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An African American U. S. Senator from Wisconsin gives a rousing speech at his party’s national convention held in his hometown. When he’s gunned down on a quiet Milwaukee street the following morning, Eric Rhodes survives what looks like a simple, yet high-profile hate crime.

But nothing is simple in FBI agent Cole Huebsch’s life, not his relationships and certainly not the cases he works. Cole, FBI analyst Li Song, and reporter Michele Fields won’t stop searching for the truth, even when the most sinister and powerful forces in the country align to shut them down.

When Cole faces and defeats several cold and calculated attacks on his life and the lives of others he cares about, it only strengthens his resolve. But how far are Cole and his team willing to go when the evil they face is above the law?

Author Kevin Kluesner spent a few minutes with TheBigThrill chatting about his latest thriller, the second novel in the FBI agent Cole Huebsch series, THE KILLER SPEECH:

Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

As I wrote my first two novels, I couldn’t help but think about Robert Crais and his Elvis Cole thriller series. I don’t want my thrillers to be dark. I want my stories to be dramatic…where readers chuckle to themselves one minute and then they tense up the next. And I want them to think.

Kevin Kluesner

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?

I think of my novels as “societal” thrillers. In this book, I shine a light on big pharma, the health insurance industry and vigilantism. I don’t agendize, but point out problems we need to address. People who won’t read a dry newspaper article or white paper will read a thriller that’s fast-paced.

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?

My protagonist has two degrees from Marquette University. He grew up in a small town in Wisconsin (Prairie du Chien). And he was a wrestler. People who know me and have read my books ask, “Is Cole Huebsch based on you?” And I answer, “Yes, except that he’s smarter, stronger, and better looking. Except for those minor things, he’s exactly based on me.”

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

I hope they learn a little about big pharma, the health insurance industry, vigilantism, and the human condition.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

The two-party system in the U.S.


Kevin Kluesner holds both a BA in journalism and an MBA from Marquette University. He’s worked as the outdoor writer for a daily newspaper, taught marketing and management classes at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and served as an administrator of an urban safety net hospital. THE KILLER SPEECH is his second novel in the FBI agent Cole Huebsch series set in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Kevin might be the only person to claim membership in both the American College of Healthcare Executives and the International Thriller Writers. He lives in New Berlin, Wisconsin, with his wife Janet.