1 Law for All – Gator is the third installment of a Billy Angel’s political thriller series. This book is a suspenseful crime fiction story set in modern times. There are two storylines that this book follows; Dominica and her upcoming nuptials, as well as the Fair and Freedom Foundation, which is an organization consisting of mostly millennials who fight against voter fraud. They have sought help from the 1 Law for All Foundation as the organization has drawn attention from dangerous people. With the backdrop of a wedding and the action-packed dangers of the political waters, Gator country is in trouble.
There is a lot to unpack in this book thrilling book. It felt like an alternate timeline to our current situation in the U.S. There was great detail put into the the plan to tamper with the election by the Democrats in this high stakes political thriller. They were heavily involved with having votes changed by various nefarious means, Russians were involved, and there was even mention of Clinton conspiracy theories at one point. All are uncanny portrayals of the extreme views both sides take in todays turbulent political climate and that same tension is successfully reflected on the page in Billy Angel’s riveting thriller. I appreciated how well thought out the plan was to commit election fraud as it made it feel real, which allowed me to get further invested in the story and the characters. This story utilizes right-wing conspiracy theories to great affect. Those theories in our current political climate can be dangerous and delegitimize our democracy, but Billy Angel, like any good fiction writer, asks the question of ‘what if’ and sets his story on a path that is entertaining.
1 Law for All – Gator is an intriguing fictional take on election fraud, even introducing nanobot technology at one point, which having a bit of science fiction infused in the story was surprising but welcomed. It was this futuristic take on how to change the votes that I enjoyed. Fans of political thrillers that like complex storylines and well orchestrated action scenes will enjoy this well written book.
Pages: 335 | ASIN: B08HVG8PT1
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The Hainan Conflict is a superb follow-up to book one in your The Net thriller series. What were some new ideas you wanted to introduce in this book that were different from book one?
There were several ideas that I wanted to include in The Hainan Conflict. Interestingly, they were all based on elements of truth. The very first chapter hits on one of those elements: A female Russian virologist developing biological weapons and selling them to various countries and/or terrorist groups, along with the deliberate release of a deadly strain of smallpox in Kazakhstan in order to test its potency.
The next factual element I wanted to include was the mid-air collision between a US spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet in airspace over the South China Sea, resulting in the US spy plane’s forced landing on Communist China’s Hainan Island. This actually occurred on April 1, 2001, and set into motion a highly charged political situation of top-secret US intelligence possibly getting into China’s hands. A lot of research went into the characteristics of the planes involved, the base where the US plane had originated from, etc. to make the story as believable as possible. My husband and I were living in Southern China at the time (we had even vacationed on Hainan Island) and we were (naively) surprised at how different the news accounts were between US and China sources. It was at that point that I realized that having a free press doesn’t guarantee the truth any more than a government-controlled press. I think that is something we as Americans take for granted, and wrongly assume that our news isn’t editorialized.
The next factual element was Hainan Island itself. It is just as beautiful as described in the book. And, here again, truth proved stranger than fiction! The descriptions of the resort/beach area, Wild Boar Island, the unusual military training camp on the beach, the primitive village with female leaders bearing facial tattoos, the hidden caves, even the modern computer in a plastic tent, were all facts based on personal experiences there. And, the island’s history of a native women’s group defeating the government’s army is factual. A dear Chinese friend was kind enough to research that information for me.
So, where does truth end and fiction begin? I leave that for the reader to figure out.
The relationship between Yi and Sarah was consistently intriguing. What were some ideas that informed their conflict?
The characters of Yi and Sarah are composites of the best qualities in some of the friends and judges we knew in China. Such qualities included a fierce loyalty to family and country, and a dedication to seeing China rid itself of poverty and corruption. However, some of the characteristics of the average Chinese man were not so charming. These included excessive smoking, spitting, and a tendency to treat women as second-class citizens. It was not uncommon to see a man step in front of a woman in line–simply because she was female. (This infuriated me, and I tapped a few men on the shoulder to point out their error!) The conflict between Yi and Sarah certainly comes from the issue of his being American and a spy (and therefore unable to confide in Sarah his true identity and purpose). Adding to the conflict and intrigue, Yi’s character had to be different from the average Chinese male. So, he regularly does things more typical of an American. This confuses Sarah. The fact that he’s an attorney by profession rather than a spy gets him into trouble on several occasions. Plus, he misses his life in America. Much of Yi’s conflict stems from Sarah’s life in Tibet with Buddhist/vegetarian traditions being so different from his Christian American ones. Yet he is fascinated by her beauty, her brilliant legal mind, and her strong female personality. He struggles with the distraction of falling in love, while being in an uncomfortable situation that could cost him his life.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?
The main goal was to be true to the facts. I researched and tweaked the story until I could fit it into the timeline that the facts dictated. That was not easy!
What can readers expect in book three of The Net thriller series?
Although book 2–The Hainan Conflict–is more standalone than book 1 (which was written as an introduction to the series, its intertwining stories and character development), book 3–The Panama Contagion–continues the story of the Net organization’s attempts to secure world power, the vendettas between the evil characters and our hero Yi, and the romantic struggles between Yi and Sarah. As readers of book 2 know, the Net acquired bioweapons from a Russian virologist. The use of these weapons culminates in book 3 by way of unsuspecting travelers on two cruise ships returning to the States after a trip through the Panama Canal. A pandemic ensues. Also carried over from book 2 is the Net’s plan to disrupt international shipping channels by destroying parts of the Panama Canal. The question is, can Yi stop the Net’s destruction while fighting off a psychopathic killer, and trying to mend his relationship with Sarah, all while the CIA is ignoring his warnings? You’ll have to read it to find out.
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Celtic Knot follows a young girl who’s caught up in a murder mystery that has national consequences. What was the inspiration for turning this historical event into a thrilling mystery novel?
It was true inspiration, through a dream. I awakened with the vision of a girl, writing by candlelight, “I was on the other side of the door when Mr. McGee was shot.” I knew she meant the 1868 assassination of Canadian Father of Confederation T. D’Arcy McGee. Irish rebels were blamed, and one was hanged for the crime. Yet this remains Canada’s great unsolved murder mystery.
Clara is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
Thank you, Thomas. Readers have described Celtic Knot as “Alias Grace meets a dark, twisty Anne Of Green Gables”. Certainly, Canadian author L.M. Montgomery’s heroines, such as Anne Shirley and particularly her writer protagonist Emily Byrd Starr, served as inspiration. There’s a bit of Jo March in Clara as well. Yet Clara is a young female immigrant, the ultimate outsider viewing a strange new world with the particular gaze of a post-famine Irish-Catholic (& one hiding her late mother’s scandalous mixed-marriage to her negligent Anglo-Irish Protestant father.) Clara is bright, & surrounded by powerful men, yet absolutely powerless—except for her education, her knowledge of events, and her ability to ferret out information. She must work as a domestic servant to live, and must always make a fine calculation to balance her ethical duty and her best interests.
I enjoyed the historical references used throughout the book. What research did you undertake to ensure things were accurate?
There is a plethora of information available about McGee and his assassination, including books, trial transcripts, his own writings, newspapers of the day, and letters of prominent politicians & their civil servants. There is also no dearth of lore surrounding this story in the Irish-Canadian community, to this day. Much of what I’ve written is factual, but I’ve also learned facts and then taken great liberties with them. The trial is a representative pastiche, and I invented some character backstories and subplots—including the ending. One fact that still intrigues me: when slain, McGee did in fact have a recently-completed, politically-sensitive manuscript that went missing.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Yes, Thomas, young Clara Swift off having more misadventures–this time amidst a western Canadian rebellion, followed by high-level American Washington D.C. political intrigue, all of which culminates in a border raid of Canada by Irish-American Civil War veterans. This work-in-progress is titled An Irish Goodbye A Clara Swift Tale, and its publication date is Clara’s—and my—latest mystery.
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The Jailbird’s Jackpot follows a women who wins the jackpot after being released from prison and sets out to get revenge. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
This novel, The Jailbird’s Jackpot, is the fourth – and final – book in my Faith, Family, Frenzy!, series set in the American Midwest.
The first book, Stashes, had this logline/sales pitch: “Baby Boomer retirees gallivant around the country in a Winnebago leaving the family farm to their hapless son and his conniving wife. What could go wrong?” Well, some things went well, but much went wrong – and Amy was that conniving daughter-in-law. She had spunk, but her plans went awry and she took the fall for a guy that double-crossed her and she was imprisoned. Thus, when she’s released, she’s prim for revenge.
The book prior to The Jailbird’s Jackpot was The Winner’s Circle and had a similar plot: an unexpected influx of mega-millions bucks after purchasing a single lottery ticket on a whim. (both protagonists won the same lottery on the same day, so the payout was ‘only’ 1/4 billion bucks.) I’d set it up that way, to foreshadow this book. Great plan, eh!
So, I call The Jailbird’s Jackpot is the separate-and-equal sequel to The WInner’s Circle. I dedicated the book to “Amy, a classy-yet-sassy young lady who knows how to steer a plot.”
Amy is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character development?
Amy had a hard-scrabble early life. Her mother was schizzy and drunk much of the time, so Amy had to look out for herself and her younger brother. A high school teacher mentored her and Amy earned a scholarship to Michigan State University, where she snagged the handsome-and-coddled quarterback of the winning football team. She craved family, respect, and stability, but found small town life tedious and she wrecked her life. Now she’s returned to her main life goals – family, respect, and stability – in addition to her vibrant revenge for revenge.
Amy also gains redemption, as she forgives herself for the mistakes she’s made. An unexpectedly terrific outcome.
What were some themes that were important for you to focus on in this book?
Gaining friends and family, Redemption and achieving a better self. I feel that The Jailbird’s Jackpot is a new twist on the common Coming of Age story.
This is book four in your Faith, Family, Frenzy! series. What can readers expect in book five?
I feel that I’ve completed the Faith, Family, Frenzy! series… but Amy has a strong will. Further, she may/may not have fallen in love with her handsome parole office.
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The Children of Red Peak, by Craig DiLouie, follows the lives of four childhood friends who spent their formative years being raised in The Family of the Living Spirit, a religious cult led by Reverend Jeremiah Peale. David, the first of the cult’s victims readers meet, works helping people like him, his sister, and his friends exit cults and make their way back into society as seamlessly as possible. David knows whereof he speaks–The Family robbed him of everything he loved and left him and his sister and three other children alone in the world and grieving for the parents they loved and thought they knew.
I have never read anything quite like DiLouie’s story. Sadly, the stories related by David, Deacon, and Beth make their experience in Red Peak all the more tragic. Their memories serve as the core of the story and give readers a clear idea of the events that occurred that tragic night on the mountain. The stories they present about their lives in the cult and the horror surrounding the decisions made by their parents give readers a very raw idea of the mania that ensues when vulnerable people are targeted by cults.
DiLouie’s work appeals to readers of various genres as he manages to include an element of the supernatural in David’s story. I must say I was surprised to see this woven into the plot. Expecting to see trauma and tragedy, I was not prepared for the supernatural to make an appearance. That being said, the author does a wonderful job weaving two worlds together.
I highly recommend DiLouie’s work to any fan of psychological thrillers. DiLouie’s writing is flawless and, at times, almost poetic. This is one of the few books I can honestly say that I have read without putting down. The characters are captivating and relatable on many levels. DiLouie has a hit on his hands.
Pages: 384 | ASIN: B085C788FB
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The Case of the Golden Helmet is the story of one man’s investigation into a complicated case of tax evasion that spans two countries. What was the inspiration for the setup behind this story?
The inspiration was personal. Over 40 years ago, when I was a junior auditor with the Canada Revenue Agency, just after graduating from university, I had a very similar experience and the file was referred to special investigations. I left before I knew if it had been accepted – starting my career in the financial services industry. The character, Al Edwards, is very much based on the much younger me.
I enjoyed the mystery at the heart of this novel. Was this planned before writing or did it develop organically while writing?
The story was both planned and organic in a way. The story, as noted above, was based on personal experience. I tried to think about what resources the special investigations section would have at its disposal in today’s world of electronic communications and the ability to transfer or move monies without the need of physical cheques, etc. At the same time as I wrote, I developed ideas of what might happen in a certain instance. For instance, the discovery of the safe in Jacqueline’s house came to me as I was writing the section where the authorities were searching her home. Similarly, the cars being towed that were parked at the Tim Hortons seemed a similar extension of leaving cars there for a prolonged period of time.
As to the two-part structure of the story, I wanted an investigation and then resolution, I thought about the old Dragnet series and the original Law and Order TV show, where there was an investigation, told from the side of the investigators, and then the trial.
Tom is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Thank you for that compliment. I actually knew a man of that name many years ago when I was in the Canadian navy between high school and university. (As a kid I had want to join the RCMP, but when I applied, I was a quarter inch to short by the standards of the day.)
In any event, I thought of Tom as sort of modern-day Joe Friday, a just the facts sort of guy. As I wrote his character developed, he gained a wife, he flirted to get information and became a real investigator. He, of course, took direction from the higher ups, but also took initiative to dig into details and think outside the box. As example is taking an appraiser to an open house supposedly as his wife. I don’t think many people would think about doing that.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
Good question. Since the editor really seemed to like my writing style I’ve been thinking about another book. (The current one was spread over two years as we are retired and we like to travel and I was doing other things.)
I’ve done the set-up for a possible book dealing with a protection racket being run in a visible minority community. It’s run by people outside of the community, but the result (which is noticed by the police) is a dramatic reduction in crime in that community. Preliminary audits conducted by CRA auditors determine that funds are being paid to a third-party organization. But preliminary investigation indicates such organization does not exist other than as a recipient for the money transfers. So, of course, as well as being illegal, it also isn’t paying income tax.
As I have no personal experience with that type of investigation, I’ll need to do more research than for the first book, so I really don’t know when it will be ready. However, my wife seems to have faith in my keeping busy and has suggested a location for a possible third book. So, I guess, I’ll keep busy and out of her hair for the foreseeable future.
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Betrayed by Joseph Lewis is a contemporary psychological thriller and the third installment in a series revolving around a family of adopted brothers, some of which have had traumatic experiences in the past. George Tokay receives a panicked phone call from his childhood friend, whose brother has mysteriously gone missing. George and his adoptive brothers Brian Evans and Brett McGovern take a trip to Red Rock, Arizona, to aid the law in finding their missing friend. Little do they know, they’re playing with fire in an adventure that will suck them into a world of greed, intimidation and murder. As they focus on solving the mystery a dangerous group on men seem intent on killing them.
The novel is mainly narrated through the point of view of the principal protagonist Brian. An introspective boy, who throughout his journey questions his sexuality and contemplates his place in the world and within his adoptive family; all while keeping a promise even if it could mean his own death. This makes for a believable and relatable character. I found it easy who to understand and connect with him. The story takes place in Red Rock, a small Native-American town located at the top of the Navajo Nation Reservation in Arizona. Lewis does an excellent job of alluding to the readers senses and creating realistic scenes, which make you feel like you are in the story. While the storyline is riveting, with action-packed chapters that make the book hard to put down, an element that was too hard to believe was the fact that the FBI not only recruited three teenage boys to aid them in an incredibly dangerous mission, but also provided them with driving permits, vehicles, and firearms. It is explained that the boys were owed a favor from law enforcement, and its understandable that it was a necessary development story-wise. All things taken into account, the setting and character descriptions were extremely detailed, the story is well paced, the tone is fun and easy to follow.
Betrayed by Joseph Lewis is an enthralling crime thriller that is persistently entertaining. I look forward to reading more books in the series to follow the characters I’ve come to love.
Pages: 339 | ASIN: B08GCTV2XH
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Section Roads follows three friends who go back to their home town after forty years and are forced to confront a bloody secret. What was the inspiration for the setup to this thrilling novel?
Section Roads has many biographical elements that guided its evolution. A few weeks after graduating from high school, I left home to attend summer session at New Mexico State University, leaving my high school girlfriend behind. Despite our separation, I felt we shared a destiny so we would eventually be together. We didn’t, we weren’t and are both probably better off for it. We remain friends, and I had her blessing to tell this story. Anyway, during that lonely summer, I read a coming-of-age book by New Mexico author Richard Bradford called Red Sky at Morning. I decided then that if I could ever write a book, I’d write one like that.
I enjoyed the development of each character and their evolution into adulthood. What were some driving ideals behind their character development?
My protagonists aren’t tough guys. They are more likely to be the guys getting beaten up by tough guys. People who must cope with the world by overcoming fear and using their wits are far more interesting than people who get by on physical superiority. That’s where Cullen comes from. Buddy, of course, is a tough guy. But he’s also has a curios intellectuality that leads him to reject the tough guy culture. I grew up among strong women and share my life with a strong woman, so my female protagonists, like Shelby and Lori, are strong women.
The mystery at the heart of this story was riveting. Did you plan it before writing or did it develop organically while writing?
I don’t know how my books are going to end when I start writing. Of course, I had a vague idea of how the mystery would play out. But the specifics emerged as I got to know the characters.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The second book in my Physics, Lust and Greed series about time travel—Wasting Time–came out October 1. The third book—Killing Time—is waiting in the wings. My first non-fiction book, We Never Knew Just What it Was… the Story of the Chad Mitchell Trio is also awaiting publication. It focuses on the 60’s era of folk music.
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