lee at Fort Benning, Georgia, members of the Parachute Test Platoon pioneered methods of combat jumping in 1940. In November 1942, members of the 2nd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, conducted America's first combat jump, leaping from a C-47 aircraft behind enemy lines in North Africa. This strategy revolutionized combat and established airborne forces as a key component of our military. During World War II, airborne tactics were critical to the success of important missions, including the D-Day invasion at Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge, the invasion of Southern France, and many others. In Korea and Vietnam, airborne soldiers played a critical combat role, as well as in later conflicts and peacekeeping operations, including Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm, Haiti, Somalia, and the Balkans. Most recently, airborne forces were vital to liberating the people of Afghanistan from the repressive and violent Taliban regime; and these soldiers continue to serve proudly around the world in the global coalition against terrorism. The elite airborne ranks include prestigious groups such as the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, "Sky Soldiers," 82nd Airborne Division, "All American," and the "Screaming Eagles" of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). Airborne forces have also been represented in the former 11th, 13th, and 17th Airborne Divisions and numerous other Airborne, glider and air assault units and regiments. Paratroopers in the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps, the 75th Infantry (Ranger) Regiment and other Special Forces units conduct swift and effective operations in defense of peace and freedom. Airborne combat continues to be driven by the bravery and daring spirit of sky soldiers. Often called into action with little notice, these forces have earned an enduring reputation for dedication, excellence, and honor. As we face the challenges of a new era, I encourage all people to recognize the contributions of these courageous soldiers to our Nation and the world. Now, therefore, I, George W. Bush, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 16, 2002, as National Airborne Day. As we commemorate the first official Army parachute jump on August 16, 1940, I encourage all Americans to join me in honoring the thousands of soldiers, past and present, who have served in an airborne capacity. I call upon all citizens to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh. George W. Bush Today, Airborne forces of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force serve around the world. Not only did they volunteer to go into harm's way and be tired, cold, wet, and hungry, they also volunteered to be delivered to that fight by a very violent and risky means... Today is the day that we honor those who have honored that commitment - past and present. ALL THE WAY! #NationalAirborneDay Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Soldiers dash across the rocky desert terrain during a live-fire exercise as part of Operation Dragon Spear on Fort Irwin, Calif., Aug. 5, 2015. The soldiers are snipers assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. The demonstration included a forcible entry operation with Army and Air Force units showcasing the U.S. global response force's ability to deploy, fight and win. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Hull Continue reading
Posted Aug 14, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar. Silent Creed by Alex Kava combines a riveting mystery, a backstory of military dog handlers, and rescue dogs. Anyone who loves canines and wants them highlighted in a storyline should read these novels. With a wonderful supporting cast of “human beings” these stories are informative, relevant, and suspenseful. Ryder Creed is a dog handler who trains a variety of dogs to help out in tragic situations, either to find cadavers or rescue people. The author is able to capture the feel of rescue operations, including the urgency, danger, and how Mother Nature plays a role. The other dog handler, Jason, is an intern of sorts, using Ryder as his apprentice. Both these characters are former military and Kava delves into their experiences while fighting the War on Terror. She highlights how dogs can be used to support those heroes who sometimes have suicidal thoughts. A quote from the books nails the feelings, “You take a dog in, you earn his trust, his unconditional love… I understood you’d be around to take care of him (Scout, the black lab puppy.)” With each story Kava tries to highlight different types of canines. Ryder works closely with his rescue dog Bolo, a sturdy Rhodesian ridgeback because this breed could withstand heat and the damp cold, never alarmed by the weather conditions. Grace, the featured character of the last book, a Jack Russell Terrier, does not help in this rescue, being too small. However, she was brought into the story mid-way as an emotional support for Ryder. There was also a shout out to Scout, a black lab puppy. Kava stated to blackfive.net, “He was named after my dog who I lost last year. He has a lot of the characteristics of my Scout. I even dedicated the first book in the series to him. The main characters have to be the dogs. I’m a dog lover. I’ve surrounded myself with dogs my entire life, some of which have been rescues. I’ve had as many as six in my pack at one time. Each and every one of them has been a special member of my family.” In this book a devastating mudslide in North Carolina has Ryder and his dogs attempting to find survivors. As the search and rescue intensifies it becomes evident that there are secrets hidden under the mud and sludge. Because some of the bodies found were killed not by Mother Nature, but by gunshots, FBI Agent, Maggie O’ Dell is assigned to investigate why people were being murdered at this top-secret government research facility. It becomes apparent that someone is trying to control the investigation of the murders, which leads Ryder, Maggie, and the dogs on a perilous mission. A word of warning, although there are some facets of the plot that are resolved, there is another that is a cliff hanger, as in a TV show where the viewer has to wait for the next installment. This piece, the medical experiments about a deadly virus, is the main plot line for the next book, Reckless Creed. The author did a lot of research including finding out “that there are dogs that can accurately detect cancer in patients. In the next book Ryder will use those training methods of detection. I left a piece of the plot up in the air on purpose. As a reader myself I enjoy books that have an element of ‘what will happen next.’” Silent Creed has an intense storyline along with details about rescue operations, the difficulties faced by returning military personnel, and the importance of dogs in people’s lives. Anyone who loves dogs should read these books. Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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An F-16 Fighting Falcon takes off from Aviano Air Base, Italy, Aug. 9, 2015, to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to support Operation Inherent Resolve. This deployment coincides with Turkey's decision to host U.S. aircraft to conduct operations to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. The Falcon was one of six F-16s assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing and about 300 personnel and cargo to deploy from the base. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Deana Heitzman Continue reading
Posted Aug 13, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters transport senior leaders from the Resolute Support mission and Afghan army to the Regional Military Training Center on Tactical Base Gamberi in Laghman province, Afghanistan, July 30, 2015. The helicopter crews are assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Jarrod Morris Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. In The Dark Places by Peter Robinson is a police procedural featuring British Inspector Alan Banks. An interesting side note is that in the UK and Canada the title is Abattoir Blues, based upon the song with the same name by the Australian alternative rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Because of the author’s love of music he always has some kind of reference to bands, songs, or lyrics. The books open with an investigation of a stolen tractor, possibly insurance fraud. Yet, the investigation takes a dark turn when two of the suspected thieves go missing and blood is found in an abandoned hanger. After a truck careens off an icy road two bodies are found, one the driver and the other a missing person, chopped and bagged among the parcels of a meatpacking plant. The murder weapon of choice is a bolt gun as in “nuts and bolts.” Robinson commented to blackfive.net, “I remember telling my publisher I am starting the book with a stolen tractor. They did not find the idea very exciting at all. But of course it moves on to a story involving criminals and organized crime. Most of the true rural crime involves equipment, but I took it a little farther and had profit and smuggling involved. I also wanted to include some different facets of our culture so I discuss in detail the different types of bolt guns and ‘potholding.’ This is popular and dangerous because people go down these holes that are entries into underground cave systems that run under landscapes.” As with most of his books a certain detective is highlighted and readers find out about the backstory. This novel can definitely be considered DS Winsome Jackman’s book. How she sees and experiences events are emphasized. She is athletic, English proper, very moralistic, tough, smart, and funny. Winsome is shy, awkward, and tentative in establishing personal relationships until she meets an English war veteran, Terry Gilchrist, who fought in Afghanistan, receiving the Military Cross and an honorable discharge after being severely wounded. Robinson gave a heads up regarding his next books. No Cure For Love is a book published only in Canada in 1995, and was just recently released in the UK. It will be released in the US early next year. Set in Los Angeles, it has a forward by Michael Connelly since it is a crime novel based on the Threat Management Unit of the LAPD. This story has two detectives (neither Alan Banks) investigating threatening letters and phone calls of an English actress who plays an LA detective. The author noted he decided not to update it and is not against the idea of possibly writing this as a series. The other book published next summer will have as the main characters Detectives Banks and Gerry Masterson. The plot of When The Music’s Over involves the investigation of the rich and powerful that exploit the young. In The Dark Places is an entertaining story about relationships, how there are consequences for someone’s actions, and how quickly a person can find they are underwater based upon their bad decisions. Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Alexander Hoodwin climbs aboard the USS Essex from a rigid-hull inflatable boat in the Indian Ocean, July 27, 2015. Hoodwin is a radio operator with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Elements of the unit are conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility to support U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Anna Albrecht Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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An MV-22 Osprey lands to recover personnel in Southwest Asia, July 28, 2015. The 185th Theater Aviation Brigade conducts interoperability training missions to enhance capabilities between U.S. Army aviation and other U.S. military forces. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Army Sgt. Michael Needham Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Two U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcons lead a mixed formation including a Bulgarian air force MiG-29 Fulcrum and MiG-21 Fishbed during Thracian Star 2015 over Bulgaria, July 20, 2015. U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Andrew J. Moseley Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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An MH-60R Seahawk practices recovery-assisted landings during a team drill on the USS Lassen in the Philippine Sea, Aug. 1, 2015. The Lassen is patrolling in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility to support security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The Seahawk assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 51. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Jesse Mommaerts Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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A U.S. Marine provides security for his team and Navy SEALs while conducting a joint visit, board, search and seizure exercise during a composite training exercise in the Atlantic Ocean, July 20, 2015. The Marines, assigned to Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and sailors assigned to the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group are participating in the exercise to prepare for deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility this fall. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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An M1A1 Abrams tank crew fires its 120-mm main gun during a live-fire gunnery at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Aug. 4, 2015. The tank crew is assigned to Alpha Company, 4th Tank Battalion. The live-fire exercise tests tank crews on their ability to work together on target accuracy. U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Julio McGraw Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. The Redeemers by Ace Atkins highlights Quinn Colson, a former Army Ranger who has returned to his Mississippi hometown to become sheriff. Action seekers should understand that this series is more than a crime novel. It is also about the culture of the Deep South and the importance of family within that culture. Atkins intentionally chose Quinn to be an Army Ranger, because of “their backgrounds. I grew up in a town not far from Fort Benning, Georgia, which is where I developed my long admiration for the Rangers and how tough they are. I knew that a certain type of culture and individual are drawn to this unit. I specifically made Quinn an Army Ranger because he exemplifies the qualities of toughness and endurance.” Atkins puts out two books a year. He writes the Spenser series made famous by the late Robert B. Parker as well as his own series with Quinn Colson. Both series’ plots move along through the dialogue of the characters. There is also a similarity in that the storyline is about how the characters live their life, invoking honesty, toughness, and trust. Atkins told blackfive.net, “Writing the Spenser books is more of a challenge than writing the Quinn books. I not only must write a really good novel, but must do so in the style of Parker. I am constantly thinking, ‘what would Bob do here.’ These two characters are similar in that they understand the world is made up of good and bad. They do not have hypocrisy in any shape and form. I consider them classic American heroes. Where the series differs is that the Spenser books has an urban setting, while the Quinn books are based around a rural environment.” This storyline begins with Quinn pondering his next move as he finishes up his term as sheriff. He must help solve a case in which local lumber-mill owner Larry Cobb had his safe stolen, literally. Besides money and jewels the contents of the safe contain ledgers of Cobb’s crooked dealings. The family element comes into play with Quinn trying to reconnect with his estranged father, helping his drug addicted sister, and contemplating his relationship with Anna Lee. She is someone he has loved dearly since high school but is currently married to an old friend of Quinn, a serious obstacle for both. The Redeemers has a richness of characters whose lives move the story along. More than just a crime story these Quinn novels invoke morality, the enduring resilience of family and community, and someone to root for. Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Paratroopers move to their loading zone as rotor wash from a UH-60 Black Hawk caused a dust cloud during Operation Red Fury on Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 4, 2015. The training helped to increase the unit’s interoperability between ground and aviation units. The paratroopers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. U.S. Army photo by Capt. Adan Cazarez Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar. Badlands by C. J. Box brings back the exciting character, Cassie Dewell, who can best be described as a female Joe Pickett. Readers are wondering if Box is creating another suspenseful and riveting series. As with all his books he allows the Western landscape to become almost a supporting character. The plot highlights Grimstand, North Dakota, a booming oil town similar to the Old West during the Gold Rush. Readers become acquainted with this town when Cassandra (Cassie) decides to accept the job here as the chief investigator for Sherriff Jon Kirkbride. She is looking forward to starting a new life and to put behind the hurtful memories of Montana, and losing her husband, a soldier killed in Afghanistan. The new job entails leading an investigation to find corrupt cops, while at the same time finding out what is behind a fatal car crash. Along with these duties she must deal with a war between a motorcycle gang and the Salvadorian MS-13. She must navigate a murderous enemy, a key witness, Kyle Westergaard, and swarming single men. The details, about the oil shale industry (fracking), are intertwined in the plot through the various investigations. He noted, “I wrote Cassie’s husband as a soldier killed in Afghanistan. I want Americans to understand the anguish of a war widow, and a son who never will have met his dad. I think many times those fighting the War on Terror are overlooked. Many of us can name battles of World War II, but I doubt many civilians can name a battle from Afghanistan.” With the Kyle character Box gives a shout out to mentally challenged individuals. Kyle is a twelve year old who is considered slow, almost invisible to the rest of the town. Having fetal alcohol syndrome he talks very little, and has a hard time pronouncing his words. But he is the key to the plot with his tenacious and loyal attitude. When the story is told through his point of view it gives the readers a different perspective. Box commented to blackfive.net, “Over the years I had a lot of kids in books and wrote from their point of view. I realized in my stories I never had boys, only girls. I guess that was because I have only daughters. One of my daughters works for family services so I asked her for help about writing a character with fetal alcohol syndrome. I found out there are children who suffer from mild to devastating symptoms. I wrote Kyle with a mild case although he is still over looked by the townspeople. Yet, in his own way Kyle is sharp and can connect the dots.” The main character, Cassie, is gritty, intelligent, tough, determined, and willing to take risks. She is not the typical hero in that she is plump, a widow, and a mother. But she is also very talented and will not hesitate to bend the rules to get answers. Badlands is part stand-alone, and part sequel to The Highway. Although the main piece of Badlands has its own storyline, there is a continuation of the plot from The Highway. Cassie is still after the serial killer known as the Lizard King who preys on girls at highway rest stops. C. J. Box is one of those authors who turn all books into gold. He writes thrilling and captivating stories that are fast-moving and riveting. Along with his descriptive settings and compelling characters the plots are always page-turners that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Fans might be able to see his characters and stories on the TV screen since David E. Kelly is taking the pilot script for The Highway to Amazon and/or Netflix while Robert Redford is shopping the Joe Pickett series to Hallmark and the National Geographic Channel. Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2015 at BLACKFIVE