Book Review The Earl

The following 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 in the right side bar.The Earl by Katharine Ashe is a historical novel filled with adventure, mystery, and sprinkled with romance. She is a professor of History who has strong heroines that learn from and teach the men who love them. This book is the conclusion of the Falcon Club series and the second book in the Devil Duke series.

51EzGoDEYvL._SX308_BO1,204,203,200_All her stories are compelling and through the character’s eyes, emotions, and conflicts, readers can learn about the historical context. The banter of barbs, bickering, and debating allows them to begin to understand the other’s passion and point of view. The identity of her heroine, Lady Justice, is Emily Anne Vale, while Peregrine is Colin Gray, the Earl of Egremoor. They are constantly trading correspondence and debating over the column written about women’s issues, specifically a woman’s marital status.

After Colin agrees to help her find her sister, who has disappeared, they are thrown together. He imposes one condition; they find out each other’s true identity. At the meeting place, Colin admits he is Peregrine and believes Lady Justice to be a man and insults her by demanding to see her master, the real Lady Justice. His assumptions are based on the fact that Lady Justice’s identity was never revealed. Because of her deep disappointment that the man she once knew as a childhood friend could so blatantly dispel that a woman was capable of accomplishments, Emily refused to reveal herself.

The mystery begins in Scotland. It is here they trace her sister’s presence and are accused of killing a local man’s wife. It seems a man who resembles Colin and someone dressed up as a woman resembling Emily are robbing travelers. When they are mistaken for outlaws, they have to flee for their lives. Readers take this adventurous journey with the characters as they try to prove their innocence.

Emily is independent, a recluse, bookish, strong-willed, and at times self-righteous, while Colin is honorable, determined, witty, and chauvinistic. A quote in the book shows how he feels entrapped, “It was thought they were on opposite sides of a tightly locked door. She stood firmly and proudly on the outside… while he was inside the room, suffocating.” It is as if he wishes he could be like Emily, comfortable in her own skin, but instead was pressured by his father to be someone he is not. Ashe noted to blackfive.net, “They’ve each built up ideas of who the other is. I wanted to show that not all heroes have to be John Wayne. The men important to me are intelligent, sensitive, and emotional. Over the course of this journey they must tear these notions apart. In the beginning they each believe they know the truth about the other, but by the end they realize they’ve only been partially correct.”

Ashe says the scenes of physical intimacy are an integral part of the characters’ story. “In the early 1800s, women of the privileged class were protected from male sexuality. But Emily acknowledges it and tries to come to terms with the double standard in which men are expected to experience their sexuality while women are not. As far as I am concerned if the sex does not have meaning that alters the relationship, for the good or the ill, it should not be in the novel. Physical intimacy must be a meaningful communication. When Emily makes sexual advances she is a woman on the front edge of feminism during this era.”

Readers will have to wait for the next book, The Duke, to find out what becomes of Colin and Emily’s relationship. Ashe explained, “I intentionally left it open ended. I want Emily to maintain her legal autonomy, and if she married she would lose it entirely. Yet, unless they marry, their children would not be able to inherit Colin’s title or property. Ultimately, it’s clear in The Duke, which also answers the mystery of why the Duke of Loch Irvine does not want his secrets exposed, and whether he is indeed the devil society believes him to be.”

This page turner has people unraveling the mysteries of why has Emily’s sister disappeared, will Colin discover Lady Justice’s true identity, and will they be found innocent of the crimes accused of? The novel is full of the contradictions men and women often face and struggle with surrounding the issue of equality.


Book Review No Man's Land by David Baldacci

The following 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 in the right side bar.

No Man’s Land by David Baldacci on the surface seems like a science fiction story. But this thriller featuring US Army criminal investigator John Puller has a very plausible theme with a compelling and action-packed plot.

He always seems to give a shout out to the military. He noted to blackfive.net, “My dad was in the Navy, and I have a lot of friends in the military and police. I think those in the military and police are very special people, which is why I wrote this book quote about Puller a former combat veteran and now a CID investigator, sprinting ‘toward, not away from, the violence.’ I have tremendous respect for them. It is an incredibly difficult job under the best of circumstances and far more complicated than people realize. We need to hold these people up and encourage them to serve in these professions.”

The storyline has two men combating demons they experienced thirty years ago. Seemingly unrelated, Baldacci does a great job intertwining the two characters. Puller ‘s mother disappeared thirty years ago and now CID investigators are accusing his father of possibly murdering her. Aided by his brother Robert, an Air Force major, and Veronica Knox, who works for a shadowy U.S. intelligence organization, Puller begins a journey that will take him back into his own past, to find the truth about his mother. Simultaneously, Paul Rodgers begins his own journey after getting paroled from jail. He was basically a guinea pig in an experiment to make a “super soldier.” His body was altered so that he wouldn’t fear physical pain, his brain was changed so that he wouldn’t feel guilt over killing, and he was changed to become a fighting machine. Regretting being turned into a “monster,” he seeks out the two people responsible for his plight to make them pay for ruining his life.

Discussing the storyline Baldacci saw “The super soldier theme is not all fiction, since they have worked on it for a long time. A lot of what I spoke about in the book is something they have been or are currently working on, including brain implants, and making soldiers able to heal themselves on the battlefield. I think one of their long-range goals is to make our fighting force more effective. I know this sounds very H. G. Wells, but it is the way the world works. I wanted to attack this from the human side, and the dark side of it all. At some point this has to be tested on real people. Their goal is to make the soldier more efficient, more combat ready, stronger, and with greater endurance. A lot of this can only happen with technology. Is it a dark or sweet part? General Robert E. Lee said. ‘It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow too fond of it.’ We don’t want to possibly change a person to being non-human. I am not saying to stop the projects, but we must be skeptical and ask the necessary questions about modifying soldiers. We must be aware that technology and humanism sometimes collide.”

Beyond this riveting and heart-wrenching story Baldacci explores many issues, including dementia, human experiments, and conspiracy theories. He has a knack for having the reader hate some of the characters in the beginning, only to root and care for them by the ending.

Baldacci stated, “I think about how the brain defines personality, who someone is, and how they react to others. When modified, changed, and pierced by artificial means the outcome is very scary. Putting something together that is supposedly perfect is only in the eyes of the beholder. It’s their definition of what is perfect. Let’s not forget Hitler’s desire to create the perfect Aryan race. But I also wrote in this book about how Puller’s father is suffering from dementia, and he felt how he basically lost him. It destroys people from within.”

No Man’s Land is an edge of your seat thriller. Readers will be hooked from page one. Besides the tension edged plot, the thought provoking themes will allow people to question how far military experiments should go. 51dgMqBoSTL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_


Clinton Pay For Play By Brett R. Smith

The following 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 in the right side bar.

Before the Clinton Foundation Bill and Hillary perfected the politics of personal profit. It is incredible how the Justice Department along with mainstream media refused to investigate how businesses and foreign governments made the Clintons rich while gaining influence. Peter Schweizer in his book, Clinton Cash, exposed the Clintons and their devious ways. He enlisted the help of Brett R. Smith to write a graphic novel on the subject and just recently made an animated information ad about the Clinton’s Quid Pro Quo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7rNaI7P3dc) and her re-set with Russia.

Brett noted, the first chapter in the graphic novel is called ‘The Lincoln Bedroom Goes Global.’ This was a dry run for the Clintons. People, like myself, who are part of Generation X, should be reminded of the type of stuff you get from the Clintons. It is a refresher course on how they operate.”

For those who do not remember, the Clintons, during their Presidency, allowed Democratic donors to stay in the Lincoln bedroom of the White House as a reward. The records showed a total of 938 individuals stayed over at the White House between 1993 and 1996. Of them, 821 spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Bill Clinton wrote: "Ready to start overnights right away-give me the top 10 list back, along with the 100." So he and the First Lady used “Pay For Play,” back in 1994. They probably forgot that the White House was not their house, but the American people.

Fast-forward to when Clinton was Secretary of State and her desire to have a “re-set with Russia.” Brett is very frustrated that Donald Trump did not bring up the Russian re-set during the debate with Hillary Clinton. “It is amazing to me that after she called him ‘Putin’s puppet’ he did not bring this up. The Clinton Foundation does business with horrible autocrats that have atrocious human rights records. She speaks of this game of being a paragon of liberal virtue yet; she takes money from businesses like Coca-Cola and Dow Chemical. I like to say if they did not have a double standard they would have no standard.”

He made the info ad (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_I8JdPOmJo) to allow Millennials to get a glimpse of what the Clintons are about, including the re-set with Russia.  In 2010, a Russian company was allowed to buy the business Uranium One.  This was after the new chairman donated two million dollars to the Clinton Foundation, which was never reported, and Bill Clinton was also paid $500,000 for a Moscow speech.  In October, the sale was approved.  Ultimately, 20% of U.S. uranium was basically transferred to the Russian government.  Then secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, could have vetoed it but chose not to. 

Brett agrees that there is no transparency. He believes, “It is the Lefts’ Red Scare. The mainstream media is focusing on Trump’s supposed connection to Putin and the Russians. Yet, nobody wants to focus on the fact that Hillary Clinton has already done business with the Russians, and the worst kind of business. 55% of the people that visited her at the State Department were donors. If she becomes President and achieves all that power I expect this “Pay for Play” to ramp up. This is about power and influence. We made the new ads to get the truth out there so voters can make the best decision they can.”

Before voting, Americans need to consider how the Clintons operate. The Lincoln bedroom scandal and now the Clinton Foundation has shown that they are willing to have government agencies as part of there own Foundation donors and to lie about it. CLINCASH-Lincoln Bedroom copy CLINCASHRussia copy


Book Review Moral Defense by Marcia Clark

The following 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 in the right side bar.

Moral Defense by Marcia Clark brings back defense attorney Samantha (Sam) Brinkman. This second novel of the series is as riveting and suspenseful as the first, Blood Defense. What makes these novels by Clark unique is that within gripping crimes she allows the readers to gain a glimpse of the inner workings of the judicial system.

In this book there are four sub-plots. Samantha promises her dad, LAPD Detective Dale Pearson, to investigate the allegations of excessive force by his peer, Detective Kevin Hausch; the Oroczo family, gang members who expect Samantha to find who secretly arranged for Arturo to be killed; and DeShawn Johnson who needs her help in getting some drug dealers off his back. But these all take a backseat to the main plot, where an adoptive girl, Cassie Sonnenberg kills her mother, father, and brother. Tiegan Donner, Cassie’s teacher and counselor, begs Sam to be her representive. After deciding to become her advocate Sam must sift through the many accounts, including the possibility of abuse by her brother and father. Because of her own past demons Sam finds this case touches some very personal memories. She must find out for herself if Cassie is innocent or guilty and come up with a defense.

What makes these books interesting is how Clark interjects into the storyline her legal background, allowing for realism. People unaware of what happens behind the scenes of the judicial system are able to learn about it.

She noted to blackfive.net, “This is the biggest question mark; how to work with a client who committed a hideous crime. From the defense point of view you are requiring the prosecution to have the burden of proof. There are checks and balances we need to have a fair system of justice. A lot of times it’s getting a fair conviction. Sometimes the prosecution can over file a case or overcharge the defendant. The goal is to make the punishment fit the crime.”

Clark finds a way to have justice prevail, even with hardcore clients. An example of this was her culpability in the killing of a dangerous client who was sent to prison. Samantha is not a clear-cut heroine. She is scarred, tough, intelligent, and capable of morally dubious behavior with a private code of justice.

She wants people to understand “it is usually the defense attorney endangered by these clients. As a prosecutor for ten years before the Simpson trial I was very aware of the tensions between the minorities and LAPD. Because cell phones were not prevalent people did not hear about it. Now they show it and show it, and it becomes public within seconds. But cops are frustrated because people will only speak to them anonymously so cases can never get proven.”

She further stated, “Gang injunction. This makes it hard for them to move around the community. Cops have an easier time yanking them up and throwing them in jail. They start to move out of the neighborhoods because it is too hard to do business. Because they had been terrorizing the neighborhoods this is one way to deal with them, especially since kids realize they cannot survive unless they join the gang. It is like a cancer that hits the community.”

In Moral Defense Marcia Clark has many twists and turns, including an ending that will shock the reader. There are surprises at every corner. Anyone who enjoys legal thrillers should read this book. 61kFWQ9h08L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review Israel by Daniel Gordis

The following 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 in the right side bar.

Daniel Gordis in his book Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn speaks of the founding of Israel as “a fairy tale. Israel is a story of a homeless people that kept a dream alive, of a people’s redemption from the edge of the abyss, of a nation forging a future when none seemed possible.” While he recounts its history, readers begin to understand that Israel has become a blending of democracy and tradition with far more prosperity than anyone expected from it.

He stated to blackfive.net, “I wanted to show of the many countries that were created in the twentieth century, Israel is one of the very few that was founded as a democracy that has remained democratic. This would be impressive in its own right, but it is even more astonishing when we consider the fact that the vast majority of Jews who immigrated to Israel, from Russia, Arab countries, etc, came from countries without a democratic tradition. There was this unwavering determination of Israel’s founding generation to be part of the Western world.”

The book opens with a quote by Mark Twain that summarizes Anti-Semitism throughout the centuries. What Gordis does well is show how Israel sprang from the effort to ensure the safety and flourishing of the Jewish people. It appears that Anti-Semitism in Europe is never ending. In the late 1800s Theodore Herzl came up with the idea of a Jewish state to shelter the Jewish people from the European abhorrence. This hatred culminated in the Holocaust. Fast-forward to today where Jews are once again fleeing Europe. Gordis noted, “In 2016, about 70 years after the end of the Holocaust, the world is much less changed than we had hoped. And Israel is the only country in the world that as a matter of law guarantees Jews on the run both refuge and citizenship. The State of Israel was created first and foremost to ensure the safety and flourishing of the Jewish people.”

But what role has American Jews played over the years? Many were ambivalent about supporting a Jewish state. Gordis explains, “American Jews feared that if they supported the idea of a Jewish state they would be accused of having dual loyalties.”

A further wedge in the relationship between Israel and American Jews occurred with the capture of Adolf Eichmann who was the Nazi in charge of the death camps. Gordis told blackfive.net that it was David Ben-Gurion, the father of modern Israel, who best summarized the conflict, “Now I see it argued, by Jews among others, that Israel is legally entitled to try Eichmann but ethically should not do so because Eichmann’s crime, in its enormity, was against humanity and the conscience of humanity rather than against Jews as such. Only a Jew with an inferiority complex could say that; only one who does not realize that a Jew is a human being.”

Gordis recounts how American college students are conflicted over the issue with Palestinians. “American Jews often appear paralyzed, ostrich-like, intimidated, or otherwise ill-equipped to make Israel’s case beyond simple clichés. Some American students asked, aren’t Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, to blame for the conflict? I asked if they knew what year the occupation started, or the circumstances in which it did. I figured we should quickly review the history, which is one reason I wrote the book.”

Gordis shows how Israel has battled the odds for decades. He feels that a quote from the book after the Six Day War can apply today. “The Jewish state had more than survived. Betrayed by the French, put off by the Americans, and rattled by the Russians, Israelis had been left entirely on their own. Gone are the days when Jews would cower in fear. Israel has triumphed over boycotts, attacks, threats, invasions, and isolation. People should be in awe of what has been accomplished, becoming a cultural, economic, and military powerhouse.” 51Lsc0BkMjL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Helping DefendUSA

Long-time readers will remember DefendUSA from our comments section.  DefendUSA is Army Veteran Denise Amundson, and I regret to have to inform all of you that her husband, Army Veteran Martin Amundson, passed away very unexpectedly on 30 October.  Martin was active in a number of efforts to help other veterans, and freely gave to help those in need.  

A GoFundMe effort is underway to help Denise and their children.  Please help as you can.  For those in the Raleigh area, Rey's Restaurant is hosting a celebration of Martin's life Saturday 5 November from 1100-1400.  Please keep them all in your thoughts and prayers.  


Book Review Broken Trust by W.E.B. Griffin and William Butterworth IV

The following 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 in the right side bar.

Broken Trust by W.E.B. Griffin and his son William E. Butterworth IV has many relevant themes intertwined within an action packed plot. This Badge Of Honor Series offers a lot of insight into the lives and challenges of the police. With officers being threatened all across this country this book is a very welcome read.

The plot begins when Philadelphia Homicide Sergeant Matt Payne sees a shootout while off duty. Known as “Wyatt Earp of the Main Line,” he becomes actively involved even though he is recuperating from a serious gunshot wound. He finds that there is a link between the shootout and a young socialite, Camilla Rose Morgan. When she supposedly falls to her death Matt’s investigation ratchets up. Did she jump, fall, or was pushed? The more Matt digs, the more complications he discovers including that Camilla suffered from bi-polar disorder. He is determined to find the answers even though the Philadelphia political elite wants to throw him under the bus.

All of these series written give a shout-out to so many who put their lives on the line, those in the clandestine series, the military, and the police. William noted to blackfive.net, “All these groups are sworn to protect and serve. I told dad that he was one of the first writers, in the early 1980s, to come out with a positive story on the military after the Vietnam War. I think the Brotherhood Of War series was so successful, because finally people who deserved to be written about bought these books. Likewise when he started the Badge Of Honor series about the police. He even spoke to the Philadelphia police force to tell them how much they are respected. We write about good and decent people doing an honorable job.”

A very potent scene in the book shows how the Philadelphia Mayor, Jerry Carlucci, wants to railroad Matt for political expediency. When asked, William told of a real scenario that made a lasting impression on him. “In Chicago a policewoman was horribly beaten and when asked why she did not shoot the perpetrator her reply, ‘I did not want to be the one in the next Black Lives video.’ They no longer go on instinct but feel they must think through their actions. Unfortunately, I do not see it getting better anytime soon.”

They even did a shout-out to the wounded warriors. He recounts after “My dad and I visited Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio. We had, Amanda, Matt’s Fiancé, decide to go there for a few months to do an emergency medicine residency program. This is one of the premier places that handle burn and trauma as a result of the wars and the IEDs. My dad and I wanted to write about what we experienced when we went there: the incredible inner strength, determination, and perseverance of the patients. We were taken back by their attitude, ‘the harder it gets; the tougher we get.’ After all they’ve been through they still would do anything to get back to serving with their brothers and sisters in uniform. It is awe-inspiring and humbling.”

Readers also get a word of warning after a cell phone rings with an “unknown” number and the person does not leave a message. How many people have had that happen to them? The author has his own rule about this, “if I do not recognize a number, I do not answer it. I will only call back if someone leaves a message. If you answer it you set yourself up for possible robo calls. Once, I got an unrecognizable number where a message was actually left saying ‘This is the IRS and you are not in compliance with your taxes. You must call this number.’ I decided to play it out. After I called I got a male with a foreign accent. I asked for proof that they were the IRS. After going back and forth I hung up. So many people would call them and have their credit cards sucked dry. It is important to understand nothing is as it appears anymore. You cannot take anything at face value.”

Broken Trust is very realistic. Unfortunately this fiction parallels what is happening today. It is a very action-packed and suspenseful, but also allows readers to get a glimpse of those in the police.

61LG-NEcgVL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn

The following 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 in the right side bar.

Ever since Theodore Herzl had the vision to re-establish a Jewish State, Israel became a prominent player on the world stage. To put it in perspective, this country is one-tenth the size of the state of Texas and has a population one-third of Texas. Yet, it plays a far more central role in world affairs than its tiny size might normally dictates. A book recently published explores Israel’s history, and how it succeeded in the face of insurmountable odds.

Daniel Gordis in his book Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn speaks of the founding of Israel as “a fairy tale. Israel is a story of a homeless people that kept a dream alive, of a people’s redemption from the edge of the abyss, of a nation forging a future when none seemed possible.” While he recounts its history, readers begin to understand that Israel has become a blending of democracy and tradition with far more prosperity than anyone expected from it.

He stated to blackfive.net, “I wanted to show of the many countries that were created in the twentieth century, Israel is one of the very few that was founded as a democracy that has remained democratic. This would be impressive in its own right, but it is even more astonishing when we consider the fact that the vast majority of Jews who immigrated to Israel, from Russia, Arab countries, etc, came from countries without a democratic tradition. There was this unwavering determination of Israel’s founding generation to be part of the Western world.”

The book opens with a quote by Mark Twain that summarizes Anti-Semitism throughout the centuries. What Gordis does well is show how Israel sprang from the effort to ensure the safety and flourishing of the Jewish people. It appears that Anti-Semitism in Europe is never ending. In the late 1800s Theodore Herzl came up with the idea of a Jewish state to shelter the Jewish people from the European abhorrence. This hatred culminated in the Holocaust. Fast-forward to today where Jews are once again fleeing Europe. Gordis noted, “In 2016, about 70 years after the end of the Holocaust, the world is much less changed than we had hoped. And Israel is the only country in the world that as a matter of law guarantees Jews on the run both refuge and citizenship. The State of Israel was created first and foremost to ensure the safety and flourishing of the Jewish people.”

But what role has American Jews played over the years? Many were ambivalent about supporting a Jewish state. Gordis explains, “American Jews feared that if they supported the idea of a Jewish state they would be accused of having dual loyalties.”

A further wedge in the relationship between Israel and American Jews occurred with the capture of Adolf Eichmann who was the Nazi in charge of the death camps. Gordis told American Thinker that it was David Ben-Gurion, the father of modern Israel, who best summarized the conflict, “Now I see it argued, by Jews among others, that Israel is legally entitled to try Eichmann but ethically should not do so because Eichmann’s crime, in its enormity, was against humanity and the conscience of humanity rather than against Jews as such. Only a Jew with an inferiority complex could say that; only one who does not realize that a Jew is a human being.”

Gordis recounts how American college students are conflicted over the issue with Palestinians. “American Jews often appear paralyzed, ostrich-like, intimidated, or otherwise ill-equipped to make Israel’s case beyond simple clichés. Some American students asked, aren’t Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands, to blame for the conflict? I asked if they knew what year the occupation started, or the circumstances in which it did. I figured we should quickly review the history, which is one reason I wrote the book.”

Gordis shows how Israel has battled the odds for decades. He feels that a quote from the book after the Six Day War can apply today. “The Jewish state had more than survived. Betrayed by the French, put off by the Americans, and rattled by the Russians, Israelis had been left entirely on their own. Gone are the days when Jews would cower in fear. Israel has triumphed over boycotts, attacks, threats, invasions, and isolation. People should be in awe of what has been accomplished, becoming a cultural, economic, and military powerhouse.” 51Lsc0BkMjL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review Without Mercy by Jefferson Bass

The following 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 in the right side bar.

Without Mercy is from the writing team of Jon Jefferson and Dr. Bill Bass. Jefferson is the writer and Dr. Bass is the forensic anthropologist and creator of the Body Farm.

Jon Jefferson noted to blackfive.net, “Brockton is a cheerier protagonist than those in most crime novels. I drew directly from my collaborator, Dr. Bill Bass. He does not solve crimes, but is also a researcher and a scientist. He advanced the state of forensic science. We want people to enjoy the plots but also learn from every book about bone detection. We try to instruct and delight.”

The two plots have Dr. Bill Brockton investigating a bizarre murder, while confronting a deadly enemy. Called to a remote mountainside he finds a ravaged set of skeletal remains chained to a tree. This shocking case reveals a hate crime where the person was eaten by a bear after having bear bait spread over them. The other plot brings back serial killer Nick Satterfield who wants to make Brockton suffer. Fans of the series should recognize Satterfield from the novel, Cut To The Bone. In that book Satterfield blames Dr. Bill for ruining his career. After Brockton comes forward about a woman strangled, Satterfield received a dishonorable discharge. Feeling it is personal he seeks revenge. Brockton must solve the hate crime, while handling the dangers to himself and his family.

Unfortunately the authors go off on a tangent, which distracts from this suspenseful murder mystery. They insert their own political agenda into the storyline. Readers will feel they are being hit over the head with the feelings and opinions of the authors, something completely unnecessary. During a few scenes they seemed to have moved away from what made these books stand out: the interplay of academic anthropology, collaboration between the FBI, TBI, and local law enforcement, and the relationships between the characters.

The movie The Revenant also plays a role in this book. When asked why, Jefferson commented, “We had already started writing the book when the movie came out. Since it talks about the Arikara Indians, I thought ‘how perfect.’ Bill Bass spent thirteen summers early in his career excavating the Arikara Indian burial grounds out of the Great Plains in South Dakota. The book and movie had two parallels, a bear attack and the Indians.”

The book also has Brockton’s long time assistant, Miranda Lovelady, preparing to depart for a possible job at the FBI. Jefferson believes “everything is up for grabs. It is possible this is the last book in the series. It is also possible Miranda will be spun off in her own series working for the FBI. I do have a friend working as a forensic anthropologist there. She said she would let me borrow from her life. But first I must finish my own thriller with new characters and new settings out next year.”

Without Mercy was riveting enough and there was no need for the authors to inject their personal agenda. Because it is an interesting storyline if the transgressions are too much, skip them.

51hxYksR1aL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review Drone Threat by Mike Maden

The following 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 in the right side bar.

Drone Threat by Mike Maden is not just a thriller, but a thought provoking book. The theme is so realistic it is ripped from the headlines, questioning the use and danger of drones. Within an action packed plot readers will be confronted with the use of drones in war and civilian life.

Former CIA Special Forces operative Troy Pearce returns. Now the CEO for Pearce Systems, a leader in Drone technology, he is asked by the President to head Drone Command, a new covert department that runs on black ops funding with little oversight. Almost simultaneously with Pearce taking command, a series of drone attacks are carried out on American soil: a subway train in Washington DC, an airport in Texas, and water contamination in California. The most serious attack was a drone landing on the White House lawn demanding President Lane hang the ISIS black flag over the White House or suffer the coming consequences. With American lives at stake and an economy in a downward spiral, Pearce and his team must find a way to expose the terrorists and take them out before it’s too late. 

Maden told blackfive.net he wanted this theme to be a warning, “Technology is getting better and better, cheaper and cheaper. They are amazing devices, but are only as good or evil as the people that have them. One of the reasons why I wrote Drone Threat was to highlight the fact that commercial off the shelf hobby store drones can also be deadly. The primary advantages of the lower tech, smaller payload civilian systems is that they are easy to acquire, operate, and difficult to locate because of their size. These highly capable and yet inexpensive systems are begging to be weaponized. About two weeks ago this happened when ISIS converted a small cheap commercial model by fitting an improvised explosive device that injured two French paratroopers and killed two Kurdish soldiers. We should expect more of these kinds of attacks including here in America.”

Beyond the theme of drones Maden also explores the psyche of Pearce, a heroic American warrior, and the horrific mistreatment of women by ISIS. Through these issues the former President Margaret Myers is interjected into the plot. She does not have much of an active role in this book except to be the supportive mate of Pearce, since they are now in the early stages of a relationship.

Pearce is suffering from traumatic brain injury from his days in combat. He has anger issues, nightmares, and at times wants to withdraw from the world. Maden wanted to acknowledge those US warriors “who serve in combat and pay a big price for that. I reflected their wounds in Troy. The human body does not take numerous blows to the skull without taking a toll. Although Troy is a fictional character he represents on some level the brave men and women on the front lines fighting the war on terror.”

Something that gets very little play in the mainstream press is the treatment of women and how ISIS captures girls that they force to become sex slaves, selling them to the Saudis. There are some scenes, which are very descriptive and saddening regarding the abuse and how no one seems willing to help. A book quote, “A dozen women sat cowering on the floor, their faces covered by hijabs. But their downcast eyes told all, dazed and red with tears. Some were even blackened.”

In all of his books Maden always shows the political maneuvering and through Pearce’s eyes readers see why many politicians should be distrusted. In this book he confronts the issue of lobbyists and the power they can yield. Pearce’s disgust comes through in his thoughts, “Washington’s famous revolving door between government service and the lobbying agencies made him sick to his stomach. More than a hundred formerly registered lobbyists now served on congressional staffs...Worse, more than four hundred former Congressmen and Senators were now highly paid lobbyists.” What Maden hopes to show is that these lobbyists are more concerned with their own pockets than American Security. “There is no accountability or penalty. How can we regulate out of corruption? Politicians who leave office can leverage their Congressional relationships and influence into multimillion-dollar second careers.”

  61r-YDuGqOL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Drone Threat exposes the dangers of drone technology as well as politicians. With a plot filled with action, intrigue, and political maneuvering, it is a very powerful read.