« November 2016 | Main | January 2017 »

December 2016


The following 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.

Curtain Of Death by W.E.B. Griffin and William Butterworth IV present a fact filled novel about the early days of what will become the CIA. Even though the period between WWII and the Cold War is intense in itself these authors were able to make the plot even more riveting.

The story reflects Griffin’s own experiences during the mid 1940s in war torn Germany. It becomes obvious that the clandestine agents must not only deal with the Nazis trying to escape to Latin America, but an entirely different kind of war. The enemy has changed, the rules have changed; and the stakes have never been higher.

The time is January 1946, the setting Munich Germany, and the protagonists are the men and women fighting a covert war. The plot begins with two WACs and intelligence analysts kidnapped by four KGB agents. Unfortunately for them one of the women, Claudette Colbert, hid a pistol in her bra, and shoots three of her assailants, wounding a fourth. Readers take the journey with the DCI-Europe unit as they navigate through the conflicts within the different US agencies and with the two logistical enemies, Russia and the Nazis.

Curtain of Death is a novel that mixes intrigue and diplomacy within a suspenseful and enthralling story. An added bonus is the sarcasm and humor sprinkled throughout the scenes.

Q/A with the authors below:

Elise Cooper: Can you tell us what is true in the book?

51oI4AtCSBL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_W.E.B. Griffin: I was there when I was a kid. I knew and saw a lot. The Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen, who became the head of German intelligence in the, 1940s, did work for us to save his people from the Russians. Also true are the Operations OST, Paperclip, and Odessa.

EC: What about the women characters?

W.E.B: We also had many good women who played a prominent role in 1940s Germany as spies and intelligence analysts. Characters in the story like my fictional Claudette Colbert were real and did carry pistols, but the idea of her hiding it in her brassiere was mine. They did this because we could not afford to have them kidnapped. Seven-K was a character I created. She was based on some Mossad agents who did work with us in exchange for getting Zionists out of Russia.

William Butterworth IV: There are fascinating stories of women spies in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA, and their missions are the stuff of legend. Yet the contributions made by the 4,000 women, including Julia Child and Marlene Dietrich are largely unheralded. Exceptions include Elizabeth McIntosh’s book Women of the OSS: Sisterhood Of Spies.

EC: Can you explain this quote from the book, “The DCI itself-was that its formation was going to displease the Pentagon, the Navy, the State Department, and the FBI, all of whom had urged the President to disestablish the OSS and have its functions transferred to them.”

W.E.B: President Truman realized putting the OSS out of business was a mistake. He created the DCI under his buddy Rear Admiral Sidney Souers, who formerly worked in insurance. He was in charge for about eighteen months, but then wanted to go back to his profession to make some money. Truman allowed them to do anything they wanted, but they were not allowed to tell anyone else what to do. Unfortunately, there was no cooperation among the units. Truman purposely kept Central Intelligence out of everyone’s hands but his. This caused bureaucratic infighting, because Truman made sure he kept the sole control.

EC: You interject humor in the story?

W.E.B: I love to write humor. If I could make a living doing it that is all I would write. The happiest period of my life is when I was writing the sequels to MASH. I was able to ridicule everyone.

EC: What is the difference between the CIC and the DCI?

IV: CIC is the Counterintelligence Corps and the DCI is the Directorate of Central Intelligence. The DCI is the fictional name in the series for what became the Central Intelligence Agency.

EC: Is the story based on anyone?

IV: Dad said he subconsciously wrote in part, about Rene J. Defourneaux, and called their relationship cousin-like. He was an Army OSS Second Lt. and later became a legendary US Army intelligence officer. Like a lot of highly intelligent spooks he also had a terrific sense of humor. I am intrigued by the history and stories of these men and women.

EC: What is the process you both use to write the books together?

W.E.B: We talk a lot. I send to him a chapter and he tells me what he thinks: ‘don’t do this’ or ‘do this’. One of us will write 90% of a book and the other 10%, and then it reverses with another book. Billy is a very good editor and had been one for sixteen years before we began working together on a daily basis.

IV: Dad lived this period, knew the principles from having worked with General White and others, so he wrote most of this book. And I added what I could. A good editor has an invisible hand in the work, making suggestions and edits that help the story without changing the writer’s distinctive voice.

EC: Speaking of edits, would you ever put in the front of the book a list of characters and their relevance?

 IV: I can see it as possibly a companion book, but do not like doing that because it bogs down the story.


Book Review How Will I Know You

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.

How Will I know You by Jessica Treadway is not just a crime story, but is also has a psychological aspect. The storyline refers to a small town community where everyone knows everyone else’s business. This time around, Treadway decided to have multiple narrators telling the story ranging from a teenage girl, black graduate student, a middle-aged art teacher, to a policeman.

The plot begins where a high school teenager, Joy Enright, in upstate New York is found in a pond strangled to death. Martin Willett, her mother’s teaching assistant and lover has been accused of the crime. The arresting officer, interim police chief Doug Armstrong, has his own agenda for solving the crime quickly. He is hopeful that the town board will appoint him the full-time police chief.

Treadway noted, “ The premise for the book came from two places. Several years ago a family I knew went out ice-skating. They all fell under but one of the daughters slipped away and drowned in the pond. I was haunted for years by this family’s grief. Then there is a well-known murder case in Massachusetts where a mother dropped her teenage daughter off at her lifeguard job. She disappeared and was never found. I decided to make the pond the focus of the drama involving a girl who first disappears and then is found murdered. My previous novels are based on actual incidents, but this one was much more my imagination.”

Most of the characters appear to have their own set of problems. Joy wants to be part of the in-crowd and has turned into someone mean and nasty, compromising her own values. Her mother, Suzanne, is an elitist who had an affair to reconnect with her artistic self. Allison, the daughter of Doug, is a daddy’s girl who makes her husband feel inferior to her father. Each is affected by their decisions that have huge consequences.

This novel strings together small town secrets leading readers to the conclusion of the plot where the truth behind Joy’s killer is revealed. It is a study of how humans react under pressure. 51--1-bZENL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_

Book Review The Soul Of A Seal

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 Soul Of A Seal by Anne Elizabeth has something for every type of reader. It is part adventure, part military thriller, part political, and has a steamy romance. If so inclined, people my want to skip some of the hot and heavy physical intimacy and concentrate on the extensive and detailed scenes of space, shuttle design, and the training involved. The book references different military settings, military issues, and historical events.

Being married to a Vietnam veteran, a retired SEAL, she wants “to give insight into the SEAL community, respectful of our courageous souls, and to illustrate how hard and complicated dedication can be as well as how precious those peaceful moments are. There are basic facts that are true to all military life: struggles with marriage, family, relationships, money, health, and returning home. My husband told me that in my writing I should honor the community and country. I wanted to inform people about the challenges and to show their personal courage. The characters are based on real life former SEALs. I am very careful to craft a plot that does not hijack the veteran’s story so I only use elements of it.”

The plot has a Navy SEAL, Captain Bennett Sheraton, sent to find out who is sabotaging a top-secret program that will allow him to captain a space shuttle. He becomes attracted to the lead scientist, Dr. Kimberly Warren. They must untangle if the culprit is a lone wolf or part of a major conspiracy involving different US agencies or foreign powers.

The action and adventure comes from her personal experiences that include her flying an airplane, parachuting, and mountain biking. Anne is one of those authors who does not just do the talk, but have actually done the walk.

She noted the fact versus fiction of the story. Fact: SEALs are on call 24/7 if they are in operational mode. Many SEALs desire to become astronauts after retiring and some have actually achieved that goal. At the end of the book Anne details the experiences of Chris Cassidy and William Shepherd. She also wants people to understand how “Underwater Demolition Team Frogmen, precursors to the Navy SEALs played a key role during the Gemini and Apollo programs by leaping in the water to recover the capsule and help the astronaut.” On the other hand pure creative thought was the Lester Facility, a covert place that will launch hardware into space via the Warren shuttle.

A powerful quote describes these silent fighters, both in real life and fiction. “The public would be unaware of the men’s pain and sacrifices. The selfless warrior did not require an accolade; rather, survival and success were the greatest gifts of all.”

The author explained, “I hope readers are encouraged to learn more about the real life personalities of these men who contributed to the betterment of all humanity. They are my words but it is based on the SEALs who I know. Part of their motto is ‘never quit.’ They are not limelight guys but rather are quiet, humble, bold, strong, and brave.”

This novel has elements of a thriller, science fiction, mystery, and romance. It is a good read to understand a little of the SEAL personality and missions, as well as the effect it has on th 51zU+uZ+fPL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_

Book Review The Seventh Plague by James Rollins

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 Seventh Plague by James Rollins blends scientific intrigue with a small dose of historical mystery. Unlike his other books this one has more of an emphasis on the science, both physical and biological. However, readers of Rollins’ books always learn from interesting facts within a gripping story and this novel is no different.

This as well as the other books always has scenes between Commander Grayson Pierce and his father who has Alzheimer’s’ disease. Rollins believes he was influenced “by my father’s death during the course of writing this book. No author writes within a vacuum. This is reflected in the storyline, which started with the first book and the subsequent decline of his father. My own dad was my biggest promoter, and my loudest cheerleader.”

The novel begins with an archeological dig in Egypt going very awry. Archeologist Harold McCabe is found stumbling out of the sands, but dies before he can tell his story. The mystery deepens when his body appears to have been mummified before his death. During the autopsy it becomes apparent that within is a deadly pathogen that threatens to cause a pandemic, with the virus spreading throughout the globe. It is airborne and highly contagious with a mortality rate similar to Ebola and somehow connected to the plagues listed in the book of Exodus. Turning to McCabe’s daughter Jen a connection is further discovered tying the current threat to Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla.

The theory proposed in the book attributes an environmental change that turned the Nile red. The book speaks of the “algae blooms, bacteria growth, even heavy contaminations.” Rollins noted to blackfive.net, “I wanted to write a story about the book of Exodus that will try to prove the events depicted about Moses were factual. The scientific explanation for the plagues was due to a major climatic period of change within Mother Nature. This is a modern version of the cascade of events where I made the connection that it mimicked the ancient plagues.”

Furthermore, Rollins explained why he included two famous historical figures. “I am a big Mark Twain fan. I like the fact he and Nikola Tesla were friends. Twain hung around his lab and did experiments with him. At the end of his life Tesla claimed of having a shocking discovery, a new energy source. The possibility became the ‘germ’ for this book. He had research surrounding energy and new electrical sources. He actually invented an alternating current, which is what we pretty much use in every single US household, the electrical infrastructure.”

Through Sigma Force’s investigation a mysterious group of assassins is found that attempts to erase all evidence through destruction and death. Seichan is pitted against the Russian assassin Valya Mikhailov who can match her skill for skill while Commander Grayson tries to keep the scientists safe. On the other side of the globe Director Painter Crowe struggles to stop a mad genius locked within a remote Arctic engineering complex.

Rollins, “I put in the sub-plot of how someone with a massive geo-engineering program could have things go terribly wrong if he succeeded. Global warming is happening, but my goal for this book is to show how geo-engineering is ignoring the change to the carbon in the atmosphere. Instead, they are going for the Hail Mary pass that includes wrapping a big blanket around Greenland.”

He told of his next book projects: “Seichen and Vayla butting heads where Seichen represents the non-dark side and Vayla stayed in the shadows. There will be a resolution to their battle. This next Sigma book will bring back as a major character, Maria, the human mother of the gorilla Baako. It will involve a mystery surrounding the end of World War II. This one will be more historical. I am also writing by myself a Tucker and Kane book where Kane will get a girlfriend, a search and rescue dog. There is also talk, coming out in the summer, of a compilation of short stories in an anthology with a new novella added.”

The Seventh Plague blends action, adventure, with a lot of science. It has an interesting premise based upon the reality of the plagues imposed by Moses on the Egyptians as well as informing readers about the Twain/Tesla relationship. 61M7QkVRpYL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_

Book Review When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Krentz

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.

When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz leaves readers spell bound. Although billed as a suspense romance novel it can easily fit into the thriller category. As with the Columbo TV series there is very little attempt to hide the identity of the antagonist, but the motive and possible conspiracies are masked throughout much of the novel. Just when the reader thinks they had found the answers, the carpet is pulled from under them with a new set of questions.

This is the first in a trilogy. Krentz noted to blackfive.net, “I am writing the other brother’s story as we speak. The third novel will resolve the evil cult mystery left over from this book. Each is a stand-alone with a mystery on to itself. There will be cameos from the characters of this first book. I really love that set-up of a private investigator series. Any mystery with a PI can handle more personal stories involving confidentiality, keeping secrets, and probing the personal corners of other people’s lives. This series is now a trilogy, but if it works it can be the core for a PI series.”

This story has two plotlines that come together at the end. The plot begins with the possible murder of a woman and the disappearance of another. It appears that the one with all the answers is Jocelyn Pruett, but she has disappeared. A private detective, Max Cutler, is hired to find out why one woman was murdered and in the course of his investigation meets up with Charlotte Sawyer, the stepsister to Jocelyn. Together they search for answers and link the death and disappearance to an on-line based investment club and Jocelyn’s past of being a rape victim. They find that power, privilege, an escalating serial rapist, and a friend-enemy are all fighting to silence Charlotte and Max.

An over-riding arc that will continue in this trilogy has three stepbrothers obsessed in trying to find out the cult leader who imprisoned them, and set a fire that ultimately killed others. Because they had no relatives the police chief who rescued them adopted the three and raised them as his sons. The question of what became of this cult leader has haunted the brothers. Max was affected so deeply he had to leave his criminal profiler job, got divorced, and relocated to Seattle.

The theme of the novel involves deceptions, unanswered questions, and finding out the truth. Revenge, vigilante justice, and becoming avengers are the central part of the story. Something most readers can relate to is how “life passes in the blink of an eye.”

Krentz feels the “avengers crossed the line to find justice and then became vigilantes, which is not healthy. This is why I could not make the heroine one of them. Her own core values would not allow that kind of justice that involves less than legal means. I wanted to show women are perfectly capable of thinking about revenge and will have their own way of doing it. I always believe that whoever plans revenge has a dark side. Vengeance is a dangerous thing and usually comes back to haunt you. Vigilantism is like the western story of meeting a guy in front of the saloon and shooting it out.”

The two sisters appear to be as different as night and day. Jocelyn is flashy, an “A-list girl”, bold, and self-confident. Charlotte is seen as risk-averse, cautious, vulnerable, level headed, honest, and not spontaneous. She is in-sync in personality with Max who is also vulnerable, doubtful, a plodder, and comfortable enough with each other to share their past.

As with all her books the characters grow throughout the story. “I had Jocelyn learn

something about herself, which is she does need Charlotte as a sister of the heart. On the other hand, Charlotte learned that her inner strength was greater than she gave herself credit for. Most of us do not understand our own strength until something stresses us and then we have to deal with it. Regarding Max and Charlotte, Something I have in my books is how the relationship develops when the hero sees the strengths and the heroic qualities in the heroine and she sees those same qualities in him. Their story compliments each other. They share the common core values: courage, honor, determination, and the healing power of love.”

This novel is a great read for fans of mysteries who will not be able to put the book down. The many twists and turns create an exciting plot with action building throughout the story. 51rwc4TUN4L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Book Review A Voice For Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens

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.

If there is any reason to rejoice over the fact Hillary Clinton was not elected President, it is one word, Benghazi. The 3 a.m. phone call came and she did not answer the call. Americans still do not know the truth and facts surrounding her role in this tragic incident.

Lydie M. Denier has just released her book, A Voice For Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Denier, the former fiancé of Ambassador Stevens and Patricia Smith, the mother of Sean, the information officer in Libya, discussed their feelings about the election, Hillary Clinton, and the Benghazi cover-up.

Lydie is disgusted that people are rioting and in mourning because Hillary Clinton was not elected President. She and Patricia understand it is their right, but are glad Hillary Clinton did not become Commander-in-Chief.

As a Hollywood actress, Lydie, has some words of advice for her peers, “When they asked me why I was against having a woman President, I responded, ‘I want one, but not her. Lots of my Hollywood friends say I am now moving away. I answered go and I will help you pack. Move on.’”

She wanted people to know that for the past three years she has had a hard time getting A Voice For Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens published. “I was told who cares about his life. This sounded like they were echoing Hillary Clinton’s comment before the Congressional Committee when she said ‘what difference does it make?’ It does matter because Chris needed a voice and I am happy to be it. He was always in my heart and I wanted people to get to know him as a great human being. In going through his stuff his mother found some pictures with me. The letters I have, some of which I published, show him to be a very romantic and thoughtful person. It has been a constant fight to get the story out, and I had to publish it in Canada.”

Lydie told how she saw emails where Clinton referred to the Ambassador as “Sean Stevens,” when asking if she should immediately go public or wait until the next day. Was she uncaring or ignorant as she mixed up the names of those who died?

She also wonders what happened to Chris’ journal, since he kept one every day. “I heard his passport, belongings, and journal were never given to his family. I can speculate that someone gave them to the State Department. Who knows what they did with them, possibly burning them. There was also a picture of him taken the day he died where he is standing between two men. I was told those were the two who are responsible for Chris’ death.”

The book has a quote that shows her frustration, “No one seems interested in digging for the facts to learn the truth about what happened to Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty who died tragically and needlessly that day. Instead, they want to obscure the truth to protect a political position...”

The quote is more applicable today since the Wikileaks’ emails have come out. They show how Hillary Clinton told the truth to Chelsea, but not the American people. Lydie noted, “I want Americans to understand that Clinton sent him to Benghazi without any security. She ignored the 600 requests for help. He had been to Benghazi twice before. Even though she knew how dangerous it was she sent him there because she wanted a presence on September 11th. He was to go there in August 2012 but because of the lack of security he and his team cancelled it. The trip was supposed to be postponed until October or November. Chris went there on 9/11 because she directly told him to go.”

She went on to say that “Chris had decided it was way too dangerous and had decided not to finish his term as Ambassador and to come home. He was thinking of retiring because he saw a lack of respect within the State Department. Gregory Hicks told me they had tried desperately to get help after receiving the call from Chris that they were under attack. He felt powerless since he could not convince anyone to send help. Probably because this was the real “3 AM” phone call and she was sleeping.”

Patricia Smith echoes Lydie’s sentiments. She also believes Clinton was sleeping and that she “never had their backs. I suspect she knew what was going on and went to bed. Her lies were never ending. First, she looks me in the eye and says that a video caused my son’s death, and then when I called her on it she says ‘one of us is lying and its not me,’ basically calling me a liar. When I tried to get answers no one in the State Department spoke with me because ‘You are not part of the immediate family.’”

She went on to say that she does not even know where her son is buried and worries that his body is not the one in the casket brought back to America. “They never opened up the casket so I could see him. They did not even take them out of Libya in an American plane, probably because it was too dangerous. I truly believe she murdered my son.”

Lydie and Patricia are glad Hillary Clinton lost, but it is a bittersweet victory since that will never bring back their loved ones. As Lydie noted, “How could anyone have trusted Clinton to take care of this whole country when she could not even take care of four men in Benghazi. I truly believe Hillary Clinton’s choice to sit still, leaving Americans alone, to fend for themselves in Benghazi, will go down in history as a singular act of cowardice.” 51e3GrDl-SL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_