Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Moss_THE-GOLDEN-HOUR-678x1024By Austin Camacho

debut-authorMilitary action dominates today’s thrillers, but diplomacy can generate even more tension and suspense. If you need proof, read Todd Moss’s hyper-realistic and high-powered debut thriller, THE GOLDEN HOUR.

The novel revolves around a sudden crisis in Africa. A coup d’état in Mali overthrows the president and the State Department is counting on its new experimental Crisis Reaction Unit to handle the situation. The unit is the brainchild of Judd Ryker, who recently left academia to test his theories in the real world of international diplomacy.

Ryker is not the typical gun-wielding thriller hero. He’s a soft-spoken professor who finds being chief of the Crisis Reaction Unit a major challenge.

“Judd’s much more comfortable with numbers than people,” Moss says. “This, he finds, is a problem for a diplomat. Judd quickly learns that he must build personal relationships to figure out what’s going on and to do his job.”

Of course, the challenges mount quickly. A senator’s daughter is kidnapped in Timbuktu. A violent new Jihadist cell rises in the desert. The American embassy is at risk of a terrorist attack. And Ryker has just one-hundred hours to set it all right again.

Parts of the story may sound fantastic, but Moss knows whereof he speaks. A former top American diplomat in West Africa, he draws on his real-world experiences to reveal both the exhilaration and the frustrations of modern-day diplomacy. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent him in to negotiate after the 2008 coup d’état in Mauritania. Today he works at a Washington DC think-tank and still deals with men very much like his fictional Ryker—successful and brilliant analysts who, in his words, “could work on their people skills.”

Ryker’s Crisis Reaction Unit is fictional too, although Moss says the State Department often launches special offices to deal with problems, but they almost always get squashed by the bureaucracy. Ryker’s team is formed to face a diplomatic Golden Hour concept that injects real-world suspense into the story. It’s a concept borrowed from emergency medicine that says a trauma patient must get to a hospital within sixty minutes or chances of survival plummet.

“In the novel, Judd Ryker discovers a pattern in international crises that shows a similar trait,” Moss says. “If the United States doesn’t intervene quickly, the chances of success plummet. For a coup d’état, he finds this magic window, the Golden Hour, is just one-hundred hours.”

You might expect the world of diplomacy to be a pretty boring series of long meetings and cocktail parties, but in GOLDEN HOUR Moss shows us the other side of the game.

“What’s really fascinating is working inside the government to make decisions about how to use U.S. national power,” Moss says. “This becomes especially exciting during crises: What should we do when a war breaks out? Or an ally is overthrown? Or an American is kidnapped by terrorists?  In THE GOLDEN HOUR, I wanted to take the reader into the White House Situation Room and into the private conversations where big decisions get made about troops or money or what the U.S. will do.”

THE GOLDEN HOUR is so authentic that reality almost seemed to follow the fiction. While Moss was writing the novel there was an actual coup in Mali. And, as Moss explains, there were some pretty eerie coincidences.

“In the novel, the fictional junta is the Council for the Restoration of Democracy and the terrorist cell is Ansar al-Sahra (Arabic for ‘defenders of the desert’). In Mali’s real coup the army officers who seized power called themselves the National Committee for the Restoration of Democracy and State and one of the new militant groups that appeared was Ansar al-Dine (‘defenders of the faith’).”

THE GOLDEN HOUR is the start of an exciting new series. Ryker’s next adventure will take him to Zimbabwe, but first he must uncover the truth in Mali in what W.E.B Griffith called “An extraordinary international thriller debut.” Learn how exciting diplomacy can be, in THE GOLDEN HOUR.


toddTodd Moss, formerly the top American diplomat in West Africa, draws on his real-world experiences inside the U.S. Government to bring to life the exhilaration—and frustrations—of modern-day diplomacy. THE GOLDEN HOUR was originally inspired by the August 2008 coup d’état in Mauritania when Todd was dispatched by Secretary Condoleezza Rice to negotiate with the junta leader. Todd is also the author of several non-fiction books on Africa. He is now Senior Fellow and COO at the Center for Global Development, a think-tank in Washington DC and lives in Maryland with his family.

To learn more about Todd, please visit his website.


Austin Camacho
Latest posts by Austin Camacho (see all)