Jake Drecker, a special operator, pursues a mission across country borders to neutralize a terrorist cell, which may be holding an American missionary hostage. When Jake’s boss, Lt. Colonel Mike Sanchez, wonders at Drecker’s insistence and the CIA’s apparent carelessness for his and his team’s safety. The mystery of motivations and history of the missionary begins to settle in for both men. As the rescue operation becomes more and more dangerous, Drecker and Sanchez begin to believe that they may have bitten off more than they could chew.
Military thrillers are always ripe with adventure and thrilling pacing, yet Tim Moynihan’s Prodigal Avenger, seems to subvert his trope. His style is crisp and light and sails over the narrative with ease. There are plenty of nitty-gritty details and numerous mentions of military jargon to please even the most extensive army aficionados. Set in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the setting is immediately visceral and relevant, given the extensive USA presence there in the last 18 years, although Moynihan avoids labeling or commenting on the political foibles that led to the conflict. The mentions and reflections of faith were unexpected, but felt surprisingly welcome, especially in the face of such dire circumstances.
Drecker and Sanchez play off one another quite well and give an almost classic “brothers in combat” that is present in most military dramas, yet Moynihan plays his hand slightly closer to his chest by not allowing either man to be too intimate to the reader. This keeps us at a distance when observing the violence and chaos that occurs throughout the story. There is special attention to show how in war, black and white isn’t clear and that no one is purely at fault nor innocent in war. That kind of appreciation for warfare is rare in these sorts of patriotic, Americanized thrillers and Moynihan must be commended for his discerning prose.
The only fault I found in this book would be the loose ends. Considering how complex and confusing the operation becomes over time, this is no surprise, but the careful narrative never becomes overtly twisted so as to confuse the reader further. The loose ends otherwise will have us begging for answers and one can hope that Prodigal Avenger does not leave Drecker and Sanchez behind.
Any reader of military thrillers or military adventures stories surrounding the Middle East would be well served by reading these.
Pages: 248 | ASIN: B07KX5K894
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Going Dark follows Amelia as she tries to help journalists that have been kidnapped which has sparked an international incident. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
The idea of ‘Going Dark’ started to form in my mind as I spent nights working on the foreign desk at CBS. Those nights, I was alone in the entire studio, watching incoming video feed from our military forces stationed in Iraq. In 2006-07, the war was in full swing and we received daily updates on the progress and struggle people were facing during the war. The war zone wasn’t too far off from our foreign correspondent team stationed in Iraq, reporting from there. As I was sitting at my desk, I envisioned Amelia Sinclair (a foreign liaison in Going Dark) how hard and challenging must be to be separated from your family when your job takes you away from them, especially if you have young children.
Amelia and Jets are dynamic characters that are enigmatic and empathetic. What were some themes you wanted to capture in their characters?
Amelia had to sacrifice her career when she became a mother. Having children was not something she had planned on doing, but when it happened, she made the decision to stay back and take a desk job.
However, her thirst for adventure never fully went away. So, when her boss, Harold Fost, approached her with a proposition to oversee a covert assignment, she simply couldn’t resist. But Murphy’s Law tipped the scale against her and her friends and co-workers get kidnapped. I wanted ordinary people, the readers, who juggle work and family life to be able to relate to her and to the choices she makes along the way on this journey.
Jets is a complicated guy. He’d seen things most of us have not, working as a spy for the CIA. To me, he was interesting because, he believed in the cause set forth by the CIA, but he still had conscious and when he sees the wrong person is being blamed for crimes that she didn’t commit; he has to put aside his oath to the CIA and go with his guts, even if that decision could cost him his career.
This is an exciting novel on par with Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy novels. Did you start writing with this in mind of did this happen organically?
Tom Clancy was a master at setting up an engaging plot and building action in his novels. He is certainly an influencer in my writing. Another writer whom I admire is John Le Carre, unquestionably the undisputed father of spy thrillers. Both of these writers are exceptional.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I recently finished writing the second book in the Gabriel Jets series, called Political Whispers. Jets is a castaway in Afghanistan, having accepted a covert position, offered to him by Robert McKaine. Jets is in charge of a secretive drone program, most on Capitol Hill don’t know it even exists. The second book has more military overture and is action packed. Political Whispers is slated for release in early 2019.
Gabriel Jets is the CIA’s top agent, a man with a reputation of getting the job done, no matter the price. On a rare visit back to the States, Jets is dispatched to collect a video depicting the kidnapping of four U.S. journalists working undercover in Damascus, Syria.
Meanwhile, the U.S. president and his chief of staff, Robert McKaine, are called to the Situation Room to receive a briefing. Damascus is rocked by a terrorist plot that killed twenty-five innocent people.
A link between the two events is quickly discovered, with evidence pointing to the involvement of another U.S. journalist, Amelia Sinclair, a prominent foreign correspondent, with direct ties to the missing.
While Jets hunts for the video, he crosses paths with Amelia. In a blink of an eye, his mission is compromised as he believes she is being set up to be the fall guy.
As the U.S. government closes in to arrest Sinclair, Jets alters his assignment to help clear her name and track down the powerful men behind the ploy to draw in the country into an international scandal.
If Jets fails, the country he swore to protect, will go dark.
Posted in Interviews
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This is an interview of Professor B.A. Zikria about his recent books.
B.A. Zikria, born in Afghanistan, came to America at the age of eighteen to study medicine. He finished college in three years, studied at Johns Hopkins medical school in Baltimore, and received his diploma from President Eisenhower, brother of Milton Eisenhower, president of Johns Hopkins. He trained in Bellevue and Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centers. He taught medical students at the College of Physicians and Surgeons for 25 years and trained surgeons at CPMC and affiliated Harlem Hospital for 45 years. He has received 10 U.S. Patents during his career. After his retirement, he began writing philosophical and historical books.
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A young American physician Dr. Scott Fitzgerald from Pennsylvania sets out on a journey to fulfill his fathers dream by returning to Afghanistan where his father Bryan had spent nearly twenty years as the first American in that remote kingdom. Bryan had befriended Prince Akbar, the hero of First Anglo-Afghan, and won the hearts and minds of Afghans receiving a golden sword and the title of the American Prince. Like his father, Scott wanted to take the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution to the farthest lands of the world. Following many adventures he joins Prince Ayoub, the hero of the Second Afghan War.
Scott travels from Philadelphia across Europe, Russia, Afghanistan, India to the Far East. He returns with lessons learned and truths he discovered and writes them in this book to reach the present and future generations. He regards the American Republic as an indestructible fortress of freedom and democracy that all extremes of left and right factions are inevitably drawn back into the fortress of ‘Immortal Ideas”, built by their forefathers with their genius, their fortunes and their lives. Scott believes, as Americans we have never claimed to convert or to rule the world. We just want for others to have the same inalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of their own happinesss.
Scott quotes a great American, The Constitution of the United States is the impassioned and inspired vehicle by which we travel through history. It grew out of the deepest inspiration of our existence that we are here to serve Him by living free. That living free, releases in us the noble impulses and our best abilities so that we use these precious gifts for good and generous purposes and that we will secure them not just only for ourselves and our children but for all mankind.
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Return to Babylon begins with Orfeo and Clarice returning from the New World and their battle with the Spartans to settle into a somewhat peaceful life. How did you decide where to start the fifth book in the Orfeo saga?
I think it is a central theme of my books that you never know who emerges as an enemy, and you cannot pick a good time to confront a problem. Book 5 starts out by Cyrus being bored, and he assumes he will make a business trip to Babylon and see old friends. The trip does not go as planned, and he ends up being held as a slave and carted off.
I realized that I had taken the series to the New World but I had not been further east. When I was a rug dealer I remember my time in Afghanistan, before the revolution. I really enjoyed every trip to Afghanistan I took. The people were friendly, the food was great, there were all kinds of wonderful cultural things there. When writing I did my best to forget what was going on in that country now, and tried to capture what it must have been like in the Bronze Age.
My favorite character was Cyrus, a young and eager apprentice who begins to learn the ins and outs of spy craft. Did you have a favorite character you liked to write for?
For book 5 Cyrus emerged as the main character. The name gives it away. I modeled him after Cyrus the Great (600-530 BC). Of course Cyrus was a character from a later age, but I know that history regards him as a pragmatic ruler and a peacemaker. That is just the kind of ruler the region needs today. My character, being younger, is not so constrained as Orfeo and Clarice. Cyrus is not a Wanderer, and he leaves less of a footprint than the other characters (after all he is a good spy). I liked this about Cyrus, in a way he is something like Zurga would have been as a young man. In another way Cyrus would find his place at the end of the book, and he would have no need to wander even if he wanted to.
Return to Babylon is an action-packed story that explores the dynamics between different kingdoms. How did you set out creating the dynamic between the kingdoms? Did you outline it or was it organic?
I had to outline book 5 more than the other books. The difference is that for ancient Greece and Mesopotamia relatively more is known about their history. The area of Afghanistan is less known, and in a way this made the plot more difficult. I did not have names dates and events to hang my story on. I had to rely on the histories of the later empires that existed in Afghanistan. The rugged country made it hard to control. There were many petty kings, and bandits could be a problem.
Where does book six in the series, The Slave Boy, take readers?
I have a story arc planned around Orfeo and Clarice. I will use Cyrus in later books, but in some ways this book was a one off. I am really interested in the transfer of power. It is not so much that the older generation trains the next generation. It is more that the older generation is there after the adventure is over to help point out what lessons were learned.
After the conquest of Babylon the victors installed the daughter of the former king as ruler of that city state. Zinaida is now beginning to feel stirrings of divinity, and seeks vengeance upon the coalition who put her on the throne. One by one surrounding kings are removed. This time there will be no grand coalition to challenge the might of Babylon. The battle will be in the shadows. Zinaida has sent spies to locate Zurga, and she is greatly concerned that he cannot be found. After an attempt on his life, Orfeo and Clarice decide to go directly to Mesopotamia in an attempt to prevent harm coming to their adopted city of Pylos.
The wild card in the equation is a small city not one hundredth the size of Babylon which is located in the lower Tigris. Can the ruler of Araka be persuaded to take on the might of Babylon? Daryush, now ruler of a small kingdom, also decides to meet the threat in an unconventional way. He trains a young apprentice named Cyrus in spycraft. Can smoke and mirrors overcome raw power?”
Posted in Interviews
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The Jealous Flock by Ashley Borodin is a realistic fiction story that centers around the slightly strained relationship of a married couple and their lives as individuals in partnership and their young adult son. The narrative drops readers directly into the lives of the characters featured and lets you explore their lives and innermost thoughts as they struggle with identity and the maturing of unique ideas. Heavily geared towards deep thinking, challenging societal ideals, and the mass acceptance of those who are different, The Jealous Flock is a story that is designed to open the audience’s mind and heart and think outside of the box.
What seems to be an ordinary, white picket fence family in England takes the spotlight in a vivid narrative from each character’s point of view. Hints of tension between Doris and Martin, a married couple both caught up in their jobs, play their part on their son John who is beginning to phase into his adult life from that of a teenager. As Martin travels to Afghanistan to help stop a potential blood bath with jihadists, Doris is left at home to struggle through the differences in her personal opinions and morals as they pertain to her career in the law as a PR agent. Meanwhile, left behind in his parents own crisis, John quits his respectable job and flees overseas where he hopes to find himself and pursue his passion for photography. In Australia, he follows the steps of his father in participating in protests that aren’t always peaceful to defend Muslims battling hate and discrimination. Here he meets Randall, an unhappy widower pursuing an unusual relationship with a transgender prostitute who is stuck in her own shell of self-hatred.
The relationships in The Jealous Flock are realistic and relatable, breathing life into the characters both on their own and in harmony with their counterparts. The story takes on a political drive with themes of racism, xenophobia, and sexism as strong elements in the plot. Dynamics between the father and son of this story are particularly captivating, as Borodin manages to catch those meaningful moments that happen during the shift from parent to lifelong friend and mentor.
Ashley Borodin makes a strong call to arms to fight against society’s expectation of us in any walk of life. In a way, the author has created a coming-of-age story not just for young adults but for those in later years as well. This story dives deep into your thoughts and twists open the cap on unique thinking and encourages ideas of change and acceptance. The graphic, bold way that the author takes depression and insecurities relatable to everyone is a refreshing breath of life and gives you the chance to realize that you are more than what a shallow skin can provide for you. Though a bit wordy and emotionally daunting, Borodin transcribes a striking narrative that has the ability to strike the hearts of those who yearn for something more than mundane life.
Pages: 66 | ASIN: B01NAPZWB8
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