Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Cole Haufner has no equal as a professional MMA fighter. At the peak of his success, Cole suffers a horrible personal tragedy. His grief deepens when his brother, Butch, a Delta Force operator, goes missing. Desperate to find Butch, Cole travels back to his childhood home in southeastern China and the Shaolin Temple where he was raised.

When Cole meets his brother’s Delta teammate, code name Hammer, his fame and personal agenda collide with the Delta unit’s mission to recover an invention that could transform the human race. It could also see its downfall, if the pursuing North Korean agents find it first.

Cole’s spiral downward approaches madness as a family secret is revealed, one that could force him to choose between his brother and one of the most important, and potentially deadliest, discoveries in modern human history.

The Big Thrill caught up to author Mike Houtz to discuss his must-read action thriller, DARK SPIRAL DOWN:

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

There’s a lot of reference to a stolen device that possesses life-altering benefits, and even potential catastrophic outcomes if the mission fails. What you won’t find is the answer to what that is until well into the book. I’d challenge anyone to guess correctly.

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

Tom Clancy was my biggest influence. Telling amazing stories while incorporating technical, military background hooked me from the first pages. Red Storm Rising was my favorite of all. Others from that era included Michael Crichton and Robin Cook—for which I shared a career in the medical field. Currently, Brad Thor amazes me both in his writing and his business acumen in the publishing world.

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

The personal struggle of the protagonist. We see him as a world-class athlete, but he lacks the usual military/government training so many other characters possess in this genre. He fails on many occasions, but his obsessive, goal-driven behavior makes him someone to root for.

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

First and foremost, the international locations are my favorite part of the genre. Visiting and studying other parts of the world are two major highlights of my time spent researching. Of course, the fast-paced action between friend and foe keeps the pages turning. The heroes of this genre overcome almost insurmountable odds to save the day.


After a career in medicine, Mike Houtz succumbed to the call to hang up his stethoscope and pursue his other passion as a writer of fast-paced thrillers. A rabid fan of authors such as Clancy, Mark Greaney, Vince Flynn, and Brad Thor, Mike loves series writing with strong characters, fast pacing and international locations, all of which explode into action in his debut novel, a Zebulon Award winner. When not at the keyboard, he can be found on the firing range, traveling for research across the globe, or trying out the latest dry-fly pattern on a Gold Medal trout stream. He lives at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

To learn more about Mike and his work, please visit his website.