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Belle Bannon’s younger sister works as an intern at a western artifacts museum in the Texas panhandle. Two rogue Chinese agents mistake her for Nora Yates, the curator of the museum, and kidnap her. The kidnappers give Belle and Nora seventy-two hours to decode a series of obscure Comanche symbols on Chief Quanah Parker’s war lance, or Belle’s sister will die.

The search for clues necessary to decode the symbols takes them across the dusty plains of west Texas, through New Mexico’s labyrinth of caverns, and deep into the fetid Louisiana bayou. What they discover along their journey is that the symbols lead to the location of a mysterious jade box, the contents of which can make the kidnappers filthy rich. Belle and Nora not only have to deal with the kidnappers, but also fight off an opposing force—lethal Chinese agents who are willing to do anything, including killing innocent people, to prevent the contents of the jade box from surfacing.

It’s then that Belle realizes she faces an impossible dilemma: If she and Nora survive, beat the ticking clock, and save her sister…

…the end result could be nuclear war with China.

TheBigThrill caught up with author Mike Pace to learn more about the latest installment of the Belle Bannon series, THE COMANCHE CODE:

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?

Given the very positive response to The Sundance Revenge, I wanted to keep the Belle Bannon series going. plus, I wanted to get to know belle better. Hardly surprising since she’s very lethal and very hot.

Mike Pace

Can you pinpoint a moment or incident that sparked the idea for this book?

Following Steve Berry’s path, all of the books in the Belle Bannon series use a true (usually obscure) incident in history to inform a present day plot. THE COMANCHE CODE was triggered by David Gwynne’s excellent book, Empire of the Summer Moon, the story of Comanche chief Quanah Parker. I learned of Quanah’s unusual friendship with Teddy Roosevelt and that started the wheels turning.

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

The ending of The Alamo, and Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. Like them, at the end of the book Belle and a few friends (and one bad guy) are holed up in a saloon attempting to hold off an assault of overwhelming odds.

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?


It took until 2016 before women were allowed into Marine front-line combat . I wanted to remind readers that women can be just as tough or tougher than men in virtually any kind of threatening situation, so I created , Belle Bannon who, to my knowledge, is the first thriller character from that group. in many ways she’s a female Jack Reacher except, unlike Jack, Belle has a serious flaw. She suffers from IED — Intermittent Explosive Disorder where, if she really gets pissed off she erupts into an uncontrollable rage. Nicknamed the Incredible Hulk disease, once triggered a person with IED that can only be stopped by an outside force. She struggles to control her IED and has tried everything from medicines to quilting. She’s not very social because she doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Yet her sense of right and wrong is strong, and she usually does the right thing. To my knowledge a lead character suffering from IED is unique.

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

Perhaps learn a bit of history about Quanah Parker and Teddy Roosevelt.

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

Belle # 3 (working title – Full Circle). Takes place mostly in Italy.


Born in Pittsburgh, Mike received a B.F.A. degree from the University of Illinois and a law degree from Georgetown University where he served on the editorial board of the prestigious Georgetown Law Journal. He taught art in a Washington D. C. inner-city public school before being appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney for Washington D.C.. After a stint as a commercial litigator, he served as General Counsel to an environmental services company before resigning to practice law part-time, thereby allowing him to focus on his first love, creative writing. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers Association, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association,

Suspense Magazine said of his stand-alone supernatural thriller, One to Go, (Oceanview): “Completely unique; you hold your breath waiting for the next shoe to drop!” The book also received strong endorsements from NYT bestselling authors such as Steve Berry (“terrific”), Douglas Preston (“ripping good”), and Gayle Lynds (“devilishly clever”).

Kirkus Reviews said of his supernatural thriller, Dead Light (Sapphire Star): “Compelling characters … thrilling plot,” and Suspense Magazine advised: “Pace delivers a page turner in Dead Light, that should be on every horror / thriller readers bookshelf.”

Writer’s Digest called Mike’s women’s fiction book, The Chocolate Shop (writing as J.J. Spring) “Exceptional,” and selected it as the magazine’s 2019 first place award winner for contemporary fiction (sp-ebook.)

ITW stalwarts Jon Land and Steve Berry offered glowing praising the Belle Bannon series opener, The Sundance Revenge.

Mike lives in Florida and when not writing or practicing his sax he loves long beach walks with his parti-standard poodle, “Handsome Jack.”