It’s 2020, many years after the Civil Rights Movement and racism is still an issue. In fact, people seem to be radicalizing: white nationalists and Neo-Nazi movements are springing up everywhere. Imagine what would happen if a White Nationalist group infiltrated the highest office in the country, the white house. It would go from building a wall at the Mexican border to coming up with creative ways of rounding up non-white Americans. With human rights protected by the constitution and the UN, it seems improbable that one race would annihilate the others. But we should not underestimate the drive of a “higher cause.”
Judenrein, by Harold Benjamin, is a story about an elaborate plan for a fourth Reich called Reichsadler; only this time, it is not happening in Nazi Germany but the US. The conservative president has affiliations with a powerful and wealthy white nationalist group. The rounding up of Jews is already done. Now, the protagonist, a homeless American-Jew war veteran, has to stop this group before it finds a way to end all other races.
Harold Benjamin presents the story in simple, straightforward language. The way he describes the action-packed scenes helps create vivid imagery in your mind. To make it all so authentic, he throws in Jewish terminologies such as Yeshiva and Yarmulke. The direct speech by the members of the white nationalist group is as backward, gross, and infuriating as you would expect from a racist skinhead.
Perhaps the best thing about this book is the unconventional protagonist: A recovering junkie who got hooked after getting injured in service of his country. His country has now labeled him a terrorist due to his origins. From the very beginning, he is set up to fail. With so many obstacles and too few people to trust, his success seems far-fetched.
The story development is excellent. The first few chapters seem to talk about random people and scenes. But soon, the pieces start falling into place, and I couldn’t help but admire the creativity that went into making that possible.
Judenrein is a page-turner, full of action scenes and unexpected twists of events. Combine all that with simple language and short chapters, and you get a book you won’t put down until you reach the back cover. It is probably the most inspiring action-thriller I have read this year. It is an entertaining book with a thought-provoking message about racism, and shows how easy it would be to find ourselves back in a world where the color of your skin is a crime.
Pages: 260 | ASIN: B086BRZDPF
The Dark Trail by J.C Fields is another thrilling entry in the continuing Sean Kruger saga. This time FBI agent Kruger must try to determine who killed his friend… who happened to be the deputy director of the FBI. As part of the investigation he is granted access to the deputy director’s computer where he uncovers a spreadsheet of dates, times, and case file numbers. The deputy director started a secret project on a suspicion, and it got him killed. Join Kruger works to find the killer while piecing together his friends work to see it to its completion. This story is not a simple ‘whodunit’, it goes so much deeper than a simple assassination.
What I liked most about The Dark Trail was the healthy balance between gripping thriller and slice of life storytelling, which seems to be a knack for J.C. Fields. The primary plot revolves around the dramatic drive to solve a shocking murder, and secondarily resolving the sinister threads hanging from a dangerous knot of secrets. Just when I thought I was getting tired of the thriller genre, J.C. Fields tosses in the B plot to keep your interest piqued before ramping up into the A plot. Kruger is a man who is equally defined by what he does and how he takes care of his family. He believes it is critical to walk the line of not upending his wife’s career and his children’s childhood but also not “waste away” after his agency mandated retirement on his 57th birthday. He could take a promotion into management, but that would force the family to move. It’s a decision he views as selfish, but if he does not solve the A plot before his 57th birthday it might not get solved at all. That would be even worse. The balance of A plot and B plot was so masterfully woven together that once I started reading, I could not put this book down. I think this story could be enjoyed by any adult reader, even if you have never given the thriller genre a try before. A suspenseful political thriller to rival Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series.
Pages: 301 | ASIN: B084PZ8JZ4
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The Poseidon Network follows SOE agent Hadley who must root out a traitor in the network before their cover is blown. What was the inspiration for the setup to this exciting novel?
I wanted to show that for SOE agents working on behalf of the Allies, the situation in Greece was not easy. The political situation in Europe prior to and during WWII was very much one of division, and nowhere more so than Greece which had experienced great upheavals in their country in the early 20th century. However the Greek Resistance did pull together while they had a common enemy and their part in defeating first the Italians and then the Germans was to be admired. Women also played an important role too, as they had done in every war since The Greek War of Independence in 1821.
I also wanted to write the novel that was more a thriller in the style of Film Noir and the old classics, rather than another resistance story. The melting pot that Cairo was at that time was an ideal starting point. Characters in Rick’s Bar in “Casablanca” along with Harry Lime and his Viennese Nazi sympathizers in “The Third Man” were an inspiration too.
Larry is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind his character development?
Again taking inspiration from Film Noir I wanted Larry to be a larger than life figure; a man’s man who loved women, yet was caught off-guard when he met Alexis. I tried to imagine the physiology behind such a man. He was, first and foremost, an adventurer, but all of us have a vulnerable human side – a soft spot. Alexis was his. I also wanted to show how he respected the men he worked with. The classic thriller writers and such authors as Steinbeck were a great influence for developing his character.
I enjoyed the historic details used throughout the book. What kind of research did you undertake to get things right?
I always try to get to know the places I write about. In this case, I lived in Greece for six years and heard stories from those who experienced the war firsthand. I have also visited Turkey and Egypt several time. I think this is vital as the atmosphere of a place gets into your blood. It is the sights, sounds and smells that touch the senses and give the novel light and shade.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
My current WIP is another WWII story set in the Jura/Franche-Comté region of France in 1944. I was there for two and a half months 2019-2020, researching the Maquis, Resistance, and smuggler routes into Switzerland. It is a beautiful area of lakes, forests and mountains, and rich with stories of heroes and heroines in almost every village. Unfortunately, the Germans – particularly the Gestapo – could not have infiltrated the area so successfully had not been for the many collaborators, who were paid a huge sum of money for denouncing someone, particularly the head of a network. This time the protagonist is a woman. I expect to have it out by September this year.
1943. SOE agent Larry Hadley leaves Cairo for German and Italian occupied Greece. His mission is to liaise with the Poseidon network under the leadership of the White Rose.
It’s not long before he finds himself involved with a beautiful and intriguing woman whose past is shrouded in mystery.
In a country where hardship, destruction and political instability threaten to split the Resistance, and terror and moral ambiguity live side by side, Larry’s instincts tell him something is wrong.
After the devastating massacre in a small mountain village by the Wehrmacht, combined with new intelligence concerning the escape networks, he is forced to confront the likelihood of a traitor in their midst. But who is it?
Time is running out and he must act before the network is blown. The stakes are high.
From the shadowy souks and cocktail parties of Cairo’s elite to the mountains of Greece, Athens, the Aegean Islands, and Turkey, The Poseidon Network, is an unforgettable cat-and-mouse portrait of wartime that you will not want to put down.
Posted in Interviews
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Quando Dormo (When I Sleep) by Edward Izzi is a suspenseful thriller about Dr. David Fazio, a pro-life obstetrician, divorced twice, and as handsome as he is philanderous. Dr. Fazio is not shy of flaws, personal and otherwise, with an army of scorned women in his past and severe insomnia while also being known as a sleepwalker. At a time where multiple family planning clinics are being burned to the ground, Dr. Fazio’s pro-life views and unknown night-time sleepwalks catches up to him as authorities are determined to find this “Abortion Arsonist”. It especially does not help when he wakes up with burns on his hands one morning. Quando Dormo is a well-written and enticing novel with in-depth characters and intertwining relationships.
One of the most interesting parts in this novel was the relationships between the myriad of characters that appear throughout the novel. At least fifteen characters are introduced and even though that may sound overwhelming, Izzi masterfully crafts these delicate intertwining relationships between each one of them. These relationships that have been created at first seem disconnected but as the novel moves on, it is revealed how everyone relates to each other in some way or the other. This ultimately leads to the mystery aspect of the story and gives readers a satisfying feeling once everything is understood.
Quando Dormo is set in modern-day Chicago, there is not a lot of setting description which can be considered a downside, but Izzi finds a way to compensate for this. Mainly, through his characters, the way they speak to each other, and the few different cultures that appear throughout which is true to real world Chicago. Speaking of which, Italian culture is explored authentically and amusingly through the main character, Dr. Fazio’s heavily Italian family. Dr. David Fazio may not be an extremely likable character as he is a known womanizer and the story delves into some of his previous girlfriend’s lives and their, not so favorable, feelings toward him. However, we do see his positive traits and fascinating character growth throughout the novel.
A fair warning should be given before people go into this compelling novel. There are many contrasting and controversial opinions on pro-life and pro-choice from different characters. And the actions that some of these characters take are extreme which can be unpleasant to some readers. But if this doesn’t bother you then you are in for an entertainingly provocative tale.
Pages: 394 | ASIN: B085XQY8XX
Meet Mike Walker, a war correspondent who has dedicated his life to reporting the whole and honest truth. He exposes those who lie, exploit, and kill, to stay in power. That unwavering commitment has earned him a few enemies. Unfortunately for Walker, he’s exposed the wrong truth about the wrong person, and the Grim Reaper has come a knockin’.
The Grim Reaper by William Hanna does two things extraordinarily well. Even though this is a political fiction, the events Walker reports on are very real. The author puts a considerable amount of research into detailing his message. He pinpoints how seemingly innocuous policies gradually condition the population to accept genocide and mass murder as natural and for the good of the country. The second thing the author did well was explain the motivations for action and inaction in response to the innocuous looking policies. He breaks down the why and how of influencing someone to make a certain action. Half-way through the book, Walker makes the excellent point that prior victim-hood does not guarantee future innocence. Tangentially related he argues that bullies of the past, who have grown and changed, have an obligation to call out bullies of the present. This loop of responsibility and accountability is the only way to prevent, or barring that, shorten the amount of suffering experienced by the exploited.
If you are a lover of enthralling political fiction novels, then there are no downsides to this book. Keep in mind that Walker is an avid reporter of the truth who holds himself to a high level of integrity. He leaves nothing out when reporting the sort of events that produce refugees. The subject matter is dark, gritty, and real. It is an enjoyable book that lays it all out in an accessible way. It’s a long read, but that is not always a bad thing. I easily recommend it if you love thrilling mysteries steeped in political intrigue.
Pages: 356 | ASIN: B084YRFNYN
The United States has ceased to exist and a new and utterly foul nation stands in its place. Ruled by Lawrence Bowie and riddled with shades of slavery, white supremacy, and abounding ignorance of its citizens, this new nation is called Real America. Bowie is a tyrant who thrives on the adoration and unquestioning manner with which his followers hang on his every word. The power he possesses and the increasing hold he has over his newly-founded nation only grows as the people around him continue to relinquish their own beliefs, morals, and standards in exchange for increasing ignorance and poverty. Thriving on his own ego, Bowie grows more and more powerful as the world he has created suffers gleefully.
I am going to say right out of the gate that End Times by Michael McCord is one of the most psychologically disturbing pieces of political satire that I have ever read. McCord hits a nerve with virtually every paragraph. The things many US citizens have not been able to put into words, McCord easily spreads across his pages like so much sticky poisonous political jelly. With every chapter, the author manages to bring to light yet another aspect of the current political climate with vibrant and frighteningly obvious characters.
Bowie, the book’s main character, is as vile as they come. His narcissism is nauseating and will drive readers to loathe his every word–the hallmark of fantastic writing. McCord truly strikes a chord with this president-gone-mad and the way in which he manipulates everyone around him into believing his every word even when they know his intentions and realize he is a liar. The scope with which McCord is able to cover current events is quite amazing. He manages to include even the most minute aspects of the recent presidential election and the events that ensued.
One of the most striking aspects of McCord’s work is the way he magnifies his main character’s behaviors. All of Bowie’s speeches and each of his interactions with his minions displays a grossly inflated ego and a deep desire to be recognized as a winner at all costs. Though he isn’t portrayed as a creature of fantasy, he is, indeed, bigger than life and almost too incredible to be believed. His mannerisms and his monologues are terrifying.
McCord has given fans of political satire a quick read fraught with the worst of the worst in current events–an aspect that makes it beyond fascinating. I don’t often say this about books as I like to pour over word choice and let the author’s intent settle in as I read, but End Times, for me at least, was a book I found more appealing in audio. McCord uses some amazing and flowery language to describe the fall of the United States as we know it. I was much more comfortable listening to the book than working my way through the verbiage.
There is nothing out there quite like McCord’s take on the current state of politics in the United States. Readers who don’t mind a harsh look and deeply disturbing take on the U.S. government will find McCord’s work well worth the read.
Pages: 183 | ASIN: B07S4C3J2L
It has been a full trilogy of books, since we have come back to the main timeline of Joshua Landeros’ Reverence series. Having established an entire prequel series to flesh out his world, Landeros has come back to deal with the fallout and what is left of the UNR. Both sides have taken huge losses, but neither will retreat. And it will be up to the last Marconi, Damien, to rally the surviving UNR Cabinet to lead the country into this brave new future. Meanwhile, the Crimson Angels are in a difficult place, despite their successful strike on the International Summit. Gabriella will have to pick up these pieces and decide who she trusts more. All of this coming to a head to see who will end up in a grave or standing astride it, in this new installment of an epic military science fiction saga.
It is refreshing to be back in uncharted waters, having spent so long in the past, and Landeros ensures readers hit the ground running and wondering where all of our heroes of the past have landed after the last battle. The tension ramps up with little effort and with trademark pacing. The story unfolds with our cast of characters struggling against one another as they seek to either win the upper hand or to make sure they enforce justice.
Landeros’ prose continues to improve with each installment and his stories are becoming more and more complex, rather than a simple military sci-fi thriller they initial books were when the series began years ago. It is a pleasure to see how an author has not only grown, but developed his own flavor in the genre as well. This is another solid entry in the ongoing series and it shows little sign of slowing or stopping anytime soon!
Fans of military fiction or military science fiction should already have Avenge the Silenced on pre-order. Readers, who enjoy gritty action among thought provoking themes would also find themselves quite intrigued with this book.
Pages: 366 | ASIN:B07NNV7GKB
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Gazelle in the Shadows follows Elizabeth as she navigates a dangerous web of lies, betrayal and murder. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing novel?
The inspiration for this book came many years after the events happened in my life. Over the years, I rarely spoke about my former life as a diplomat in Yemen during the Iraq/Kuwait war nor my student life in Damascus but to those I opened up to, I was encouraged to write a book. Then in 2011, the civil war in Syria began and I felt a conviction to let readers know about the traditions and kindness of the Syrian people and the history and beauty of the country I had witnessed before the devastation.
Elizabeth is an interesting and well developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character?
Elizabeth’s driving ideals are to make her father proud by proving herself to him and to find love. Once a daddy’s girl, her relationship with her father deteriorates in her teenage years as her father implements stricter rules on her than on her older brother. She had always been an avid reader, dreaming of traveling to foreign lands. Her travels help her to escape her father’s harsh judgment and provide her with an opportunity to prove her worth to him and to herself. Because of her sheltered life, first with a Catholic upbringing and then in a diplomatic bubble, she is both emotionally and physically unprepared for her journey to Syria. She is remarkably naive and trusting of others and lacks rudimentary information about the country in a pre internet era. Her journey opens her up to the harsh realities of life where people are not always as they appear and after a series of innocuous and seemingly unconnected events, she not only discovers love but betrayal too. Facing many dangers, her strengths and courage are put to the test and ultimately she comes to appreciate her family and herself in new light.
You are a former employee of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. How has your experience helped you write this book?
I worked in the Foreign Office between 1986 and 1991, initially in London and then in the British Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen Arab Republic. My experiences undoubtedly helped me to write my novel as the genesis of the story was born from my three years serving in Yemen. As told in the book, I unwittingly met the infamous George Habash, the founder of the PFLP, in Aden. This actual encounter played a crucial part in the story. Other true stories from my service involving MI6, the British secret service and foreign diplomats helped to create the twists and turns in the story arc.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
After graduating from Durham University, I went to work in Dubai, UAE for an oil shipping company. As I like to write fiction based on reality, the sequel is based in Dubai and my experiences working there. I am currently writing a story which follows Elizabeth who enters the ranks of the MI6. She is sent undercover to Dubai where she unearths an Iranian plot to undermine British and American interests in the region. The question is, will she meet Hussein again?
In the mid 90s, Elizabeth Booth is a young British college student studying Arabic at Durham University. With some travel and work already under her belt, she excels at her studies and is sent to Damascus to immerse herself in the language. Taken aback by the generosity and kindness of the people there, she easy slips into a life in the ancient city. She has friends, her studies, and even a handsome boyfriend. But things aren’t always what they seem. Soon, in a world where mistrust and disloyalty are commonplace, Elizabeth finds herself navigating a web of lies, betrayals, and even murder involving MI6, deadly terrorist factions, and the shadowy Syrian secret police.
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