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September 2015

Book Review - "The End Game" by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison

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

9780698189317_p0_v3_s192x300The End Game by Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison is a great escape.  Anyone frustrated by what is going on in the world should read this book.  Because of its realistic and authentic storyline people gain an understanding of the dynamics between the US and Iran.  Unfortunately, it is only fiction, but the beauty of this novel is how the authors are able to solve the world’s problems, allowing for redemption and justice. 

The irony in this book makes for a very suspenseful plot.  Returning FBI Special Agents Michaela “Mike” Caine and her British partner, Nicholas Drummond, are on the trail of a shadowy terrorist organization known as the Celebrants of Earth. A scientist, Matthew Spenser, whose family was killed in the 2007 terrorist bombing by the London Underground, heads this anti-Muslim group as they attempt to stop the importing of Middle East oil by bombing refineries. They never hurt people until Darius, an Iranian agent plant, worms his way into COE. His goal is to bring America to its knees through the assassination of its leaders, and convinces Spenser to use increasingly violent means. Drummond and Caine are on the tail of these domestic and foreign terrorists that eventually lead them back to Washington DC where they must thwart the assassinations as well as an attempt to crash the Richmond, Virginia power grid.

Ellison commented to blackfive.net, “We wanted to convey how both the antagonist, Spenser, and one of the heroines, Caine, have their lives shaped by terrorism.  Both saw the devastation and murder by the terrorists.  While Spenser wants to get revenge in the beginning he did not want to kill and drop down to the terrorists level.  Eventually he is pushed to the edge and at that point he lost his sense for caring.  On the other hand, Caine was shaped by 9/11, emphasized with this quote, ‘I was sixteen when Nine-Eleven happened.  These sons-of-bitches and their bombs and attacks, it still makes me so mad I knew if I had them in front of me, I’d blow off their worthless heads.’”

Another reality of the novel is its use of technology. The terrorists launch cyber attacks against the oil companies, draining their financial and intellectual assets. To fight them the FBI goes on the offensive.  The authors must have had a crystal ball considering that in the last Republican debate Governor Jeb Bush talked of “offensive cyber.”  One of the characters Adam Pearce, a computer genius, helps the FBI uncover the plots, using aggression action.

But the story is also a word of warning.  Imagine the scary scenario of a bomb that is the size of a fifty-cent piece and can get lost in someone’s pocket. It could be dropped in any niche or corner and can be completely overlooked. This and a computerized trigger, allows the detonator to be thousands of miles away from the bomb. Even though Iran has gone live with its nuclear facilities it sends an assassin to steal the hand-size bomb.

The authors superbly pit the President and Vice-President against each other regarding Iran.  President Jefferson Bradley wanted a legacy of peace in the Middle East, making it his number one priority.  He managed to have all the parties sit down in Geneva. The glory he was seeking is based on a peace accord where America’s enemies became its friends, believing the Iranian President as he panders to the President.

Then there is Vice-President Callan Sloan.  She is strong-willed, decisive, intelligent, and not afraid to use America’s might where necessary. Considered a trailblazer, Sloan was a former CIA Agent turned Congresswoman who refused to kowtow to anybody.  Her attitude toward Iran is 180 degrees from the President’s, “Are you content to ignore what he says about the West? That we’re a blight, vermin, and should be exterminated?” She understood that the peace meetings were basically for show. Readers will yearn for a real leader like Sloan, regretting that this VP is only fictional. Just think if there was a leader like her in personality, philosophy, and political will, doing what was in the best interests for America and its allies.

Ellison gave a heads up about the next book she and Coulter will write that will bring back The Fox, aka Kitsune.  Instead of being a topical novel like The End Game, it will be an historical quest. She explained how a series works, “The first book introduces all the characters.  The second book has a plot that showcases them.  The third book is where you realize all the limitations you put on your characters.  We know Nicholas and Mike tend to go off book; yet, they are FBI agents.  They would be fired in the real world.  Because of this we decided to have them transition to a new position in the FBI, which you will read about in the next book.  It will be very international, going back to the territory of The Lost Key.”

The End Game is a magnificent story where art imitates life.  It is a timely tale of terrorism with an added dose of political intrigue.  This third in the series has so much intensity that it will be hard to put down. While entertaining it is also has a very thought-provoking plot.

Willfully Aiding & Abetting Child Rape

It doesn't sound nearly so nice phrased that way, does it?  It is far more blunt and honest though than the pablum of 'respecting other cultures.'  The news has been full of the story, and in particular the case of SFC Martland.  

My friend Nicki says what needs to be said over at The Liberty Zone.  For me, I simply note that, in my opinion, for even an unofficial policy to be as widespread as this requires the willful ignorance of those in command, if not their outright encouragement.  For it to become the defacto official policy, it requires acceptance at very high levels.  

Go read Nicki, and share your thoughts.  If you were over there and care to share, please do but you might want to use a non-work & non-personal computer to do so.  

A Note Of Condolence

Mary Katharine Ham has been a friend to Blackfive, and to many of the member authors, almost from the first day of this blog.  She was and is a staunch friend to our troops and veterans, and has done a great deal for them -- often quietly. Her support, both direct and via helping a number of veteran charities, is but one way she has walked and not just talked.  I believe I can speak for most authors, and say that we were all very happy for her when Jake Brewer came into her life, and became her husband, and the father of a lovely daughter and one child on the way.  Like MKH, he too did for others, and was in a bike ride to support a friend with cancer. 

I regret to report that Jake Brewer was killed yesterday in a tragic accident while participating in a charity bicycle ride.  He was 34 years old.  MK's post is on Instagram, and she is sharing photos there that give a better view of Jake to us all.  

On behalf of the authors at Blackfive, I wish to extend our sympathies and sincere condolences to Mary Katharine and her children, and the family of Jake Brewer.  There truly are no words at a time like this.  I simply add that if there is anything we can do, please do let us know.  Please keep them all in your thoughts, prayers, or whatever it is that you do. 


Photo - Night Launch

150906-N-OR652-048A F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Atlantic Ocean, Sept. 6, 2015. The carrier is conducting flight deck certifications. The Hornet is assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 86. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado 

Photo - AT4 Range

150908-Z-HV319-003U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Andres Bravo fires an AT4 rocket at a target during sustainment training in Kuwait, Aug. 26, 2015. Bravo is a rifleman with Kilo Company, Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos

Ashley's War -- Book Review

Guest post by Daniel Burton



Ashley’s War by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon 

At some point while reading Ashley’s War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield, I started to read faster, flipping pages and nearly skimming. It must have been shortly after I realized that Ashley–the title character, but by no means the only female soldier documented in Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s book–was going to go to Afghanistan to serve on the front lines with special forces and wasn’t going to tell her parents any more than that she would be an “enabler.” They thought she was doing humanitarian work; Ashley was actually participating in raids with U.S. Army Rangers to capture insurgents in the dark of night. 

As the father of three daughters, it scared the living daylights out of me. If I wasn’t gripped by the book before, I was after this. I couldn’t put the book down, and it was closer to sunrise than it was to sunset when I finally closed Ashley’s War on the last page.


Continue reading "Ashley's War -- Book Review" »

Book Review - "Woman with a Secret" by Sophie Hannah

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

9780062388261_p0_v2_s192x300Woman With A Secret, Sophie Hannah’s latest book, delves into the online world.  Parts of the story are told through email correspondence, gossip columnist’s entries, the main character’s narration, and a police investigation.  The deception, lies and secrets, are what makes up a great deal of this novel.

The best description of the story comes from country singer Brad Paisley’s lyrics to the song Online, “I'm a sci-fi fanatic.  Mild asthmatic.  Never been to 2nd base.  But there's a whole another me.  That you need to see.  Go check out Myspace… I'm so much cooler online.” The main character Nicki Clements through her on-line life portrays herself as someone different than she actually is.  She leads a double life, on the surface respectable, while on-line just the opposite with her unsavory Internet connections.

The plot has Nicki, a stay at home mom, repeatedly engaging in reckless behavior.  Although she lives a comfortable existence, she is not satisfied with it.  Nicki is driven to live on the edge, exchanging clandestine and lustful emails with men who share her fondness for the thrill of the forbidden.  One of those she corresponded with is the well-known journalist Damon Blundy, found murdered in a bizarre manner.  This is when Hannah’s main characters, detectives Simon Waterhouse, Charlotte (Charlie) Zailer, and the rest of the team enter the story.  Through their investigation they suspect Nicki of being the killer.  The rest of the story has the police trying to find evidence that will lead them to the murderer.

Nicki is nothing like the protagonist of Hannah’s last novel.  The author noted to blackfive.net, “Gabby, was an admirable character while Nicki is a flawed character who has desperate, ridiculous behavior with a life based on lies.  Her parents always made her feel bad, naughty, and excessively punitive. She is not strong willed like Gabby.  But I am hoping that a flawed character can be sympathetic.” 

Unfortunately, while readers rooted for Gabby they will have a hard time doing so with Nicki.  She is high-strung, self-centered, and seems incapable of telling the truth for twenty-four hours at a stretch. Her attitude can best be summed up from a quote in the book, “Being bad and getting away with it; there’s no feeling like it.”

Woman With A Secret has compelling themes of Internet bullying, hypocritical people, and a dysfunctional relationship. As with all her books, Hannah allows readers to get into the thoughts of the protagonist and the police, by having each alternately narrate the chapters. 

The author also gave a heads up about her next books.  In May a stand-alone will be released about a woman who moves her family from London to Devon.  She is faced with someone wanting to kill her family and persecuting them with menacing experiences. In the summer The Narrow Bed, a Simon and Charlie novel, will be released.  Its plot has a serial killer murdering best friends.  The protagonist is a comedian a la Joan Rivers who is prickly, contrary, and says deliberately annoying comments.  In both books the main character is a heroine that has a strong willed personality and will aggressively pursue justice.

Photo - Through the Wire

150909-N-HV319-007A U.S. soldier uses his body to create an opening in a wire obstacle so his team can assault a position during Exercise Grizzly Defender in Alberta, Aug. 21, 2015. Grizzly Defender is a joint training exercise with the Canadian Army Reserve that focuses on offensive tasks including patrols, convoys, raids, information operations, traffic control points and company-level group attacks. The soldiers are members of the Washington National Guard. Washington National Guard photo by Army Sgt. Matthew Sissel