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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. The Carrier by Sophie Hannah is an intense psychological thriller. It can be considered a love story and a gripping mystery, a “who done it” of sorts. Released earlier this month in the US, it has already won the 2013 Crime Thriller of the Year at the UK National Book Awards. This story offers deep insights into interpersonal relationships through the different character’s personalities. The plot begins when Gaby Struthers, a scientist who has an innovative technology company must room with Lauren Cookson, a caregiver prone to hysteria. They are stuck in Germany overnight when their plane is delayed. Lauren lets slip that she knows someone who has been arrested for murdering his wife, Francine, and that he, Tim, is innocent. Panicky, she refuses to discuss the matter further, but a quick Google search tells Gaby that the man now in jail is the only man she has ever loved. The storyline plays off the book, Murder On the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, where a certain number of people are “persons of interest” in the house where the murder occurred. Recurring characters, Detectives Simon Waterhouse and Charlie Zailer try to sort out the different stories of those involved, attempting to find the true murderer. The sub-plot shows through poetry the love Gaby and Tim have for each other, and how Gaby will stop at nothing to prove Tim’s innocence. The characters are a dichotomy of each other, with the heroine, Gaby, the only one that is truly likeable, although, Lauren is someone that grows on the reader. Gaby is strong, smart, independent, and sharp-tongued. It is a wonder why she would fall so hard for Tim who appears boring, self-centered manipulative, wimpy, and spineless. Lauren is frighteningly prone to hysteria, a complainer, whiny, yet very vulnerable, insecure, and has a moral compass. Hannah noted to blackfive.net, “I wanted Gaby’s character to stand out. My intention was for Gaby to be the heroine and the one who the readers will identify with. She finds herself in a situation where almost everybody she comes into contact with is abusive, unsatisfactory, or not very supportive. While Gaby is tough and must look after herself, all the others let her down. I will have a future cameo role for her in another book. To Gaby, Tim is like a performance that seems to impress her. What makes her attracted to him is his attitude. Opposites attract. She is intelligent, a high achiever who has her act together in every way but her romantic feelings. Gaby is a sucker for Tim’s awful, manipulative, and useless ways. She should have walked away from him since he caused her a load of misery. Regarding the other characters, I did not intentionally write them as despicable. They were pushed around with forces beyond their control. Although Lauren can be infuriating she does have redeeming features.” Adding to the intrigue of the novel are the many themes of the book. The examination of people’s dysfunctional relationships, how their emotions make them behave as they do and what lengths ordinary people will go to in response to extraordinary events. There is also the potent subject of mercy killing vs. assisted suicide vs. murder. Finally, the author explores what happens when a good person takes upon evil traits. The Carrier is a riveting tale of emotionally scarred and psychologically paralyzed characters. What makes the story even more interesting is the alternating perspectives between the heroine Gaby and the police investigation concerning the mystery. Hannah also gave a heads up about her next book due out this summer, Woman With A Secret, a Zailer and Waterhouse mystery. It is about a respectable housewife and mother, Nicki, who is leading a dangerous secret double life. Because of her suspicious behavior, and her inability to explain to the police her whereabouts, Nicki becomes the person of interest in a murder investigation. The victim is a controversial newspaper journalist, a shock jock columnist who seems to offend every element of a population. Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at BLACKFIVE
The following interview with Jack Higgins 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. Jack Higgins, the author of the famous book, The Eagle Has Landed, has a new book out, Rain On The Dead. There are similarities between both books, including IRA characters, the main character as someone flawed, as well as a plot line that includes assassinations and kidnappings. Rain On The Dead begins when two Chechen Muslims attempt to assassinate the US President, Jack Cazalet. Unfortunately for them, Cazalet has guests with him, including black ops specialist Sean Dillon, and ex-IRA gunman, and his colleague, Afghan war hero Captain Sara Gideon. With the help of the English authorities Dillon, Gideon, and company search for those responsible, IRA sympathizers and Al Qaeda terrorists. Yet, readers cannot think of Higgins without bringing to mind his classic thriller, The Eagle Has Landed, especially since this year is the fortieth anniversary. The plot has Colonel Kurt Steiner forced to take a crack team of commandos to England. Their mission is to kidnap or assassinate Winston Churchill. The Germans enlist the help of an IRA assassin and a South African woman who hates everything the English stand for. This book is a riveting account of whether the Germans will succeed. Below is the Q/A with the author about these two books for blackfive.net. Elise Cooper: Both books deal with the IRA. What point were you trying to make? Jack Higgins: They were fighting for the position of Ireland in the British Empire. They wanted independence as a country. In the end they achieved something of the kind. EC: In Rain On The Dead you imply that the IRA fights for independence while the Muslim terrorists fight to impose their will. Do you agree? JH: Yes. I see what you mean. Both groups are fighting a new type of war and do not wear a uniform. It becomes very difficult for the authorities to recognize the enemy. It could be anyone in the street. At least with the Irish, they had a genuine desire for independence, which many saw as reasonable. I would not compare this with they type of terrorism the American President and the British Prime Minister were recently discussing. EC: Let’s talk about Rain On The Dead. In it you have the likeable character Sara Gideon who is Jewish. Why? JH: I made her Jewish because my foster parents were Jewish and were very good to me. I got to know Jewish traditions and the faith very well. I wanted to show that there are plenty of Jewish people who are serving in the British and US military. That is why she is a retired war hero. She is a good character and her Jewishness is a part of who she is. EC: Why did you bring back the former US President, Jack Cazalet? JH: I found it interesting to use him in this story. He is quite a popular character and I enjoy writing about him so I felt we were at a stage to bring him back. There are a huge number of fans that look forward to reading about this character and seeing what will happen to him. EC: What US President did you most admire? JH: I suppose it would have to be Jack Kennedy. Many years ago I wrote a book, Day of Judgment, which was primarily set in Germany. It had in it a very famous visit by a US President to Berlin where he made a very famous speech to the German people. Historically, it affected world politics at the time. I used it as background for this book. The novel is about the underground that tried to help people escape from the East German Communist regime. Obviously, I used President Kennedy in certain scenes of the book. EC: Your style is to write characters that are not all good and are not all bad, such as Sean Dillon and Colonel Kurt Steiner. Please explain. JH: Human beings are not like they are portrayed in Hollywood. They are individuals who are a mixture of good and bad. Many of my fans like these type of characters. I like when people question if the characters are really villains or protagonists. These types are very interesting to write about. EC: What about Steiner? JH: I tried to make the point that he and his men were not Nazis but just soldiers. Steiner is a reasonable person who was forced by circumstances to do a certain job. There is not much he could do about it. If he did not join he and his family would all be punished. EC: In The Eagle Has Landed you contrast the soldiers with the Nazi atrocities of the Warsaw Ghetto and what was done to Steiner’s father. Why? JH: I wanted to show these atrocities through the eyes of the German soldiers. They were disgusted by what was happening; yet, were unable to do much to stop it. I also had some personal experiences. I served in Germany just after the Second World War and my uncle was a regular soldier in the British army. He was wounded and captured early in the war. Although he was not Jewish he was sent to Auschwitz Concentration Camp to work in the factory there, which was against international law. This gave me an interest in the Nazi situation and World War II. EC: Colonel Steiner saved a Jewish girl but was not executed. Is that realistic? JH: Yes. What the Germans did to soldiers like Steiner is require them to do very dangerous jobs within the military. For example, they worked to dispose bombs and clear mine fields. With these jobs there was a good chance of blowing themselves up. In the novel, Steiner and his men were made to do the dangerous work of sitting on... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago 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. Breaking Creed by Alex Kava is a fascinating mystery based around a serial killer who is being chased by an FBI agent and a retired Marine. In this new series Ryder Creed uses the dog handler skills he learned as a Marine in his current civilian job. Her other series has FBI behaviorist Maggie O’ Dell investigating horrid crimes. Creed was introduced in Stranded, a book from Kava’s other series whose main character is FBI behaviorist Maggie O’ Dell. Although the Creed series is being billed as new, it is actually a spin off of the O’ Dell books. Kava noted to blackfive.net that her two series, the O’ Dell and the Creed books, will overlap. “Each series will alternate between the main character and the supporting one, but both will have a strong role in the plots. They will not just make cameo appearances. Yet, respectively they will have their own secondary characters. The many different scenarios that I can get into is very exciting for me. Ryder is a different kind of investigative character. He does not carry a gun and is not an intricate part of the crimes scene investigation. I am able to add a new dimension to the plot.” Readers will find Creed a very likeable but damaged character, who is trying to overcome PTSD. He does this with the support of his good friend, Hannah. He gains solace by taking in and training abandoned dogs to assist law enforcement. Hannah also helps the discarded, individuals who are runaways, abused women, and veterans that must try to overcome tragic circumstances, among them a former Marine, Jason. What makes these stories very interesting are the likeable characters, the chemistry between Ryder and Maggie, and the banter among Hannah and Creed. But the character that stole the show is Grace, a Jack Russell Terrier. She is feisty, scrappy, driven, and eager to learn. In this story Creed and his dogs comb for drugs, become a search and rescue team for trafficked children, and help O’Dell find the dead victims of a serial killer. The story becomes very suspenseful, as Creed, O’Dell, and company must find the killer before he finds them. To add to the intensity Kava brings in creepy, crawling things, such as fire ants, scorpions, and snakes. Kava gives a shout out to those in the military through many of her characters. Hannah’s husband, Creed, and Jason all served, although her husband was killed while deployed. The author always touches on an issue related to military personnel. In Breaking Creed she discusses PTSD while in her next book Kava will explore the suicide rate among veterans. Breaking Creed has a very fast-paced and thrilling plot with many twists and turns. For any dog lover this is a must read. If not an animal lover, readers can also just enjoy the tough, smart, and dynamic characters of this series. The author also gave a heads up about her next book, Silent Creed. It will continue the sexual tension between Maggie and Ryder as they work on a new case together. Kava is known for including among her antagonists non-human elements. With Silent Creed the threat comes from, not creepy things, but the environment. The plot begins with a massive landslide in North Carolina. Creed and his canine partners are called in to help with the search and rescue of a facility that was destroyed by the landslide. Maggie is also brought in to investigate the facilities secret experiments involving viruses. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at BLACKFIVE
And i don't see where i wanted more. I called out the BS no boots on the ground meme that liberals are lying about.
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You mean neoconservatives like Hillary Clinton?
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#BringBackOurForeignPolicy
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We are sending 400 troops to train "moderate" Syrian rebels... finding a moderate Syrian rebel is like finding a moderate Red Sox fan...they may exist, but only in the off season. Via the Army Times: The U.S. will send about 400 troops to train the moderate Syrian opposition, defense officials confirmed Thursday night. This is years too late. The moderates are, most likely, all dead or assimilated into the radical groups. Also, it won't just be 400 trainers. This kind of statement is par for the course for the Obama Administration - it helps keep the perceived number of troops lower than what will actually be "boots on the ground". In addition to the 400 trainers, enablers will be needed to support them, Smith said. <...> More than 2,100 U.S. troops are in Iraq; President Barack Obama has authorized the deployment of up to 3,000 U.S. troops to that country. Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
After being a no show during the anti-terror marches/protests/kumbaya...our American administration brings James Taylor to France to play "You've Got a Friend". No, that's not from the Duffel Blog or the Onion. First thought after, Is this the most embarassing foreign policy moment in our history?, would be... This is the response we bring?! (via Allahpundit) Twitchy has the acerbic reactions to this complete buffoonery. This is just unbelievable. Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 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. Spectrum by Alan Jacobson is a very interesting thriller as it explores the main characters’, Karen Vail’s, backstory. Through a serial killer case that has haunted Vail for twenty years the author gives insight into her professional development: who were the people that influenced her, and her tenacious desire to pursue the criminal. The chapters in the book alternate from present day back to her first days on the job. Jacobson commented to blackfive.net, “While writing her as a rookie cop in her early twenties I was nervous at first. But after the first paragraph I saw how I could explore her attributes and her life. In the 7th Victim I alluded to why she decided to become a profiler but now I specifically explain what happened. I was also able to describe how she allowed herself to marry a loser husband who was abusive. This sub-plot showed what could happen to someone who has a psychiatric condition that goes untreated.” The story reflects themes of friendship, trust, hardship, and perseverance. Vail’s law enforcement career begins in the 1990s as a NYPD rookie cop mentored by a veteran, Carmine Russo, who takes her under his wing. She displays the qualities of courage, confidence, and intelligence while attempting to examine the workings of the murderer’s mind. Unfortunately her supervisors do not always agree with her assessments, resulting in her career stalling. After meeting and being influenced by FBI Special Agent Mark Safarik she decides to join the FBI, eventually getting assigned to the esteemed Behavioral Analysis Unit. Now twenty years later, Vail revisits her first case, the one that tortured her because of the number of New York women brutally murdered. Since so many of Jacobson’s characters are from law enforcement he speculated on what they would say in regard to the attitude toward the police today. “Through my research I interacted with NYPD old timers. I think my characters would agree with those who have retired. They are not happy with the Mayor, who does not seem to have their backs, and the way they are being depicted. The feelings include frustration and anger because there is a lack of understanding for the day-to-day duties. The police are individuals trying to do a job the best way they can.” Jacobson also wants readers to understand, playing off the Billy Joel song, that while writing this book, “I was in a ‘New York state of mind.’ It started from a trip in 1995 when I made a visit to New York City, where I grew up. You can take the man out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of the man. This is absolutely true with me. My heart and soul is as a New Yorker even though I have lived in California ten years longer.” Spectrum has a plot that combines a mystery with an understanding of how the mind of a serial killer works. It explores how these individuals can commit such violence on other human beings. Fans of Karen Vail also get a bonus because the storyline explains her backstory. Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 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 on the right side bar. Fans of thrillers have lost major author icons Vince Flynn and Tom Clancy. If they are looking for someone who might live up to these legends, try Matthew Dunn. He writes about espionage and takes the reader on an intense journey with every storyline. His latest, Dark Spies, is a riveting and gripping novel whose main character, Will Cochrane, is a lot like Flynn’s Mitch Rapp, each willing to throw personal safety aside to protect their country. Of this strong Spymaster series, Dark Spies is probably Dunn’s best. The storyline and characters are so very well developed. The plot begins with Will acting as a bodyguard for a deep cover CIA agent, Ellie Hallowes, as she attempts to extract information from a Russian asset. Unfortunately, this mission goes south when assassins led by Russian spymaster, Antaeus, attempt to execute the US operative. Will does not understand why Langley orders him to stand down, and instead takes matters into his own hands to save Ellie. Attempting to find the truth about the inexplicable orders, Hallowes returns to the US to seek out who is behind this scheme while Will, now a marked man and on the run, must outmaneuver deadly Russian assassins, an elite FBI team, and powerful self serving intelligence officials, one who outted him. The Ellie Hallowes character is someone readers root for. She is the female equivalent of Will Cochrane. Both are heroic, personable, tough, compassionate, kind, thoughtful, and lonely. She is best described as Will’s kindred spirit for her similar experiences, background, and mindset. The mission is everything to them and if they no longer were able to be spies they would drift endlessly emotionally and physically. The other character introduced in this book is FBI Special Agent Marsha Gage. She is intelligent, sharp, and is no nonsense while managing the many egos of the task force. Dunn noted, “Ellie and Marsha are so very different. Ellie is drawn into herself. If I stuck both in a room of a hundred people, Ellie would want to get out as quickly as possible because she lives in the shadows. On the other hand, Marsha would be very comfortable in that setting.” The author has spent five years as a deep undercover agent for MI6 so he is able to use his experiences to write realistic stories. As he explains in the book, he quickly understood that the major attributes of an operative are instinct and imagination. Dunn commented directly to blackfive.net, “This is something that cannot really be trained, the ability to use your ‘antenna eyes.’ Deep cover agents rely on finding out people’s characteristics. I want to show in this book how operatives are addicted to finding the truth, stealing secrets is in their blood. They find it difficult to break this habit. People also need to understand that deep cover officers put themselves in severe danger, operating on a limb. There is no diplomatic cover and immunity. Spies typically operate in extremely hostile locations. If caught, at best they’ll get jail time and at worst they will be executed. It is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.” The plot hammers the point home that the intelligence community needs to consider multiple fronts. The book’s plot exemplifies how countries such as Russia could manipulate circumstances to their advantage. It also shows the need for HUMINT, to gain information through interpersonal contact. In this case Russia tried to manipulate Great Britain and the US to react to a perceived situation of a terrorist meeting that would have had a catastrophic result, had it not been for Ellie’s due diligence. It became evident that the dangers lie with major rogue states that can destabilize the world order. Dark Spies conjures up memories of Frederick Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal, including the collaboration of agencies and the movement through multiple countries and continents. The characters search for the truth provides an exciting read that is solidly grounded in the real world. Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2015 at BLACKFIVE
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Not sure of attribution, but this was last night in Paris... Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 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 in the right side bar. A Fine Summer’s Day by Charles Todd is being billed as a prequel to the Ian Rutledge series. But it is much more that that, as the authors put the readers right in the middle of the hysteria about going to war at the beginning of the 20th Century. Intermingled with World War I facts is the backstory of Ian Rutledge, examining who he was before the war. The story’s timing occurs just before World War I begins, in June 1914. While most are focused on the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo, Rutledge is concentrating on a case involving a series of murders across England, which are seemingly unconnected. He is also pre-occupied with his engagement to Jean Gordon, someone whom he dearly loves despite the reservations of his friends and family. Readers get a clearer picture of Jean’s personality before the war began. She is seen as superficial, which creates an understanding of why she slighted him after he came back from the war with shell shock. The authors show her as having a personality without a lot of depth and spoiled by her parents. She measured herself with regard to her friends, always wanting to keep up appearances. Jean is almost the direct opposite of her friend Kate who is also beautiful and charming, but who is someone readers can like. Through the character’s eyes the authors show how people at that time were swept up in the glory of war. The Todds noted to blackfive.net, “We put this quote in the book by Ian who is the voice of reality, ‘And now everyone was mad for war. As if the excitement was all they saw… It’s not all parades and bands and uniforms, it’s cruelty and misery and destruction.’ He was not swept up in that mad rush. He had no illusions since as a policeman he had seen dead bodies. At first he saw himself not as a soldier but as a policeman who had a duty to solve this case. While working on the case he placed his obligation as a policeman before his duty of King and Country. After solving the case he enlisted because he felt he was needed. Britain was pressed for men considering the massive German army, and needed good officers who could command men.” A Fine Summer’s Day is a gripping novel that captures people’s thoughts and experiences regarding the pre-World War I years. The authors are able to skillfully intermingle this within a very riveting murder mystery. This book is a page-turner that readers will not want to put down. Continue reading
Posted Jan 8, 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 far right sidebar. Tom Clancy’s Full Force And Effect by Mark Greaney keeps the Jack Ryan legacy alive. The characters of the Campus organization are still fighting evil, evoking the Clancy style. The classic trademarks and cast include, Jack Ryan Jr., his cousin Dom, John Clark, and Adam Yao, who are alive and well within the plot twists, a great espionage story, and well-written action scenes. There are some technical details but not quite so many as to overburden the plot. The author noted to blackfive.net about continuing the series, “Clancy died in October 2013. Within a couple of weeks I was told by Putnam they wanted to contract with me to continue his books. I am blown away and happy that the book is being so well received by fans. His writing influenced me since I was such a fan. Being a reader I knew what fans want from these books. I tried to stay true to the characters, such as continuing to write Jack Ryan as a normal American. From having written with Tom, I certainly know the voices of the different characters. Once I began this novel, I told myself not to do anything differently from when we collaborated, except this time, I would be solely taking the entire project all the way through. Working with him gave me the confidence to take this project on, and write an aggressive story. I did create some characters. For example, the logistics coordinator Adara Sherman was someone who I came up with and expanded her role.” The storyline includes an attempted assassination of US President Jack Ryan, North Korea attempting to buy ICBM missiles to enhance their nuclear capabilities, rogue FBI agents working with the Koreans, and the murder of a CIA officer in Vietnam. Greaney intertwines these brilliantly and is able to mimic many of the real life situations of this region. Especially when President Ryan challenges North Korea’s effort to extract trillions of dollars worth of rare minerals that would allow them to buy nuclear weapons and influence. Readers can connect the fictional Choi Ji-Hoon with the real-life ruler, Kim Jong-Un, including the actions taken against his uncle. The storyline is insightful and relevant considering North Korea was in the headlines with the hacking of the Sony Corporation. Putnam and Greaney might be wary or they too might end up in the crosshairs. Greaney commented, “When I was up in New York this summer people said they would not be surprised if North Korea came back into the headlines. I do not think anyone could imagine the magnitude of what they did. There is a small coincidence. Columbia Pictures, a part of Sony, is developing a film based on my own first book, The Gray Man. Some of the hacked emails were from the directors assigned to my film. The comic world websites recognized that my directors are also the directors of “Captain America” and “The Avengers” movies. They briefly spoke about The Gray Man in their hacked emails.” Full Force And Effect shows that Greaney can carry the torch of Clancy’s books. Readers should be happy that he was contracted to continue writing this marvelous series, especially since Jack Ryan Sr. and his supporting cast are allowed to continue to battle the evil powers that exist around the world. He also gave a heads up about his next books. The Clancy book will be out next Christmas and might continue the plot of Command Authority, where Russia and Putin will be highlighted as a major threat. He is also writing the fifth book of his own The Gray Man series, about an operative burned by the CIA. Continue reading
Posted Jan 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 by clicking on the books category link on the right side bar. Blue Warrior by Mike Maden is another novel involving drone technology. Besides being a techno-thriller his book includes politics, power corruption, and a backstory about his former romantic interest. He is able to weave into the storyline the legal/political implications of drone warfare, privacy issues related to surveillance technologies, and China’s desire to monopolize Africa’s rare earth element deposits. The bookis set in the remote Sahara Desert, where a recently discovered deposit of strategically indispensable “Rare Earth Elements” (REEs) ignites an international rush to secure them. Standing in the way are the Tuaregs, the fierce tribe of warrior nomads of the desert wasteland, who are fighting for their independence. They not only are fighting their own government but the Chinese who are working behind the scenes. Maden remarked about this region of the world, “I am fascinated with the amazing ancient African warrior. The men wear the veils, not the women, to hide their identity. When they sweat the blue dye washes up on their faces, thus the name. The theme of this book includes what it means to be a warrior. Mossa, the leader of the Tuaregs, reminds Troy Pearce that he has a responsibility to serve his people.” Troy Pearce is a Wyoming mountain boy that used to work for a CIA Special Operations Group in Iraq and Afghanistan. He now runs a private contracting company that specializes in the deployment of “remotely piloted vehicles,” which allows him the discretion to choose jobs that are consistent with his moral compass. Pearce still loves his country but hates politics. As a consequence, his loyalty to former U.S. President Margaret Meyers, along with a desire to help friends in need, draws him into a complicated web of international business, political intrigue and nontraditional conflict. With the second book in the series it becomes evident that Maden distrusts large government. His characters, former President Margaret Myers and Troy Pearce, battle the moral hypocrisy in government and partisan politics. Myers is a popular character for her toughness, fairness, and her desire to put her country ahead of any political interests. To counter Myers point of view is the character Cella who does what is in her own best interest, thinks borders are silly, and that everyone should go along to get along. Maden commented to blackfive.net, “I see fiction as a way to tell the truth, Americans are crying out for the anti-Hillary Clinton and the anti-politician. In this book I introduced a character, David Lane, who will be front and center in my next book, Drone Command. He is a Kennedy type politician who quotes and believes in the phrase ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ I specifically link Lane to Kennedy to bring back these ideas. Myers, Lane, and Pearce all believe in more personal responsibility and less government except for national security. They believe in securing our borders, balancing the budget, standing up to countries like China, and having fair trade.” Blue Warrior has characters whose views would impress the Libertarians of the world. Through the plot, in very subtle ways, Maden shows how power corrupts. There are many action intense scenes which keeps the plot moving at an accelerated pace. Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 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. No Fortunate Son by Brad Taylor is a riveting thriller that explores several moral issues. Using the specific song by Creedence Clearwater Revival concentrating on the line “I ain’t no Senator’s son,” the author puts a twist to the song. The theme centers around how much manpower should be used to rescue a VIP or a VIP’s child when kidnapped. In this case, key members of the US government have a child serving in the military who has been captured by terrorists. Taylor noted to blackfive.net, “I know the military put enormous effort in attempting to free Bergdahl before he was released. Regardless if he was a traitor or not he was relatively a nobody. That got me thinking, how far would an administration go if someone like John McCain or Joe Biden’s son, who are also serving in the military, were captured. Are they considered more important than any one soldier?” A developing situation has the Task Force, a unit created to contain terrorist plots and global threats, now attempting a hostage rescue. A terrorist organization has targeted five military relatives of key members of the US government, including the vice president’s son, the Texas Governor’s husband, the son of the Secretary of Defense, and the children of the chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee. The seizure of hostages was far-reaching and meticulously coordinated, and the full extent of the threat, and potential demands, has thrown the government into turmoil. They face a terrible choice: Cease counter-terrorist operations, or watch hostages die one by one. Besides exploring how much is a single life worth, the book has non-stop action as Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill try to rescue the Task Force’s leaders niece, Kylie Hale, who Pike regards as a daughter figure. The author commented, “I have seen a lot of people who are willing to deflate everything the Defense Department does into one big bubble. They just do not understand the enormous complexity and that there is no monolific ‘they.’ I used the example of the commander, Colonel Kurt Hale’s sister, Kathy, who can best be described as a ‘peace-nik’ having her head in the sand. Once her daughter went missing she had no moral problem doing whatever is necessary to rescue Kylie. She basically turned a blind eye.” Since Taylor retired as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel after more than 20 years of experience in the U.S. Army Infantry and Special Forces, he is able to use his experiences to write realistic thrillers. Other issues he explores in this book are the rules of engagement, what are the moralistic implications, and how much technology should be used. It also appears that Jennifer is being heavily influenced by Pike’s way of thinking, do whatever is necessary to ensure a mission’s success. He is hoping that readers understand the two point of views presented through Jennifer and Pike’s eyes. “Jennifer bases her decisions on the theories of Immanuel Kant, deontological ethical theory. It basically states that people actions are bound by the moral will. For example, you will never kill a civilian; you will never steal, even if it means stealing a loaf of bread would feed a starving family. Pike on the other hand believes in John Stuart Mill’s theory of Utilitarianism. Actions should be done for the greater good. It is acceptable to torture if there is a ticking time bomb.” No Fortunate Son is a gripping and insightful novel. He skillfully switches between third-person narration and Pike’s first-person point of view. The plot and characters are so very well developed readers will not want to put the book down. He also gave a heads up about his next book, Insider Threat, which deals with the Islamic State. The Israeli Mossad agent, Shoshana will return as well as her moral compass, Aaron. However they will be working with the Task Force off the books so no fingerprint can be traced back to Mossad. Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 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. W.E.B. Griffin’s latest book, The Assassination Option, has a riveting plot. Being a Veteran himself, having served in Germany right after World War II and during the Korean War, he is very supportive of all veterans. He writes a number of series of books with his son, William Butterworth IV. Although the authors consider themselves storytellers their books are much more as they weave historical information throughout their stories, involving both the military and clandestine services. Being a part of “the greatest generation” Griffin, whose given name is William Edward Butterworth III, is able to incorporate his own experiences into his thrilling plots. This latest novel is the second adventure in the new “Clandestine Operations series” about the origins of the CIA and the Cold War. Griffin’s admiration for those in the armed services and intelligence community can be summed up within the dedication of The Assassination Option: besides listing those who served, it ends with “Our nation owes these patriots a debt beyond repayment.” Enlisting in the army in October 1946 Griffin became what he refers to as “General Bill White Jr.’s errand boy.” The books reflect his experience of serving with men, such as General Patton, General White, William E. Colby, and Max Taylor. Considering himself privileged to be around all those interesting and brilliant people he was able to be “a fly on the wall for the commanding general of allied land forces in Europe. I heard a lot. I was just lucky to be around the command center as it was getting off the ground. I knew a lot of people involved in the military and clandestine service and admired them all. As an Army Sergeant I was given top secret clearance since part of my duties was to read all memos before General White, and to determine what was important, what was not, as well as to decide what he should see first and last.” Griffin emphasizes the point by describing how he was present when Bobby Williams, General White’s aviation officer, drew up a plan for the army to get its own air force. Explaining that he had typed the communications, Griffin saw “that part of the army take off. Like most kids I was curious as hell and fascinated with what I was hearing. It was an exciting and fun time that I try to convey within the plots in my books.” The plot of his current book, The Assassination Option, includes some of Griffin’s learned lessons. His son noted to blackfive.net, “The book characters are based on compilations of actual people my dad knew. This series shadows history and shows how it repeats itself. Look how the Russians are once again on the march and Putin is attempting to re-create the Russian empire. He is smart, dangerous, and has the mentality of the old KGB.” Some of the most interesting parts of the book are the scenes that show how America’s allies are not really allies, and its enemies have become friends of sorts. During the early years of the CIA many of those officials were former Nazis who were considered useful because of the information they provided against the newfound enemy, Russia. Griffin told blackfive.net he hopes readers will understand how “the Nazis were nasty people and after they lost the war no one ever admitted to being one. They were all guilty; yet, denied it. However, we needed these guys who had information and ways of getting it that we did not have. For example, they knew who the Russians spies were in the atomic program before we did. The point of the book is to show how we needed to watch out for both the Germans and the Russians. Both were as dangerous as hell. It became clear that the day WWII ended the Cold War began and that we had to be wary of the Russians. The prologue goes into the back history because it is my belief that to better understand the story and the characters there is a need to understand the political situation.” The most fascinating characters of the book are James Cronley, Friedrich Hessinger, and Claudette Colbert. Because Cronley’s first mission for the new Central Intelligence Directorate was so successful he is promoted to captain and given more responsibility, the Chief, DCI, Europe; and in charge of a top-secret spy operation. Readers will probably be able to connect the dots between the character Freddy Hessinger and Henry Kissinger; although, Griffin refuses to comment. The similarities: their names, both were in Munich after the War, both Jewish, both worked for the counter-intelligence corps, and both wore the officers’ pink and green uniform with the officer’s triangle emblem. The character Claudette Colbert was not based on the actress, but, according to Griffin, “on the women I knew who worked in the intelligence organization. I knew a Betty Grable, not the actress. She was a master sergeant. I gave my character the same duties as the military Grable, just changed her name to Colbert. She was more than a secretary, but a spook working for the intelligence agency.” The authors also gave a heads up about the next book in the series, The Curtain of Death, the title playing off the “Iron Curtain” speech by Churchill. It is based on the dangers of Russia but also on the desire to shut down Operation Odessa, which moved Nazis to safety in South America. The Assassination Option is a classic Griffin book that combines history with fiction, creating a superb, suspenseful, gripping, and informative novel. Griffin chose to start this series because of his respect for the OSS/CIA between 1946 and 1950, when the intelligence agency in Europe was very successful even though they had little to work with. The cast of characters are remarkable,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 30, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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Holiday wreaths adorn the graves of fallen service members across Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Dec. 13, 2014. Volunteers placed about 700,000 remembrance wreaths on National Wreaths Across America Day. DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr. Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2014 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. Liad Shoham’s latest book, Asylum City, has a riveting plot that involves a mystery based around social issues. This is not a typical thriller since the reader is engrossed not only in the crime plot but also the current issue facing Israelis, seeing the predicament through the eyes of the characters. The story begins with the murder of activist Michal Poleg in her Tel Aviv apartment. The policewoman assigned to the case, Anat Nachmias, wonders which of the possible suspects could be the perpetrator. Was her killer a disgruntled African immigrant? Or the lawyer she filed a complaint against for causing so many migrants to be deported, or "The Banker" extorting the migrants, as he lends money to them illegally at exorbitant interest rates? The book allows the reader to be a part of the investigation, as Anat must decide if an “asylum seeker” actually committed the crime after his confession. Anat Nachmias is smart, motivated, more of a listener, and armed with a law school degree. An attractive woman who relies on her intelligence and training to succeed, and knows it is not easy being a woman in the men's club. She is a strong female character who handles herself well in a male dominated profession on a crime that her supervisors would like resolved regardless of the evidence. Besides Anat there are other well-developed characters although the overabundance of characters and the similarity of names are at times a bit confusing. Since the author is a practicing attorney, the descriptions are realistic and accurate. He uses his job experiences to write a gripping novel that is in many ways similar to the US immigration problem: should border security be implanted before solving the immigration problem, what to do with those illegally in the country, and is there a humanity issue. The problem in Israel has arisen from the Eritrea Africans who are trying to escape persecution by migrating to Israel through the Sinai Peninsula. He told blackfive.net, “It does not matter the color of their skin, which is irrelevant. Israel has accepted Jews from all over the world: Ethiopian, Chinese, Hispanic, Eastern European, and Western European, but the underlying thread is they are all Jews. The government does not exploit them, but also do not grant them any opportunities. The problem is those who try to exploit them, that is exemplified by the quote in my book, ‘I’ll never get how people who grew up in this country can exploit other refugees. The Bedouins that are hired to move them across the desert have kidnapped them for sex trafficking, held them hostage for ransoms, tortured the men, and raped 90% of the women. Israel is unable to control the crimes, because they take place outside our border. Within Israel there are those who have set up businesses surrounding the asylum seekers needs. For example, just as in the book, since they are not allowed to open bank accounts, Mafia bosses have become their bankers that transfer money to the asylum seeker’s family.” Asylum City is a fast-paced and riveting novel that is more than just a crime story. It is a gripping thriller with engaging characters and an informative storyline. Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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An MV-22B Osprey aircraft lands on the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima, to embark Marines on the ship, in the Atlantic Ocean, Dec. 13, 2014. U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Shelby M. Tucker Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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U.S. soldiers attach cargo to a CH-47 Chinook helicopter on Roberts International Airport in Harbel, Liberia, Dec. 12, 2014. The mission was to airlift incinerators to a new Ebola treatment unit built in support of Operation United Assistance. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Brien Vorhees Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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The USS Sterett, left, transits alongside the CNS Yun Chang, right, and the CNS Chao Hu during U.S.-China Counter-Piracy Exercise 15 in the Gulf of Aden, Dec. 11, 2014. The Sterett is deployed as part of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, and is supporting Operation Inherent Resolve conducting maritime security operations, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Eric Coffer Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2014 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. Dogs always seem to be an intricate part of people’s lives. Maria Goodavage’s latest book, Top Dog: The Story of Marine Hero Lucca, is a true story that is also a riveting thriller with action-packed scenes, heart-pounding combat sequences, high tension, and suspense. It is the story of two heroes, one male and one female, one four-legged and her handler. The author shows the passionate relationship between a military working dog and its partner. Top Dog is the story of a German Shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix, Lucca, and her dog handlers, Marine Staff Sergeant Chris Willingham and Marine Corporal Juan "Rod" Rodriguez. The intensity of the book is presented from page one, where readers find themselves immediately rooting for Lucca. Unlike other books the author skillfully goes back and forth between Lucca surviving an IED bombing and how she became such an important part in the effort to save her fellow Marines’ lives. The reader is taken on a six year journey with Lucca from her youth in the Netherlands, her formative months in Israel as part of the elite Israeli Oketz K-9 group, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the death of her best four-legged friend, to losing a leg and being adopted by her handler and his family. A Specialized Search Dog, Lucca belongs to a group trained to work off-leash at long distances from her handler. She served alongside both Special Forces and regular infantry, and became so sought-after that platoons frequently requested her by name. But this is more than a war story, it is also about the extraordinary bond that developed between Lucca and Marine Corps dog handlers Chris Willingham and Juan Rodriguez. Chris Willingham commented, “Military dogs have drive, loyalty, intelligence, are trainable, can handle the rigors of combat, and can take directions. The handlers have to be independent thinkers, mature, responsible, have confidence in themselves and the dog, but are never cocky. Being a kennel master at Pendleton, and a supervisor for all the Marines and the military dogs including training and operational readiness I can tell a special dog. I personally think the best breeds of dogs for the military are the German Shepherd and the Belgian Malinois because they are the easiest to train. Lucca being a mix of both these breeds had the best of both worlds. I know all handlers think their dogs are the best but she is truly the best. She is a real Marine and we are called a team for a reason.” Kris Knight a fellow dog handler and a supervisor will be retiring this month. He is called the “dog whisperer,” since he knows so much about training a dog. (Gpscanine.com) He describes the relationship between Lucca and Chris as “the perfect match. They are absolute rock stars. Like one in a thousand who did something no one else will be able to duplicate during my lifetime. They had such a rapport. Too bad she could not be cloned. She went on over four hundred missions and no one lost a life to an IED.” It is not necessary to read the first book in the series, Soldier Dogs, but in doing so readers will get an understanding of military working dogs as a unique part of the military tapestry. This book goes into great detail about the military working dog program, the training of these dogs, their deployments, and their retirement. While researching this first book the author was able to speak with Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham about his time in Afghanistan when he was kennel master in charge of 30 dog teams. Maria later connected the dots and found out that Chris was the handler of Lucca, and decided to write a follow up book that would concentrate on this special dog and her military partners. Maria noted, “I decided to write these military dog books because the program is so important regarding the number of lives saved. I put this quote in Soldier Dogs, ‘There is one response that the Taliban has no answer for: the soldier dogs.’ Lucca would frustrate the insurgent bomb makers because she was so smart, calm, and heroic. She saved those serving from getting killed, hurt or maimed. Lucca was one of the first off leash US military dogs, which allowed her the freedom to find the explosives, a great force multiplier.” Top Dog is an appropriate title for this special canine. This book is a great present for the holidays. It is a very heart warming story since this heroic animal and her Marine buddies had an unbreakable bond. Everyone should read this book if for no other reason than to be a part of the deep loving relationship between Lucca and her handlers, where they overcame the endless brutalities of war and the traumas created by this violence. Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2014 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. Sharyl Attkisson’s book, Stonewalled, is a must read for all Americans. Her book reads like a mystery straight out of a John Grisham or Vince Flynn novel. Unfortunately the bad guys are not Islamic terrorists but those in government today. Instead of using guns and bombs they use intimidation and harassment. Stonewalled is an account of an investigative reporter that wanted to follow the facts and refused to be intimidated by the Obama Administration. She was one of the few mainstream journalists that tried to seek out the truth regarding what happened on that tragic day of September 11th, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya when four Americans were murdered by Islamic terrorists. It is stunning how this administration tried to push their narrative on reporters. In the book Sharyl recounts how she was told that the President early on referred to the attack as terrorist based. This quote from the book shows that the White House viewed her as uncooperative in pushing their narrative, “I give up Sharyl…I’ll work with more reasonable folks...” Unfortunately, Candy Crowley seems to be one of those that did cooperate with the White House considering her actions in the national Presidential debate. Crowley obviously did not check the facts herself. It makes readers question, if the “substitution” technique Attkisson talks about in the book was used: would a journalist from Fox News who had jumped in defense of Romney be drummed out? Sharyl speculates, “As I say in the book, it did make me wonder if Crowley, like me, had received an advance call from a White House official prompting her with the claim that the President had called Benghazi a terrorist attack the next day when, in fact, that was questionable.” Regarding Hillary Clinton’s involvement in pushing the false narrative of Benghazi and her many differing statements Sharyl noted to blackfive.net, “She appears to want to revise the facts on Benghazi in her book. Clinton begins her Benghazi discussion acknowledging ‘Americans were killed in a terrorist attack,’ the very thing that the administration had worked so hard not to say initially. Her contradictions in her book include discussions explaining why no rescue mission was launched and the supposed surprise nature of the attack, while at the same time she argues the US was on alert and well prepared because of the anniversary of 9/11. She also claimed the Foreign Emergency Support Team was not deployed because the attack wouldn’t last long enough for them to arrive to help; yet, she also said she believed there would be more attacks in the region as there had been in Egypt. In the days after September 11, she didn’t attribute the attacks to terrorism but mistakenly blamed a YouTube video, and later said that was due to the confusion caused by the ‘fog of war.’ Yet documents we now have show officials concluded from the start that the terrorists were at fault and even told the Libyans that right away. Mrs. Clinton eventually testified before Congress asking, ‘what difference does it make?’ as to who was behind the attacks. My response, if it doesn’t make a difference, why did the administration work so hard to steer the public in the direction of the video rather than the truth?” She also reminds readers of the Fast and Furious debacle: the issue of corruption, cover-ups, and government misdeeds. Early into the Obama Administration ATF officials came up with a plan to secretly enlist the help of licensed gun dealers in Arizona and encouraged them to sell firearms to suspected traffickers for the cartels. Part of the plan was to allow these guns to be used in crimes that would lead to the arrest of major drug cartel figures. Sharyl kept pursuing the story and was told by an Obama Administration official, “Every other outlet is ‘reasonable’ except you. Nobody else thinks there is a story. Just you. You’re the only one. Sharyl Attkisson is right and everybody else is wrong?” She noted to blackfive.net, “There was a great deal of pushback, attempts to manipulate opinion by the Obama Administration. According to my sources, other reporters were trying to publish stories on Fast and Furious, but their managers or editors apparently blocked it.” However, the mystery of the book comes about when she is targeted by a government agency or official that infiltrates her computer and cell phone. They are not listening to a terrorist plotting to kill Americans, but are trying to find out what information this CBS reporter has that will be damaging to them. Big brother is not only listening but in Sharyl’s case has actually put damaging classified information on the computer. Sharyl pointed out, “For a reporter to have classified information is not a crime in itself. What could be a crime, if the person who took them, and handed them over, broke the law. My sources have theorized that perhaps they could put something in someone’s computer for some pretense to justify a legal wiretap at some point. The long story short, they could then get a court order, frame a federal source, or frame the owner of that computer. Whoever did this to me is very sophisticated. I have decided to pursue it to let them know I was not just going away and to make the public aware. It is almost humorous that people think my accusations are outlandish and they call me paranoid. It is part of the propaganda campaign. This is not a figment of my imagination if you look at the undeniable forensic reports and the CBS press release.” Stonewalled needs to be read so Americans can understand that currently this administration is targeting journalists and the sources. But a word of warning, anyone can be targeted. This book shows how corporate and political interests try to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2014 at BLACKFIVE
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From Gruntworks.com U.S. Marine Corps veteran and Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer had this message for ISIS, via Scout.com: Let me say what a lot of us are thinking...If ISIS is using social media to track me, that's a dream come true in my book. These guys are a bunch of bullies that just prey on the weak," says Meyer. "I can't travel over there anymore now that I'm out of the Marine Corps, so having them come to me would help out a lot. ISIS targeting the U.S. military is like a sheep targeting a lion. Hopefully one of these assholes actually shows up. They'll definitely get more than they want at my place! Visit Scout.com to read the whole piece and see a hilarious photo of how worried he is... My main problem with the ISIS threats is the federal government asking veterans to take down any online reference to their service. This is an absolutely ridiculous request and one from the nanny state. Let me get this straight...we are supposed to not be proud of our service, particularly against the evil that is Islamic Fanaticism?! What? Should I take down the flag in front of my residence, too? What the @#$%?! We should be aware of the threat. We should not fear the threat. We should know what ISIS is capable of. We should end that capability. Last, Dakota Meyer and RangerUp have teamed up to create a new shirt that says it all. Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2014 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. Woman With A Gun, the latest by New York Times Bestselling author Phillip Margolin is a very unique crime novel. What inspired this riveting thriller is the photograph seen on the cover of the book, which works as the focal point for this mystery. This book is really a story within a story as Margolin takes his personal experience and transfers it to Stacey Kim. She wants to become a writer and sees this Pulitzer Prize winning photograph at an art museum that inspires her to find the history behind it. Deciding to travel to Oregon, the setting for the photo, she discovers there was a Cold Case murder associated with it. The other piece of the plot has readers trying to unravel the killing of Raymond Cahill that occurred the night of his wedding. That evening, amateur photographer Kathy Moran took a stunning photograph of newlywed Megan Cahill standing on the beach, facing the sea, in her wedding gown, holding a western six-shooter. Moments later, Kathy discovered the body of Raymond Cahill, Megan’s millionaire husband, in their beach house. Margolin commented to blackfive.net, “In Georgia. I was keynoting a writing conference. In a restaurant restroom over the toilet was the photograph seen on the cover of the book. I was blown away with the many possible scenarios that were running through my mind. Has the woman killed her husband on their wedding night? Is she going to commit suicide? Is she waiting for someone she plans to kill? I knew then I had the name of the book and the cover. The real story behind the photograph is not romantic and is actually bland. I asked the photographer, Leslie Jeter, because I was really curious. She was a commercial photographer at this wedding rehearsal. Everyone there were gun enthusiasts and had her take pictures, each one holding a different type of gun.” The two main characters are very compelling, complex, and well developed. Kathy Moran was a defense attorney that went up against a young prosecutor, on the fast track to success. After her drug dealer client was found not guilty, she appeared to have everything at her fingertips. That is until she was disbarred for possessing drugs. She quits law and finds peace in Palisades Heights, a town on the Oregon Coast, while pursuing her dream career as a photographer. Margolin is able to have this character that uses sex as a way to get ahead, appear at times sympathetic, and alternately between being good and bad. The male lead is Jack Booth who was demoted after being humiliated by losing to Moran and is now a special prosecutor. He is a womanizer, and someone who drinks and smokes way too much. He also is obsessed with Kathy Moran and allows this ten-year-long infatuation to influence how he handles his job. Margolin thinks that readers will appreciate “that the tone of the book became decidedly noir. I realized I was writing a story that could have been filmed in black and white in the 1940s starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall as Jack and Kathy respectively.” Woman With A Gun is fueled by a very intriguing picture and well developed characters. Margolin has a straightforward and natural style with his many twists and turns throughout the plot. Readers are kept off balance, suspecting many different characters as the killer, as they engage in this page-turner story. Continue reading
Posted Nov 25, 2014 at BLACKFIVE