The Arctic ice is melting, the waters are warming, and Russia’s ever-expanding fleet of oil tankers grind through the Northern Sea Route to China. With a fleet of nuclear ice breakers clearing the way, Russian ships were setting new records to reach China and fulfilling a simple equation: Russian President Nicolai Gorshkov needs China’s money to fund his expansionism plans past Ukraine and Latvia while China, the thirstiest oil nation in the world, needs affordable fuel.
In order to guarantee his success, Gorshkov initiates a devilish plot to make traditional shipping routes impassable. Working through third-party countries, attacks shut down the Suez Canal and other key routes. With nothing less than oil futures and the global economy at stake, one man slips into the shadows where secret information passes between two countries, affecting the future of three—the United States, China, and Russia.
Dan Reilly, a freelance State Department and CIA consultant working full-time at International President Kensington Royal Hotels, is drawn into a web of intrigue 12 years in the making involving the current American president, a United States senator, a cunny Chinese businessman, and the death of a young girl.
How the impact of these seemingly different elements have profound impact on Russia’s far-reaching plans is what makes RED CHAOS a thriller to be read like breaking news.
RED CHAOS is the third novel in the acclaimed Red Hotel series by thriller masters Ed Fuller and Gary Grossman, who America’s political and intelligence insiders have noted, “might as well sit on the National Security Council.” The Big Thrill had an opportunity to learn more about RED CHAOS in the following interview:
Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?
RED CHAOS is the third book in the RED HOTEL series. Co-author, Ed Fuller and I always discuss the plots in detail. We also find ways to work his personal exploits into the plots. As long-serving President of Marriott International, Ed was as much in the anti-terrorism business as the hotel business. That put him in the world’s hot spots, dealing with real life bad guys, rogue governments, tyrants, despots, and leaders of all political and moral stripes. In other words, Ed Fuller is the real deal and he became the word perfect collaborator for writing tense international thrillers. RED CHAOS deep dives into the issue of the Russia’s avowed plans to rebuild its alliance with Cold War satellite nations on the western borders. In other words, destroying the NATO alliance with bullets or bots, undermining America’s interests in NATO, and choking nations out of oil. Ukraine being first. The Baltic States next on Putin’s hit list.
Our stand-in for President Putin in the RED HOTEL book series is Nicolai Gorshkov. How does he plan to finance his acquisitions; his wars? Through Russian oil profits sold to China. It was Senator John McCain who said, “Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country,” with its oil shipping quickly through the melting ice of the Northern Sea Route. In the pages of RED CHAOS, to make that passage all the more financially rewarding for Russia and holding the rest of the world hostage to oil prices, other routes – from the Suez Canal to the Strait of Hormuz and the Panama Canal, are targeted.
Each of the locations plotted in RED CHAOS are where Ed Fuller faced crises during his time as Marriott’s leading international executive. And yes, Dan Reilly, our lead character, takes us through many of the actual “spy-tingling” exploits that Ed Fuller actually lived.
A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?
The plot for RED CHAOS, and before it RED HOTEL and RED DECEPTION, springs from Ed Fuller’s experience in the field, today’s new, and tomorrow’s likely risks. We work with current and former named and unnamed experts in the FBI, the NSA, the U.S. military, and the White House to craft our stories and to make them relevant, eye-opening, and engaging. But as news breaks, we have had to bring plot elements up to date. Accordingly, right up to publishing we spend time fine tuning the manuscript. Happily our publisher, Beaufort Books and editor-in-chief Megan Trank make the process all the more rewarding.
Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?
Ed and I are both Bond fans. I produced a TV special that launched the National Geographic Channel with Pierce Brosnan as host. And the person who brought us together was Bruce Fierstein, the screenwriter for Pierce Brosnan’s first three James Bond films. We also keep up on ITW’s great thriller masters and constantly learn from their remarkable work. Plus, I turn up action movie soundtracks full blast while I write. Nothing like an inspiring score to put me in the mood.
When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?
Co-author Ed Fuller is, without a doubt, the inspiration for Dan Reilly. Does he know where Russia and China plants bugs and eavesdropping devices in hotel rooms? Yes. Has he had to negotiate with Mexican cartels to get tourists to safety? Yes. Has he dealt with Chinese triads, escaped from insurgents in Egypt, dealt with the aftermath of deadly terrorist bombings, or crash landed planes getting out of danger zones? Yes. Is there any character like Ed Fuller anyplace else in fiction? The answer is no. I’m honored to be Ed Fuller’s co-author in three books so far, with the fourth to be completed this year.
In addition to his international business experience, Ed Fuller served as a Captain in the U.S. Army and was awarded the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medal for his service during missions in Vietnam and Germany. He is on numerous prestigious boards including the FBI National Academy Associates Charitable Foundation. All of this is to say, Ed Fuller is the real deal and I’m one lucky co-author.
What can you share about what you’re working on next?
Up next, RED ULTIMATUM. The unfolding plots of our series moves into ever-higher stakes with the threat of a new Cuban Missile Crisis-type scenario, combined with a conspiracy deep within the U.S. State Department. Which side is China on this time? On a global scale, it’s Russia’s play and American must make the right move or risk a dramatic shift in Western Hemisphere alliances. And personally for Dan Reilly, he must finally decide whether he will be able to continue to balance on the tight-rope between his business responsibilities and his more clandestine service. The clock is ticking toward making fateful or fatal decisions. Dan Reilly knows better than anyone what must be done.
Gary Grossman’s first novel, Executive Actions, propelled him into the world of geopolitical thrillers. Executive Treason, Executive Command, and Executive Force further tapped Grossman’s experience as a journalist, newspaper columnist, documentary television producer, reporter, and media historian.
In addition to the bestselling Executive series, Grossman wrote the international award-winning Old Earth, a geological thriller that spans all of time. With Red Hotel and Red Deception, his collaborations with Ed Fuller, Grossman entered a new realm of globe-hopping thriller writing.
Ed Fuller is CEO of Laguna Strategic Advisors, a global consortium providing business consulting services worldwide. He has served on both business and charitable boards during his forty-year career with Marriott International where he was chief marketing officer followed by 22 years as president and managing director of Marriott International.
As an author, Ed published You Can’t Lead with Your Feet on the Desk in English, Japanese and Chinese distributed throughout the world. In 2018, he and co-author Gary Grossman, released their high energy thriller Red Hotel and in 2021 they released Red Deception, which will soon be followed by Red Chaos as part of the Red Hotel series. Ed served as an Army captain in both Germany and Vietnam, receiving the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation medals.
To learn more, visit the Red Hotel website.