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Who are you when someone steals your name?

Two men: a former tunnel rat and CIA assassin in the Vietnam War now in his 60s and living a quiet life in Ypsilanti, Michigan and a mysterious mastermind behind a number of major al Qaeda terror attacks since the 1990s. Two sons: a US assistant district attorney in Detroit and a suspected terrorist awaiting trial for attempting to smuggle explosives across the Canadian border. One grandson: kidnapped and used as leverage…

Zane Keator thought he left war behind when he came home from Southeast Asia as the Vietnam War drew to a close. He’s even avoiding the phone calls from his doctor at the VA hospital, knowing that a diagnosis means he’ll soon be fighting a war of a different sort. But when an FBI counterterrorist fly team raids his house in the middle of the night, the threat of war becomes personal. His old instincts kick in, and he barely escapes.

Soon the subject of a massive manhunt, Keator realizes as he flees the city that the team came in silent and hot, intending to kill, not capture him. To figure out who stole his identity and why he’s suddenly a wanted man, he turns to the only people who can help him, a fellow “rat,” and his former CIA handler in Cambodia.

As the FBI closes in and time runs down on a plot to wreak the most heinous terrorist attack ever on American soil, Keator’s showdown with the man who stole his name all comes down to two things: Keator’s fierce love for his autistic grandson and an antique weapon he used against the Viet Cong in the Cù Chi tunnels outside Saigon.

STOLEN IDENTITY author, Michael W. Sherer, took some time out to chat a bit with The Big Thrill about his influences and his latest release:

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

So many authors have influenced me they’re too numerous to list. I read not only for enjoyment, but to study craft, and I get the greatest pleasure from stories that not only rivet my attention and keep me turning the pages, but whose authors use beautiful prose, language that sings on its own as well as evoking the mental images and emotions the author intended.

I’m also personally indebted to many authors for their encouragement along the way. For example, when I expanded my repertoire to include thrillers as well as the mysteries I’d been writing, Gayle Lynds was there at exactly the right time to offer support, and the resulting book was nominated for a Thriller Award.

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

I was surprised by how many details of characters’ lives they revealed to me as I wrote. For example, I didn’t know that the protagonist’s grandson Preston is mildly autistic until I started writing about him. Usually, I prepare general background notes about my characters before I begin to write, but several of my characters gave me additional insight into who they are and where they came from as I wrote.

Without spoilers, are there any genre conventions you wanted to upend or challenge with this book?

I’d like to think that a character like Zane Keator, a Vietnam War veteran with lymphoma in his 60s, can be as compelling a thriller hero as someone like Jack Reacher.

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

The satisfaction of a great, entertaining read.


Michael W. Sherer is the author of the Blake Sanders thriller series, the first of which (Night Blind) was nominated for a Thriller Award by International Thriller Writers in 2013; six novels in the award-winning Emerson Ward mystery series; the first two books in the Tess Barrett YA/NA thriller series, Blind Rage and Blind Instinct; and the stand-alone suspense novel, Island Life. His most recent thriller, STOLEN IDENTITY, was just released, soon to be followed by a sequel, Mistaken Identity.

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