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Review by Millie Naylor Hast

You won’t be able to put down THE HEMINGWAY DECEPTION by ex-government agent Tj O’Connor, because, if you do, you’ll miss eye-popping twists, heart-stopping action, and a gripping story of international intrigue.

Latino-Greek American Ana Karras hopes to lose herself on the jostling sidewalks of Manhattan to recover from an almost fatal attack at the hands of Cuban intelligence. Her goal is to find her missionary parents, who have gone missing somewhere in Latin America. At the same time, she is taking care of a young girl, Sarah, whose parents were killed. But Ana hides a double identity: Ana Montilla, a badass former FARC guerilla, and her past catches up with her fast.

Catalina Reyes is a Cuban assassin headed for Washington to carry out a terrorist attack. While Ana runs from her past, Catalina embraces hers. Is it any wonder that these two strong women will clash while Washington moves heaven and earth to stop them both? Nothing less than war between Cuba and the United States is at stake.

While all the characters are complex and finely drawn, Ana’s voice is especially mesmerizing. O’Connor, the author of two other thrillers and four paranormal mysteries, takes us deep into the souls of Ana and Catalina—two very damaged young women.

Who is Hemingway? We won’t tell. You’ll have to read to the shocking ending to find out. If you love action thrillers, THE HEMINGWAY DECEPTION is for you.

Tj O’Connor checked in with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest novel, the political thriller, THE HEMINGWAY DECEPTION:

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

Tj O’Connor

Not a particular moment or incident. It came from a culmination of my years in security and anti-terrorism. I’m a political junky and spend a lot of time watching threat trends and events in the country. I was playing with storylines and thought, “What if two strong characters—a protagonist and an antagonist—were headed on the same mission, from two different sides—the US and Cuba—and both wanted what the other had, i.e., one wanted out of the mission, the other wanted to regain their lost skills and reputation on the mission.” Poof, THE HEMINGWAY DECEPTION was created, with two strong, storied, and skilled female leads.


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 topic is very real. The settings and the characters are, too. I thoroughly enjoyed creating the converging character plots and timely backstories. I get personally connected to each character and each story I write. When I’m done, I feel sad that it’s over and if I’m not planning a sequel, I have to get on another novel fast to connect with these friends and bad guys again. So spending months or years with the book and its characters is like going home for me.

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

I really don’t write novels to give readers takeaways. I’m selfish and write for me, mostly. Once I start, I’m writing for the characters, too. But if I were pressed on this, I’d say I want people to see the human side of characters in thrillers—which comes from the human side of real-life operatives in this world. They have feelings. They panic. They get adrenaline rushes. They have families and friends. They bleed and get tired. They are not very often the classic James Bond types—though I love those books dearly. I’d say having a reader love the thrill of the story and still feel the character’s challenges and the impact on their lives is important to me.

What’s next?

My amazing literary agent, Kimberley Cameron, has my latest thriller for consideration. It’s the story of a washed-up, down-on-his-luck intelligent operative trying just to eke out a life. He’s accidentally drawn into a plot against our government that no one would imagine. As the story builds, he realizes that players and the plot might have begun with him fifteen years in his past—from the very mission, his last mission—that ended his career.


Tj O’Connor is the author of THE HEMINGWAY DECEPTION, a new political thriller from Suspense Publishing, The Consultant, and four paranormal murder mysteries. Tj is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism, investigations, and threat analysis—life experiences that drive his novels. With his former life as a government agent and years as a consultant, he has lived and worked around the world in places like Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and throughout the Americas—among others. He was raised in New York’s Hudson Valley and lives with his wife and Labrador companions in Virginia where they raised five children.

Millie Naylor Hast