Jericho Quinn returns in BRUTE FORCE, the sixth in Marc Cameron’s popular series. This time, Quinn is wanted by his own government because he knows the truth—the president is controlled by terrorists and the vice president is a global mastermind plotting the demise of America. Knowing the plan is close to fruition, Quinn is working against heightened security, mass surveillance, and the establishment of a brutal police state in his own country while trying to operate overseas as a hunted man. Fortunately, his pursuit takes him to China where a lovely Chinese Ministry of State Security agent saves his life and proposes they work together to avert war between their countries.
Pakistan, Western China, Croatia, Seattle, and, of course, Washington, D.C. figure in the chase. Jacques Thibodaux, Ronnie Garcia, Emiko Miyagi, and other characters in the Quinn series return to help in the fight.
So where did the idea originate for Cameron?
“The genesis of BRUTE FORCE occurred while I was writing the second book, Act of Terror. That book introduced the overarching plan to put moles raised from children to hate the United States into the fabric of U.S. politics. Each book has a stand-alone plot as well but, to one degree or another, works toward the final culmination in BRUTE FORCE.”
Writing with an eye toward the long game is a unique aspect of his series. “I think a plot that weaves through several books is more like real life. Television and movies have made us accustomed to DNA results coming back at lightning speed and important criminal and counter terrorism cases being solved or resolved in one or two hours. Life is rarely that way. In real life, every day has a cliffhanger ending to one degree or another. Even if our hero rides off into the sunset, he’s camping somewhere in the dark, possibly with snakes…
“The cliffhanger ending of each book is my way of saying: Jericho Quinn will return.”
Readers might wonder if Jericho will return after this outing given some of the intense fight scenes. This is by design according to Cameron.
“One of the truisms in a knife fight is that, even if you win, you are extremely likely to get cut. Jericho is an intelligent man and a master of strategy, but because of his job—and personality—he finds himself involved in several hellacious fights in each book. The people he fights are generally either larger in number or stature, testing Quinn’s abilities.”
The fights take their toll on the hero. “Like a normal person, Jericho sacrifices a bit of himself at each violent encounter. Sometimes that loss is emotional; most times it’s physical. He’s extremely fit and skilled at his job, but so far he’s lost a toe, part of an ear, and received several broken bones and a map of scars on his body. I think the fact he realizes the horrible damage each mission does to him but still continues is what makes him heroic.”
Pervading Cameron’s writing is his ease with description. And for him, the basis for the description rests in his research and experience. Essential research for BRUTE FORCE included “walking and driving around Seattle where I place the climax of the book, looking for firing positions, choke points, egress routes, shelter-in-place spots—putting together the same kind of report I’ve written as an advance deputy U.S. Marshal. I did a lot of research into the history of Croatia and the Balkans, paying particular attention to black market smuggling routes in Eastern Europe.”
His research wasn’t just by land. “There are maritime scenes so I tried to set foot on the type of boats I described, figuring out how I would approach them if I had to without a formal tactical team. I’m a scuba diver and know the issues of boarding boats from the water so I used those experiences as well.”
Despite the focus on setting, characters are key to BRUTE FORCE. The easiest for Cameron to write are Jacques and Camille Thibodaux. “I’m a much smaller guy than he is, but I can be a smart aleck and generally see at least some level of humor, even during the middle of a dangerous fugitive operation or high threat dignitary protection detail. My relationship with my wife mirrors Jacques and Camille much more closely than that of Jericho and Kim. Often, when Camille pops off about something I can hear the words coming out of my wife’s mouth.”
Harder to capture was Ran Kimura. She is an extremely skilled assassin who is also the vice president’s lover. According to Cameron, “she turned out to have a lot more to her than I planned when I first conceived the character.”
Also difficult to write were the scenes where “one of the female characters is imprisoned and tortured for a prolonged period of time. It needed to happen to advance the plot but it would have been very easy to make the whole thing gratuitous. I believe I showed restraint in the writing, but still felt pretty cruddy after writing the scene.”
One of the scenes that stands out is a “particular scene with Jacques’ wife and Jericho’s ex-wife where they are thrown into a situation that requires them to behave more like their husbands. They’re tough women so neither of them is a shrinking violet but the sudden violence of the situation is not something they’re used to. I worked closely with my wife on that scene to make sure I was giving these women honest reactions. It was a lot of fun to write with my wife. There turned out to be a lot of humor in the scene but as a guy it was also pretty terrifying to see what these two women are capable of.
“If I had to pick a thematic thread that runs through BRUTE FORCE it would be ‘working outside your comfort zone and rising to the task.’”
“There were a lot of cliff hangers that had to be cleared up from the two previous books (Time of Attack and Day Zero). I think Jericho, Jacques and the others tie up enough of the loose ends that readers will be satisfied. Still, fighting terrorists is akin to playing whack-a-mole. There are always more people out there who want to kill us, so the ending can’t be too tidy.” So, it should come as no surprise that Jericho Quinn will be back, Cameron said. He is enjoying writing number seven in the series, which is set in rural Alaska and “writing about such a wild place is all great fun.” He has an outline for number eight and the kernel of an idea for number nine. For now, readers will have to savor BRUTE FORCE.
Marc Cameron is a retired Chief Deputy US Marshal and 29-year law enforcement veteran. His short stories have appeared in BOYS’ LIFE Magazine and the Saturday Evening Post. He’s published twelve novels.
BRUTE FORCE, sixth in his USA Today Bestselling Jericho Quinn Thriller series, is available from Kensington in December of 2015. Marc lives in Alaska with his beautiful bride and BMW motorcycle.
To learn more about Marc, please visit his website.