By Jeremy Burns
Ridley Pearson has dozens of published novels under his belt, including international thrillers that span continents, conspiracy-laden crime thrillers, and even adventures set behind the scenes at Disney World. With his latest novel, the third installment of his Risk Agent Series, Pearson takes readers into the high-stakes world of art theft set against the equally fascinating backdrop of Istanbul. The author sat down with THE BIG THRILL to give readers a glimpse of the excitement to come.
Tell us a little about yourself.
First and foremost, I’m a dad and husband. Marcelle and I have two daughters, who are seventeen and fifteen, and a young man who came late to our extended family, a son from Kenya, who’s twenty-one. I’ve been a storyteller for most of my life, including time spent as a musician and screenwriter. I’ve been incredibly fortunate and often lucky in my publishing life. I have forty-eight published novels behind me, and I hope a good deal more in front.
Tell us about your new thriller, THE RED ROOM.
THE RED ROOM is the third novel in an espionage series that features two protagonists (a challenging concept). The John Knox and Grace Chu books are more character-driven than my procedural crime novels, but have the same focus on fast pace and high stakes. THE RED ROOM is set in Istanbul and involves the sale of “gray market” art.
By Ian Walkley
They say it helps to write what you know. Michael Niemann—a Ph.D and Adjunct Professor of International Studies at Southern Oregon University—has the right background to offer us a taut, authentic and intricate thriller of Africa that will satisfy fans of Wilbur Smith and Gerald Seymour.
In LEGITIMATE BUSINESS, protagonist Valentin Vermeulen, a Belgian investigator for the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services, is tasked with a routine audit of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur when a UN policewoman is killed. Her best friend claims she was targeted because she complained about shoddy armored personnel carriers (APC). Vermeulen’s investigation leads him to a gunrunning scheme operated by a British military contractor with more at stake than a few APCs with bad starters. The civil war in Darfur is about to turn much deadlier unless Vermeulen can prevent a cargo of stolen missiles from reaching its destination.
Michael graciously agreed to answer some questions for THE BIG THRILL.
Why did you make your protagonist, Valentin Vermeulen, a UN investigator? Do you have a background in the UN?
Once I decided to pursue writing fiction, I wanted to write thrillers and mysteries that were international in scope. John le Carré is probably my strongest influence in this regard. His novel THE CONSTANT GARDENER is, in my opinion, the finest example of such writing. Finding the right protagonist was one of the biggest obstacles. I didn’t want to create yet another intelligence agent, who, by definition, has to follow particular national loyalties—probably a reflection of my hybrid background, a German who’s lived in the U.S. for over thirty years. That led me to the UN. I came across a news story about an investigation of Pakistani peacekeepers. That introduced me to the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). I dug up every bit of information I could find and the character of Valentin Vermeulen began to take shape. OIOS investigators don’t carry weapons, have no powers of arrest, nor are they allowed to use force. But they have a lot of latitude in their investigations, as long as they are UN related. I try to exploit that contradiction as much as possible.
Who does the U.S. government call upon when a mission requires perfect stealth, execution, and discretion? Meet the newest recruits to the expanding Sigma Force universe—former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his stalwart companion, Kane, a military working dog of exceptional abilities — in:
THE KILL SWITCH
The mission seems simple enough: extract a pharmaceutical magnate from Russian soil, a volatile man who holds the secret to a deadly bioweapon. But nothing is as it appears to be. A conspiracy of world-shattering scope unravels as Tucker and Kane struggle to keep one move ahead of their deadly enemies.
From the frozen steppes of Russia to the sun-blasted mountains of South Africa and Namibia, a biological threat millions of years in the making strikes out at the heart of America. All that stands in the way from a global apocalypse: one man and his dog. But can even Tucker and Kane thwart an ecological menace out of the ancient past to save the world’s future?
By Tom Wilde
One of the first people who read my novel THE BLOOD OF ALEXANDER thought that the story really shows my love of history.
She was dead wrong.
It wasn’t love of the subject that drove me to write it, quite the contrary: It was my frustration with of all of the impenetrable mysteries that abound throughout human history. All those things we have lost, forgotten, or just plain destroyed that sparks my imagination while simultaneously vexing me and robbing me of sleep.
Plato’s Atlantis, was it real? What about the City of El Dorado? What became of the Lost Roman Legion? Or the Amber Room? Or the Roanoke Colony? Genghis Khan wanted to insure that his tomb remained undiscovered, and so far, he’s pulled that one off.
Whatever happened to Alexander the Great?
In October 1943, a U.S. destroyer sailed out of Philadelphia and supposedly vanished, the result of a Navy experiment with electromagnetic radiation. The story was considered a hoax—but now Juan Cabrillo and his Oregon colleagues aren’t so sure.
There is talk of a new weapon soon to be auctioned, something very dangerous to America’s interests, and the rumors link it to the great inventor Nikola Tesla, who was working with the Navy when he died in 1943. Was he responsible for the experiment? Are his notes in the hands of enemies? As Cabrillo races to find the truth, he discovers there is even more at stake than he could have imagined—but by the time he realizes it, he may already be too late.
Cotton Malone and his fifteen-year-old son, Gary, are headed to Europe. As a favor to his old boss at the Justice Department, Malone agrees to escort a teenage fugitive back to England. After a gunpoint greeting in London in which both the fugitive and Gary disappear, Malone learns that he’s stumbled into a high-stakes diplomatic showdown-an international incident fueled by geopolitical gamesmanship and shocking Tudor secrets.
At its heart is the Libyan terrorist convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103, who is set to be released by Scottish authorities for ‘humanitarian reasons.’ An outraged American government wants that stopped, but nothing can persuade the British to intervene.
Except, perhaps, Operation King’s Deception.
Run by the CIA, the operation aims to solve a centuries-old mystery, one that could rock Great Britain to its royal foundations.
CIA Operative Blake Antrim, in charge of King’s Deception, is hunting for the spark that could rekindle a most dangerous fire: the one thing that every Irish national has sought for centuries-a legal reason why the English must leave Northern Ireland. The answer is a long-buried secret that calls into question the legitimacy of the entire 45 year reign of Elizabeth I, the last Tudor monarch, who completed the conquest of Ireland and seized much of its land. But Antrim also has a more personal agenda, a twisted game of revenge in which Gary is a pawn. With assassins, traitors, spies, and dangerous disciples of a secret society closing in, Malone is caught in a lethal bind. To save Gary he must play one treacherous player against another-and only by uncovering the incredible truth can he hope to stop the shattering consequences of the King’s Deception.
In The Emperor’s Tomb, New York Times bestselling author Steve Berry’s newest, the tomb of China’s First Emperor, guarded by an underground army of terra-cotta warriors, has remained sealed for more than 2,000 years. Though it’s regarded as one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, the Chinese government won’t allow anyone to open it. Why?
That question is at the heart of a dilemma faced by former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone, whose life is shattered when he receives an anonymous note carrying an unfamiliar Web address. Logging on, he sees Cassiopeia Vitt, a woman who’s saved his life more than once, being tortured at the hands of a mysterious man who has a single demand: Bring me the artifact she’s asked you to keep safe. The only problem is, Malone doesn’t have a clue what the man is talking about, since Cassiopeia has left nothing with him. So begins Malone’s most harrowing adventure to date—one that offers up astounding historical revelations, pits him against a ruthless ancient brotherhood, and sends him from Denmark to Belgium to Vietnam then on to China, a vast and mysterious land where danger lurks at every turn.
In Crescent Dawn , Dirk Pitt returns, in the extraordinary new novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.
In A.D. 327, a Roman galley barely escapes a pirate attack with its extraordinary cargo. In 1916, a British warship mysteriously explodes in the middle of the North Sea. In the present day, a cluster of important mosques in Turkey and Egypt are wracked by explosions. Does anything tie them together?
NUMA director Dirk Pitt is about to find out, as Roman artifacts discovered in Turkey and Israel unnervingly connect to the rise of a fundamentalist movement determined to restore the glory of the Ottoman Empire, and to the existence of a mysterious “manifest,” lost long ago, which if discovered again…just may change the history of the world as we know it.
Cussler began writing novels in 1965 and published his first work featuring his continuous series hero, Dirk Pitt, in 1973. His first non-fiction, The Sea Hunters, was released in 1996. The Board of Governors of the Maritime College, State University of New York, considered The Sea Hunters in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis and awarded Cussler a Doctor of Letters degree in May, 1997. It was the first time since the College was founded in 1874 that such a degree was bestowed.