You know a story is good when it makes it to the fifth installment. A story needs to be captivating, with intriguing characters and compelling action. Readers will find all of that and more in Joseph D’Antoni’s Captive Threat. This book is an addition to his ever-popular Wade Hanna series. It’s easy to see why these books have been able to sustain themselves for so long. The life that Wade leads is not typical at all. This includes his romances. Here we find a story steeped in action with heart-pounding risks and careful planning. Those who enjoy a great action-packed crime/military intelligence novel will definitely be entertained by what occurs within these pages. Where will Wade end up this time? Will he finally get to move forward in his relationship with Megan? Or will this task finally end up being too much for him?
While this is an installment in a series, it is not wholly necessary to read the previous four books. Yes, they will provide important backstory, but D’Antoni writes in such a way that a reader will not be lost. Even the complicated aspects of Wade and Megan’s relationship is not lost in this book. It is difficult to write in such a way that you can captivate newcomers without leaving them confused. A master of his craft, it is clear that D’Antoni knows what he’s doing. At first, the book doesn’t even feel like it’s about Wade at all, but about Megan. About what she is going through after her return to American soil. She has suffered an ordeal and D’Antoni takes the required time to have her move through these complicated feelings and post-traumatic experiences. This is how you capture readers.
The character development is very well planned and carefully laid out. When you have existing characters that have been carrying on for books upon books it’s easy to swap out romantic partners or close friends in favour of an exciting new character. It is clear that our author has spent the time energy required to foster and develop the relationships from existing installments. This is something not many serial authors can accomplish. Coupled with character development are the action scenes as Wade and company foray into their battlefields. Nothing feels out of place or too over the top. There is a pleasant balance between story development and a good old-fashioned fight.
If you are looking for a book that is exciting to read while giving you those complicated portrayals of human emotion then you have found what you are looking for in Captive Threat. It’s an excellent example of a crime/military novel married to dramatic elements done right. For the series to have gone on for as many installments as it has, it is clear that something is being done right here. There is even the potential for another installment into the Wade Hanna series based solely off how our adventure ends. Your heart will race for more than one reason as you devour the words in this tale. But still we are left wondering, where will Wade end up now?
Pages: 389 | ASIN: B01M3OAV36
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In Paracelsus we see the horrors of an ongoing war of subterfuge and nuclear weapons as it spans nearly fifty-years and encompasses the world. What was the initial idea behind this story and how did that transform as you were writing the novel?
The idea came to mind when I read about Alexander Lebed, (who placed third in the 1996 Russian election and was also chairman of the National Security Council. Lebed led negotiations with the Chechen President, Aslan Maskadov, and signed agreements in the town of Khasavyurt in Dagestan which ended the first Chechen war.) He claimed that Russia had produced and lost track of suitcase sizes nuclear weapons whose primary purpose was sabotage. The Russian Federation rejected Lebed’s claims and stated that such weapons had never existed. Within six years he was dead, killed in a helicopter crash on April 28, 2002, after it collided with electric lines during foggy weather in the Sayan mountains.
Subsequently a GRU defector, Stanislav Lunev, confirmed that such nuclear devices existed and speculated that they had been deployed. He then worked as a GRU intelligence officer in Singapore in 1978, in China from 1980, and in the United States from 1988. He defected to U.S. authorities in 1992. Since then he has worked as a consultant to the FBI and the CIA. As of 2000, he remained in the FBI’s Witness protection programme. Lunev asserted that portable tactical nuclear weapons known as RA-115 “Suitcase bombs” had been prepared to assassinate US leaders in the event of war. Russian authorities denied the existence of such weapons and then announced that all Atomic demolition munitions “ADMs “were in the process of being unilaterally destroyed? This raised my interest somewhat.
It was then that Red Mercury started to appear in articles across all media types. It was widely dismissed by authorities as a hoax designed to snare would be terrorists who wished to purchase it for nefarious purposes. Nevertheless Samuel T Cohen, an American physicist who worked on building the atomic bomb who was also described as “The father of the neutron bomb “, claimed for some time that red mercury is a powerful explosive-like chemical known as a Ballotechnic. The energy released during its reaction is allegedly enough to directly compress the fissionable material in a thermonuclear weapon. He claimed that he learned that the Soviet scientists perfected the use of red mercury and used it to produce a number of softball -sized pure fission bombs weighing as little as 10 lb (4.5 kg), which he claimed were made in large numbers. Again the contradiction intrigued me and I set about pitching a nightmare scenario where one weapon is employed against the other.
As I have been employed in the refuelling of nuclear reactors for the last thirty two years the probability of further development in nuclear weapon systems over the last seventy years seemed inevitable to me. Neutron bombs are now feasible therefore other advancements in this very secretive field of science have no doubt developed unilaterally.
I felt that the characters were intriguing and well developed. What were the ideals that drove the characters development throughout the story?
The characters are all based upon real characters and as you surmised each event was based on an actual event right down to the munitions, ships and operations that they were actively engaged in at that particular point of time in the story. Paracelsus has in my opinion six protagonists and whichever the reader chooses to affiliate with depends upon their social, political or religious persuasions. (One person’s terrorist is another’s hero.) I tried to balance this between each and remain unbiased, expressing an understanding of each characters motive through some backgrounding of their earlier lives.
In Paracelsus corrupt businesses blur the line between government and industry while ideological extremism spreads. What the inspiration for these turn of events in your novel?
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of the oligarch including the clandestine energy deals brokered between Russia and its neighbouring states also included the circumventing of agreed sanction limits on the sale of Russian commodities to both known terrorist organisations and rouge states. This was occurring whilst Muslim extremism began to rise across much of the globe primarily in countries liberated from dictators by western forces. It occurred to me that these adversaries could be brought together and ultimately contest each other on many levels, allowing me the freedom to expand the narrative across almost fifty years and four continents.
What is the next book that you’re working on and when will it be available?
I hope to conclude the battle between Nasser and Colonel Ryan in the next book STRONTIA and stretch the story into true science fiction whilst utilising real scientific advancements – including Nano technology and the recent CRISPR 9 biological advancements to set the stage for the rise of a completely new anti-hero. I am not sure when STRONTIA will be available as Paracelsus took me years to research and write.
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War is never pretty. It’s a gruesome, deadly instrument used by those seeking something. Whether they seek power, reassurance or a misguided view of peace depends on those orchestrating the show. In Paracelsus by James Powton we see the horrors of an ongoing war of subterfuge and nuclear consequences as it spans nearly fifty-years and the entire world. When does one war end and another begin? These are questions that cannot be answered concretely. Powton uses this as he spins his tale of destruction with the backdrop of the world’s worst atrocities post World War Two. This story begins like several different threads spread out until you delve deeper and see that they are all entwined together into the perfect knot.
It is important to note that the story tells a slightly alternate history to the one that we have been taught in schools. It begins in 1969 and continues on until a time in our very near future. While it seems logical to assume that none of the characters in this tale truly existed, a reader can’t deny that reality is often stranger than fiction. If these characters did or do exist, let us all hope it is not in the same capacity as Powton has had us read.
Think of a world where nuclear weapons have been compartmentalized on a smaller scale to fit inside a briefcase. This unlocks a multitude of possibilities: none of them good. Powton uses this concept to his advantage as he paints a picture of a bloody war that the average person would know nothing about. This is not a war for the television or the media until things go too far. It’s definitely a thrilling ride as you read on, wondering how the characters will be connected in pages to come. Powton wraps all his threads up quite nicely.
There are a few stylistic errors and spelling mistakes that crop up in Powton’s work. The issues are not so substantial that they detract from the story itself. Because the story can be quite complicated it is impressive to see such organization and careful storytelling, which is where the real challenge is.
It is always interesting to read a piece of fiction that uses a real event as a back drop. By looking at past events with new eyes and a different idea of what potentially happened brings such an interesting twist to the history we have all been taught. Paracelsus does just that and takes the events further by covering a time frame in the not-so-distant future. With the world being slightly unstable at the time of writing, it is almost terrifying to think that James Powton’s idea may become a reality. If you are in the mood for intrigue and the blurring of historical lines, this is definitely a tale for you.
Pages: 316 | ASIN: B01MU6S0P5
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A sterilization syrum is being inserted into genetically modified super bulls, threatening to hurt the profits of the beef industry. Semi-retired, former Special Forces bad-ass Joe Garner is hired by a private security firm to track down the culprits, a cell of Islamic terrorists, and to take them out by whatever means necessary. Joe and his crew of ex-military tough guys track down the scientist who created the syrum, all the while getting in plenty of gunfights with Jihadists. In the end, they team up with a Russian General, with whom Joe has a history, and together, they take down the Imam, and restore the scientist to the cattle industry.
The 2016 Presidential election has made it very clear that there are two United States of America existing simultaneously: the coastal, liberal thinking, urban populous, and its white male dominated conservative counterpart. Taurus, Taurus, Taurus, a novel by Gordon Rayner, will appeal to the latter. It is chock full of espionage tech, a litany of government organizations bumbling through red tape towards a collective goal, descriptions of guns, and derogatory terms for people of Middle Eastern descent. America, fuck yeah!
Most of the book follows the protagonist, Joe Garner, a former special ops tough guy extraordinaire with too much integrity to toe the company line, who goes to work for a private black ops security company. (Bruce Willis could play him in the film). Joe’s got a bad leg, drinks a lot, and makes frequent mention of other men’s cowboy boots. Joe’s wife is also some kind of operative who goes on “spooky wooky missions,” though her character is for the most part left unexplored. In one of the least plot related, and kinkiest scenes in the book, Joe and his wife go to Jamaica, get “ganja” from the “tall black porter,” and then they end up back in the hotel room with his wife dabbing cannabis syrup on her nipples?! The sexy talk doesn’t stop there. There is a physical therapist who reads porno mags at his desk, and at some point the operatives are implanted with scrotum tracking chips.
Not surprisingly, this book is about sperm. In a meeting with a client, Joe discovers that a big beef conglomerate based in Houston is the top provider for cattle worldwide, and has developed a “dream sperm machine.” But, the plant where the super sperm was being developed has been blown sky high. Years later, a mysterious ransom note appears from the dream sperm’s creator, Dr. Gambil, who turns out is in cahoots with terrorists from Kyrgyzstan, setting the plot in motion.
Joe and his highly paid team of former special ops trained killer-cowboys travel around the globe chasing down the doctor and the Jihadists. From New Jersey to Argentina to Kyrgyzstan, Joe and his guys are always one step ahead of the Islamic Brigade, whose attempts to sterilize the super bulls continue to be halted by American bullets. They win every battle in overwhelming fashion.
In one section, Joe and his guys realize that since they are a private organization, the Geneva Convention can be disregarded. They discuss the best ways to torture an Islamic militant, including making him watch a pig get slaughtered and then covering him in its entrails, and having a naked woman attack him.
This book is for meat eating, red-blooded, cowboy boot wearing country boys. Fans of John Le Carre and Robert Ludlum will enjoy the way these all American heroes kick tons of ass.
Pages: 271 | ASIN: B01H8WPPNE
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The Geek is about an assassin that is trying to get out of the game. What draws you to the spy/espionage genre?
I’ve always been fascinated by conspiracies and the world of shadow/clandestine operations. I think it’s that wanting to know the unknown, or not well known that has always drawn me to this sort of world. Motivation is also a big thing for me when exploring worlds like this. What type of person would choose to do this for a living? What would they be like? What does killing for a living/for your country do to you? Those sorts of questions really intrigue me.
What was your inspiration for The Geek and how did you decide on the code name?
Well originally The Geek was developed as a T.V. series. It was optioned and developed on two separate occasions but never moved past the initial stage. The story is much longer but I don’t want the reader to get bored with a lot of “inside baseball” stuff.
When I first developed The Geek, I wanted to do a live action comic book. This was before comic book movies and series were incredibly popular (and/or done correctly). It was a very over the top 9pm friendly kind of show. When it finally turned into a book, it became far more dark and I like to think more realistic in its portrayal of the invisible world of government sanctioned assassination. I’ve changed as a writer and the times have changed as well, so I think really this is the true version the story was always meant to be.
I chose the codename The Geek because of a logic game I’ll play in my head sometimes when writing. A man, who was constantly bullied as a child for being “the other”, shy, uncomfortable, not athletic or good looking per se. He loved (and loves) video games, science fiction, fantasy, comic books and of course Dungeons and Dragons. The term that was used to taunt him his entire life, being called GEEK, he chose as his codename. He took the power back that was taken from him as a child. To turn the word Geek from something used to make him feel bad or “less than” into a word that would strike terror into those who fell into his cross hairs.
Gary (the main character) liked the idea of scaring the bullies of the world with a word/phrase that shouldn’t or wouldn’t normally terrify them.
Readers can easily find themselves lost in another world filled with spies, secrets, and lies played on a global stage. Did you do any research for this book? How did you develop such and intricate story?
As I touched on earlier I’ve been fascinated with this world for a long time and have done a lot of research in the past regarding clandestine operations. But for this book I also did quite a bit of research in regards to how a government agency like the CIA would go about using assassins. The CIA does not have a mandate to kill, so how would they use assassins if they wanted to go around killing people. So while some of it is supposition, there was also quite a bit of research into how it would (or does) work.
As far as the global stage goes, I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my life to be able to travel extensively. When I do travel, I take tons of photos and notes of my journeys. Most of the locations in the book are places I have been either multiple times or for extended periods of time. And or course I had my photos and notes to fall back on when writing.
In regards to this being an intricate story I’ve known these characters for quite some time. When it came to plotting out the novel, it was just a matter of fleshing out the individual story lines, character motivations and making sure they connect in the right way. I hope that’s not too vague of an answer.
Also, coffee helps…a lot!
Considering the NSA evidently reads every email written, I would like to take a moment and say to our friends at the NSA that I of course do not believe the CIA or any government agency would ever do anything along the lines of employing “off book” assassins. So please don’t have me killed.
What was the hardest part in The Geek for you to write?
The hardest part was definitely switching from screenplays (which I’ve been doing for 16 years) to prose. I didn’t think it would be all that different but it was and the learning curve was steep. I originally was using an old version of the feature film script (another long boring story) as an outline, but it just didn’t work. I’ve changed as a writer and times have changed and the tone and style just didn’t seem to fit. I was about 200 pages into the novel when I realized I had to scrap it and start over with just the characters that I’ve come to love.
It was the best thing that could have happened as I truly believe had I not done that, this book would not be what it is.
In terms of what was the hardest for me to write emotionally in the book, I’d have to say -without giving away spoilers- there were a couple of deaths that ended up needing to happen in order to progress the story. Originally these characters were supposed to live, but it just didn’t feel right. I had grown so attached to them that I didn’t want to kill them.
They were tough deaths to write and say goodbye, but in the end it was the best thing for the story. Considering the comments I get regarding one of these character’s deaths and how it crushed the reader when it happened, I really think I did the right thing… though I still feel kind of bad about it.
What is the next book that your fans should look out for?
Well I have started preliminary work on the next book in the series, but it’s not a sequel per se, but more of an expansion of this world and deals with one of the survivors from The Geek.
I am currently concentrating on two separate stories that I hope to launch as kindle serials in January and February 2016.
The first is a straight up sci-fi action/adventure called Blood Rebellious. It’s about a family of pirates, smugglers and thieves who have to save the Earth and all of humanity from an enemy that no one knows exists. It’s a bit more light hearted than The Geek and I’m having a blast writing it.
The second is a modern day fantasy/sword and sorcery mystery/thriller entitled Night Mage. It’s about a young woman who finds herself in over her head and unlocking powers she never knew she had. Which will be great for her, if she can figure everything out before she gets killed. It’s a little edgier, but is something I’ve been developing for about five years and I like to think it is a bit of a different take on the usual magic wielding fantasy story.
I’m also still doing screenplays and am working on one called Ur Perfect that was recently optioned, so fixing that as well.
I refer you to my earlier note about coffee!
Gary Geiecki (pronounced Gee-ecki) is a skilled assassin. He’s been an unofficial CIA killer for the past twenty years and has decided to retire. There is no such thing as a truly perfect assassin and Gary was no exception. He was, however, very good. Gary left a wide trail of bodies behind him, over his long and productive career. Riddled with childhood insecurities and social awkwardness Gary desperately tries to move forward with his life after retirement. He quickly finds it is far easier to kill someone else than it is to kill the ghosts of the past. Gary soon learns that what is in the past doesn’t always stay there. His greatest enemy… a man thought long dead… is back and seeking vengeance. Gary must now fight for not only his life, but everyone he holds dear and finally put this last ghost to rest. Gary will learn that the old saying You can’t go home again isn’t exactly true. You can go home again, but you shouldn’t.
The Geek is the tale of an American assassin who is ready to get out. After serving American “unclassified” side of things for the CIA for 20 years, Gary is ready to move on to the next chapter in his life, whatever that is. All he has to do is finish just one more assignment, involving a British mole selling information with international implications. Along the way, Gary meets another operative, (Olia K) a Russian operative, who knows a lot more about The Geek than even the assassin would assume. That encounter was only a preclude to what would happen next. The final assignment did not end as Gary and his handler Juan had hoped. Instead it reveals a dangerous duo from the past, but Gary wants no part of it. When Gary receives news that another respected assassin (although of a slightly differently category) felt that his last job went too far, he really wants out. He plans to live off his savings, in quiet obscurity, no longer indebted to the murky world of patriotic espionage. The first thing Gary does, after a brief relaxation, is return home. The problem is, he’s changed in ways that his family can’t even imagine. When he finds himself unable to stay in the place he thought would be home, he ends up getting trapped back into the world he left.
This book grabbed my attention because it was never what I expected. From the beginning, the character’s codename “The Geek” to the plot twists that happened throughout the book. It was also a little darker than I expected in the beginning. It featured great description, though with just the right amount of detail and insight I needed to understand the characters. The switch to action jolted my attention. The more you read, the more layers are exposed. I especially liked the cat and mouse games that is mirrored between the characters as well between the reader. A good example of this is the Geek’s interaction with Joana. It starts innocent enough, then descends into a cat and mouse game between Gary and the operative. A chapter or two later, that scene shows up as only one layer of a deeper drama that neither Gary nor Joana expected.
The author only provides a few lines of detail to provide the back story, but it’s more than enough to keep readers intrigued. Nowhere was this more pronounced than in the lead character, Gary. The book found an interesting twist to the ‘Army dude who was hired by CIA’ cliche that has been repeated ad nauseam in spy films and books. That twist is especially pronounced midway in the book, when the character makes a key decision that starts a whole new chain of events. The Geek seems to go in one direction, but once a reader thinks they have figured it out the book goes in another. These changes aren’t dramatic, over-the-top plot twists (in most cases), but tiny details (like a death or even a simple gesture) that alters the story’s direction in a way that a reader never saw coming.
The story is a highly engrossing read. Readers can easily find themselves lost in another world filled with spies, secrets, and lies played on a global stage. Despite the exotic locations, the book doesn’t suffer from being too out of the realm of reality. Every character has a history based in a reality that is plausible. The way the author treats each character’s origin as hero or villain (most often both) is what draws readers further into the book. Overall, It’s not just another espionage novel. It’s an incredible story about an assassin and the choices he has to make in a world where evil and good isn’t clear cut. All of the characters add or peel back a layer of depth on the journey. As a result, The Geek is a ride you will never forget. The ending chapters tie everything together in slightly predictable fashion (at first), then ends on a cliffhanger similar to a really good TV series.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B01540DRAU