The Consultant by T.J. O’Connor

Jonathan Hunter, a rogue CIA consultant AWOL from his Middle East assignment, returns home to witness his brother’s horrific murder. Launched into the hunt for Kevin’s killer, Hunter stumbles into a series of horrifying terrorist attacks—all at the hands of Middle Eastern refugees—that spark a backlash across the country and threaten another war. In the shadows, Hunter’s mentor, the omnipotent Oscar LaRue, is playing a dangerous game with Russian Intelligence. All the while, neither Hunter nor LaRue understand that a new threat—the Iranian threat—has entered the game. As stakes rise, two shadowy players are one-step ahead of Hunter—Khalifah, a dangerous terrorist mastermind, and Caine, a nomadic assassin who only dances with the highest bidder. As the attacks escalate and the country drifts toward another Middle East war, innocent refugees become the victims between the terrorists and the terrorized. Prejudice, hate, and fear vent everywhere—is this who we’ve become? Before the country explodes, Hunter must find Khalifah, learn the target of the next terrorist attack, and pray he’s in time to stop it.

The Big Thrill caught up to T.J. O’Conner to gain some insight into his first thriller, THE CONSULTANT:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

First and foremost, I hope they escape into the story and enjoy the characters and fast-moving plot. Without knowing it, THE CONSULTANT also became the story of the impact of terrorism on small-town America and those innocent communities often blamed for those horrific terror attacks. Finally, I want the readers to see the story through the eyes of Hunter, a not-so-usual hero with a fast wit, self-deprecating sense of humor, and someone who has been away from the US so long he’d forgotten what the fight against terror was all about.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

It’s a look at home-town American terror and what horrific events do to a community, to families, and to those trying to stop the chaos. It’s also written by someone who has lived that life (in part) and has personal experience with the subject matter – including the varied characters in the story. It contributes by offering a first-hand glimpse into the impact of a terrorism story delivered by someone who has both experienced terrorism, fought against it, and deal with its aftermath.

Was there anything new you discovered, or that surprised you, as you wrote this book?

My characters surprised me. It is often said by authors that their characters steal the show and take it away. My characters not only stole the show, but they ripped the plot from my head and drove it into a different direction at the end. I was as surprised at some of the subplot outcomes as any reader will be.

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

Many of the characters come from real people-the good guys and the bad guys- from my life’s work. It also takes place in my home town and I’ve stayed very close to the real feel of the community. Also, the attacks that take place during the story are those our government fears the most and the reaction by our citizens are those we should fear even more.

What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?

James Grady-Six Days of the Condor
Everything Alistair MacLean
Christopher Reich – everything!
Mickey Spillane, and Raymond Chandler for their crime fiction and mysteries.
And of course Nelson DeMille, who is a master at the thriller.

*****

T.J. O’Connor is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism and threat analysis. As a former military federal agent and anti-terrorism operative, T.J. has spent over 35 years in counterintelligence, national defense, and homeland security. T.J. has lived and worked around the world—life experiences that drive his novels—where he conducted terrorism investigations, protected some of American’s top leaders, and operated defensive programs to thwart terror attacks on America’s resources and its people. Today, T.J. lives outside Washington D.C. and provides security and anti-terrorism consulting to the private sector and a Washington-based think tank for vital homeland security programs. T.J. uses his life experience and real-world adventures to deliver his stories and raise the question—when will this happen? THE CONSULTANT is T.J.’s debut thriller with previous works of paranormal mysteries including: Dying to Know, Dying for the Past, Dying to Tell, and New Sins for Old Scores.

To learn more, please visit his website.

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