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When ATF Special Agent David Ward infiltrates the world of radical environmentalists, his mission is to stop an eco-terrorist group determined to eradicate pollution—and the polluters who get in their way. It’s a case of Green Gone Extreme!

The Earth Martyrs Brigade will stop at nothing to destroy those corporations and individuals that they deem a threat to Mother, their worshipful name for Mother Earth. Ward joins the group, befriending its cultish followers, only to learn that their plans for destruction and anarchy far exceed anything he could have imagined.

Loosely based on the joint FBI/ATF Operation Backfire that decimated the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), this story imagines what would happen if like-minded groups adopted the more extreme tactics of today’s terrorists and what it might take to stop them. It is a scenario that is all too real, and a threat not widely known to the American public.

Author Joel Barrows spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing DEEP GREEN COVER, the second book in the Deep Cover series, following Ward’s debut adventure in Deep White Cover.

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

The characters. The extreme environmentalists are a unique, fascinating, and sometimes dangerous group of individuals. I had some tangential involvement in a case involving the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) that was prosecuted by the US Attorneys’ Office where I once worked. The players involved were an interesting bunch. The case sparked the idea for this book.

What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?

The biggest challenge was the research. Writing this story required learning the basics about so many subjects: fighting fires, how the electrical grid works, etc. Of course, this was also the biggest opportunity.

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

The disturbing availability of the tools of sabotage on the internet. In the book I always leave out one or two steps so as not to make this a how-to manual.


Joel Barrows is an Iowa district court judge who regularly oversees both criminal and civil trials. Prior to his appointment to the bench he was a practicing attorney for nearly 23 years; the last 18 of those spent as a state, and then federal, prosecutor.

He holds a bachelors and a masters degree in history, a law degree from Drake University Law School, and a Master of Laws in International and Comparative Law with distinction from Georgetown University Law Center.

He has traveled extensively in Central America. He lives with his family in eastern Iowa along the banks of the Mississippi.

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


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