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 far right side bar.
Under A Silent Moon, Elizabeth Haynes’ latest book, differs from her previous novels. Her other books were more stand alone psychological thrillers than this one which can be classified as a series police procedural. What makes this novel intriguing is the way she presents the crime investigation, through the source documents.
Readers should connect one of the team’s investigating detectives, Sam Hollands, from the Haynes’ first book, Into The Darkest Corner. Louisa Smith is introduced as the formidable DCI, heading the investigation of two victims. The first is a beautiful young woman brutally killed in her cottage, while the second is a suspected suicide at a nearby quarry, when her car plunged to the bottom of a pit. The investigation takes place over the course of six days where it becomes apparent that these two deaths are related.
Intertwined throughout the novel is fictional source material, including police reports, phone messages, interviews, witness statements, emails, forensic reports analysis documents, and charts. This enables the reader to feel they are part of Smith’s investigation team, collecting the clues as they attempt to solve the crime. Even the chapter titles allows for the reader to stay in the setting since they are named with the day, date, and time. However, if these document sources become a bit detailed, and they are skipped, nothing is lost in understanding the storyline.
The author commented to blackfive.net, “This is the book I always wanted to write. As a police analyst I would get the real sense of the story, the real crime, from these documents. Investigators effectively piece together the puzzle as the investigation unfolds. I thought I can write a novel just from these documents with the reader being able to fill in the gaps and can see how the story unfolds. The reader could act like an investigator if they so chose.”
As in all her books, Haynes has a dark side to the story with graphic sex and violence. Yet, these add to the plot as she tries to show the dark side of humanity through affairs, sexual encounters, jealousy, desire, and greed. The relationships begin to overlap and a strong theme throughout is the father/daughter relationship.
Interestingly enough is that in this book the main characters are the police not the victims or suspects.
She noted to blackfive.net, “In a crime novel there is a lot of graphic sex out there that is part of the crime. With Into The Darkest Corner the sex scenes were very real for me and not gratuitous. As times I wanted to stop writing that because I wasn’t comfortable with it. It was stomach churning for me, and gave the readers a feeling that this is just not right. With these current scenes I wanted to show that it was not put in for pleasure but to show how someone could use it to manipulate and control, as part of a power play. This is a thread running through all my books.”
Haynes also feels as a working mother she needs to balance motherhood and professional life. For example she asked that the interview be postponed for an hour so she could have dinner with her ten-year-old son. She also told of another example, being invited to speak at a crime festival on a Friday. “I said I would do it but only on a Saturday or Sunday because that particular Friday was my son’s class celebration for finishing primary school. Amazingly they allowed me to speak on the weekend so I was able to balance my career and my family.”
Under A Silent Moon is much more of a plot-based book than a character based one as Haynes has written in the past. However this novel allows the reader to analyze much more as they are riveted to this gripping page-turner.
U.S. Special Forces soldiers and Honduran paratroopers descend to the drop zone after jumping out of an AC130 aircraft during a partner nation static line jump on Soto Cano Air Base, Honduras, April 3, 2014. The soldiers are assigned to 7th Special Forces Group, Airborne. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven K. Young
Korean and U.S. Marines traverse the shoreline aboard amphibious assault vehicles during Ssang Yong 2014 on Doksoek-ri in Pohang, South Korea, March 31, 2014. The annual exercise is conducted to enhance the interoperability of Korean and U.S. forces by performing a full spectrum of amphibious operations. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Lauren Whitney
"They came to save us, and to give us dignity. Their sacrifice will remain in the minds of our children for the rest of their lives. We will teach their names to our children, and keep their names in our books of history as heroes who gave their lives for freedom." - Kurd Sheik Ahmet at the April 17th, 1994 memorial service in Zakhu, Iraq.
Today is the 20th anniversary of a dark day in our military history...while the inquiry results were weak, this was one incident in which many lessons were learned that later saved American and allied lives (true IFF came from this), and continued the long trek to freedom for one of the most deserving groups of human beings on this planet.
Let's start at what isn't quite the beginning but as good as any place to start this story...
In April, 1991, as part of U.N. Resolution 688, the National Command Authority commanded the US Armed Forces to conduct Operation Provide Comfort. On the 8th of April 1991, the 1st Battalion (FWD) of the 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) from Bad Tolz, Germany, deployed to conduct humanitarian relief operations for over a half million Kurdish refugees. Soon the 2nd and 3rd Battalions arrived from the states.
...Operation PROVIDE COMFORT was one of the largest relief operations in history. During the critical first three weeks, the 10th Special Forces Group directed and executed the overall ground relief and security efforts. In the words of General Galvin, the CINCEUR "...10th Special Forces Group saved half a million Kurds from extinction."
The conditions in the refugee camps shocked the world. Before 10th Group arrived, an average of 450 refugees perished daily, with 70 percent being children. In two weeks time the rate was approximately 15-20 per day and of these, only 28 percent were children. 10th Group had made the difference.
The basic operation was divided into three phases. Phase one provided immediate emergency relief with food, water and shelter. The intent was to make an accurate assessment of the situation and to organize Kurdish leadership. Phase two provided basic services. The ODA and ODB detachments performed many tasks and missions: pipe water from the mountains, organize food distribution and camp sanitation, service drop zones and landing zones, and coordinate with the multinational relief organizations. Additionally, they assisted in rendering medical treatment for the refugees. Phase three prepared and moved the refugees from their mountain camps into resettlement camps in Iraq or straight back to their own homes. Waystations built by 10th SFG(A), provided food, water and fuel, and limited medical help enroute...
As the video below shows, it was really about saving the families and the children:
The mission was a tough one - to provide humanitarian aid to over one million Kurdish Refugees in northern Iraq. The mission began with airdrops (food, clothing, tents, blankets, medicine) and soon launched missions taking supplies directly to the Kurds.
A UH-60A Black Hawk (Blackhawk) helicopter flies over a small village in the Kurdish occupied security zone in northern Iraq. The helicopters and the crews from C Company 6/159th Aviation Regiment, Geibelstadt, Germany, are deployed to Diyarbakir, Turkey, in support of the operation Provide Comfort. (DoD photo by: SSGT. THEODORE J. KONIARES Date Shot: 1993-11-17).
To further stop Saddam from killing the Kurds, a northern No-Fly Zone was placed north of the 36th parallel. Any Iraqi aircraft would be shot down in the No-Fly Zone.
Photo from CIA Factbook
The No-Fly Zone was patrolled and kept "clean" by the USAF with fighters (F-15s) being supported by command and control aircraft (AWACS).
General John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had this to say about the hard work of the Provide Comfort Soldiers and Airmen:
For over 1,000 days, the pilots and crews assigned to Operation Provide Comfort flew mission after mission, totalling over 50,000 hours...
The mission continued for 3 years until the first Commander was due to reliquish command...
On April 14th, 1994, two Blackhawk helicopters were ready for take-off from Diyarbakir, Turkey. COL Jerry Thompson - one of the most respected officers and commanders in Special Forces - was changing command (or co-command as "command" of Provide Comfort was shared with Turkey). He decided to show his replacement, COL Mulhern, the lay of the land. At 0730, COL Thompson assembled 26 people that comprised important (command group) roles for the mission. He included French, British, and Turkish commanders and liaisons, and also brought along Kurdish para-military personnel and linguists.
The two Blackhawks were designated Eagle-1 and Eagle-2. Their first destination was Irbil, Iraq, but they would have to make a stop in Zakhu, Iraq (where the military part of Provide Comfort operated). There were plans to visit several other areas as well.
At 8:22AM, Eagle Flight departed Diyarbakir. They were headed East-Southeast for a "gate" into the No-Fly Zone. Per Standard Operating Procedure, the command group was split between Eagle-1 and Eagle-2 to ensure continuity of command if one helicopter went down.
At 9:21AM, Eagle Flight called the AWACS (callsign "Cougar"). They requested and were granted permission to enter the "gate" into the the No-Fly Zone.
At 9:24AM, Eagle Flight lands at Zakhu, Iraq.
At 9:35AM, two USAF F-15 fighters launched from Incirlik, Turkey. They were designated Tiger-1 and Tiger-2. Tiger-1 was the lead fighter with Tiger-2 as the wingman. Tiger Flight was headed to patrol the No-Fly Zone.
At 9:54AM, Eagle Flight calls the AWACS to report departure from Zakhu, Iraq, with a destination of Irbil, Iraq.
At 10:12AM, Eagle Flight enters mountainous terrain. It's Identification Friend or Foe system (IFF) failed.
At 10:20AM Tiger Flight passes through "gate" into No-Fly Zone.
At 10:22AM Tiger Flight picks up radar contact at forty nautical miles. No IFF reading occurs. Tiger-1 reports, "Cougar, picked up helicopter tracking northwest bound." AWACS says the area should be "clean".
At 10:25 AWACS responds that there are "hits there" in the No-Fly Zone - confirming Tiger Flight's radar contact.
Tiger Flight makes visual contact with Eagle Flight at five nautical miles.
At 10:28 Tiger-1 conducts a visual identification (VID) pass of the helicopters. "Cougar, tally 2 HINDS."
HINDS are Soviet Helicopters used by the Iraqi Armed Forces.
AWACS replied, "Copy two HINDS".
Tiger-1 then instructed Tiger-2 to make a VID pass.
Thirty seconds later Tiger-2 confirms, "Tally 2."
Tiger-1 to Tiger-2, "Arm hot."
At 10:30AM on April 14, 1994, Tiger-1 fired an AIM 120 (medium range air-to-air missle) at Eagle-2. Tiger-2 fired an AIM 9 (Sidewinder air-to-air missle) at Eagle-1.
The missles hit Eagle Flight with deadly accuracy. Tiger-1 confirmed the hits to AWACS, "Splash two HINDS."
Of the 26 team members of Eagle Flight, there were no survivors...
US Military: SSG Paul Barclay (SF Commo NCO) SPC Cornelius A. Bass (Eagle-1 Door Gunner) SPC Jeffrey C. Colbert (Eagle-1 Crew Chief) SPC Mark A. Ellner (Eagle-2 Door Gunner) CW2 John W. Garrett, Jr. (Eagle-1 Pilot) CW2 Michael A. Hall (Eagle-2 Pilot Command) SFC Benjamin T. Hodge (Linguist) CPT Patrick M. McKenna (Eagle-1 Pilot Command) WO1 Erik S. Mounsey (Eagle-2 Pilot) COL Richard A. Mulhern (Incoming Co-Commander) 1LT Laurie A. Piper (USAF, Intel Officer) SGT Michael S. Robinson (Eagle-2 Crew Chief) SSG Ricky L. Robinson (SF Medic) Ms. Barbara L. Schell (State Dept. Political Advisor) COL Jerald L. Thompson (Outgoing Co-Commander)
British Military: MAJ Harry Shapland (Security/Intel Duty Officer) LTC Jonathan C. Swann (Senior UK Officer)
French Military: LTC Guy Demetz (Senior French Officer)
Turkish Army: COL Hikmet Alp (Co-Commander) LT Ceyhun Civas (Laison Officer) LT Barlas Gultepe (Liason Officer)
Kurdish Partisans: Abdulsatur Arab Ghandi Hussein Bader Mikho Ahmad Mohammed Salid Said (Linguist)
USAF Photo: U.S. Military personnel inspect the wreckage of a Black Hawk helicopter (Eagle 2) in the Northern Iraq No Fly Zone during Operation Provide Comfort, April 16, 1994.
DoD photo MSGT MICHAEL J. HAGGERTY: The remains of 26 people were flown in for transportation to the U.S. Army Mortuary Center, Frankfurt, Germany. The 26 were killed in an accidental downing of two U.S. Army UH-60A Black Hawk (Blackhawk) helicopters by U.S. AIr Force F-15C fighters in the northern Iraq "no fly zone". Standing in review was the Rhein-Main-Air Base color guard, they displayed the flags of the countries that mourn the loss of their citizens, the United States, Britain, France and Turkey.
I took this photo while visiting the Colonel (his story is an interesting one). He's near Mary Todd Lincoln's tomb on a slight rise over looking a beautiful part of Arlington...You can visit him and Barclay, Hodge and Bass at Arlington like I am today.
Please take a minute to pray for their families today and remember that their hard work and sacrifices led to a flourishing Kurdish enclave - a place they would be very, very proud of today. I don't think in our wildest dreams we ever thought that would have been possible.
We're just under 2 weeks away from our Arlington National Cemetery Missing Man Flyover for USMC 1st Lt Bruce Guetzloe. Things are shaping up but we still need help with fuel and operational contributions. Links are below the fold!
The line up will be Jim Tobul in his F4U Corsair, the type aircraft Lt Guetzloe flew in the south Pacific (off the USS Franklin) and in Korea. On either wing will be 2 P-51 Mustangs owned/flown by Andrew McKenna and Scott Yoke. Following will be 4 L-39 jets, with Sean "Flopper" Cushing flying lead, Scott "Buster" Clyburn on the left wing, Geoff "Hak" Hickman flying the pull jet at #3 and Art "Kaos" Nall on the right wing.
Here's a little bit of what it was like last September while waiting to be cleared for the fly-over:
Arlington Nat’l Cemetery Fly Over for MAJs Sizemore and Andre
The Turn In. We’d been in holding for probably 20 minutes or so near the NOTTINGHAM (OTT) VORTAC (a VHF omnidirectional range (VOR) beacon and a tactical air navigation system (TACAN) ) in southern Maryland, along the Patuxent River near the town of Nottingham. Andrews AFB was a bit to our north and the President was supposed to be heading out on AF1 at some point that morning. That had me/us worried that we may end up being an airborne scrub if he was delayed and the Secret Service wanted a sterilized air environment for his helo transit from the White House to Andrews. Flopper (my pilot) had made it known to the other L-29 aircraft during the brief that he had 53 fewer gallons of gas than they did because of the no tip-tank mod his aircraft had, so we had a bit more of a pucker factor than the other aircraft had in terms of holding time.
Tooling around in our holding pattern, 10 mile legs, inbound to the OTT VORTAC, we heard our controller slide our Time on Top (TOT) target from noon to 10 past to 20 past the hour, making the whole evolution a bit dicey in my mind. Not being too familiar with the L-39 fuel system, with its litres of fuel or whatever former communist fuel display system that jet had only added to the entertainment.
Finally though, we received the signal to “Push”, and all the aircraft, at their different holding altitudes, edged their noses to the northwest and began their inbound transit. It was going to work out fine after all.
Please consider contributing to our next Arlington Fly Over at IndieGoGo
Bump/UPDATE: Paul Szoldra at Business Insider takes on the "scaremongering" and the execrable story done by HuffPo (no linky love for that ****). Read and shae.
Over at Mission: VALOR, I have a plea up for all reasonable beings to go read some good words on PTS from some very good men; and, a small bit of discussion on the bigoted Myth of the Ticking Vet, which harms our veterans and veteran employment. It deserves a fuller treatment with proper cites, but it is a start and hopefully may get some people to think a bit.
Sailors from the frigate USS Vandegrift help rescue a family with a sick infant in the ship's small boat as part of a joint U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and California Air National Guard effort in the Pacific Ocean, April 6, 2014. The family and four Air National Guard pararescuemen were safely moved from the sailboat to Vandegrift, which then transited to San Diego. U.S. Navy photo
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.
Best-selling author Ted Bell’s latest book Warriors delves into the dangers of an emerging China. This spy thriller brings back his main character Alex Hawke who is not the ordinary super spy. In this novel Hawke plays a supporting role to the gripping plot, which the author uses as a sounding board to wake-up Americans.
Bell commented to blackfive.net, “The whole China angle came about while at Cambridge. From 2011 to 2012 I was elected to be a visiting scholar and a visiting writer in resident by Sir Richard Biling Dearlove, the retired head of MI6, now a professor there. We focused on the issue of China with a subset of North Korea. It was fascinating for me because anyone who wants a future in the intelligence community, the highest level of military, espionage, and intelligence, were there. It was like Spy vs. Spy meets Harry Potter.”
The plot begins when a rogue Chinese military general kidnaps American scientist William Lincoln Chase and his family. Chase is known for his research on creating weapons that will alter the global balance of power. Intertwined with this are the sub-plots that have Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Congreve Ambrose investigating the murder of a Cambridge professor and coming to the rescue of Hawke’s son with the culprits being beastly black birds.
Although Bell told blackfive.net that most of the technology in the book was fictional, there is a believability and realism to it. Readers will be engrossed with the highly advanced fighter jet designed to deliver Alex to his Chinese contact, a pair of equally advanced missiles designed to prevent him from making that meet, sophisticated drone planes, and a new class of submarine that is able to stay submerged in the water without a crew.
The torture scenes, although old school, are never the less very graphic and sophisticated, displaying the cruelness of the Chinese and North Koreans. Bell wonders where the outcry is considering “waterboarding to them would be like me shooting you with a squirt gun. These places are horrific and no one does anything about it. There are four of these prisons with thousands of people who are sent there if they make the government angry. Yet, China continues to fund the North Koreans, probably because, excuse my language, North Korea is China’s bitch, happy when they give the US a hard time.”
Many of Bell’s fans have likened Alex Hawke to James Bond, a comparison he disagrees with. The author describes his main character as dashing, sophisticated, emotional, witty, passionate, and a very eligible bachelor. He noted, “Bond was a creature of the 20th century where as Hawke is from the 21st century. He is thirty-three years old and the sixth richest person in England. Unlike Bond Alex is a living breathing man who falls in love, misses his child, gets hurt, sees the world as good vs. evil, and can be very emotional. He represents a way of life that is rapidly receding in America. Alex is a man of character with the bulldog tenacity of Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan. All these men would never give in. We have gone from fighting on the beaches to sun tanning on the beaches.”
There are two powerful themes from the book. The mindset in Washington: We will not have to worry about the Chinese military capability until well into the next decade, and Washington behaves like a crippled giant. Bell commented, “Looking at every possible recent scenario we are on the losing side, whether in Crimea, Syria, or Iran, our government makes a big show but there is never a price to pay. Our navy is the smallest it’s been since WWII. It is like we are dismantling this country with a lot of damage being done. We are on the defensive, which is depressing. China is becoming much more powerful.”
Ted Bell hopes his readers will find Warriors, a “tongue in cheek book, that is fun to read while learning a little something.” This book accomplished this and a lot more with a gripping and realistic plot with likeable main characters.
The following 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.
Plum Island, the New York Times best-selling book by Nelson DeMille, will likely be made into a television series. Produced by Sony and Lionsgate for a cable TV station, each of the ten episodes will be one hour long. This novel introduced the wisecracking, confident, not politically correct, street-smart character, NYPD John Corey. Although Plum Island was supposed to be a stand-alone book the popularity of Corey convinced DeMille to make him the lead in a series of novels. The dean of political thrillers was kind of enough to take time away from writing his next John Corey book to speak with blackfive.net about this project as well as future projects.
Plum Island’s plot begins with Corey on medical leave, recovering from bullet wounds, when his friend, chief of the Southold Police Department, enlists his aid while looking into the double homicide of Tom and Judy Gordon, also friends of Corey. They happen to be employees of Plum Island, the nearby high-level bio-containment facility located in Long Island, studying deadly diseases such as anthrax and simian Ebola. The investigation originally leads the detectives to suspect the Gordons’ of stealing a vaccine with the motive of peddling it to the pharmaceutical world for billions of dollars. But Corey contemplates a competing theory that the couple might have been involved in selling drugs, or looking for buried treasure. The local murder investigation soon crosses jurisdictional boundaries and draws county, state, and federal investigators with Corey’s nemesis Ted Nash also introduced in this novel.
Although written in 1997 it is still relevant today with the many different issues explored: genetically engineered viruses, bio-terrorism, government cover-ups, and government surveillance. DeMille commented to blackfive.net, “It will be interesting to see how the screenwriters make it into a contemporary piece. Originally, pre-9/11 it was not well guarded and was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. However, today it is under the control of Homeland Security.”
Hopefully the screenwriter, Ron Bass, will be able to capture not only John Corey’s personality but also his partner’s, Beth Penrose. In all of the Corey books the characters dialogue helps to create a plot that has tension, suspense, and humor, including the silly type jokes DeMille is known for as a writer. The female lead plays the perfect “straight man” to Corey matching his wit, wisdom, and sarcasm. As DeMille describes it, “Usually the women in Corey’s life are the voice of reason. In the books he brings in his street smarts and the women bring in the logic. The one thing that was told to me is what they might do with Corey’s romantic interests. They are hinting that possibly he would not ever be married. What they might do is have the male/female lead romantically involved with some sexual tension.”
How much control will DeMille have over the project? DeMille’s short answer was not much. However, he has offered his advice and is hoping that Bass will take him up on it. “I think having the author involved is a good thing because it makes the project more successful. On the other hand I don’t want to meddle since writing for a TV show is such a different format than what I am used to. I sometimes wonder why a book property is bought for the screen considering all the changes made. You wonder if they are buying the story or buying it for the built-in audience of the author. A good TV series allows the viewers to really understand the characters that the novelist has written. One of my other books was made into a screenplay where they missed everything and the screenwriter did not understand that people want to read and watch other people. Without the jokes and sarcasm the characters do not sound like real people. My son interviewed to be a screenwriter for this project since in TV land there is a team of writers. Maybe if he is chosen he will consult with his father.”
If the pilot is successful a TV series will be made with the possibility of a feature film being produced. There is talk that each season will be based on the next Corey book. His favorite book, The Lion’s Game is considered for the second season. “Although I resisted a TV series for a number of years I decided to go with it because of the very good cable shows currently on TV. Also, TV is willing to deal with Islamic terrorism while feature films will not. The reason for this is the need for movies to be distributed overseas. They would have to worry about the movie theatre being blown up, threats, and any backlash, while TV shows are just watched in people’s homes. That is why there is great interest in making my latest book, The Quest, into a feature film. It does not deal with terrorists and is marketed as Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code.”
DeMille also noted the book he is currently working on will be another John Corey novel, A Quiet End. Corey is no longer with the Anti-terrorism Task Force and now works for the Diplomatic Surveillance Group, essentially being demoted. His new duties include following people from the foreign embassies. Assigned to watch the Russian UN mission Corey finds out that one diplomat is a bad guy associated with the KGB. DeMille noted, “This book is about a resurgent Russia which as you know I thought about long before the Ukraine crisis. The theme of this book is that the Cold War has come back with Corey understanding the Russian threat as existential and long range. This book is almost like a stand-alone in the same way as Plum Island.”
He also told blackfive.net, the female lead will not be Corey’s wife, FBI agent Kate Mayfield who is off to Washington DC after a promotion. “There will be sexual tension with his new partner. He is having problems with his wife since her promotion. They seem to be drifting apart. Something has to happen with Kate because the backstory has become cumbersome.”
Fans of the John Corey series are looking forward to two new projects, a new book due out sometime later this year, and a TV series probably entitled Corey. With any luck, next fall fans will be able to get their fix of John Corey. Hopefully, the TV series will maintain DeMille’s fingerprint over this great character.