Book Review-Midnight In Berlin by James MacManus

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 in the right side bar.

Midnight In Berlin by James MacManus is a fictional story that takes readers through the harrowing months that ultimately led up to WWII. It is a historical novel with emphasis on the history. With a degree in American history it is evident that the author used his knowledge and research to make a captivating plot.

MacManus noted to, “I did not set out to write a book that would educate or teach moral lessons. Yet, there are lessons to be drawn from what happened in the 1930s, with this period of appeasement fascinating. It is relevant today because it shows how the establishment wanted to remain in power by pushing their misguided agenda while attempting to silence those who disagreed. There was also the West turning a blind eye to the Germans brutalizing the Jews. I hope I got this point across with a quote from the book, ‘For a Jew in Germany there was no future worth waiting for. The future has been cancelled.’ And today in Europe there is renewed Anti-Semitism.”

While the plot does have elements of romance it concentrates on 1939 Berlin and what was going on behind the scenes with regard to diplomacy. This book shows within an intense story how the appeasers caved in to the Nazis. They were weak and naive, choosing to put their blinders on and to get in bed with Hitler and his goons. Real life characters, notably British Prime Minister Sir Neville Chamberlain and the British ambassador to Berlin, Sir Nevile Henderson, never had the courage and boldness later exhibited by Chamberlain’s successor Winston Churchill to stop Hitler’s war machine. The one who recognized the realistic situation was the novel’s main character, Colonel Noel Macrae, based on real life Colonel Mason-Macfarlane who was the British military attaché in Berlin during the critical years 1938 and 1939. Several other historical figures from this period in time are in the novel: Kitty Schmidt owner of the Nazi bordello Kitty, Gestapo Reinhard Heydrich, and journalist William Shirer.

The story appears to be built around the ultimate decision of Macrae, to assassinate Hitler. MacManus commented, “As with the real-life Colonel, Macrae saw what was happening, that appeasement was not working which would make war inevitable. I hope I portrayed him as a tortured man. He tried to convince his own government that Hitler wanted to expand throughout Europe. He chose to stand up and do something to save humanity.”

These figures blend well with the fictional characters. The story showed the sacrifices of those who hoped to stop the war, by sounding the alarm of an approaching conflict. Macrae finds himself trapped between the blind policies of his government and the dark world of betrayal and deception in Berlin both professionally and personally. With his own marriage to Primrose imploding, it becomes apparent their relationship has chilled to the point both look for love elsewhere. The Gestapo, aware of Macrae’s hostility, seeks to compromise him in their infamous brothel. There, Macrae meets and falls in love with Sara, a Jewish woman blackmailed into becoming a Nazi courtesan. She has prostituted herself to keep her jailed twin brother from execution. Through the storyline of Macrae trying to rescue Sara readers will understand the plight of German Jews and the different ways they tried to escape before Hitler closed the border.

Sara was based on a friend of MacManus. “I gave Sara the same last name of my friend. She had told me of her family’s experience in Nazi Germany and how they escaped. The Nazis had the common practice of taking a family member, putting them in a camp, and then using that as blackmail to make the other family members behave. I hope readers realize the moral dilemma: do they save themselves at the expense of their family or sacrifice themselves for their family. Sara was trapped, caged, and desperate.”

MacManus blends politics, murder, corruption, courage, and sacrifice into this storyline. Readers become flies on the wall, spectators to the events leading the world to the brink of war. 513+luxLTjL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

Book Review-Secrets Of Nanreath Hall

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 in the right side bar.

Secrets Of Nanreath is the debut historical novel by Alix Rickloff. This intriguing mystery involves family secrets revolving around the triumphant and tragic lives of a mother and daughter as they search for their identities. Within the backdrop of both World Wars readers will understand the time period and how the wars affected the British population and the class system.

This mother/daughter story is told in alternating chapters. Rickloff shows how one generation’s actions and decisions will affect the other. The mother Katherine, who lives during World War I, leaves her family behind while her daughter Anna, during the Second World War, attempts to return to the family. Lady Katherine Trenowyth grows up with all of the privileges of being the daughter of an Earl. She meets an artist’s assistant, Simon Halliday, who encourages her to follow her dreams of becoming an artist and living with him, the man she loves. With his support she runs away from all she knows. But everything begins to fall apart, and Katherine finds herself destitute and alone. Her daughter Anna, only six, when Katherine dies, is assigned to the military hospital that has set up camp inside her biological mother’s childhood home, Nanreath Hall. As Anna is drawn into her newfound family’s lives and their tangled loyalties, she must decide if the secrets of the past are too dangerous to unearth, and if the family she’s discovered is one she can be a part of.

Rickloff was inspired to write this story by watching the Downtown Abby TV series. “I was looking at the three children that included the fatherless heir who had an over protective mother and the daughter of a scandalous elopement. They intrigued me, especially since they would come of age during the World War. As I started to do the research it became apparent those in Britain would do whatever they could to help the war effort. There was no disconnect between the military and the civilian population.”

Readers will be reminded of the horrors of each World War. Two quotes hammer the point home. Simon on leave from fighting in WWI was described, “I felt his tremors quick and sharp, his breathing labored and rasping hot against my shoulder. Panicked like a wild thing caught and frozen by the hunter’s lamp.” Or Anna’s description of those who fought in WWII, “The men come in caked head to foot in filth. Some are terrified or weeping for their mothers. Others are deathly quiet.” The author reflects not only about the battle worn soldier, but the English civilian population who had to endure as part of their daily routine the German blitz of bombs.

Rickloff noted to, “The everyday German bombings became a normal fragment of life. The population just adjusted. In my research I saw pictures of stores half blown up and said ‘still open.’ I find this fascinating.”

Through Katherine’s bucking of societal norms readers get a glimpse of the difference between the classes. This pampered Earl’s daughter wants to follow her own choices, choosing a daring and uncertain future of becoming an artist, and to marry someone of her choice.

The symbolism of the dual portraits of her shows both of her sides. In the one commissioned by her family she is Lady Katherine, appearing to have turned away from the confining expectations, while the one painted by her lover Simon, shows her wild and independent side.

Katherine’s feelings are expressed in this quote, “I didn’t want to be Lady Katherine, whose fear held her captive. I wanted to be plain Kitty Trenowyth with the courage to fly.” When asked, Rickloff commented, “I do not think of her as rebellious. She did not start out thinking, ‘I am going to turn my life inside out.’ Yet, she wanted to be her own person, not stuffed into a box by circumstance or birth. She wanted to find her own path and did not want to be confined to what everyone expected of her.”

Rickloff gave readers a heads up about her next book, “In essence, it’s sort of a buddy road-trip book set against the backdrop of the WWII British home front. I had a blast writing both Lucy, a socialite, and her twelve year old delinquent sidekick in crime, Bill.”

Turning to writing historical novels, Rickloff allows her characters to face events in the shadow of the World Wars. Secrets Of Nanreath is an enthralling mystery involving family, lies, forgiveness, and loyalty. There is also the added bonus of learning a little about the time periods where readers are able to compare and contrast the events surrounding each World War.

Book Review-Among The Wicked by Linda Castillo

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 in the right side bar.

Among The Wicked by Linda Castillo is the latest in a series of books with a unique premise. It is no wonder this has made the New York Times Bestseller list with glimpses into the Amish life, well-developed characters, and a gripping plot.

Castillo noted to, “My two favorite books are Sworn To Silence, the first book in the series, where Kate Burkholder is born, created, and the setting of Painter’s Mill was conceived. In Among The Wicked, the recent book in the series, I finally wrote what I wanted to do for a long time, to put Kate back in the Amish life. Kate has to go back to this culture where she has many mixed feelings. Both books had winter settings that adds atmosphere. I wanted to write a series where the protagonist is immersed and torn between two cultures that many times clash. I also include some of their belief system. This includes being a pacifist, not behaving in violence, believing in forgiveness, and not wanting to be worldly. They have a strong sense of family and community. They are connected in ways that mainstream American society is not. I write about the unwritten rules of not having a phone in their house, but being able to use a pay phone at the end of their block, or not driving a vehicle, but if they must go a long distance being able to hire a driver. The contrast of old versus new is profound.”

In this book her main character, Police Chief Kate Burkholder, goes undercover as an Amish woman, essentially heading back to her roots. She is forced to confront her past life in a community that isolates itself, and within an unfamiliar environment, upstate New York. Castillo brilliantly portrays Kate’s struggles with her own personal conflicts between her Amish upbringing and her current English life. Called upon by law enforcement in rural New York, because of her Amish roots, she is asked to infiltrate a reclusive Amish settlement to find answers behind a girl’s death. This unorthodox assignment with limited communication puts her in constant danger as she tries to find answers.

Castillo considerers her police contacts “valuable. I went to dinner with a police chief whose territory included Amish country. I’m a graduate of two citizen police academies where I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful officers and learn about what they do in a weekly class. I did ride-alongs in a large metropolitan city with both male and female officers. I participated in a shoot/no shoot scenario. I was given a police issue plugged 45 revolver. I entered this ladies restroom, and saw a man on top of a woman. He clearly had something black in his hand. I fired my weapon and shot him. He had this big grin on his face and held up his police badge. I got razzed for the rest of the course and they never let me live it down. The citizen police academies were an interesting experience and incredibly educational, and allowed me to get in the head of a police officer.”

Readers will feel a deep connection with Kate. Castillo is one of those special writers that draws people into her characters, rooting for the protagonists and seeing pure evil in the antagonists. Kate is compassionate, feisty, intelligent, tough, and devoted to finding justice. With each book the author peels off layers of Kate’s backstory, allowing people to see her flaws and the challenges from her past. She is a kindred spirit with her lover, BCI Detective Tom Tomasetti. Both sought vigilante justice, had secrets, and were not in a good place when the series began. But with this book readers can see how they have bonded with the same personalities and belief systems, as well as hoping for a happy future.

Powerful quotes reflect the real world of the police that are represented in Kate’s attitude. “That when I sink my teeth into a case, I can’t let it go, sometimes to my own detriment… Because I am a cop. Because I’m the best person for the job. Because I am good at what I do. Because she doesn’t have anyone else to speak for her.” And, “Being a good cop, being careful and following the rules isn’t always enough. Cops will get hurt. Sometimes they die. Welcome to law enforcement.”

The author wanted to make sure Kate is comfortable in her role as a female police chief. She commented, “The one place she fits in is that she is a cop through and through. When I was at the police academies it really gave me a new perspective on the dangerous and difficult work police officers face every day and the ability to write these police procedural scenes.”

This series is very realistic as Castillo blends glimpses of the Amish community within an intense and compelling storyline. Readers are drawn into the story and hooked from page one. This is a homerun, as Kate’s own personal conflicts blends into the crime she is trying to solve.

Book Review-Palindrome by E. Z. Rinsky

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 in the right side bar.

Palindrome by E. Z. Rinsky blends a murder mystery with the metaphysical. It asks the question many people have pondered over the ages, is there an afterlife?

Rinsky noted to, “I wanted to write a story I would be interested in reading. I thought about what would be the big mystery I would want to find out about and the big question came to mind, does something happen after you die? Of course, murder can play into this question. I wondered if you did have a concrete answer, would you be able to function or would it destroy you?”

The plot begins with a brutal killing and private eye Frank Lamb being offered, by a family member, a small fortune to find a cassette tape made moments before the victim was killed. After taking the case he enlists the help of his friend, Courtney Lavagnino, a reclusive tracker. Their search leads them into finding more murders and they race against time to find the meaning behind the cassette.

The interaction between Frank and Courtney may remind people of other partner teams: Starsky and Hutch, Flowers and Davenport, or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The author noted these characters “are roughly based on a good friend of mine. He was the jumping off point. There are some elements of me in Frank. The dynamic between these two is how my friend and I converse.”

Palindrome is the first atmospheric, noir mystery from debut author, E. Z. Rinsky. It is a tale of obsession, murder, and the afterlife.

Book Review-The Coaster by Erich Wurster

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 in the right side bar.

The Coaster by Erich Wurster is his introductory novel. He has a lot of commentary on today’s society and how it works including humorous discussions between husband and wife. Unlike some other characters these are not wacky and zany but the humor comes with the funny observations.

The plot has Bob Patterson married to an heiress who makes a hefty salary. But after her father dies of a heart attack his will puts Bob in charge. One company makes a pitch to have Bob’s firm become a partner. After refusing he is blackmailed, has his family threatened, and to protect those he loves becomes engaged in criminal activities.

Wurster commented to, “I write the kind of book I want to read, a story with a regular guy who gets into some kind of trouble. My protagonist does not react heroically all the time. The way he thinks about the world is the way I think. Who hasn’t coasted in life?”

Readers might think of a comical Breaking Bad intertwined with Secrets and Lies.

Book Review - "Tag You're Dead" by J.C. Lane

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 in the right side bar.

9781464206313_p0_v2_s192x300Tag You’re Dead By J.C. Lane, a pen name for Judy Clemens, is a riveting thriller.  She takes the playground game and evolves it to fit into today’s technology-oriented society.  Readers might relate to this as a darker version of the very popular new game, Pokeman Go

This is a game where the stakes could not be any higher, considering the runners’ lives are at risk.  It will play into people’s worst fears since it seems very plausible how someone can be kidnapped and forced to run for their life by some mysterious person in the Internet age.  In this story there are three “runners” and three “its.”  Almost like a cat and mouse game where three are on the run as prey and three are the pursuers on the chase. 

When asked about the plot being open ended Lane commented to, “At this point it’s just a stand alone.  I wanted to write a book in the same mode as The Hunger Games with a life and death scenario.  My husband, a Physical Education teacher was telling me about the type of games his students play, including tag.  I thought how could that game happen in today’s technology world?”

The protagonists are likeable while the antagonists appear to be psychopaths of sort.  The “Its” are Brandy, obsessed with destroying a naturally beautiful girl; Robert, wanting to target his fellow teammate, a superstar of the high school basketball team; and Charles, a brainiac who wants a game with an intellectual equal.  They are vicious and rich people, unsatisfied with their own lives, who need something to feel better about themselves. 

On the other hand, the “runners” have a rich and satisfied life.  Laura, is a sweet, caring teenager who makes friends easily; Tyrese is an all star basketball player who has street smarts; Amanda is a geeky gamer extraordinaire.  With their lives on the line they use their skills to win the game, to reach home base first.  What makes the story interesting is how these three respond to the challenges placed upon them, each in their own way.

Chicago is the setting where the game takes place.  It becomes a secondary character of sorts.  Lane uses the cities landmarks to enhance the story.  The author noted, “I have always loved Chicago. I grew up in northern Indiana, so when our family went to “the city,” it was Chicago, where we visited. I also lived in Evanston for a year while my dad was getting his doctorate at Northwestern University, so I have good memories from that time. A few years ago my husband took me to Chicago to celebrate my birthday, and we stayed at The Palmer House, a National Historical Landmark hotel, went to a play, and attended a recording session of my favorite NPR show, ‘Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.’ The trip was a reminder of how much I love the city, and when the idea for this story came to me, Chicago was automatically the place I wanted it to be set. The characters end up in so many of my favorite places, including the Adler Planetarium, Wrigley Field, and the Art Institute, just to name a few.”

As the story progresses the old cliché applies, money can’t buy you happiness.  This story definitely puts a new spin on the old playground game of tag.  It is the race against time, which will make the reader frantically turn the pages, wanting to find out what happens at the finish line.

Book Reivew - "The Field of Fight" by LTG (ret) Michael Flynn

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 on the right side bar.

9781250106223Two recent books have highlighted the global terrorist dangers. Daniel Silva in his novel The Black Widow underlines the threat of ISIS and how some have underestimated it. Although the book is fictional the story is all too real. Another book, The Field Of Fight, by Lt. General Michael Flynn delves into the world of ISIS.

The Black Widow, besides being an intoxicating thriller, is also a warning for Americans. While reading the book it appears that real life events mesh with fiction.  The undercurrent of reality is front and center as evidenced by the author himself who wrote in the forward, “I take no pride in my prescience.  I only wish that the murderous, millenarian terrorism of the Islamic State lived solely on the pages of this story.”

In his non-fiction book Flynn points out that President Obama will never utter the words Islamic Extremist or Radical Islam.  Flynn comments about the hypocrisy, “The President should clearly and unambiguously define the enemy that we face and the threat to our way if life.  It is radical Islam.  We did it while fighting the enemy of Communism and Nazism.  ISIS is a very determined enemy who wants to establish a global Caliphate.  This political correctness of not naming our enemy is dangerous for the country.  I am confident Americans can take the truth.”

Silva also shows the dangers of ISIS through a riveting plot. It begins with ISIS detonating a massive bomb in the Marais district of Paris. Gabriel Allon, the Israeli Mossad Agent poised to become the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service, is asked by a desperate French government to eliminate the man responsible for the terrible attack. Gabriel and his team get to work and quickly learn that the man behind the attack is a terrorist mastermind who calls himself Saladin. With women all over the world, including the west, joining the ranks of ISIS, Gabriel exploits the terror group’s one weakness by inserting a recruit of his own to infiltrate Saladin’s operation.

Flynn also debunks Democrats and some Republican pundits who say ISIS is being defeated.  They point to the terrorist groups loss of land and that these recent attacks are acts of desperation.  He strongly disagrees with “those people because that is actually false.  We excised them from some village in Iraq like Fallujah, yet they are able to attack the international community in San Bernardino, Orlando, France, Germany, Bangladesh, and Turkey, all of these in recent months.  The reason for this is that the enemy has doubled in size and grown in a global geographic footprint in the last six or so years.”

The blame lies squarely in the hands of the Obama Administration, including Hillary Clinton.  In the book, Flynn gives high marks to President Bush while lambasting President Obama, “He (Bush) realized the war was going badly, that we were losing, and our entire strategy needed to change.  The mere fact that he recognized this and proceeded to make the difficult decisions he eventually made is a leadership characteristic our current president lacks.”

Directly commenting to, “There is no enemy that is unbeatable.  Even though President Bush was at the end of his administration he brought in the fresh leadership of General David Petraeus and Robert Gates.  We were able to reverse the strategy and come up with a new one to win.  Now we are at the end of President Obama’s term; yet, when 99% of President Obama’s advisors told him in to keep 10,000 troops in Iraq to stop the rise of radical terrorism he did not listen. He made a political decision rather than a decision for our national security.  This is a weakness in his leadership style.  His problem is that he refuses to recognize this strategy is not working and the enemy has grown in capacity.”

One of the problems is that the current President wants to be surrounded by yes men.  Flynn recounts in the book how he was fired in 2014 because he went before Congress and spoke of how to keep America safe.  When asked about this, he responded, “I was appointed by President Obama twice, as Assistant Director of National Intelligence and the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.  I never met with the President once; imagine that.  Why not ask to speak with me about our differences of opinion and my suggestions?  To me, this is very disturbing.”

He suspects he was fired because “our agency was very brutally honest about our findings.  I am not, nor have I ever been the type of person that will state what the boss wants to hear.  I am always very blunt and say what I feel, including offering solutions.  I was fired partially due to my honesty about the enemy we are facing, radical Islam.  In complete contrast to the President who called ISIS the JV team, I told Congress they were dangerous and growing.  Intelligence is about truth to power.” 

Although he outlined in the book extensive solutions, he summarized it for, “In order to beat this enemy we need to discredit the ideology.  Muslims need to take a more public international stand.  To do it they will have to be helped, prompted, and pushed by the US, something we are not doing now.  We need to depend on Middle East allies like Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. Finally, something that I have been criticized for is to get Russia involved.  They should assume responsibility and pressure Iran to stop their proxy wars. As I show in the book the ties between the Iranian regime and al Qaeda have been a well-established fact.”

Americans should take solace in knowing that Lt. General Flynn is one of Donald Trump’s top foreign policy advisors.  Obviously, Mr. Trump is not surrounding himself with yes people, but those who would not sit quietly back if he believes a “President” Trump has the wrong strategy. The Flynn book is a warning of how the Obama Administration has not recognized this country is fighting a war, the field of flight. The same is true for the Silva novel, which is not just a fictional thriller, but a believable scenario of events happening today. Both books are incredible reads with brilliant themes.

Book Review - "Little Girl Gone" by Gerry Schmitt

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 on the right sidebar.

9780425281765_p0_v2_s192x300Little Girl Gone by Gerry Schmitt is the first book in her new Afton Tangler series.  This mystery about a baby kidnapping is not a who-done-it since early on readers know who is the perpetrator.  This author is also known as “cozy mystery writer,” Laura Childs, but a warning: there is nothing cozy about this plot.   The mystery comes in as people try to figure out along with the protagonists how they are going to solve the case, given the clues the author provides.

The reason for her pen name of Childs is that “I owned an advertising agency at the time I started writing.  I was fairly well known in the Twin Cities.  I decided not to co-mingle my two careers.  Of course I was found out.  Advertising did help me write because I had to have creativity on demand.  When I start to write I never have a tight outline.  I can see a stage play happening as things just come into my mind.”

From the beginning the story is very ominous.  In a mall a mother meets a woman, Marjorie, who sells re-born dolls, which is a true creepy profession.  This antagonist is spooky in herself with a very disturbing personality.  She has her son follow the mother home and that night in an affluent neighborhood of Minneapolis, the baby is abducted from her house after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.

Schmitt noted to, “I was researching something else and ran into this topic.  Women take a doll, strip out the hair and eyeballs, completely breaking them down, put in a motor to have a heart beat, paint them, and then put in human hair.  They are adopted for lots of money.  I actually went into a chat room where this woman was talking about not bonding with the one she had.  How weird is that?  I wanted to make sure the antagonist who made these dolls was terrifying, cunning, evil, and bizarre.”

The main character, Afton, is a family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D. It is her job to be the go-between for the police and the victims of terrible crimes. Afton struggles to prove herself to the police force, juggle work and family life, as well as maintain her physical and mental strength. Because she is intuitive, smart, and desires to become a detective she wiggles her way into the investigation, working closely with the FBI and Detective Max Montgomery.  Able to connect the dots and find clues she becomes a valuable asset and more like a partner to law enforcement as they try to stay ahead of the criminals and find them before they kidnap and murder again.

Will Afton ever realize her dream of becoming a detective? Schmitt gave a heads up, “In my next book, Shadow Girls, she is still a ‘wannabe’ cop.  She pushes her way into the investigation.  In real life, crime liaisons get very involved with both the victim and the police.  I really don’t know yet what her profession will be.  Maybe she will become a cop or maybe she and Max will spin off to a private detective agency.  I really don’t know yet.  What I do know is there will not be a romantic relationship between Afton and Max, just a working relationship.”

This novel is very plot driven.  Readers will be at the edge of their seats as the spooky criminals take center stage.  Anyone wanting a riveting story that has elements of realism should read this book.

Book Review - "Crisis of Character" by Gary J. Byrne

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 on the right sidebar.

9781455568871_p0_v2_s192x300Crisis Of Character is the perfect name for a book about Hillary Clinton.  Written by former Presidential Secret Service Officer Gary Byrne, he recounts how he was up close and personal with the then First Lady.  Anyone reading this book can relate his issues with the Clintons to show how she conducted herself while Secretary Of State. 

In the book Byrne describes her as “distant, cold, dishonest, and a habitual liar.” He commented, “Americans need to know that Mrs. Clinton is not a leader.  She displays a holier than thou attitude, ‘do as I say, not as I do.’  When I heard her say Bill Clinton would work with her on the economy my first thoughts, ‘what steps will she take to protect young women working at the White House from him?’  Her pattern is deflection, deception, and lies.”

A word Mr. Byrne forgot to mention regarding Hillary was incompetent.  Take for example the reset button given to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2009.  Lavrov noted the translation said, “overcharge,” not reset. Also, the word was typed in Latin script, not in Cyrillic.  So wrong word.  Wrong alphabet.  It later came out that she and company had sidestepped traditional protocol by not asking State’s team of translators to help.

Interestingly everything he mentioned about her in the book can be applied to the email scandal.  He talked about the Clintons having the attitude they were above the law.  Just refer to the meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the runway in Arizona.  Then a few days later FBI Director James Comey said about the findings, “this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”

Byrne spoke of how Hillary liked to deflect blame, pleading not knowing.  Comey pointed out in his news conference how “None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.”

Throughout the interview Byrne mentioned how Hillary lies and deceives.  Remember in her March 15th news conference she claimed, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material." Yet, Comey reported that the FBI identified 113 emails that passed through her server, containing materials that were classified at the time sent, including some that were Top Secret.

Finally, Byrne noted to, “she is arrogant, has disdain, and a desire to push her agenda regardless of the damages.  She does not care about any criticism.”  This is obvious in Comey’s conclusion, “There is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information… There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”

As a side note, Byrne noted, “Her attitude was so bad it got to a point that Secret Service Agents assigned to her detail would think of it as a punishment.  Part of our job hazard was having to deal with her anger management issues.”

Crisis Of Character offers insight into the personality of Hillary Clinton.  It confirms what people have seen regarding how she has conducted her professional life.  It becomes obvious that her temperament of ignorance, hypocrisy, and the poor choices she has made are reasons why she should never be elected President.

Book Review - "Ice Station Nautilus" by Rick Campbell

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 on the right sidebar.

9781250072153_p0_v1_s192x300Ice Station Nautilus by Rick Campbell is a fast paced military thriller involving a cat and mouse game between Russian and American submarines.  Readers will likely make the inevitable comparison with Tom Clancy’s novel, The Hunt For Red October, but fear not, this story holds its own.

The plot revolves around a collision between the newest American and Russian submarines, the USS North Dakota and K-535 Yury Dolgoruky. The Russian sub is being deployed on its first patrol while America's newest fast attack submarine, North Dakota, is assigned to trail it and collect intelligence. Because of their close proximity the subs collide, stranding both underneath the polar ice cap. The Americans immediately set up a rescue mission, sending a new submarine and a SEAL team to establish an ice camp, Ice Station Nautilus. The Russians also send men and material, ostensibly to rescue their own men, but a rogue General orders a Russian Special Forces team to take over the American base camp and the American sub, leaving no survivors or traces of their actions.

Campbell balances well the military jargon and technology. Since the author is a retired Navy Commander, having served for twenty years on four nuclear powered submarines, the descriptions and technology are very believable without being overly detailed. Readers will get an up close and personal view of what it is like to be trapped on a submarine.

If readers were to do a fact check would they see the authenticity in the story? Campbell told, “Yes.  Submarines in this area cannot see each other.  They make educated guesses about range, course, and speed.  They will never get intentionally close on purpose.  I thought of the different parameters that can make something go wrong.  My editor once told me ‘true life does not have to make sense, but fiction does.’  I thought how could two subs collide?  Knowing it had to be accidental I put in the book that if one changes speed or direction a collision could occur. Additionally, I had to consider how the American sub would get trapped under the ice. Especially since submarines under the ice constantly track the depth of the ice they’re under, documenting the location of ice thin enough to break through, and also looking for leads and polynas, which are small open spaces between the ice floes.”

Furthermore, he stated, “I did my due diligence with the research.  In 2009 I had an opportunity to go to an ice camp so in writing the story I knew what it looked like and how it operated. I also flew out to San Diego to view all the rescue equipment and was able to speak with a rescue crew.” 

But even more interesting is how Campbell shows the political struggles between Russia and the US. Both sides realize that whoever reaches the sunken subs first will be able to board the other country’s submarine and get their latest weapon and tactical systems technology. The USS North Dakota is the first third flight Virginia class submarine, with lots of new technology, while the Russian sub, Yuriy Dolgorukiy, is their latest ballistic missile submarine.

Through his main character, National Security Advisor Christine O’Connor, the author is able to give readers a world’s eye view of the conflict.  She is a female version of the famous character Jack Ryan.  Although not a special forces operator nor “Superwoman,” she is intelligent, determined, gritty, not afraid to get her hands dirty, will engage in a battle, and has a get even type of mentality. 

This novel is a riveting read of how conflicts can arise.  It is fast-paced and suspenseful.  With four submarines, torpedo battles, undersea rescues, and SEAL shootouts with Spetznaz, readers will be on the edge of their seats.