Political Thrillers

High Crimes by Libby Fischer Hellmann

By Azam Gill

HIGH CRIMES, Libby Fischer Hellmann’s latest Georgia Davis thriller, is about justice, conspiracy and politics, and is “loosely based on” the Facebook group Investigation of the Trump-Russia Conspiracy in the 2016 Election, founded by Suzy Fischer.

In the novel, Hellmann’s Chicago P.I. Georgia Davis is challenged to pick out a murderer from the 42,000 suspects within a Facebook group. She’s hired to hunt down the conspirators responsible for organizing and ordering the assassination of resistance leader Dena Baldwin at a demonstration fourteen months after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The shooter, too, dies within minutes of the shooting.

Sifting through Dena Baldwin’s Facebook followers, Georgia uncovers fake profiles, concealing villains who will even commit murder to shield their sponsors.

The sudden reappearance of Davis’s mother, who had abandoned her when she was a child, complicates her investigation. She now has to survive an emotional family crisis at the same time as she pursues killers determined to snuff her out.

Fischer Hellmann has won the IPPY and the Readers Choice Award multiple times. A finalist twice for the Anthony and four times for Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year, she has also been nominated for the Agatha, the Shamus, and the Daphne. Her books have been translated into Spanish, German, Italian, and Chinese.
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Last Gasp by Howard Levine

By Dan Levy

Howard Levine is like most of us. He worked hard to support his family, pursued his love of writing, and, according to nearly any poll out there, shares our frustrations with the federal government.

A former educator and political activist, Levine combined his angst with the government and love of writing into his most recent novel, LAST GASP. The book introduces us to Frank Tedeschi, an everyman who shows us that you can “fight City Hall”—and perhaps those inside the Beltway as well.

In this The Big Thrill interview, Levine gives us a behind-the-scenes look at his new release, LAST GASP.

It seems your background as a teacher of Special Education and English for Speakers of Other Languages connected you to both an appreciation for language and stories about great triumph. Is that what brought you to writing? Or is there more to the story?

I’ve always had a love for writing. In fact I became a teacher only after concluding that a combination of writing and part-time jobs was no longer sufficient to support myself and my family. Still, the imperatives of learning to communicate clearly as a teacher, and trying to understand and work with the personalities of both students and fellow staff members, helped a great deal with my writing, with characterization and plot organization.
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Game of the Gods by Jay Schiffman

By Austin S. Camacho

Tired of hearing about the current political craziness? No problem. Jay Schiffman’s GAME OF THE GODS takes us a step further by dropping a political thriller into a dystopian novel setting with stunning effect.

This dark future tale centers on Max Cone, who wants to be an ordinary citizen of the Federacy and leave war and politics behind. Unfortunately for him, he’s too good a military commander, and too powerful a judge, to be left alone. When war breaks out, Max’s skills are needed, but because the Federacy harshly punished his wife, he no longer feels a connection to his country.  In Cone, Schiffman has created a complex, and conflicted, yet likeable protagonist caught in a terrible corner.

“His family is taken,” Schiffman says. “His friends are imprisoned. His allies are killed. He is a military commander and high judge—a natural leader, a natural hero. Despite his reluctance about being a hero once again, he knows that is precisely what he must do.”

Part of the fun of this novel is that Cone must navigate a world that is different from our own, but one that is filled with many of the same political problems. Schiffman has done a masterful job of world building here.

“There are multiple powerful nations and military groups vying for power— the Federacy, Nation of Yerusalom, National Freedom Force, Rogues, Clans of Kolexico and others,” Schiffman says. “Among these nations, some are founded on the idea that men need gods and others that gods need men. Most of the political conflicts in GAME OF THE GODS come back to this fundamental difference.”
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Naked Truth by Rick Pullen

Reporter Beck Rikki again confronts the deceptions and lies of the rich and powerful in America when he is invited to meet with the chief justice of the United States, only to have the jurist show up dead. Beck is relentless in pursuing the truth. Yet, as he peels back the layers, he is unaware of the sleight of hand diverting his path. After all, in the real world of power, how much of the iceberg of truth can really be uncovered?

Award-winning writer and bestselling author Rick Pullen spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, NAKED TRUTH:

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

Enjoy a good read and maybe learn something about corruption in high places and journalism’s attempts to uncover it. Washington, right now, is a hotbed of turmoil. This novel may allow readers to escape reality for a while, while still pointing a finger at the ways of Washington.
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Flight of the Fox by Gray Basnight

An innocent math professor runs for his life as teams of hitmen try to prevent publication of their government’s dark history.

College professor Sam Teagarden stumbles upon a decades-old government cover-up when an encoded document mysteriously lands in his in-box, followed by a cluster of mini-drones programmed to kill him.

That begins a terrifying flight from upstate New York, to Washington, to Key West as Teagarden must outfox teams of hitmen equipped with highly sophisticated technology. While a fugitive, he races to decode the journal, only to realize the dreadful truth—it’s the reason he’s being hunted because it details criminal secrets committed by the U.S. in the 20th Century.

If he survives and publishes the decoded diary, he’ll be a heroic whistle blower. But there is no guarantee. He may also end up dead.

Gray Basnight, author of the political thriller FLIGHT OF THE FOX, was kind enough to speak with The Big Thrill and offer some additional insight into his novel:
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Jane’s Baby by Chris Bauer

By Azam Gill

Crafted at his old mahogany desk, JANE’S BABY, author Chris Bauer’s gripping, character-driven thriller, dangles an enticing premise. It also ushers America’s simmering pro-choice versus pro-life national debate into the framework of an exciting thriller.

The motion of Norma McCorvey (1947-2017), the anonymous plaintiff of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court women’s rights case Roe v Wade, was first argued in 1971, when abortion was illegal. With the judgment being announced in 1973, Norma was unable to terminate her pregnancy, gave birth and her baby went into closed adoption. As such, no identifying information was available to either family.

So, whatever happened to Jane Roe’s baby?

That’s what Bauer’s new thriller is all about.

The Jane Roe real-life child would now be a woman in her late forties, the potential of her polarizing celebrity unknown to her.

In Bauer’s version, a religious rights splinter group has blackmailed its way into learning her identity—she happens to be a political leader with firm convictions. A new Supreme Court case is in process.

Tourette’s-afflicted bounty hunter Judge Drury, a retired Marine, stands in the way of the splinter group’s attempt at stacking the Supreme Court via blackmail, murder, arson, sleight of hand, and secret identities.

Hardly surprising, then, that Alan Russell, bestselling author of Burning Man, says, “Chris Bauer came up with a doozy of a ‘what if’ question in JANE’S BABY. I just wish I had thought of it myself.”

Like all debates world-wide over moral choices, the pro-life and pro-choice core of reproductive politics defies consensus. The debate will continue to seesaw on compromises between those who hold political power, the ones who don’t, and shades of opinion that overlap the political spectrum. The weapons wielded are polarizing moral certitudes, re-phrased and repeated to uphold the position of choice. Each side brandishes its equally qualified “experts.” Confrontation tends to feed bitterness and the losing side of each phase locks and loads for the next skirmish.

In other words, a marsh with its own inland sirens waiting to lure writers.

Not for Bauer, who can glide over quicksand. Had he straight off picked—or rather picked on—the abortion debate, he could have smeared himself with it and been accused of overkill. But in JANE’S BABY he gets off scot free while spinning a great yarn and morphing one of the most delicate and divisive issues of modern America into an enthralling read.

And it’s not just the uniqueness of the what-if.

He’s been a natural storyteller from the time he stuck his nose into the Tom Swift series, and graduated, in his own words, to “love stories with twists, underdogs, good guys, and bad guys.”

That certainly served him well as he nimbly skipped from the anxieties and cold analysis of the corporate world into the daunting challenge of novel writing.

In describing Scars On The Face of God, Bauer’s first novel,  Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author and multiple Bram Stoker Award winner, says, “(it) is a brilliant novel. Congratulations on hitting one out of the park, Chris.”

Bauer’s process will be familiar to many writers.

“I plan via a casual outline, the first few chapters without having a completed outline,” Bauer says. “I want to feel the rush/thrill of having created something before doing the real work of thinking it all the way through. For JANE’S BABY, a thriller, I needed good guys, bad guys, catalysts, victims, and sidekicks.

“I write full time. When I was holding down a full-time corporate job I’d be up and out of bed with coffee at four a.m. …still get up at four a.m. or thereabouts, sometimes earlier, seven days a week.”

That last bit should be noted by all aspiring writers.

Not the unholy wake-up time, but the shrine to hard work at any expense, overriding temptation.

Bauer has chalked up two novels, has a third finished, and America is a Gun and Dirty Pool are in the works, keeping the JANE’S BABY characters alive.

What intrigued Bauer in Roe versus Wade was people’s ignorance about the birth of the baby. The rest, as they say, is asking the right questions—which he did.

“ …a closed adoption with sealed records, where the biological mother and the adopting parents did not know each other … if (the child) were discovered as Jane Roe’s baby, would that put a target on her back?”

From there, it’s only a short hop to reasoning who could possibly have the motive for putting a target on Jane Roe’s baby, now a grown woman. That brings different forces and lobbies rushing into the picture in relation to what this lady could possibly be. From a peacenik hippie to a pop star to a drug queen to a terrorist is anybody’s guess. But JANE’S BABY adroitly puts her in politics, and she takes a moral stand that threatens the agenda of the splinter group of a bunch of extremists who “put a target on her back.”

The next logical question that comes to mind is who would protect her and that calls up a line of hard guys fidgeting in the queue. And then it all comes — conflict built around a burning issue and characters who can never stop developing and hooking readers. The plot is sound and well-controlled, the story finishes but the characters remain. No single book can hold them in. It’s not that Bauer wants to write three thrillers in a series. It’s what the dimensions of his characters require, so he is left with little choice.

And he has delivered.

*****

Chris Bauer is the author of JANE’S BABY, a political conspiracy thriller from Intrigue Publishing, release date June 1, 2018, and the horror/thriller Scars on the Face of God, 2010 EPIC Awards runner-up for best in eBook horror. A Philly native, he’s had lengthy stops as an adult in Michigan and Connecticut, and he thinks Pittsburgh is a great city even though some of his fictional characters don’t. Prefers pie over turkey. Chris lives in Doylestown, PA with his wife Terry and supermutts Rory and Maeby Funke Bauer. His short fiction has appeared in THUGLIT, SHROUD MAGAZINE, and 100 HORRORS, and has been podcasted by WELL TOLD TALES. Is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Horror Writers Association.

Find him on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

 
 

Pray for the Innocent by Alan Orloff

Can former best-selling novelist Mathias King—now a rumpled, grizzled English professor—save America from a terrorist of his own making?

In the shadow of the Pentagon, a secret DoD brain research experiment goes terribly wrong, and an ex-Special Ops soldier escapes, believing he is Viktor Dragunov, the Russian operative from the ’80s thriller novel, Attack on America. To capture him, the Feds turn to the person uniquely qualified to predict his next moves, the man who created the fictional character, best-selling author Mathias King.

Now a reclusive English professor, King is reluctant to get involved, having sworn off the culture of violence after a deranged fan murdered his wife. But when innocent people start dying, King is thrust back into that dark world. With help from his enthusiastic graduate assistant Emily Phan, King must outsmart his own creation—while outmaneuvering the cover-up-loving Feds—before Dragunov succeeds in his hell-bent mission.

To destroy America.

Novelist Alan Orloff spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest thriller, PRAY FOR THE INNOCENT:
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Man on Ice by Humphrey Hawksley

When Rake Ozenna of the elite Eskimo Scouts brings his fiancée, trauma surgeon Carrie Walker, to his remote home island in the Bering Strait they are faced immediately with a medical crisis. Then, Russian helicopters swarm in.

America is on the eve of an acrimonious presidential transition. As news breaks of a possible Russian invasion, Stephanie Lucas, British ambassador to Washington D.C., is hosting a dinner for the president-elect.

Ozenna’s small Alaskan island community is suddenly caught in the crosshairs of sabre-rattling big powers. The only way to save his people is to undertake a perilous mission across the ice. Can he survive long enough to prevent a world war breaking out?

The Big Thrill caught up with author, journalist and commentator Humphrey Hawksley, to discuss his latest thriller, MAN ON ICE:
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Bitch Out of Hell by Diana Deverell

By Don Helin

In BITCH OUT OF HELL, Bella Hinton, a career personal protection professional, was headhunted away from the State Department seven years ago by Caprock Worldwide, a high-end private security company.

Bella got Caprock’s runaway cowboy culture under control, but in today’s Washington, diplomacy is out and mercenary armies are in. New corporate leadership believes that returning to the old ways will maximize profits—but they have to get rid of Bella first. And they figure firing the bitch will be easy.

“Piss-poor at threat assessment,” is how Bella assesses them. She sets out to prove them wrong.

A Macavity Award finalist, Diana Deverell debuted as a published author in 1998 with 12 Drummers Drumming, her first international thriller, and the four-book series has now spun off Bella’s first-person story set in contemporary Washington, DC.  In addition, Deverell writes the five-book Nora Dockson legal thriller series.

Deverell’s short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Mystery Weekly, Fiction River, and Switchblade. The Big Thrill caught up with Deverell and asked her a few questions about the inspiration behind BITCH OUT OF HELL.
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Sister in Law by M. R. Morgan

By Azam Gill

Mystery author and academic M. R. Morgan’s research into the operations of escort services and call girls—as he is at pains to point out—was “purely academic and not practical.” But the research blossomed into SISTER IN LAW: VIOLATION, SEDUCTION, AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES—a gripping thriller of corruption and a sophisticated conspiracy to subvert the American presidency, written with flair, skill, and a lawyer’s focus.

The Review Team of Taylor Jones & Regan Murphy loved it: “The story is fast-paced, the storyline unique, and the characters endearing. This is one you will want to read again and again, just to catch what you missed the time before. Very well done.”

Shadowy conspirators in SISTER IN LAW recruit Suzanne Dahlstrom, an accomplished call girl, to bewitch and marry Adam, the serving president’s brother, so that she can seduce the president himself. The plan is to neuter the president through a sex scandal with his sister-in-law. When she realizes that she has actually fallen in love with Adam and informs her handlers, they change the plan from seduction to assassination. Left with no choice, Suzanne makes the attempt, but loses her nerve just as Adam bursts onto the scene. The drama piles up to a stunning and memorable finale.

Pepper O’Neal, author of the award-winning Black Ops Chronicles series, writes about SISTER IN LAW that “you can’t help rooting for Suzanne, a truly enchanting character. I couldn’t put it down.”

M. R. Morgan is the pen name of a professor of law emeritus. His successful cozy mystery series, and a well-known political thriller have been published by Random House under his real name, Mark Reutlinger. He is also a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books, keeps up a law treatise, is the Executive Director of the Tacoma Concert Band in which he plays and is a partner in an organic tea company. A dedicated writer, he can get immersed in his writing scattered on scribbled notes in his pocket and on his nightstand, and miss an appointment, often to his wife’s ire.

Basically, the ingredients to craft an original conspiracy thriller orbit within Morgan’s own life and lifestyle.
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Winner Takes All by Robert Bidinotto

By Terry DiDomenico

Investigative reporter Dylan Hunter is a vigilante, and this time he’s trying to stop a murderous international conspiracy from taking over the presidency of the United States. The stakes are high, and Dylan must make a choice that will forever seal his fate—including his future with the woman he adores. As political violence sweeps the nation’s capital, it’s an all-or-nothing scenario in Richard Bidinotto’s WINNER TAKES ALL, the third installment in the Dylan Hunter series.

WINNER TAKES ALL explores the lust for power in all its forms within a “sweeping, grand-scale political thriller.” When Bidinotto wrapped up the second Dylan Hunter thriller, 2014’s Bad Deeds, all he knew was that two of his characters—billionaire Avery Trammel and hitman Ray Lasher—would conspire to throw the election to a malleable political puppet. When it was time to flesh out his plot, he says he looked no further than what he calls the “crazy” 2016 election cycle.

“I worked into the story such things as the ongoing threat of terrorism; controversies over ‘fake news’ and media bias; scandals over sexual manipulation by the rich and powerful; government harassment of private citizens; worries about border security; leaks of classified material for political purposes; and the quirky, unsavory personalities of today’s political candidates,” Bidinotto says. “But I didn’t toss in all those ingredients willy-nilly, just to spice up the story. They’re integral to the theme and the plot. Real-world events played perfectly into my story world’s theme of power-lust.”

One of the scarier aspects of WINNER TAKES ALL is the means by which foreign interests funnel money into political campaigns—a plot element that was inspired by Bidinotto’s work for a D.C. nonprofit watchdog group.

“[The] machinations I describe in the novel are what is going on in the real world,” he says. “I learned from several years of first-hand research, exactly how this happens.”
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FBI Code Red by Lee Gimenez

By Don Helin

John (J.T.) Ryan is a decorated war hero and one of the FBI’s leading investigators. While conducting an investigation, he is inexplicably put on the Code Red terrorist watch-list.  Ryan’s world is turned upside down as the FBI undertakes a massive manhunt for his capture. The Bureau’s Assistant Director, Erin Welch, Ryan’s friend and boss, is put in charge of the manhunt. She suspects forces inside and outside of the government don’t just want him caught, but want Ryan assassinated. Can he evade his assassins, prove his innocence, and catch the real conspirators who set him up?

Lee Gimenez is the award-winning author of 13 novels, including his highly-acclaimed J.T. Ryan series.  Several of his books have been e-book bestsellers, among them The Media Murders, Skyflash, and The Washington Ultimatum. Gimenez was nominated for the Georgia Author of the Year Award and was a finalist in the prestigious Terry Kay Prize for Fiction. All of his books are available in paperback and e-book in the U.S. and Internationally. Gimenez is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, the Georgia Writers Association, and the Atlanta Writers Association.

Here, he chats with The Big Thrill about his new release, FBI CODE RED.
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Killing State by Judith O’Reilly

The bullet in his brain isn’t the problem. She is.

Michael North is a hero, with a bullet in the brain to prove it. A bullet which has rewired his neural pathways and heightened his sense of intuition.

A bullet which is driving him mad.

Working for an extra-governmental agency called The Board, North knows one thing for sure.

He is very good at killing very bad guys.

But what happens when a hero is ordered to kill a good woman rather than a bad man? Because it turns out that rising political star Honor Jones, MP can’t stop asking the right questions about the wrong people.

He should follow orders.

Shouldn’t she?

Not least because he’s running out of time. North always knew the bullet in his brain would kill him.

Then again, what if he’s wrong? What if it’s not the bullet, but Honor Jones who’ll be the death of him?

Judith O’Reilly, the bestselling author of KILLING STATE, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her first novel:
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Retalio by Alison Morton

Early 1980s Vienna. Recovering from a near fatal shooting, Aurelia Mitela, ex-Praetorian and former foreign minister of Roma Nova, chafes at her enforced exile. She barely escaped from her nemesis, the charming and amoral Caius Tellus ,who grabbed power in Roma Nova, the only part of the Roman Empire to survive into the 20th century.

Aurelia’s duty and passion fire her determination to take back her homeland and liberate its people. But Caius’s manipulations have isolated her from her fellow exiles, leaving her ostracized, powerless, and vulnerable. Without their trust and support, Aurelia knows she will never see Roma Nova again.

The Big Thrill recently caught up with Alison Morton, author of the Roma Nova thriller series, to discuss her latest book, RETALIO:
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The Dogs of War by John Wayne Falbey

They’re here. In America. Thousands of Islamic terrorists committed to a rabid jihad that ends only when they’ve butchered the last man, woman, and child. Worst of all, they have nukes. The Day of Jihad is at hand. The odds of Western civilization being snuffed out grow stronger each day.

Compounding the threat, the Chinese are solidifying their grasp throughout Asia, while behind the scenes they sponsor the Islamic terrorists. Once an ineffective and weakening America crumbles, the Chinese are ready to extend their dominion over the entire planet. The Russian president is strengthening his grip on Europe and in the Middle East. Cyberwarfare is ramping up from Beijing to Moscow to Pyongyang to Tehran. And AGU—the Alliance for Global Unity—is orchestrating it all.

Only the shadow government known as the Society of Adam Smith, or SAS, may be capable of dealing with this threat. And it desperately needs the skills possessed only by that deadliest of hunter-killer teams, the Sleeping Dogs, including their newest member, an Australian.

With his rogue brother, the monstrous Maksym intent on killing his family, can Brendan Whelan reunite the Dogs in time?

The Big Thrill spent some time with John Wayne Falbey discussing his latest thriller, THE DOGS OF WAR:
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Season of Lies by Dennis Hetzel

A pitcher. A president. Two men become linked by events when the stakes are highest. The Chicago Cubs have finally won a World Series for the first time since 1908. Now they want to build a baseball dynasty. To do so, they trade for star pitcher Trey Van Ohmann. Meanwhile, the Cubs’ biggest and best-known fan, Luke Murphy, is running for re-election as President of the United States.

But world events and powerful, unknown forces conspire against them. To succeed, they must overcome terrorism, scandals, and threats to their lives and those around them. The baseball season and a presidential campaign that could be ripped out of today’s headlines intertwine in one fateful October.

In this follow-up to his award-winning novel, Killing the Curse, Dennis Hetzel once again combines sports, politics, thrilling action, and memorable characters. The Big Thrill had the opportunity to ask him some questions about SEASON OF LIES:
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The Year of the Dog by John Wayne Falbey

It’s the Year of the Dog and China is on the offensive, solidifying its dominion throughout Asia and setting its sights on the rest of the planet. The Russian president intensifies his threat against the free peoples of Europe and beyond. Islamic terrorists continue to fan the flames of hatred and discord across the globe. The world’s baddest actors are ramping up their malevolent ambitions.

Time is running out, but the hunter/killer Black Ops unit known as the Sleeping Dogs is back. But not all dogs make good pets—and the Hounds of Hell are about to be unleashed!

Here, John Wayne Falbey answers a few questions about his latest novel for The Big Thrill:

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

My goal as a writer is always to entertain my readers as well as fascinate them with bits of the arcane gleaned from my research.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

It pulls no punches in a discussion of current global affairs.
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Order to Kill by Kyle Mills

order-to-killAfter the assassination of Pakistan’s intelligence chief, the government is collapsing and Mitch Rapp is locked in an unwinnable battle to keep the country’s nukes from falling into terrorist hands.

It quickly becomes clear that the volatile leader of Russia is fomenting turmoil in the Middle East in an effort to prop up his own waning power. As the chaos intensifies, Rapp is forced to penetrate enemy-held Iraq posing as an American ISIS recruit. There, he uncovers a plan much more dangerous than he ever expected—one that could have catastrophic global consequences.

Author Kyle Mills shared some insight on his latest novel, ORDER TO KILL, with The Big Thrill:

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

My dream is that people will find my take on Mitch Rapp as satisfying as they did Vince’s.

How does this book make a contribution to the genre?

My goal is to shed a slightly different light on one of the most iconic characters in the genre—to provide readers a fresh, yet familiar view of Mitch Rapp.
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The Hidden Reality by Stephen Martino

The Hidden RealityBy J. H. Bográn

Since the publication of Stephen Martino’s The New Reality, anticipation for a follow-up has grown exponentially. The new installment, titled THE HIDDEN REALITY, doesn’t disappoint, and is another leap forward into the world Martino has created.

With The New Reality now in control of all nations, the brilliant doctor and inventor Alex Pella finds himself caught in a deadly power struggle between the tyrant who rules and the one who would. As he sets out on a mission to unravel the New World Order created by The New Reality, he must also face the hidden truths about his own genetic heritage, truths that are slowly destroying him. When he receives an ambiguous message supposedly sent from a man long dead, Alex learns the only way to win his battle against The New Reality is to defeat a long forgotten enemy nearly 2,500 years old.

The Big Thrill had the opportunity to catch up with Mr. Martino and ask a few questions about his books, his writing career, and what´s next.

Where did you come up with the idea to write your books?

I remember daydreaming in college over 20 years ago, thinking of different ideas that I wanted to write about one day. In fact, the initial idea for The Hidden Reality came to me while I was in history class learning about ancient Greece. The thought of recreating such a world and bringing it back to life mesmerized me. Plus, as the cultures of the Eastern and Western worlds collide once again, these historical topics are as apropos today as they were almost 2,500 years in the past. Though the pearls of wisdom conveyed in class that afternoon have been long lost in my memory, the inspiration I garnered from that professor still lives on and motivates me to this day.

What is even more interesting is that when I completed the class at the end of the semester, the professor wrote me a note, wishing me greatness in all my future endeavors. Ironically, this idea of greatness turned out to be a cornerstone of both my first and most recent novel, THE HIDDEN REALITY. Retrospectively, I can thank this great teacher for launching my eventual writing career and recognize him for all the inspiration he has given me throughout the years.
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The Rare Earth Exchange by Bernard Besson, Sophie Weiner (translator)

rare earth exchangeBy Kay Kendall

Did the recent release of the Panama Papers snag your interest? If it did, then you will be intrigued by THE RARE EARTH EXCHANGE, a financial espionage thriller that focuses on the world of high-frequency trading where manipulation and corruption reign. The author is Bernard Besson, a former top-level chief of staff of the French intelligence services and an eminent specialist in economic intelligence.

He opens his thriller after a vicious terrorist attack in France and the  suspicious death of a past president of France causes panic at high governmental levels. Certainly Besson’s plotline was prescient when it debuted in France, and today one must note that the thriller’s events have become, alas, quite timely. The good guys race against the clock trying to discover who is pulling the strings in a fierce international battle to control rare minerals—the key to cutting-edge technology.  Various intelligence agencies snipe at each other, impeding progress even though they are all fighting cyber terrorism. Besson shows that even if all the necessary information is gathered, you still can’t win at cyberwarfare unless you ask the right questions.

Now American publisher Le French Book, dedicated to bringing the best of French thrillers and mysteries to English-speaking readers, debuts THE RARE EARTH EXCHANGE in an English edition. Its translator, Sophie Weiner, answers questions for THE BIG THRILL audience about what it was like to translate this scary book about a globe-spanning confrontation that seems altogether plausible.

Ms Weiner how challenging was working with a text that is dense with geopolitical corruption, international high finance, and cyberwarfare?

Of course unlike the author, Bernard Besson, I’m no expert in any of these areas so it was a lot of new information to take in. But the glass-half-full side of me sees this more as an opportunity to learn, rather than a challenge. In fact, that’s one of the best parts about being a translator—with each project, you get to discover new topics and points of view through thorough background research.
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Back Blast by Mark Greaney

back blastBy Dawn Ius

Thriller readers may best recognize Mark Greaney’s name in conjunction with that of the late Tom Clancy—which by Greaney’s admission, isn’t a bad association. In an all-star roster of legendary thriller writers, Clancy certainly ranks near the top. But long before Greaney started co-writing, he entered the publishing world with Gray Man, the first book in what became a series featuring Court Gentry, an ex-CIA hitman on the run from the very organization that hired him.

Unlike Robert Ludlum’s “Jason Bourne”, though, Gentry doesn’t know what he’s done to piss off his boss. In BACK BLAST, the fifth, and arguably most explosive book in the series, Greaney brings Gentry home to the U.S. in a quest to answer the question for which he—and a loyal legion of readers—have waited nearly seven years for: why does the CIA want Gentry dead?

“I realized I had teased it long enough,” Greaney says, noting that what began as a small subplot in Gray Man continued to expand, bit by bit in each book, culminating in what he now hopes is a satisfying resolution to the mystery—while still opening the door for Gentry’s future. “I was a reader long before I became a professional writer, and I always look at everything from a reader’s point of view. I felt that this was the right time, and I wanted to give my fans that pay off.”

It doesn’t come without a price. Greaney dug deep for BACK BLAST, pushing through months of self-doubt, wondering whether the book would resonate with fans, or if he should scrap the whole thing and start over.

Fortunately, time didn’t allow for any of that insecurity nonsense. As a two-books-a-year author—one each for the Gray Man and Jack Ryan series’—Greaney had no choice but to keep writing (and writing), eventually delivering what he loosely describes as a marriage of the original Die Hard movie and All The President’s Men.

Both comparisons ring true on some level, but with Greaney’s individual stamp of authenticity, of course—most prominently, his uncanny ability to write thrilling action that doesn’t feel trite or overdone. Even for a seasoned writer, it’s not as easy as Greaney makes it look.
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Track Three by John H. Gibson

Track ThreeBy Dan Levy

As it happens with many writers, author John Gibson’s love of thrillers began during a childhood spent soaking in the great spy stories and other thriller genres that made their way onto television screens and into movie theaters.

“And then Watergate happened and I was completely and hopelessly stuck,” said Gibson. “Everyday after school, while my buddies were out playing basketball, I sat at the television, enthralled by the entire break-in scandal. I began to read thrillers that dealt with politics because of Watergate.”

In the forty-plus years since Watergate, Gibson, in addition to a successful engineering career at Kodak, went from reading political thrillers to writing them. His second, TRACK THREE, is due to be released on December 15, 2015. We wanted to learn more about Gibson’s latest offering. Due to scheduling conflicts, The Big Thrill was unable to conduct an in person interview with Gibson to meet our deadline. However, below are excerpts from an interview (edited for length) conducted via email.

TRACK THREE is your second published novel. Is that part of a series or are the two novels independent?

No, not a series. I seem to exert so much to write my books that when I’m finished, I really feel I have nothing else to give. I have no more fire to write about those same characters. I write from a loose outline, but my stories seem to move where they want to move. When they are done they are done and there is really not much more for me to give.
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The Galapagos Agenda by Leonardo Wild

The Galapagos Agenda_L Wild Final Cover SmallBy Leonardo Wild

Leonardo Wild’s series of paradigm shift thrillers starts with THE GALAPAGOS AGENDA, his debut novel in English (he has 10 other books published in Spanish and German.)

This month, the author answered a few questions for The Big Thrill about what drove him to start the series, and why he chose THE GALAPAGOS AGENDA as the first installment.

What is a paradigm shift thriller?

Paradigm shift thrillers are a new sub-genre within the thriller genre.

They are types of thriller where not only the main character will go through a character arc—that is, come to a realization that will change his or her view of the world and regain a new form of balance—but where also the reader will experience an arc in understanding about an aspect of the world that hasn’t been reported to the system.

We are all victims of our paradigms. What we don’t know can—and will—hurt us.

Our ignorance regarding certain aspects of the world and society that we take for granted or as “normal” has turned us into the slaves of our own delusions. Ignorance isn’t bliss, but a form of massive self-deception.

The idea is that in each novel readers will experience a shift in perception one of the large pillars that hold our world upright: politics, banking, money, education, health. They are bound to find something out they didn’t know before. In a way, we are all victims, we just aren’t aware of it.
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Track Three by John H. Gibson

Track Three by John Gibson

By Dan Levy

 

As it happens with many writers, author John Gibson’s love of thrillers began during a childhood spent soaking in the great spy stories and other thriller genres that made their way onto television screens and into movie theaters.

 

“And then Watergate happened and I was completely and hopelessly stuck,” said Gibson. “Everyday after school, while my buddies were out playing basketball, I sat at the television, enthralled by the entire break-in scandal. I began to read thrillers that dealt with politics because of Watergate.”

 

In the forty-plus years since Watergate, Gibson, in addition to a successful engineering career at Kodak, went from reading political thrillers to writing them. His second, TRACK THREE, is due to be released on December 15, 2015. We wanted to learn more about Gibson’s latest offering. Due to scheduling conflicts, The Big Thrill was unable to conduct an in person interview with Gibson to meet our deadline. However, below are excerpts from an interview (edited for length) conducted via email.

 

TRACK THREE is your second published novel. Is that part of a series or are the two novels independent?

 

No, not a series. I seem to exert so much to write my books that when I’m finished, I really feel I have nothing else to give. I have no more fire to write about those same characters. I write from a loose outline, but my stories seem to move where they want to move. When they are done they are done and there is really not much more for me to give.

 

With all your time spent in the tech industry, it feels like it would be a natural, and perhaps easier, transition to write tech thrillers. Why write in the political-thriller sub-genre?

 

Engineering was something that I kind of fell into. I had a home and family to provide for and at Kodak I fell into working in the digital imaging area, microelectronics. It really was a fascinating engineering area to work in, simply fascinating, otherworld kind-of stuff all conducted under microscopes. But engineering, even microelectronics, did not provide the passion that my soul demanded. Only writing did (does) that for me.

 

Talk a bit about your protagonist, reporter Elliott Lawder. What made him a compelling character to you?

 

I like Elliott because even though professionally he is at the top of his game, his personal life, though not totally going down the drain, is well on its way. He is real, hard working but flawed. [He is] nearing alcoholism, [and in a] terrible family situation with his father mired in Alzheimer’s, his mother old and incapacitated and an older brother that truly despises him. But the two worlds, his professional life and his personal life are totally separate.

 

What do you like most about Elliott Lawder? What surprised you about him as he came to life on the page?

 

Elliott’s authenticity, to have risen to the heights of his profession without being portrayed as superhuman is very endearing to me. Also, dealing with the pain of his personal life and still performing in his professional life is something that I found admirable. I don’t think there is much about Elliott that surprised me.

 

Is there a scene or chapter in TRACK THREE that is a favorite or that is especially meaningful to you? Why?

 

The Tarzan Chapter is near and dear because most of what takes place I actually lived as a boy; this really did happen. The Tarzan chapter is about boys [Elliott and his older brother] nearing puberty getting talked into swinging from a rope tied to a tree. Bad thing happens [and] this scene explains a lot about Elliott’s rocky relationship with his brother.

 

While I don’t want to overlook TRACK THREE, what do your fans have to look forward to in your next book? Can you give us a little insight?

 

I’m working on a story that is a bit of departure from Dummy (Gibson’s debut novel) and TRACK THREE. It is about a guy who goes from being an actual bum to owning a conglomerate, but with many, many problems with every one of his family members.

 

What’s one piece of advice that has served you well since you started writing? Is it the same advice you’d give to aspiring authors today?

I think advice today is different than it would have been fifteen years ago. Then, I think I would have just told them “Write!” Now there is so much more after the writing that influences the writing experience. I don’t particularly like that part of it, but it’s the reality now. I guess what I would tell them today is not all that much different, though—Don’t think about the other stuff you have to do to get read. Deal with the other stuff in its own time; just have something for someone to read. And write it as best you can.

*****

 

 
 

Nations Divided by Steve P. Vincent

nations dividedBy J. H. Bográn

While hosting the 2009 Oscars, Hugh Jackman joked about actors playing characters from other countries receiving nominations while that year he had played an Australian, set in Australia, in a film aptly titled Australia, thus being snubbed. This month I had the privilege to discover Australian author Steve P. Vincent and his novels, set in the United States—and other places around the world—and his real American hero of a character Jack Emery. NATIONS DIVIDED is the third book in this series, and Steve kindly agreed to answer a few questions for The Big Thrill.

What’s the jacket description of NATIONS DIVIDED?

Peace has been decades in the making, but chaos is just the press of a button away.

Jack Emery is happier than he has been in a long time. Nobody has shot at him or tried to blow him up for years, and he’s learned to love the job he thought he’d hate: Special Advisor to the President of the United States.

But nothing can prepare Jack for the work to come. As America continues to heal from self-inflicted wounds, an ambitious President McGhinnist draws closer to achieving the impossible: peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

As the countdown to peace reaches zero, a desperate group of hardline Israelis invoke the Samson Option, a secret protocol that will eradicate the peace agreement and pave the way for the destruction of America and the Middle East.

Jack has learned the hard way that when a crisis knocks, you don’t always get the chance to ignore it.

How did the idea for NATIONS DIVIDED come about?

Mostly it was a topic I wanted to know more about and try to twist in a fun way.
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Nation Of Enemies by H. A. Raynes

nation of enemiesBy Azam Gill

In NATION OF ENEMIES, H.A. Raynes’s razor-sharp, double-edged pen thrills, warns, instructs, and entertains with prophetic vision, controlled imagination, and Spartan zeal.

On the eve of the 2032 presidential election, the country is deeply divided and on the brink of civil war. A decade before, the U.S. government had mandated that all citizens be issued biochips carrying their full medical information and a digital health indicator. Then they made the information public leading to widespread and devastating consequences.

The Liberty Party’s presidential nominee is assassinated in a highly-coordinated, masterful attack. This sets off a chain of events that will change the course of history and leave America’s inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness dangling on the precipice of extinction.

The author graciously answered a few questions for The Big Thrill.

Please give our readers an overview of your personal life and professional career?

I’m married and a parent to two kids and a cockapoo. My professional career up to this point has been as a producer in advertising, making commercials. Other than that, I learned to swim at the age of thirty-two. Played spin-the-bottle with Nicolas Cage. And have jumped out of a plane. Writing is much more my speed than the latter two. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, though more seriously and committed to the craft in the last ten years. For me, it’s equal parts fun and sanity. In the busy world we live in, both fun and sanity can be hard to hold onto. But no matter what, I know they’re mine for about eight hours every week.
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State of Emergency by Steve P. Vincent

State of Emergency-2The Big Thrill sat down with Australian-based political thriller writer Steve P Vincent to talk about his newest release, STATE OF EMERGENCY. Steve is an ITW Debut Author for 2014-15 and he’ll be speaking and signing books at Thrillerfest.

Tell us about the Jack Emery series and the newest release, STATE OF EMERGENCY

My debut novel, The Foundation, was released as a digital first publication in September 2014. The book sees Jack Emery—an Australian reporter based in New York—in a race against time to expose a conspiracy and prevent global war. It was generally well received and I was lucky enough to be contracted for a few more books. Since then, I’ve released a free Jack Emery prequel novella, Fireplay, and a print edition of The Foundation.

The newest release, STATE OF EMERGENCY, is the second book in the series. Jack is home after a few months covering the war in Syria, only to find he’s walked right into a wave of terrorist attacks across America. The book deals with how US authorities would deal with such a scenario, and Jack is forced to fight against the very government he worked to save in the first book. It’s a book about a desperate government overreaching and creating something far worse than what it was fighting.

What was the inspiration for the novel?

The Foundation dealt with the concentration of media power in the hands of a few, and the outrageous level of control exerted by think tanks and lobbyists. STATE OF EMERGENCY, on the other hand, explores just how far a government will go to grasp on to control. It was fun to write, because I’ve always been interested in the struggle between the known (leaders, governments, armies) against the unknown and the largely unquantifiable (terrorism, drugs).
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State of Attack by Gary Haynes

State of Attack by Gary Haynes

By Terry DiDomenico

We first met Special Agent Tom Dupree in Gary Haynes’s debut thriller, State of Honour. Now thirteen months after he saved the Secretary of State from a politically inspired execution, Dupree is back in STATE OF ATTACK.

This time, Dupree arrives in Turkey to be with his father who was the target of a terrorist attack carried out by a jihadist called Ibrahim, also known as the Sword of Allah. Harnessing his desire to get back at those responsible, Dupree is set on stopping Ibrahim’s devastating plot against the Western world. As Dupree works to unravel the knot of terror, betrayal, and conspiracy that surrounds the Sword of Allah, he sadly learns there are few people he can trust.

Setting the Dupree series primarily in the Middle East satisfies a personal interest for Haynes. “The Middle East seemed to me to be an impossibly romantic place where men rode stallions and were armed with swords and spent their down time perfecting the art of falconry,” he said.

While in law school, this interest led to a dissertation on Middle East legal systems. “This is what sparked my real interest,” Haynes said. “But it was only when I studied the intricacies of their legal systems that I realized that not all was what it appeared to be. Despite the fascinating history and art, there was a darker side, even before the rise of Islamic terrorism, especially in relation to the general lack of democracy, the treatment of prisoners and women, and those with a contrary view to the ruling families.”
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Ryder by Nick Pengelley

RYDERBy Jeff Ayers

debut-authorIn Nicholas Pengelley’s first novel, RYDER, Ayesha Ryder bears the scars of strife in the Middle East. Now her past is catching up to her as she races to unravel a mystery that spans centuries—and threatens to change the course of history.

As Israeli and Palestinian leaders prepare to make a joint announcement at the Tower of London, an influential scholar is tortured and murdered in his well-appointed home in St. John’s Wood. Academic researcher Ayesha Ryder believes the killing is no coincidence. Sir Evelyn Montagu had unearthed shocking revelations about T. E. Lawrence—the famed Lawrence of Arabia. Could Montagu have been targeted because of his discoveries?

Ryder’s search for answers takes her back to her old life in the Middle East and into a lion’s den of killers and traitors. As she draws the attention of agents from both sides of the conflict, including detectives from Scotland Yard and MI5, Ryder stumbles deeper into Lawrence’s secrets, an astounding case of royal blackmail, even the search for the Bible’s lost Ark of the Covenant.

Every step of the way, the endgame grows more terrifying. But when an attack rocks London, the real players show their hand—and Ayesha Ryder is left holding the final piece of the puzzle.

Pengelley chatted with THE BIG THRILL.

With your extensive background, what made you decide to start writing?

I’ve loved books and writing for as long as I can remember. In fact I’ve been writing for many years now—decades in fact. Until comparatively recently, though, my writing was all academic. I’ve published a great many law-related articles, and written a one-hundred thousand word thesis for my PhD. When, a few years ago, I finally sat down to try my hand at fiction I thought, “I’ve written a lot of non-fiction, and I’ve read a lot of books. So of course I can write a novel. Oh boy! I had a lot to learn. Fiction is way harder than non-fiction. Then there’s the whole process of getting published, which is akin to climbing Everest.
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The Foundation by Steve P. Vincent

The_Foundation_Cover_150_AWBy Basil Sands

debut-authorLadies and Gentlemen, I introduce you to Steve P. Vincent, the author of the new action-packed tale of international intrigue ripped right from the headlines, THE FOUNDATION. Or as he is known in Big Time Wrestling “The Thrilluh from Down Unduh”!

Okay, he doesn’t actually have a Big Time Wrestling name, at least not that I know of. But if he did it would be something like that. He does have degrees in political science and history, though. His honors thesis was on the topic of global terrorism and he has travelled extensively throughout Europe, the United States, and Asia.

Steve lives with his wife in a pokey apartment in Melbourne, Australia, where he’s forced to write on the couch in front of an obnoxiously large television. When he’s not writing, Steve keeps food and flat whites* on the table working for The Man. He enjoys beer, whiskey, sports and dreaming up elaborate conspiracy theories to write about.

Steve, tell us about THE FOUNDATION.

THE FOUNDATION is a punch you in the mouth political thriller full of intrigue, suspense and action against a backdrop that’s all too plausible. It was a lot of fun to write and I hope readers are enjoying it as well.

It’s about the concentration of power in the hands of powerful organizations such as big business, the media, and think tanks, and what might happen when these powerful groups manipulate global events to seize power. One guy, Jack Emery, is dragged into a power struggle when one such group, The Foundation for a New America, blows up half of Shanghai, starts a war between the U.S. and China, and tries to use the chaos to take over.
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