In his final mission, Nick Parkos must choose between saving his country—or saving himself.
Parkos and his clandestine military ops team known the Curators are ordered to Prague by the US director of national intelligence. They must thwart a Czech transnational crime cartel and Russian operatives planning to smuggle arms into Mexico to foment rebellion and destabilize the southwest border of the United States.
But Parkos has another goal prompted by the discovery of an ancient keepsake in his grandparent’s attic—learning the truth about his Czech roots. His search leads to an ancient family castle and a distant cousin who, by a twist of fate, has a clandestine connection to his mission. Caught in a web of intrigue and double-crosses, Parkos grapples with fundamental questions about his life. Where do his loyalties lie? His family? His colleagues? His country?
The Big Thrill spent some time with author and military expert Kenneth Andrus to learn more about the action-packed conclusion to the critically-acclaimed Defenders series. Here’s what he had to say:
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
Without doubt, it was keeping the parallel plot, story, and character lines coherent within the context of the many plot twists so as to not lose my readers. The next was working the background of Nick’s complicated genealogy. These all, in turn, presented my biggest opportunity to delve into Nick’s story.
Was there anything new you discovered or that surprised you as you wrote this book?
When I wrote my original outline, I had no intention of killing off one of my primary supporting characters. I also ‘discovered’ Nick’s Jewish heritage and the implications of his extended family, who were almost annihilated by the Nazis.
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
The answer to this question is answered in part in the previous paragraph. A ‘Fun Fact’ that is hinted at on the cover art is that Nick is in line to inherit the family castle.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
I’ve always enjoyed historical novels that I call my “All Day Sucker” books and Allan Eckert’s series on 18th century America. Then there are the epic 18th century seafaring stories of Forrester, et al. that are essentially historical novels. Not to be excluded is a single book that pulled me in to the espionage/thriller genre that had a strong influence on my second novel, Amber Dawn, and THE CURATORS: Forsyth’s The Day of the Jackal.
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
As the fourth book in this series, I brought the main characters forward. For THE CURATORS, I wanted to take a deeper dive into my protagonist’s life. Orphaned, his first marriage ended in divorce, and he stumbled into his job at the National Security Agency. His quest for his identity and Czech heritage begins with the discovery of an ancient burl wood keepsake box in his grandparents’ attic.
Is there anything else you feel is important or that you would like our readers to know about THE CURATORS?
Having lost my mother at a very young age and essentially orphaned, I wanted to explore through Nick those emotions and experiences that left them conflicted, stronger, drove them, etc., that ultimately made them the individual they are.
A graduate of Marietta College, Kenneth Andrus obtained his Doctor of Medicine from the Ohio State University before joining the Navy. After twenty-four years of service, he retired at the rank of captain. His operational tours included Third Battalion Forth Marines, U.S.S. Truxtun CGN-35, Naval Forces Central Command, and the United States Pacific Fleet. His is the author of the three previous novels of The Defenders series and a heartfelt book about his daughters’ weddings.
To learn more about Andrus and his work, please visit his website.