Exclusive Interview with Frederick Forsyth - Author of "The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue"

The following author interview is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780399176074_p0_v2_s192x300The Outsider by Frederick Forsyth is a memoir and not an autobiography. It is series of recollections and not a chronological narration. Although this book reads more like a thriller, readers get a glimpse of those events and personalities Forsyth has come in contact with that he based some of the stories upon. Unfortunately, this will be his last book because he has decided to put his pen out to pasture.

Elise Cooper:  Why did you decide to write a memoir at this time?

Frederick Forsyth:  I had nothing to do so I decided to write a collection of anecdotes. 

EC:  You are proud of your journalistic career.  What did you see as your style?

FF:  I consider myself a journalistic writer, keeping to the facts and making sure they are accurate.  I do not write much emotional stuff or fancy language.  My books were all contemporary current affairs based on what I had seen. Hell, I made mistakes and have done so many things I chose to write about them, or maybe not.

EC: Why do you think a journalist needs the qualities of detachment, curiosity, and skepticism?

FF:  A journalist should never join the Establishment, no matter how tempting the blandishments.  It is our job to hold power to account, not join it.  In a world that increasingly obsesses over the gods of power, money, and fame, a journalist and a writer must remain detached, like a bird on a rail, watching, noting, probing, commenting, but never joining.  In short, an outsider. I believe a journalist’s job is to check out something and write about it, but not get at all involved.  We live in an age where they want to be a part of the Establishment, running with the herd, and a member of the Brotherhood.  Instead, they should hold those they are covering to the account. They should never interject their opinions.

EC: You covered the actual assassination attempts of France’s President Charles de Gaulle.  Is the story the Day of the Jackal factual?

FF:  Yes, except for the actual character, the Jackal.  I included all the police methods and the French security service operations. It is a twin hunt story where the Jackal is hunting the President and the police are searching for him. But there is no similarity between my affair and the Jackal’s.  I had an affair with the East German defense minister’s mistress.  She was a cougar, about twenty years my senior.  I remember her singing this song to me and one day I found out she was a Nazi singing one of their songs.  I thought it amusing that she was doing it with me, a part of the race that conquered her.

EC:  You also included humor in the book.  What was one of the most humorous?

FF: I wanted to interview Ezer Weizman, the first commander of the Israeli Air Force.  I thought he was going to take us in a limo to Tel Aviv, but he actually meant to fly us there.  As he was describing to me the first dogfight he was in during the War for Independence he took his hands off the controls, which I grabbed.  I got a history lesson and a flying lesson all at once.

EC:  Who is one of the people you interviewed you most admired?

FF: David Ben-Gurion. I consider him the founding father of Israel and one of the greatest men I have ever met.  I was allotted twenty minutes, but we actually spoke for three hours.  He described the creation of Israel in a step-by-step manner.  As we talked I thought how he was a walking history lesson.  I could have filled ten notebooks, but I just sat and listened to someone who had seen it all.

EC:  What will you do in retirment?

FF:  This was the last book.  I consider it a postscript.  I hope I am going out on top.  For now I will enjoy my life by walking the dog, playing with the grandkids, and having, in the evening, a glass of wine by the fireplace.



Book Review - "The Promise" by Robert Crais

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780425298756_p0_v1_s192x300The Promise by Robert Crais is a thrilling mystery.  Fans will enjoy the pairing of the well-written characters he has brought to the page including Elvis Cole, Joe Pike, Scott James, Maggie the German Shepherd, and Jon Stone. The storyline is realistic and action packed, making for an enjoyable novel.

The author stated to, “I saw potential for all three to come together as a group, although Elvis is the featured character. I consider myself their daddy and its all a big playground for me.  I wanted to find a really good believable reason for them to cross paths and did not want it to appear contrived.  Once the notion of explosives found in Echo Park came to me I knew I could bring everything together.  Remember Maggie was an explosive detection dog in the Marines.  After that it was having fun with the scenes.” 

The format of the book has each chapter told from the perspective of a different character.  This allows readers to get into the minds and thoughts of the various personalities.  For those Americans frustrated with the current policies of political correctness and at times having the terrorists appear as sympathetic figures the plot is a welcome alternative.  Its main focus is a grieving mother, Amy Breslyn, who searches for retribution after losing her son, a journalist, in a suicide bomber attack in Nigeria.  Being a chemical engineer allows her the capability to get revenge on the terrorists. Elvis Cole is secretly hired to find her, but his investigation leads to more questions than answers.  He stumbles into a police raid of a house where someone is murdered and a huge amount of explosives have been found.  Being at the wrong place at the wrong time he becomes a person of interest.  Meanwhile the killer targets LAPD dog handler Scott James and his dog Maggie because they are the only ones who can identify him. 

Crais stated, “When I started writing in the late 1980s the subject matter of The Promise was not even on the drawing board.  The impact of terrorism on all of us from ISIS to Al Qaeda has us dealing with certified crazy people.  Through my character Amy Breslyn I can release my anger.  Here is this woman who loses her son, a non-combatant, by a lunatic, a suicide bomber. We all carry Amy’s anger and frustration about what is happening. I hope readers can share and feel what Amy has gone through.”

But more than anything this is a story of commitment, loyalty, and partner devotion.  There are multiple teams at play.  The plot becomes increasingly interesting as the teams cross over and intermingle appearing at times to be an army unit.  But the partners of Scott and Maggie will pull at reader’s heartstrings since they are comrades in arms.  Both have lost their partners, had traumatic injuries, and have nightmares about their experiences.  They also have PTSD and are helping each other heal.  There is a strong bond between them. 

Maggie, the German Shepherd K-9, stole the show by often showing more sense and intuition than her human counterparts. What any dog owner will enjoy is the fact that Robert Crais narrated parts of this story through Maggie's eyes, presenting a humanistic interpretation of her words and thoughts. Crais also writes believable scenes between Maggie and her handler Scott.  It becomes obvious he has done his homework, allowing readers to understand that handlers need to trust their partner’s instincts and not to influence them through some subconscious changes in body language, tone, and movement.

The Promise has compelling characters that enhance the plot.  Anyone wanting an action packed story that is embedded in realism should read this book.  But a word of warning, have the time because readers will not want to put it down.

Book Review - "The Guilty" by David Baldacci

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar.

9781455586424_p0_v1_s192x300The Guilty by David Baldacci sees the return of Will Robie and his partner Jessica Reel. Baldacci is able to create realistic plots, allows the reader to understand the essence of a CIA operative/sniper, and has characters that are sympathetic as well as admirable. In this latest installment Robie’s backstory is explored and is brilliantly intertwined within an action-packed plot.

The plot begins, as Robie, a black ops CIA sniper, is unable to complete his assignment and pull the trigger. Given an opportunity to straighten his head he must confront his painful past that includes a strained relationship with his father. Having left just after high school Will has not returned for over twenty years.  He has regrets about his relationship with his father and having left behind the girl he wanted to marry. As he tries to understand his current feelings, Will must come to grips with his emotional reaction to hearing his father has been arrested for murder in the Gulf Coast town of Cantrell, Mississippi.  The setting fits in perfectly, creating an atmosphere of a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. After returning he and Jessica Reel are confronted by a serial killer who does not want him to get answers regarding his father’s murder charge. 

Unlike Frederick Forsyth’s famous assassin, The Jackal, Baldacci’s assassins, Robie and Reel, are caring and have a conscious.  But throughout the first part of the book it becomes obvious that there are times when snipers must kill for the common good.  Powerful quotes illustrates this point, “Like Hitler before him, he had the extraordinary ability to whip his followers into a frenzy of such devotion that they would commit any atrocity he ordered… But ‘to kill’ was different that ‘to murder.’”

Baldacci noted to, “Since I made Will’s profession as an assassin it became quite a challenge to have people root for him and not against him.  Will has humanity and does not just act as a robot.  He does not kill purely for pay, but believes in what he is doing.  He takes a life for the greater good and to protect society. We should appreciate that it is necessary for these professionals to work in anonymity.  It means no one ever hears about what was done unless something goes bad. I did a lot of research, spending some time with the Rangers in Fort Benning, Ga.  While on the sniper range I fired just about every weapon out there.  I saw that optics is their whole world.  At one point my target was 1800 meters away.  At that range weather, wind, topography, patience, and fatigue become factors.” 

Yet, the most potent parts of the book involve relationships.  Robie and Reel have professional and personal trust between them that includes respect.  This becomes evident when she tells Will, “You’ve got me, Robie.  And I’ve got you.  And while we might fall sometimes, together, well, together we are unbeatable.” This is the complete opposite of his relationship with his father.  Their interactions are tense, defiant, and full of anger.  Will is accused by his dad of forsaking his past and family, which is why Will’s father treats him as an outsider.

The author hopes readers get out of the book that “challenges from the past, which are never confronted and resolved, will affect your present life.  Most of us have that going on in our lives.  An issue can come back to haunt you at a future time.  I like writing characters that have an emotional or physical challenge that can either make them stronger or weaker.” 

The author also gave a heads up about his next few books.  Out in April will be a sequel to Memory Man, featuring Amos Decker. The plot involves the world of football, where Amos tackles a case about a man falsely imprisoned for life.  In the fall he will bring back John Puller, the military CID investigator. 

The Guilty explores how decisions made in the past can impact someone’s present life.  Through an action packed plot that has many twists and turns readers are able to understand the dynamics of relationships and the realities of what a CIA operative/sniper must go through professionally and emotionally.

Book Review - "Along the Infinite Sea" by Beatriz Williams

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar.

9780399171314_p0_v1_s192x300Along the Infinite Sea by Beatriz Williams is a riveting historical novel. Within the background of early Nazi Germany the book delves into how someone’s fame, fortune, and forbidden passion can influence relationships. The story alternates between the late 1930s and mid 1960s, with the flashback narration revealing a mystery of regret and intrigue.  The author manages to keep readers guessing until the very end of the book as to what actually happens.

Two women alternated narrating the story, Pepper in the 1960s and Annabelle in the 1930s. The plot of this novel begins as Pepper Schuyler is selling a restored Mercedes she found in her sister Tiny’s in-laws Cape Cod shed.  She decides to sell this Roadster to fund her impending new life as a single mother-to-be.  The buyer turns out to be the car’s original owner, Annabelle, who used it to escape Nazi Germany with her lover, husband, and children.  Because she sees a lot of herself in Pepper, Annabelle takes her under her wing, helping her survive.  Both are strong beautiful women whose lives are full of secrets.

Williams commented to she found the idea for the car in “an article I came across a few years ago about a vintage automobile, a rare 1936 Mercedes 540K Special Roadster.  It had been discovered in a shed at an inn.  A German baroness had driven this extraordinary car around Europe before WWII began.  She had various affairs including one with a Jewish gentleman. She eventually fled to America with her Mercedes.  After being fully restored the car was sold at auction in 2012 for nearly $12 million.  I decided to make up a story about the car and the third Schuyler sister, Pepper.  This 1936 German car was the perfect springboard into the world of the early Nazis. Remember the female protagonist Annabelle is the grand daughter of a Hardcastle so she spent a lot of time at the Cape Cod summer cottage, where the car was hidden. Since it was so distinctive the family wanted to make sure the Nazi regime did not know General Von Kleist escaped, because he knew a lot about the Third Reich plans.”

People will be swept away with the all too real events, issues, and characters. Three of the main characters represented the viewpoints of those living under the auspices of the Nazi Party that culminated in Kristallnacht, an organized government pogrom against the Jews. The Jewish protagonist Stefan Silverman understood what was happening and was conflicted about putting public duty ahead of his own desires.  His soul mate, Annabelle de’Creouville, recognized the bigotry of the Germans, as evidenced when she moved back to Paris, but was naïve regarding the brutality.  A very powerful quote hammers the point home as Stefan tells Annabelle; “You do not understand a thing, Annabelle. The Germans want to destroy us.  I mean obliterate.  I mean they want us blistered from the face of the earth.”

Williams loved writing about Stefan because she considered him a flawed hero whose family “represented the Jews who influenced the German culture at the turn of the century.  All of this wonderful creative production was coming out of the Jewish cultural legacy. The rest of the population in the 1930s betrayed Stefan’s family.  He understood this and was very clear sighted about what was happening in Germany to the Jews.”

But the most compelling and engaging storyline was the backstory of Annabelle during the 1930s. Williams sets her in a world that is rapidly falling apart.  She is faced with threats, struggles, and heartbreaks having to choose between the love of her life Stefan and the man she eventually marries for security, General Von Kleist.  This book emphasizes how people are presented with choices in their life.  Stefan must chose between public duty and his own inclinations towards Annabelle; she must choose between loyalty to her husband/children and her own innocence of wanting a perfect world where she and Stefan could live happily ever after; the General must chose between his loyalty to his country and his loyalty to his wife and children; and Pepper must make the choice of keeping the baby or giving it up for adoption.

Along the Infinite Sea is one of those special books where readers will not want the story to end.  Williams does an amazing job of developing the characters and dual timelines set in Paris, Germany, and America.  The human relationships are integrated into a riveting story that plays out in the backdrop of historical drama.

New Website Launches on Veterans Day for Veteran Authors

The outlook on life from the perspective of someone who’s comfortable with violence and death makes a book not just a book, but a seminar on what it means to be human.” -Kelly Crigger, President of Graybeard Books, powered by Graybeard Books, will go live today, on Veterans Day. The company is dedicated to giving U.S. military veterans and their spouses an outlet to share their stories and get their works seen by more people than they could have reached on their own.
<...> will provide an website for readers who want to find a book by a veteran, an outlet for authors who want to write their book, and a blogging platform for veteran writers. But beyond providing these services to veterans and customers, BooksbyVeterans and its parent company, Graybeard Books, strive to help veterans navigate the publishing world, which can be daunting. Besides the traditional publishing houses, platforms like Createspace, Nook, Kindle, Lulu, iBooks, and Smashwords offer authors a self-publishing outlet that can be confusing. Every author has the difficult task of figuring out which platform is right for them and how to use it to their advantage...

Go here to read the press release or just go here and visit the site -

Book Review - Veterans' Day Edition - "Extreme Ownership - How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win" by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9781250067050_p0_v2_s192x300Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, two retired Navy SEALs’ recently published book, Extreme Ownership, demonstrates how they used their leadership abilities in the battle of Ramadi, Iraq and then applied them to non-military situations.

Many veterans today share the same feelings as Babin regarding the current Commander-in-Chief. They are dismayed by his lack of leadership and how he has no coherent strategy on how to defeat America’s enemies. A quote from the book hammers this point home, “Some of the politicians and most senior military brass in Washington felt that killing bad guys only created more enemies. But they didn’t have a clue… Each enemy fighter killed meant more US Soldiers and Marines came home alive.”

Comparing President Obama to President Kennedy, Babin emphasized that Kennedy was leadership tested, having been a veteran, versus someone who never served. “Kennedy never backed down and was not pushed around. He understood what was needed to support those serving. I look back on the battle of Ramadi fought in 2006 and remember all the American blood spilled to take it back. It is now a travesty that the black flag of ISIS is flying over this city, which was because of the complete troop withdrawal. However, I am hopeful that by untying the troops hands and letting them fight can turn it around. ISIS is not twenty feet tall. If we were committed to eliminating them it would only be a four to six month problem.”

Because he feels the current administration makes decisions based on immediate political gain and not on long-term strategy Babin feels there is a lack of decentralized command, which he talks about in the book. He points to the first US solider killed in action in Iraq since 2011. “Why wouldn’t they use the words ‘killed in combat?’ Its clearly combat and by not referring to it as such is just a political argument of semantics. The reality is we have approximately 3400 boots on the ground right now.”

The book also explains how veterans can apply their combat strategy to their everyday life. Whether business, sports, or personal, those who served can use what they learned: The leader is always responsible. Basically, leaders must always "own" the mistakes and shortcomings of their teams, everyone on the team must believe in the mission, keep plans simple, clear, and concise, and act decisively, even when things are chaotic. 

Babin told, “Take for example a head coach. If he only makes the decisions himself he will not be very effective. Instead he needs to set the vision, give broad guidance to his position coaches, and allow them to execute. In someone’s personal life veterans can apply the concept of listening, probably the most important component in marriage. Finally in business, your company should have a clear set of defined characteristics for team members.”

Extreme Ownership is a riveting, page-turning narrative that not only details the combat leadership lessons learned but also demonstrates how to apply these principles to any area of life.

Book Review - "Drone Command" by Mike Maden

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780399173981_p0_v1_s192x300Drone Command by Mike Maden draws readers into the main character’s world. Troy Pearce, a former CIA operative is now CEO of Pearce Security Systems, a firm that develops drone systems. This book explores the geo-political world between China and Japan, with the US positioning itself in the middle of the conflict.

The plot has China staking a dubious claim in the hotly disputed waters of the East China Sea, with the desire to dominate the region, while the prime minister of Japan threatens to dispatch the country’s naval assets and tear up its antiwar constitution unless the Americans forcefully intervene. Although war-weary, American treaty obligations would draw the US into a fight with the Chinese navy. President David Lane sends former US President Margaret Myers and Troy to decrease tensions and defuse the situation. But they are up against both Chinese and Japanese hawkish politicians, nationalistic fervor, special interests with their own hidden agendas, and a great military threat. The action increases as Myers and Pearce must discover China’s new weapon systems and to demonstrate the US drone capabilities to the Japanese as they hope to avoid war.

It is Maden’s opinion that “China wants to dominate the region and become a global naval power in a similar way we imposed the Monroe Doctrine. They spend three times as much as Russia on defense and have doubled the money spent since 2008 to build a blue water navy. They are attempting to do this through ‘centric missiles,’ which are a lot cheaper than building aircraft carriers and can upend US navy capabilities.”

Troy and Myers are characters that readers wish exist in the real world. These two heroes put country ahead of their career, having a sense of duty. They believed in the Inaugural words of JFK, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” The only part that distracts from the suspenseful plot is the backstory on Troy. It is a bit confusing regarding what is happening and readers long to return to the storyline and the technologies used from the WU-14 Chinese weapon to the various drones.

Current events are used to alert readers to the economic situation. A powerful quote, “China’s trade surplus with the US was on the order of hundreds of billions of dollars annually. China used those billions to buy American CEOs. Nothing mattered more to American executives than profits. They were more than happy to sacrifice American national interests.” Throughout the book he shows how the characters want to wake up Americans to the Chinese practices of unfair regulations, manipulating the Yuan-dollar relationship, cheap Chinese labor, and bad American tax laws.

Maden commented to, “I wonder if Washington DC is acting in the best interests of Americans as a whole. US corporations show no loyalty to American workers because their profits are at the expense of American society and the workers. I hope that with all my books readers question how the US can find security in a highly insecure world, and what role should America play? I discuss this more in my next book where drone terror comes to the US and anti-drone technology comes into play.”


With Drone Command Maden is able to demonstrate that he has done the research regarding drones, and has a clear understanding of the delicate political balance that exists between Japan, China, and the US.

Book Review - "The British Lion" by Tony Schumacher

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780062394590_p0_v2_s192x300The British Lion by Tony Schumacher is the sequel to his first novel, an alternate history where the Nazis actually win World War II, occupy England, and are supported by the US government.

The hero of The Darkest Hour, John Rossett, returns as he helps his Nazi boss save his daughter, who has been kidnapped by American spies. He must find Ruth Hartz, a Jewish scientist imprisoned by the Germans and forced to work on developing an atom bomb, so she can be swapped for the daughter. Rossett battles not only the Nazi occupiers, but also the British Resistance who are from the criminal underworld, as well as some rogue American spies led by Allen Dulles who covertly works to defeat Hitler.

Besides the real-life figure of Dulles, Schumacher incorporates into the story Ambassador to the United Kingdom Joe Kennedy and US President Charles Lindbergh. Both men desire to have a good relationship with Hitler and to start a trade agreement. Although many historical books ignore Kennedy’s and Lindbergh’s anti-Semitism, Schumacher uses it to enhance the plot. Readers will learn the true facts of Lindbergh’s views regarding the Jews, considering them sinister, corrupt, and committed to destroying Christian morality. They also learn that Kennedy looked upon appeasement with Hitler as something positive, especially the economic ties between the two sides.

But the most powerful part of the novel is its theme, what will people morally sacrifice to pay the price for their life? This is brought home by the quote, “We’re part of a machine, John…whatever I think about the machine, how I feel about what it does, it doesn’t matter. If I don’t do what I’m supposed to do…I die.” The author also takes the theme one step further by having readers decide if the person with the clipboard is as responsible or more responsible for the Jewish deaths than the ones who actually did the killings.

The author noted to, “I read about this incident where a sixteen year old shot a policeman in the 1950s. There were these two guys on the rooftop, one pulled the trigger and the other told him to do it. I thought about my book story and wondered about those who ordered people on trains: are they just as guilty as those who actually killed. I think the minute anyone knows what they are doing they are just as responsible. Without the bureaucrat you could not have had the actual killer. I want readers to ask questions and think about the issues.”

Through his brilliant character development readers begin to sympathize with not only Ruth, the Jewish scientist, but with her Nazi collaborator rescuer, John Rossett. Ruth is the only one in the story with complete moralistic integrity, willing to kill herself to make sure the Nazis never get the bomb. Rossett comes across as someone wanting to make amends, to become a better person, since his original job was to displace Jews. Although people will not give this complex and flawed character a full pardon, they find themselves rooting for him as he tries to overcome his sins by fighting subversively against the Nazi regime.

The British Lion reminds readers in many different ways about man’s inhumanity to man. It becomes obvious Schumacher has done his historical research about Nazis, their sympathizers, and the Holocaust, He mixes those facts into a riveting story, creating an alternate history that has readers tremble with the realistic possibilities. This is a must read considering what is happening in the world today.

Book Review - "Blood Red" by Wendy Staub

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link in the far right sidebar.

9780062349736_p0_v2_s192x300Blood Red by Wendy Staub focuses on a small town in the USA, which must come to grips with a serial killer. The book’s setting, Mundy’s Landing, in New York’s Hudson Valley, is presented as a character, the focal point of the story.

The Historical Society memorializes the Sleeping Beauty murders of 1916, and has become legendary throughout the celebrations held every year. The newspaper clippings in each chapter add to the authenticity and offer some background on the town.

Known as a domestic thriller author, Staub skillfully keeps the reader in suspense concerning the identity of the real serial killer. The story takes people into the mind of the murderer and the woman is he stalking that has a sinister secret. By having the killer’s name as Casey and having numerous viable suspects she is able to keep the readers guessing until the very end of the story.

As cleverly as the author sets up the serial killer, some may have problems relating to the main character Rowan, a bad girl turned good. She was not very sympathetic and definitely is irritating.

Staub noted to that she based the town on what happened in Massachusetts where Lizzie Borden murdered her family with an axe.   She was hoping to convey, “How family dynamics can affect an ordinary heroine. The stakes become much higher when a loved one is involved. I wanted to make sure the town’s industry is based on brutal murders. I liked the idea of a town that is popular because something horrible happened where no one knows the truth.”

Blood Red captures the essence of a small town fabric. People will find the action takes place off the page because it is more of a “who done it” type of story. Anyone wanting to get in the mind of a serial killer will enjoy this book.

Book Review - "Host" by Robin Cook

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

9780399172144_p0_v1_s192x300Host by Robin Cook explores medical/biotech ethical issues intertwined with a thrilling storyline. This book mirrors his best-selling 1977 novel Coma that spurred him to be known as the master of medical thrillers. Now over thirty books later this ophthalmologist turned writer expands on the issues of greed and medicine.

The plot begins with Carl Vandermeer, a healthy Millennial, undergoing a routine operation to repair his knee. Yet, something goes terribly wrong with the anesthesia, leaving Carl in a vegetative state with no brain activity. His girlfriend, Lynn Peirce, a fourth-year medical student at South Carolina’s Mason-Dixon University, where Carl’s operation took place, believes something has gone awry. She enlists her good friend, Michael Pender, also a fourth year medical student, to find out why this hospital, and others associated with Sentinel Healthcare, have high rates of unexplained anesthetic complications. This is in addition to patients entering the hospital with one complaint, but leaving with a more serious medical issue. Lynn and Michael must find answers while fighting the shadowy forces that are attempting to thwart their efforts.

Besides getting an action packed story readers learn about the dangers regarding healthcare. The theme of the book explains how both pharmaceutical companies and hospital corporations are basically robbing patients legally. In this case a conspiracy exists between Mason-Dixon University, Shapiro Institute, and Sidereal Pharmaceuticals. A powerful quote shows the pharmaceutical industry’s hypocrisy, “They want people to think their motivation is for the public good when they are, in fact, poster boys for capitalism run amok...The reality is that they spend more money on advertising prescription drugs directly to the pubic than they spend on research.”

Cook commented to, “Once I began medical school, I realized the patient was not the center of things; the doctor and the medical profession were. I thought, 'Someday, I'm going to write about the way it really is.' I became a writer to show the problems with healthcare. I wanted to write about medicine that was closer to the truth. For this book I wanted to point out how the various stockholders are taking advantage of all of us. We are spending way too much on healthcare with very mediocre results. Hospitals are unsafe, just look at the statistics I quote in my book, which are all true. The only people now disenfranchised and out of the system are the patients and doctors. The only way the system can change is the people must demand change, which is where my books come in, as warnings.”

As with all of Cook’s books he lends a level of authenticity by including medical procedures and research. In Host he details with some exaggeration how biologics works. This new product of the pharmaceutical companies is not based on drugs being made with chemicals but with antibodies. Cook explained, “They are derived from mouse cells that have been further altered with great effort to make them invisible to the human immune system. What they are doing in Host would make them all human. The mystery comes in when the hospital conspires to create guinea pigs by putting patients in a vegetarian state. I did not tie everything up in a bow because I want readers to understand how the pharmaceutical companies and hospital corporations are still using patients for their own benefit, both monetarily and for research purposes.”

He also gave a heads up about his next projects. The book will delve into social media and medicine. It takes place in Boston, which means both Lynn and Michael might be returning. Cook is also hoping to make a movie after forming his own production company. He did this because he wants control over his own storyline based on his vision, not the director’s.

Host is a very suspenseful novel that is also a warning to all readers. They begin to understand that those in charge of healthcare have no restrictions and are never transparent. Since healthcare will affect everyone people need to read this informative, action-packed page-turner.