Military Thrillers

Blame The Dead by Ed Ruggero

By Azam Gill

Novelist, war historian and leadership guru Ed Ruggero has launched a new historical fiction series—Victory in Europe.

BLAME THE DEAD is the first in the series, written with an insider’s feel for the US army and its history. It follows the detective work of a military policeman after the murder of a doctor at the 11th Field Hospital in the summer of 1943, in Sicily.

Two days after FDR’s “Day of Infamy” speech, Philadelphia police patrolman Eddie Harkins enlists in the US Army, which assigns him to the military police. In the bloody summer of 1943, behind allied lines in Sicily, a US Army surgeon is gunned down in the middle of a busy field hospital. Harkins is assigned the case, his first ever homicide.

Cooperation is hard to come by, in part because the universally despised victim bullied and tormented nurses. A key witness is shot to death just when Harkins is starting to retrieve some facts from the confusion. Meanwhile, the flood of broken bodies and spirits never slows in the hospital just behind the battlefront. Then an exhausted and demoralized Harkins discovers his old neighborhood friend, Nurse Kathleen Donnelly.
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Highest Law by R. J. Pineiro

By J. H. Bográn

R. J. Pineiro’s new novel, HIGHEST LAW, centers on a sensitive subject—the lives of soldiers after their fighting days are over.

It’s said that the hardest battles for our veterans are fought within, but what would you do if you discovered that a widely-available PTSD medication designed to help our military heroes cope with the horrors of war had a very uncommon but quite violent side effect? Just how far would you go to expose the truth? In HIGHEST LAW, Lawson Pacheco’s moral compass is put to the test.

The concept for this story, which combines PTSD with a pharmaceutical conspiracy, began several years ago, during the writing of Without Mercy, a military thriller coauthored with Colonel David Hunt, who served his country for 30 years in the US Special Forces. He deepened Pineiro’s understanding of PTSD beyond what one hears in the news or sees in the movies.

“While we injected a good dose of that into that story, HIGHEST LAW takes a serious deep dive into the topic,” Pineiro says. “The topic is too important not to talk about it.  According to the Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, between the years 1999 and 2010, the average suicide rate for US males was 19.4 out of every 100,000. That number increased to 24.8 in 2018.  For a death to be recorded as suicide, medical examiners must be able to confirm that the deceased meant to die. Sometimes that’s difficult to establish. And to me, that all means that the actual number of suicides is much higher.”
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Rogue Sentinel by Tom Wither 

By Don Helin

In Tom Wither’s latest release, ROGUE SENTINEL, Lieutenant Commander Mathews, an experienced Tier One Operator, is sent on a solo mission to capture an American who has joined ISIS, planning operations that have killed hundreds. After an extended close surveillance while undercover in Jordan, Mathews and his trusted NCO, Senior Master Sergeant Simms, attempt to capture the man known as al-Amriki. As they close in, weapons at the ready, they inexplicably receive orders to let al-Amriki go. Why must they let a known terrorist live, and what can be done by Mathews to stop al-Amriki before he kills more innocents?

Wither is the author of two previous military thrillers, Autumn Fire and The Inheritor, both published in 2014. His novels are informed by a lengthy stint in military intelligence; Wither is a 32-year Air Force intelligence professional and 25-year affiliate of the National Security Agency. A veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he provided time-critical information to the Joint Rescue Coordination Center, which led to the safe extraction of downed allied airborne personnel and location data that resulted in the destruction of 25 strategic targets. After completing a six-month analytic training program with the NSA in 1994, he served as an Intelligence Analyst and Senior Intelligence Analyst for the US Air Force, gaining his NSA certification as an intelligence analyst.

Wither recently carved a few minutes out of his busy schedule to talk with The Big Thrill about his latest release.
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Richter Watkins, A Final Farewell

We’ve just learned from Richter Watkins’s wife that he has recently passed away. We are deeply saddened to lose one of our original members. A Vietnam veteran, Richter was the author of a number of acclaimed books, including Body Count, published last year. Richter contributed to ITW with both his time and efforts — and we send our deepest condolences to his family.

Body Count: A Vietnam War Thriller

In the midst of a deteriorating war in 1967, a senior CIA operative seeking to rearm the Mekong Delta’s anti-communist Buddhists in the hopes of transforming a failing military strategy is killed under mysterious circumstances.

This changes everything for Navy Commander Michael Teague, who was about to work with the Buddhists who’d been disarmed over a decade ago by Saigon.

Within hours of the death of the CIA operative, Teague is recruited to lead the clandestine mission, code named The Third Force, knowing the secret operation to rearm the Buddhists is opposed by Saigon and MACV, the US Military Assistance Command in Vietnam. Taking the assignment could cost Teague his career and might well trigger a major war-within-the-war in the jungles of the Mekong Delta.

With the support of a charismatic young female Buddhist leader, Thi Xam, the operation grows and spreads. Its success triggers an explosive conflict between the CIA-backed Buddhists and Saigon’s Special Forces, who are supported by the American military command led by Colonel Stennride, As the stakes rise, so does the body count.

OTHER NOTABLE BOOKS BY RICHTER WATKINS

Find Richter Watkins’s complete works on his website.

 
 

Drone by M. L. Buchman

A C-130 Hercules transport plane lies shattered in the heart of America’s top secret military airbase—Groom Lake in the Nevada Test and Training Range.

China’s newest stealth J-31 jet fighter goes missing.

A supersonic drone flies Black Ops missions from the most secure hangar in the nation.

The CIA, the military, and the National Reconnaissance Office are all locked in a power struggle.

One woman is trapped in the middle. Miranda Chase, lead crash investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, becomes a pawn in a very dangerous game.

Burdened with a new team, she must connect the pieces to stay alive. And she must do it before the wreckage of her past crashes down upon her.

The Big Thrill caught up to globetrotting author M. L. Buchman to get some insight into his latest Miranda Chase NTSB thriller, DRONE:
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The Legendary Wolf by Ammar Habib

Men die. Legends don’t…

Decades ago, Grayson Wolf locked away the demons inside him. Once a legendary assassin named after Mors, the Roman embodiment of death, Grayson is now a shadow of the man he was before. He suffers every waking hour, haunted by his past as he begs for death to end his torment.

However, Grayson is pulled back into the shadowy world of espionage when an old comrade shows up at his front door with a young girl he is trying to rescue from sinister men. Suddenly hunted by an army of deadly mercenaries, Grayson is left with no choice but to protect the girl. But deep inside, something happens. He finds a light in the darkness, a light he thought was dead. The demons Grayson chained up—the legendary Mors—will be unleashed. And anyone standing in his way will have hell to pay.

The Big Thrill caught up to award-winning author Ammar Habib to find out more about his latest thriller, THE LEGENDARY WOLF:
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Pride & Extreme Prejudice by Eric J. Gates

By David Healey

When you’re interviewing a thriller writer who is an expert on cybersecurity and computers in general, it’s a bit embarrassing if the microphone doesn’t work on your Skype account.

There’s author Eric J. Gates on the other end of the video, on the other side of the Atlantic, patiently holding up a notebook page on which he has scrawled, “No sound.”

Like any good thriller writer used to wrestling with the intricacies of plot, Gates is every bit the patient problem solver, and soon the interview goes on in real time.

“There you are,” he says in his mellifluous British accent, sounding delighted. “We have sound!”

As the British might say: Keep calm and interview on.

It’s interesting that for his newest book, PRIDE & EXTREME PREJUDICE, this British writer focuses on the FBI and an American cast of characters. He explains that a long international career has helped inform these plots and characters.

The new book is actually a novella comprised of two interlinked stories that feature characters from Gates’s previous books. In the first story, FBI Senior Special Agent Thompson has been on the trail of an assassin known as the Lion for many years. With retirement on the horizon, Thompson seeks to finally settle the score but finds himself outwitted at every turn.
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The Presence of Evil by J. T. Patten

By Dan Levy

Write what you know. The adage is likely as old as writing itself. But when you read a J. T. Patten spy thriller, you can rest assured he’s writing what he knows. His credentials are too long to list here, but check them out at www.JTPattenBooks.com. In fact, Patten’s first series, Safe Havens, combined both what and who Patten knows.

According to Patten, “It was written for an audience of soldiers who were deployed at the time to the Middle East. Traditional publishing thought it could be too dark for readers, and I was asked to write a new series that was a little more commercial, which is how Task Force Orange (TFO) emerged.”

THE PRESENCE OF EVIL is the second in the TFO series, which released on August 20, 2019.

The Big Thrill recently caught up with Patten to talk about his writing and this new spy thriller.
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Gods & Snipers by David Healey

Autumn 1944. With the Allies giving chase across France, German forces are in full retreat after the defeat at the Falaise Gap. In the confusion of the fast-moving situation, small squads find themselves on their own or cobbled together from other units, with whichever officer has the highest rank taking command. These units have one goal in mind, which is to move closer to Germany. It’s bad enough that troops on both sides find themselves short on fuel and ammunition. Their path is also blocked by physical obstacles such as the Moselle River. Now, two of these orphaned squads—one American unit, one German—find themselves in a small French village with a bridge across that river. Both sides want possession of the ancient bridge across the Moselle, and the result will be an epic showdown that pits general against general, and sniper against sniper.

Author David Healey stopped by The Big Thrill for a quick interview about his latest thriller, GODS & SNIPERS:
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Rules of War by Matthew Betley 

By Austin S. Camacho

If you’re the kind of thriller fan who craves gripping, nonstop military action, you’ll want to grab a copy of RULES OF WAR, the latest novel from Matthew Betley.

This novel kicks off with a bang—the Vice President of the United States is missing; the director of the National Security Agency has been assassinated; and there’s a mysterious organization that’s been orchestrating global instability, but it appears to be falling apart.

RULES OF WAR follows hard on the heels of its predecessor, Field of Valor. The protagonist of that novel, Logan West, continues his mission to bring the traitorous VP to justice, while dealing with the aforementioned mysterious group that’s still trying to make a powerful but deadly attempt to regain power.

Logan West is a fascinating character, one you’d probably like if you met him at a cocktail party. But he wouldn’t be standing at the bar with a drink in his hand—he’s been sober since he emerged from a blackout in Overwatch, the first book in this exciting series. And he’s less sarcastic and abrasive than his friend and right-hand man, John Quick.

“He’s a little more reserved and thoughtful,” Betley says, “unless you upset him. And since he has model good looks and captivating, deep green eyes, I’m pretty sure those of the female persuasion would be instantly attracted to him.”
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Into the Ashes by Lee Murray

No longer content to rumble in anger, the great mountain warriors of New Zealand’s central plateau, the Kāhui Tupua, are preparing again for battle. At least, that’s how the Māori elders tell it. The nation’s leaders scoff at the danger. That is, until the ground opens and all hell breaks loose. The armed forces are hastily deployed; NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his section are tasked with evacuating civilians and tourists from Tongariro National Park. It is too little, too late. With earthquakes coming thick and fast and the mountains spewing rock and ash, McKenna and his men are cut off. Their only hope of rescuing the stranded civilians is to find another route out, but a busload of prison evacuees has other ideas. And, deep beneath the earth’s crust, other forces are stirring.

A stand-alone sequel to award-winning military thriller Into the Mist, INTO THE ASHES is the latest must-read title in Murray’s Taine McKenna adventure series. The Big Thrill caught up with author Lee Murray to gain some insight into his latest thriller:
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Treason by Rick Campbell

A military coup in Russia leads to a swift invasion of former Soviet territories—while the US has been rendered powerless to respond—in this classic military technothriller.

In Russia, the military is anxious to assert its military strength and regain its role as a superpower. The Russian President refuses to greenlight a bold plan to disable American strategic nuclear capability and retake the Ukraine and the Baltic States, fearing the potential consequences of involving nuclear weapons. But the generals won’t have it and at their first opportunity, they overthrow the president in a military coup. Then they use a narrow window to initiate their bold plan—the Zolotov option—which will render all of America’s B2 bombers and ballistic missiles useless. With the US off the board, they swiftly invade the Ukraine with an overwhelming force, an invading army that even NATO can’t hope to resist.

The Big Thrill spent some time with bestselling author Rick Campbell to discuss his latest military thriller, TREASON:
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An Evil Among Us by J. E. Holling

By Dan Levy

Writers tend to stick to the type of writing they know. It’s rare when a successful poet also becomes a playwright, or the creator of award-winning radio spots pens a screenplay that makes it onto the big screen.

Even more rare is the engineer who spends a career writing aeronautical technical reports and then gets a thriller published. And then another. Unless, of course, you’re J. E. Holling—whose second novel, AN EVIL AMONG US, released in early March.

“I had no formal education with respect to writing,” Holling says. “Over the course of my education, I took English and composition and wrote book reports in grade school. Then, I took more comprehensive writing when I was in the higher grades.”

Holling says that over the course of his career, he learned to value the importance of clear communication. That helped him with his fiction writing, but still, the shift was a challenge.

“(Technical writing) helped in the sense of establishing structure,” he says. “If you’re going to put technical detail in a story—or a technical report—it has to be structured right. That helped me come up with the overall structure of the novel. The one thing that technical writing did not help me with, or prepare me for, was writing dialogue. There is no dialogue in a technical report.”
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The Rigel Affair by L. M. Hedrick

Abandoned by his part-Cherokee Ma, Charlie Kincaid escapes servitude with his uncle. He jumps a boxcar, accompanied by his schoolmate, Roxy, who is escaping troubles of her own. Charlie becomes a US Navy diver.

Mattie Blanc is from a genteel New Zealand family. But when her brother’s friend persuades her to take a ride, it all goes horribly wrong. Desperate, she flees her family’s stifling expectations for a new life in Auckland.

After the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, Charlie sets sail for Auckland aboard the USS Rigel. And there she is, the girl of his dreams. Mattie is everything that Roxy isn’t—sophisticated, tender, and patient. But the war intervenes… Rigel embarks for the Pacific war zones.

Charlie’s letters are sporadic. Mattie is tormented by doubts; did he truly love her, or was it only a dream?

Author L. M. Hedrick answered a few questions for The Big Thrill about her new military and historical thriller, THE RIGEL AFFAIR:
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Into the Sounds by Lee Murray

On leave, and out of his head with boredom, NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna joins biologist Jules Asher on a Conservation Department deer culling expedition to New Zealand’s southernmost national park, where soaring peaks give way to valleys gouged from clay and rock, and icy rivers bleed into watery canyons too deep to fathom. Despite covering an area the size of the Serengeti, only eighteen people live in the isolated region, so it’s a surprise when the hunters stumble on the nation’s Tūrehu tribe, becoming some of only a handful to ever encounter the elusive ghost people. But a band of mercenaries saw them first, and, hell-bent on exploiting the tribe’s survivors, they’re prepared to kill anyone who gets in their way. A soldier, McKenna is duty-bound to protect all New Zealanders, but after centuries of persecution, will the Tūrehu allow him to help them? Besides, there is something else lurking in the sounds, and it has its own agenda. When the waters clear, will anyone be allowed to leave?

Award-winning author Lee Murray met up with The Big Thrill to discuss her latest thriller, INTO THE SOUNDS:
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Recon by David McCaleb

The assault on America begins with an attack on Red Harmon’s family . . .

Trained to endure extreme danger and survive impossible odds, elite military operator Red Harmon has battled our nation’s enemies for years. While in the Rocky Mountains for R&R, his family is violently attacked by an international squad of assassins. No ordinary wet-team, this group is only the vanguard of a power play threatening national security.

Danger is everywhere . . .

Red and his young daughter escape a brutal firefight, but are separated from his wife. Evading though the woodlands, stripped of his unit’s support, Red puts his survival skills to the test all the way from Pikes Peak National Forest to Israel’s West Bank. He must defend his country, protect his family, and identify the unthinkable forces that are willing to slaughter anyone in their path.

International bestselling author David McCaleb sat down with The Big Thrill to discuss the latest installment in his Red Ops series, RECON:
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Ashes of Victory by Joe Weber and R. J. Pineiro

By Austin S. Camacho

The 1980s and 90s were filled with nail-biting military novels that offered alarming scenarios and were also frighteningly accurate. If you think “they don’t write them like that anymore,” you haven’t read ASHES OF VICTORY by Joe Weber and R. J. Pineiro.

In this novel the unthinkable has happened. The United States is under attack from the air and sea. After thousands of deaths, the U.S. military’s ability to respond is crippled. The key figure dealing with this crisis is the fictional president, Cord Macklin. He knows that he must do something different than his predecessors to win this war of terror—and the authors have created a man who is qualified to take the battle to the enemy.

“Macklin is an Air Force Academy graduate,” Weber says. “He has given and suffered violence while flying F-105 Thunder Chiefs in the skies of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war—and has the scars to prove it, earned a lifetime ago, along with a Silver Star and a Purple Heart. After getting shot down once, he spent three harrowing days rushing through the jungle with the Vietcong relentlessly hunting him like a dog.”

Despite the history, Macklin doesn’t see himself as a hero, but rather as a veteran with much empathy for all military personnel, present and past.

The best way to highlight a hero’s worth is to pit him against a worthy opponent. In this book that role is filled by aging General Deng Xiangsui of the People’s Republic of China. Much of his motivation is fueled by his old grudge against America for its historical intervention in what he believes is the rightful reunification of the renegade island of Taiwan with mainland China.
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Without Fear by Col. David Hunt & R. J. Pineiro

Col. David Hunt and R. J. Pineiro have teamed up for another action-packed thriller steeped in authenticity: WITHOUT FEAR, the much awaited prequel to WITHOUT MERCY.

Southern Afghanistan, 2005. NATO forces are battling the Taliban across Kandahar Province. In a terrifying twist, the rebels unearth a tactical nuclear bomb lost in the final days of the Soviet occupation. The years buried in the sand have damaged it, so the Taliban seeks the help of al Qaeda to secure replacement parts through its contacts in Saudi Arabia, the Opium Cartel, and the Russian Mafia. Doing so, however, inadvertently alerts the Americans, the Russians, and the Israelis.

Hunter Stark and his team of CIA contractors are on the chase, dispensing explosive waves of violence to track where the Taliban is hiding the weapon. But Russian Spetsnaz and Israeli Mossad operatives are also in the region following their own agendas–as is NATO–triggering chaos and confusion.

The stakes skyrocket when a courier delivers the components and the weapon becomes functional, forcing Stark to drive full throttle, without fear, into a world of terror, going beyond duty and honor to prevent the unthinkable.

Col. David Hunt & R. J. Pineiro took time out of their busy schedules to discuss their military thriller, WITHOUT FEAR, with The Big Thrill:
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Thirst of Steel by Ronie Kendig

By Don Helin

Dismantled centuries ago, the sword of Goliath is still rumored to thirst for the blood of its enemies.

Cole “Tox” Russell wants only to put the dangers of his past behind him and begin a new life with Haven Cortes. But the deadly Arrow & Flame Order intends to reassemble and use the sword of Goliath. Tox, Ram Khalon, and the Wraith team must neutralize the sword and destroy the AFO—or join them in the flames.

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than 20 titles. She grew up an army brat, and now she and her army-veteran husband live a short train ride from New York City with their children and retired military working dog.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Kendig the other day and ask her a few questions for The Big Thrill.

What do your hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers see that friendships are the mortar that cements life, even for those who are immersed in the protection of a country or city. And the roles they take on have risks and costs—nobody walks away unaffected, whether out in the field or at home.
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Sentimental Journey by Paul Sinor

Max Maxwell is working on a stalking case involving the unhappily married lady he has been seeing when he gets a call from an old army buddy, Bill Hart, who is now running an off-the-books intelligence operation in Washington, D.C. Bill asks Max to help out with a situation involving another of his associates. All Max has to do it pick up a sailboat and get it across the Puget Sound to Seattle. He wasn’t told that Bill’s associate was working undercover and had been murdered on the boat or that the Canadian Intelligence Service, a Korean smuggling ring with a deadly mission and a double agent, was involved. This will be a Sentimental Journey Max will never forget-if he even survives.

Novelist and screenwriter Paul Sinor spent some time discussing his latest thriller, SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, with The Big Thrill:
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SEAL Team Six: Hunt the Viper by Ralph Pezzullo and Don Mann

This timely military thriller finds SEAL Team Six and their humanitarian allies confronting a notorious ISIS general, the Viper, during his occupation of Aleppo, Syria.

Despite the efforts of the Assad government and its Russian and Turkish allies, Syria is succumbing to the Islamic State. While Crocker and his SEAL Team Six comrades try to help a small Kurdish border town organize a resistance army, he finds an unexpected connection with Severine, a French epidemiologist working for Doctors Without Borders.

As Severine and her colleagues establish a makeshift hospital in besieged Aleppo, Crocker counsels caution. He knows too well that their NGO status will be no protection from the Viper, a notoriously vicious ISIS general with a deeply personal hatred of the West. When the Viper’s men kidnap one of Severine’s American colleagues, Crocker will pull every string at his disposal to launch a rescue mission. But in a situation where the US has no official business, he’ll push every boundary of how far he’s willing to go–and how far his SEAL brothers in arms will follow him–to save innocent lives.

The Big Thrill caught up to New York Times bestselling author Ralph Pezzullo to discuss his latest thriller, SEAL TEAM SIX: HUNT THE VIPER:
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The Soul of a Thief by Steven Hartov

In the spring of 1944, I realized that I was not going to survive the war…

Shtefan Brandt, young adjutant to Colonel Erich Himmel of the Waffen SS, has made it through the war so far in spite of his commander’s habit of bringing his staff into combat, and a pair of secrets that are far more dangerous. Shtefan is a Mischling, one of the thousands of partial Jews who have avoided the death camps by concealing themselves in the ranks of the German Army. And he is in love with Gabrielle Belmont, the colonel’s French mistress. Either of those facts could soon mean his end, except that his master has other concerns. Colonel Himmel can see the war’s end on the horizon and knows he will not be on the winning side, so he has taken matters into his own hands, hatching a plot to escape Europe. To fund his new life, he plans to steal a fortune from the encroaching Allies. A fortune which Shtefan, in turn, plans to steal from him….

New York Times bestselling author Steven Hartov met with The Big Thrill to discuss his latest thriller, THE SOUL OF A THIEF:
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Long Walk Home by Don Helin

To Colonel Zack Kelly, a trip to New York City is more than an opportunity to bond with his daughter, Laura.  It’s a chance to find out once and for all what happened to his father, an NYPD cop shot and killed by drug dealers, then branded a dirty cop some thirty years before.  Someone doesn’t want Zack to learn the truth of his father’s past.  When he arrives to talk to one of his father’s partners, he finds the man assaulted and on the floor of his apartment.  Zack suspects the corruption his father was investigating may reach as high as the New York City Police Commissioner.  Or maybe even higher?

Laura Kelly is caught up in an hijacking aboard the Staten Island Ferry.  Meanwhile Zack’s partner, Lieutenant Colonel Rene Garcia, uncovers a plot by a group of ex-military called the Forgotten Warriors to take over the Alamo in San Antonio.  Zack suspects these two events are connected and to find the solution, he’ll have to take the longest walk of his life.  And it may not even lead him home.

Don Helin took time out from his busy writing schedule to discuss LONG WALK HOME  with The Big Thrill.
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Sins of the Fathers by Joseph Badal

By Austin S. Camacho

If you like your thrillers to be complex, stimulating, and tension-filled, with heroes you love and villains you hate, your next read should be SINS OF THE FATHERS by Joseph Badal.

The sixth installment of the Danforth Saga kicks off with the kidnapping of Michael and Robbie Danforth, the son and grandson of veteran CIA operative Bob Danforth. The abductions lead to terrorist attacks and Special Ops campaigns in the United States, Mexico, Greece, Turkey, and Syria.

Badal writes big stories, but with very human characters. “Bob and [his wife] Liz are American patriots and are portrayed as everyday heroes,” he says. “But they are, unlike protagonists in many other thrillers, the antithesis of superheroes.”

The senior Danforths are kind and loving people—until you threaten their loved ones or their country. And there are threats aplenty in this epic tale of political intrigue that ensnares three generations of the Danforth clan. Multi-generational stories, while fairly common in romance and fantasy, are rare in thrillers, but Badal cites a practical reason for expanding his cast: Bob and Liz are now in their seventies, so the focus of SINS OF THE FATHERS is more on their son, Michael, and teenage grandson, Robbie.

“I felt the Danforths were characters who would have an enduring impact on readers,” Badal says. “But thrillers need lots of action and I came to the point where Bob and Liz were too old to provide all of it. That’s the reason I slowly brought along their son and grandson.”

Considering the series’ roots, it’s not surprising that family bonds have emerged as a dominant theme. Prior to a four-decade career in the financial services industry, Badal was a decorated U.S. Army officer whose deployments included stints in Greece and Vietnam. The Danforth Saga evolved from the author’s real-life experiences, including the kidnapping of his two-and-a-half-year-old son in Greece—an event that inspired the 2011 series-starter Evil Deeds. It all grew from there. The ongoing saga involves CIA and military operations, plus terrorist sleeper cells and drug cartels. One reason the action seems so real is that Badal has the background knowledge to bring it to life. Besides his military experience, he tries to visit every country that plays a role in his novels.
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Protocol by Kathleen Valenti

Freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley embarks on a career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. As a pharmaceutical researcher, she’s determined to save lives from the shelter of her lab. But on her very first day she’s pulled into a world of uncertainty. Reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.

With help from her best friend, Maggie discovers the victims on her phone are connected to each other and her new employer. She soon unearths a treacherous plot that threatens her mission—and her life. Maggie must unlock deadly secrets to stop horrific abuses of power before death comes calling for her.

The Big Thrill caught up with author Kathleen Valenti to discuss her novel, PROTOCOL:
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Into a Dark Frontier by John Mangan

In the near future, Africa collapses into an enormous failed state, leaving the continent lawless and severely depopulated. For most, the breakdown brings horror, but for others—the outcast, the desperate, the criminal, and the insane—it allows unparalleled opportunity: a new frontier of danger and unlimited possibility.

In America, ex-Navy SEAL Slade Crawford, emotionally crippled after twenty years of front-line combat, the dissolution of his marriage, and the accidental death of his son, is falsely accused of terrorism. Slade flees to Africa to build a new life and escape his past, but he is captured by an enigmatic American colonel, Gary Kraven, and blackmailed into tracking down a blood cult that is rampaging across the sub-Sahara. Struggling to stay alive and to free himself from Kraven’s grasp, Slade pursues the cult across the lawless African frontier. He soon learns that nothing is as it seems and that he is standing at the epicenter of a global struggle that will determine the course of history. Slade must decide whether to fight for his life or his honor—he can’t have both.

Lt. Col (R) John Mangan, author of INTO A DARK FRONTIER, spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing his latest novel:
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Reload by David McCaleb

By Don Helin

Red Harmon, a military operator, discovers that the threats against his life and that of his family are part of a complex plot of espionage and currency counterfeiting that links North Korea, China, and a mole within the CIA. He and his team are inserted into the snow-covered ravines of North Korea, where they destroy an intelligence data warehouse. Caught in a brutal catch-22, he must decide between protecting U.S. national interests—and killing his wife.

At the same time, torn between loyalty to state and family, a disenchanted North Korean prison guard reluctantly cooperates with Red’s team, providing them transport while also struggling to keep his daughter and sister alive in the crossfire.

A Chinese electrical engineer fosters a bitter grudge against the communist government and cooperates with the CIA to bring simultaneous strikes upon China’s own intelligence data warehouses, but at a brutal cost.

Three personalities, three points of view, melded into a single mission and plot.

I had the opportunity to catch up with McCaleb and ask him some questions for The Big Thrill:
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Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig

When You Stare Into the Abyss It Also Stares Into You.

Six months after stopping a deadly plague, Cole “Tox” Russell and his team are enjoying a little rest. That peace is short-lived when a sniper shot hits Tox. The enemy is discovered to be one of their own, a rogue Special Forces team operator.

Alec King is perhaps the only person as skilled as Tox, and he’s out for justice. Furious with orders that got his men killed, he intends to make those responsible pay. And he insists Tox join him, believing they are the same breed of soldier.

Afraid his old friend is right, Tox battles a growing darkness within himself as he and his team engage in another deadly encounter with antiquity. It appears Alec is cheating—he’s using a mysterious artifact, a crown that history has linked to some of the worst slaughters in humanity. Racing to stop Alec before his vengeance is unleashed, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one.

CROWN OF SOULS author Ronie Kendig took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss her latest novel with The Big Thrill:
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The Last Good Man by Linda Nagata

Scarred by war, in pursuit of truth: Army veteran True Brighton left the service when the development of robotic helicopters made her training as a pilot obsolete. Now she works at Requisite Operations, a private military company established by friend and former Special Ops soldier, Lincoln Han. ReqOp has embraced the new technologies. Robotics, big data, and artificial intelligence are all tools used to augment the skills of veteran warfighters-for-hire. But the tragedy of war is still measured in human casualties, and when True makes a chance discovery during a rescue mission, old wounds are ripped open. She’s left questioning what she knows of the past, and resolves to pursue the truth, whatever the cost.

The Big Thrill caught up with author Linda Nagata to discuss her military thriller, THE LAST GOOD MAN:
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Dangerous Ground by David M. Salkin

When the United States realizes that Brunei is building an island right next to the wreck-site of a missing U.S. bomber carrying nuclear weapons, THE TEAM must be dispatched to help recover the nukes. THE TEAM, the CIA’s most effective tool to combat terrorism, is made up of SEALs, Force recon Marines and CIA black-ops agents. With their unique blend of talents, they can take on any enemy, anywhere on the globe.

Disguised as oilmen working a semi-submersible oil platform, THE TEAM finds themselves facing Chinese military patrols, ISIS terrorists and a dangerous nuclear bomb recovery in six-hundred feet of water, while their boss at home, CIA Director Wallace Holstrum, is charged with a crime that could end his career and land him in jail—unless his agents can help figure out who’s really behind the nasty allegations.

In typical Salkin style, THE TEAM will keep you up past bedtime as you race to the heart-pounding end of DANGEROUS GROUND. The Big Thrill had the opportunity to discuss David M. Salkin’s latest book in THE TEAM series:
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