Posted in Giveaway, Guest Post, Political thriller, Spotlight, suspense on July 14, 2016

District Manager banner


by Matt Minor

Genre: Political Suspense
Publisher: Dead Tree
Date of Publication: June 30, 2016
Number of Pages: 266

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District Manager Cover

“Doing the right thing means you don’t eat”

So begins the sweltering narrative of District Manager, Mason Dixon, a haunted man serving Texas House District 100. After a constituent reaches out to his office with disturbing information about twisted activities going on in district, Mason finds himself drawn into a game of cat and mouse with a malevolent entity.

While these events unfold, Mason begins dating a county judge’s assistant. Brenna is a single mother who is ready to start the next chapter of her life. Can she and the stoical Mason connect? Or will she become collateral damage to his unorthodox, occupational hazards?

Mason soon finds that the danger has reached the highest ranks of the district, and that the century-old structure where he offices is not haunted, but instead possessed by an all too real menace.

Can a man who is profoundly broken restore order when the very core of order itself has been corrupted?

“Matt Minor knows Texas politics from the inside, and he weaves a devious tale of deceit and death and even a little romance. Buckle your seat belt and hang on for the ride.”  — Bill Crider


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guest post

Writing The District Manager

Guest Post by Matt Minor

Writing The District Manger was a taxing experience. It literally drained me emotionally, physically, and dare I say, spiritually. Mason Dixon, the story’s protagonist, is a haunted if not a disturbed man. The tale is told in the first person. Inhabiting Mason for the time it took to complete the first draft of the novel left me in an unhealthy state: one that literally found me in the hospital by year’s end.

Mason is an emotionally stoical character and an introvert, two characteristics that I do not personally possess. Shifting into that mode on a repeated basis disrupted my equilibrium dramatically. The one attribute of his that was borne from the author is the protagonist’s outrage at injustice, which often reaches the point of hyperbole. Like I said, I was left in an unhealthy state.

The District Manager is a fast paced, realistic gothic novel. It begins by suggesting, and then later climaxes with an underground dog fight; the scene in question very disturbing for its realism. The version of this scene that actually made it into the final novel was contrived after much editing. I was advised that the original draft was simply too over the top. However, my editing team had to concede, despite their consternation, that the original was very well written.

When I was still conceiving The District Manager I had the odd circumstance of coming into contact with an individual who was intimate with persons who had actually been convicted and incarcerated for illegal dog fighting. Over numerous drinks he described to me in considerable detail the process by which this violent, illegal enterprise is conducted. I knew after our discussion that even the best of my imagination could not sculpt a more compelling/disturbing picture than what he related.

I went with it. Hardcore realism.

When the book was finished and the editing process was complete, I found the novel to be both an enlightening and dislocating experience. The District Manager is a train wreck; a train wreck you cannot take your eyes away from…I hope.


about the author

matt minorMatt Minor presently serves as a Chief of Staff in the Texas House of Representatives. He has worked as a political campaign manager and is a well-regarded public speaker. Matt has authored official state publications, oversees syndicated editorials, and is a speechwriter and district radio legislative commentator. Prior to his life in state politics Matt was a professional musician and entertainer. Matt’s hobbies are centered on the arts, including the craft of poetry, an interest that has brought academic recognition and numerous awards.

His first novel, The Representative was an Amazon Political Fiction Bestseller the summer of 2015. It was accepted and archived into the Texas State Legislative Library. In April of 2016 The Representative won an IPPY Gold medal for Southern-Region Fiction.

Matt Minor resides with his wife Stacy on their ranch property in Wharton County, Texas. He lives in Austin during legislative session.


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   June 13 – June 22, 2016

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7/13    Country Girl Bookaholic – Review

7/14    StoreyBook Reviews – Guest Post #1

7/15    The Page Unbound –  Author Interview

7/16    Missus Gonzo – Review

7/17    Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books – Promo

7/18    Reading By Moonlight  – Excerpt

7/19    It’s a Jenn World – Review

7/20    Forgotten Winds – Guest Post #2

7/21    The Crazy Booksellers  – Promo

7/22    My Book Fix Blog – Review

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Posted in Political thriller, Spotlight on December 11, 2015

Nations Divided


Peace has been decades in the making, but chaos is just the press of a button away.

Jack Emery is happier than he has been in a long time. Nobody has shot at him or tried to blow him up for years, and he’s learned to love the job he thought he’d hate: Special Advisor to the President of the United States.

But nothing can prepare Jack for the work to come. As America continues to heal from self-inflicted wounds, an ambitious President McGhinnist draws closer to achieving the impossible: peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

As the countdown to peace reaches zero, a desperate group of hardline Israelis invoke the Samson Option, a secret protocol that will eradicate the peace agreement and pave the way for the destruction of America and the Middle East.

Jack has learned the hard way that when a crisis knocks, you don’t always get the chance to ignore it.

This political thriller is perfect for readers of Vince Flynn, Steve Berry and Tom Clancy.


Momentum * Amazon * iBooks

About the Author

Steve Vincent authorSteve P. Vincent lives with his wife in a pokey apartment in Melbourne, Australia, where he’s forced to write on the couch in front of an obnoxiously large television.

When he’s not writing, Steve keeps food and flat whites on the table working for the man. He enjoys beer, whisky, sports and dreaming up ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to write about.

He has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Science and History. His honors thesis was on the topic of global terrorism. He has traveled extensively through Europe, the United States and Asia.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Political thriller, Spotlight on August 12, 2015

Joining the military had seemed like the right thing to do, but when war breaks out in Europe Robert wonders if he hasn’t made the biggest mistake of his life. The Russian juggernaut grinds its way toward Italy, the country Robert has grown to love. As one of a handful of American soldiers in the area, he must find a way to help the ragged remnants of NATO’s forces to prevent any more European nations from falling.

While back home, the rest of the Williams family struggles to protect themselves in the face of an impending civil war.  The very fabric of society continues to unravel, threatening the destruction of the Constitution and the American way of life.
As Vice President, Calvin McCord continues to defy both sides of the political divide in order to find a solution to the war in Europe, the ravaging of the United States, and an espionage ring within the White House. 

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RANDY LINDSAY is a native of Arizona. He lives in Mesa with his wife, five of his nine children, and a hyper-active imagination. His wife calls him the “Storyman” because he sees everything as material for a good story. Randy’s first novel, The Gathering: End’s Beginning, was published in 2014. He has also been published in several anthologies during 2013-2014. If you want to find out more you can check him out at

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In this scene Robert is assigned to work with the demolitions experts in the unit.




“Gentlemen, this here know-nothing private is Williams,” Wojcik said, indicating Robert. “If you have anything dangerous that needs to be done—use him. There are more privates where he came from, but we would have to pull a lot of strings to replace either one of you.”

“Understood,” said Shaw, with a deep voice that sounded a bit like someone gargling with boulders.

The two N.C.O.s glanced at Robert and then gave one another a what-are-we-going-to-do-with-him look.

As Robert stood there, nervously waiting as the N.C.O.s conferred with one another, he examined the equipment in the back of the Humvee. Blocks of what appeared to be clay had wires coming out of them. Then it dawned on Robert that these were explosives. “You’re the demolition experts.”

“That we are,” Shaw rumbled.

Cohen gave a single nod, his creepy eyes remaining fixed on Robert.

“What am I going to be doing?” Robert asked.

Both of them laughed.

“You’re going to help us blow up an embassy,” said Shaw.

“Ours?” Robert asked.

“Yep,” said Shaw.

“I thought we were going to clear out the debris so we could rebuild it.”

“Change of plans,” said Shaw, loading explosives into a backpack. “This is the second time terrorists have attacked this embassy in the last decade and with Russia on the offensive the region isn’t safe. Washington wants us to pack up anything worth keeping and then blow the whole thing. The Turkish government can worry about cleaning up the mess.”

That didn’t make any sense to Robert. Turkey was an ally. They should be helping secure the embassy. Instead, it seemed like both sides were anxious to evacuate the U.S. soldiers.

“Okay,” said Robert, “but what am I doing with you guys?”

“We blew up our last assistant,” said Cohen. “We need a new one.”


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Posted in Guest Post, Political thriller, Spotlight on June 1, 2015

Today I welcome author Steve Vincent, author of Fireplay (free short story), The Foundation (free at the time I wrote this), and a new release due out June 11th, State of Emergency.  These feature reporter Jack Emery.

First the books and then how Steve cooked up these political thrillers.

fireplay cover


A chance lightning strike. A reporter in the right place. A scandal that will rock America.

Journalist Jack Emery has seen it all. Embedded for the New York Standard with the 8th Marine Regiment in the heart of Afghanistan, he has covered everything from firefights to the opening of new schools. But nothing has prepared Jack for the story that is about to explode right in front of him.

When a convoy Jack is riding in is attacked by a lone zealot, Jack asks a question that puts him on the path of a sensational story. But he’ll soon learn that his struggles to find the hook are nothing compared to the dangers of getting it out.


Amazon * Momentum website * iTunes * Barnes & Noble

The foundation


He who holds the pen holds the power.

When a corrupt think tank, The Foundation for a New America, enlists a Taiwanese terrorist to bomb a World Trade Organization conference, the US and China are put on the path to war.

Star journalist Jack Emery is pulled into a story far more dangerous than he could have imagined. Because the Foundation’s deputy director, the ruthless Michelle Dominique, recognizes that whoever controls the message controls the world. And she will take control, no matter the price.

Enter Jack’s boss, Ernest McDowell, owner and chairman of the largest media empire on the planet. In the midst of political upheaval, EMCorp is about to become the final play in the Foundation’s plan. When Dominique traps the EMCorp owner in her web, Jack’s the only one left to expose the conspiracy before it’s too late.

As the world powers smash each other against the anvil of Taiwan, Jack will risk everything to battle the Foundation and prevent them from taking control amid the devastation of a global war.


Amazon * Momentum Website * iTunes * Barnes & Noble

state of emergency cover


What is the true cost of security?

Amid a wave of unprecedented terrorist attacks on American soil, a panicked and inexperienced president declares a state of emergency and hands over control of the country to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The quiet and unassuming Administrator Hall soon becomes the most powerful man in America. Determined to stop the attacks, Hall enforces his order across the US, using a newly empowered State Guard to deal with anyone who gets in his way.

As totalitarianism descends across the country, battle-weary reporter Jack Emery is faced with a terrifying new reality when friends, colleagues, and sources are imprisoned before his eyes. Among weekly terrorist attacks, FEMA atrocities, and the clamp tightening on every element of society, Jack becomes one of the few struggling to stop the madness.

This time though, he’s on the wrong side of the law and fighting the very government he’s trying to save.


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Guest Post – Cooking up a political thriller

Writing popular, genre fiction is in many ways following a recipe. I know that saying this takes away some of the mystery, but it’s the truth. While readers want to be entertained and surprised, they also want to broadly know what they’re getting if they pick up a thriller, or a police procedural, or a sci-fi or a fantasy.

But within that broad parameter – or recipe – authors have an enormous amount of freedom to cook up stories in fun and amazing ways. Some plan in great detail before they write a word, some map out a whole series ahead of time, and some write by the seat of their pants. Some are inspired by concept or some by character.

For me, inspiration comes from figuring out a cool concept or conspiracy and then finding a way to plug characters into it and have them bounce off of each other. This often manifests itself as a “what if?” question.

For The Foundation, I was interested in the concentration of media power in a few hands and wanted to explore what would happen if that were subverted to some nefarious end. That was my “What if?” After that, I had to cook up some characters and get them into trouble for 85,000 words to help scratch the itch of that original question. Given it turned into a globetrotting, action packed ride, so much the better!

For State of Emergency, the second in the series and my newest book (released on 11 June 2015), the “what if?” was more about internal subversion of a political system. Whereas The Foundation was big, bold and brassy, I think State of Emergency is a much more localised, nuanced plot. There’s still plenty of danger and action for Jack Emery to work through, but it’s a more subtle, menacing type.

The prequel novella I recently released – Fireplay – was easy. In developing The Foundation, I realised there was this rich backstory from Jack Emery’s life as a journalist that it would be a shame not to explore it. I wrote it because I wanted to, but also because I believe in giving readers – particularly in digital – a small, free treat from time to time. I may do more of these in future.

There are plenty of ideas in my head – great situations or premises for plots – that simply wouldn’t fit for a Jack Emery story. They may be developed as stand alone books in future, or as another series, but they’ll never be in this series. The concept needs to fit the plot, and the plot needs to fit the characters. If one link in the chain fails, so too will the book

Once you’ve settled on a concept, developed a plot and fit your cast of characters inside, it’s important to research all the elements of the story. Nobody is perfect at this, I’m sure I’ve made mistakes and some reviewers are quick to point them out. But, like most authors, I do my best to get my facts straight and in doing so keep the reader in the story, rather than screaming at the book for being WRONG!

This has been tricky for the Jack Emery series, for one special reason – I’m Australian. An abject fear of getting it all wrong is the reason I need to research so much. I know my own country’s politics and political system back to front, but when writing political thrillers set in America, I had to go back to school and learn. Good thing I enjoy it

If writing popular fiction follows a recipe, then coming up with great concepts and characters is the same as using good quality ingredients. The research? That’s making sure you cook it probably.

About the Author

vincent steveSteve P. Vincent lives with his wife in a pokey apartment in Melbourne, Australia, where he’s forced to write on the couch in front of an obnoxiously large television.

When he’s not writing, Steve keeps food and flat whites on the table working for the man. He enjoys beer, whisky, sports and dreaming up ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to write about.

He has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Science and History. His honors thesis was on the topic of global terrorism. He has traveled extensively through Europe, the United States and Asia.

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Posted in Crime, Guest Post, International, Political thriller on December 21, 2014

It is always exciting to feature the thoughts of an author here on StoreyBook Reviews and today I give a warm welcome to author Adrian Churchward who is the author of Moscow Bounds.  I have to say I agree with the title of his guest post, that the truth is stranger than fiction..just look at the news today and some of the crazy stories we hear each day.  You can’t make some of that stuff up!


“Truth Really is Stranger Than Fiction”

After being an attorney focused on the truth for so many years, what’s it like to write fiction, and create characters out of nothing?

This is an interesting question, if only because the harsh reality of common law jurisdictions like the USA and UK is that we have an adversarial system, where the search for “truth” takes second place to the emphasis on destroying the opposing side’s credibility.

And so far as writing fiction is concerned, I suspect that few authors create characters out of nothing. Most of the characters in Moscow Bound are composites of people I met, primarily because the real-life activities I saw in Russia were so interesting. I have been reading Russian literature and about Russian culture all my life, but nothing prepared me for the realities on the streets of Moscow. To date, it has been the most fascinating period of my life.

If I were to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about my experiences readers would find it impossible to suspend their disbelief.

An example:

In my novel, General Pravda of military intelligence is summoned to his superior’s office, where he’s ordered to deliver a man that Pravda removed from the secret city of Arzamas for medical reasons. The office is in a former Soviet Ministry building off Staropanksy Street, behind the Supreme Court, a few minutes’ walk from the Kremlin. I describe the room as containing a 22-seat redwood table in the middle, ten chairs either side, a large map of the world on one wall; two of the other walls clad with brown wood panelling and the fourth wall comprising a line of windows with their blinds permanently closed and a threadbare green carpet resembling a relic from the days of Catherine the Great.

This was based on a real office I visited in 1987/9, also located off Staropansky Street. It was occupied by a Soviet Ministry bureaucrat who’d accepted that the days of communism were over. It was not too difficult for me to gain access with the right connections and sufficient dollars–no “aspiring entrepreneur” could be bribed with roubles. In the real room, however, were also fifteen antiquated red telephones, one for each Soviet republic. The bureaucrat told me they were used during Stalin’s 1930 show trials, when high-ranking Kremlin members would call judges during trials to instruct them on what verdict and sentence to pronounce. In the most important cases, Stalin would personally use phones like these to call the court and order the death penalty for some hapless wretch. Soviet apologists deny this ever happened, but there is plenty of authoritative literature that establishes the contrary.

I had read about telephone law in my early Soviet studies, but that didn’t stop me from freezing when I saw these fifteen instruments, innocuously arranged on the table – waiting to convey their messages of death.

It’s a cliché, but truth really is stranger than fiction, for as Lord Byron said in his poem Don Juan:

‘Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction; if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!
How differently the world would men behold!
How oft would vice and virtue places change!
The new world would be nothing to the old,
If some Columbus of the moral seas
Would show mankind their souls’ antipodes.’


moscow bound


When wealthy Russian Ekaterina Romanova asks Scott Mitchell, a young English human rights lawyer, to find the father she’s never met, she can’t foresee the danger they will both find themselves in. Ekaterina believes her father has been languishing for decades without trial in the Gulag system. Scott, though he’s already being intimidated by the authorities for prosecuting Russian war crimes, agrees to help. What they don’t expect is General Pravda of Russian military intelligence, who hinders their investigation at every turn. Though he’s an advocate of transparency in a corrupt and complex bureaucracy, Pravda has a secret that he needs to protect. Before long, lawyer and client are on the run for a murder they didn’t commit. As they descend into the Hades that is the world of international realpolitik, and as decades-old secrets crumble, they each must reconsider their identity in this new world.


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About the Author

adrian ChurchwardBetween 1984 and 1998 Adrian Churchward lived and worked in Moscow, Budapest and Prague as an East-West trade lawyer, representing British, American, and German corporations. During this period he became fluent in Russian, and proficient in
translating Russian commercial and legal texts into English. He was one of the few Western lawyers working in the day-to-day arena of President Gorbachev’s liberalization process of perestroika and glasnost, and which ultimately resulted in the collapse of communism and disintegration of the Soviet Union. In 1991, he witnessed the abortive coup against Gorbachev, and in 1993, he was again present in Moscow when Yeltsin ordered the shelling of the Russian parliament building, aka the “The Russian White House.” Moscow Bound is his first work of fiction. He has also co-written and co-produced a short film called Paranoia which was shown at the Budapest Film Festival in September 2013. He now lives in London, has two daughters, three grandsons and a cat that eats furniture.

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Posted in Political thriller, Spotlight on July 30, 2014

Destiny's Anvil Book Cover

New Orleans novelist Steven Wells Hicks recently published his latest novel Destiny’s Anvil: A Tale of Politics, Payback & Pigs.

Destiny’s Anvil is a classic tale of revenge between a sociopathic politician and the campaign puppet master who unleashes him
 on the people of Louisiana. Written from an insider’s experiences in the back rooms of hardball Dixie politics where cold-blooded payback
is coin of the realm, Destiny’s Anvil is at once a sharp-eyed examination of the seamy underside of America’s elections and a freewheeling yarn in the grand Southern tradition.

Destiny’s Anvil was published in June 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon:


Will Guidry’s career as a backwater lawyer is going nowhere until he has a couple of beers with up-and-coming political operative Tucker Callahan, whose family’s petrochemical fortune instills in him a confidence bordering on hubris. As Tucker explains to his rudderless brother, Carter, “Guidry and I made a deal because he needed a miracle and I wanted to play God.”

Guidry rides Tucker’s political horse sense into the office of Louisiana’s Attorney General, while Tucker capitalizes on Guidry’s victory to bolster his own political reputation. But what should become a powerful alliance deteriorates into a bitter feud when Guidry tries to flex his political muscle and Tucker suspects he may have maneuvered a calculating sociopath into the marble halls of power.

Caught in the crossfire is Carter, the story’s narrator. Devastated by betrayal at the hands of his brother and the woman he loved for a lifetime, a brooding Carter remains content to watch the power struggle between Tucker and Guidry from the sidelines. Everything changes when he stumbles on the charismatic attorney general committing a monstrous crime, and finds himself drawn into the vortex of his brother’s private war.

Racing from a bungled execution through ruthless political payback and a no-holds-barred courtroom showdown, before culminating in a bloodbath by the side of a bayou, the stakes continue to rise and Carter finds his small-town naiveté peeling away. Replacing it is a mounting dread of what will happen when the hammer of Fate meets destiny’s anvil.


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About the author

steven headshotSteven Hicks came to Mississippi in 1974 and spent the next quarter century writing for various advertising agencies, including his own. He wrote commercials and print ads about hot dogs and other baloney, used cars, barbecue shacks, sunscreen, banks galore, white bread, undertakers, churches, casinos, turkey calls, finger-lickin’ chicken and symphony orchestras. Some of the work was thoughtful. Some was funny. Most was neither.

During that period of time, he earned the enmity of his competitors and peers by being named Mississippi’s top copywriter nine times, winning six certificates of excellence in the International CLIO Awards, over 150 ADDY Awards, Radio Mercury honors and being included in Who’s Who in American Advertising.

A major portion of his advertising and marketing income came through his work as a political consultant, engineering the media and messaging efforts for more than six dozen campaigns, culminating with the POLLIE Award for best statewide/national commercial from the American Association of Political Consultants in 1989.

While the embarrassing abundance of honors mean next to nothing to Hicks, the education he got through the process meant everything. He learned how to write what people like. He learned to write with economy and clarity, because consumers won’t buy things from long-winded peddlers of perplexity. He learned when words have to be polished and when they’re best left plain.

Through it all, people kept telling Hicks he should write books and he kept saying, “Maybe one day,” until the day came when a near-fatal stroke in 1997 forced him into an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with his own mortality, and he realized he wanted to be remembered for something more consequential than gimmicky commercials.

There was only one hitch. The stroke had taken away his ability to read.

For the next thirteen months, Hicks stubbornly stared at newspaper letters until he could form words, read sentences, then paragraphs, and finally had the ability to once again read novels, albeit at a far slower pace and with cognitive problems enhanced by lingering reading difficulties stemming from alexia, an aphasia problem caused by brain lesions.

It made the headstrong Hicks more determined than ever to take a shot at those novels people had been encouraging him to write for years.

Ten years and eleven revisions later came his debut novel, The Gleaner, a trans-racial romance set in a sleepy Mississippi whistle-stop. In a competition of 5,000 entries, The Gleaner was named a quarter-finalist in’s prestigious “Breakthrough Novel” competition. Upon its heels came two comic novels in 2009, The Fall of Adam, a satire of Deep South advertising, and Horizontal Adjustment, a farce about sexual escapades among competitors for a news anchor position in a tank town television station along the Florida Panhandle.

Deciding to take a breather from novels, Hicks started publishing New Orleans restaurant guidebooks on an annual basis in 2011, all of which have become mainstays on’s list of the 100 top-selling books about world dining.

In May of 2014, Hicks published his fourth novel, Destiny’s Anvil, which marked a stark departure from the breezy style of his earlier works.

“The final product is the polar opposite of the novel’s original intent. It is dark, violent bordering on savage, as it strips away the veneers of not only politicians, but the entire American political system. At the same time, it moves with the furious pace of a thriller overflowing with cliffhangers,” says Hicks.

Steven Wells Hicks currently resides in Jackson, Mississippi but is in the process of moving to New Orleans.

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Posted in Book Blast, contest, Giveaway, Political thriller on May 14, 2013


The EnemyThe Enemy

A red-hot political thriller from a blue state author.

Buried among the thousands of financial transactions he reviews each day, analyst Randy Duncan finds a secret web of laundered money financing the assassination of the President, which, in turn, will lead the country into war. Can Randy and his law-student daughter Clare follow the money and stop the enemy in time? In a political thriller worthy of Dan Brown, Richard Condon, and Allen Drury, award-winning novelist Larry Bograd charts a political thriller sure to keep you reading and leave you sleepless wondering and worried about who really controls America.

Amazon * Barnes & Noble





larryAuthor Larry Bograd

Larry Bograd has published more than two dozen books, primary for children and young adults–and now his first eBook original, “The Enemy.”

He is also a playwright, screenwriter, and filmmaker. He is president of Roundtable Media Group, which produces documentary films, Web shows, and events.


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Book Blast Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/31/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the participat author/publisher. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Prize value $100 US.


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Posted in Blog tour, excerpt, Political thriller on October 25, 2012

An Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista

When the guard left, the iron door resonated briefly as the magnetic lock engaged itself. Byron sat in a steel folding chair. Directly in front of him was a narrow ledge under a multi-layered, almost opaque plastic window, in the middle of which was a metal circle.

Ali Hussein seemed to just materialize in the small space behind the partition. Dressed in a yellow jumpsuit printed with the initials “FDC” for “Federal Detention Center,” Hussein, who had been described to Byron as an accountant trained at Seton Hall, in Newark, was a slender man who appeared far more mild-mannered than Byron expected. He wore cloth slippers with no shoelaces. The waistband of his jump suit was elasticized—not even a cloth belt. He had as little access to hard objects as possible.

He waited for Byron to speak first. Leaning toward the metal speaker in the partition and raising his voice, Byron said, “You are Mr. Hussein, aren’t you?”

The lawyers at the Civil Liberties Union who had first contacted Byron told him that, in their limited experience with accused terrorists, it sometimes wasn’t clear what their real names were. There were often no fingerprints or DNA samples that could confirm their identities. The name Ali Hussein was as common as a coin. It was as though genetic markers and their histories began only at the moment of their arrest.

“I am.” He spoke perfect, unaccented English. “I don’t know what your name is.”

The circular speaker in the window, although it created a tinny sound, worked well. Byron lowered his voice. “I’m Byron Johnson. I’m a lawyer from New York. I met your brother. Did he tell you to expect me?”

“I haven’t heard from my brother in years. He has no idea how to reach me, I can’t reach him.”

“Has anyone told you why you’re here?”

“Someone on the airplane—I don’t know who he was, I was blind-folded—said I was being brought here because I’d been charged with a crime. He said I could have a lawyer. Are you that lawyer?”

“I am. If you want me, and if I want to do this.”

All that Ali’s more abrasive, more aggressive brother had told Byron was that Ali was born in Syria, moved as a child with his family to Lebanon during the civil war in the 1980s, and then came to the United States. Ali never became a United States citizen. Five months after the invasion of Iraq, he traveled to Germany to do freelance accounting work for an American corporation for what was scheduled to be a ten-day visit. While Ali was in Germany, his brother said, he had simply disappeared, as if waved out of existence. His family had written repeatedly to the State Department, the CIA, and the local congressman. They were letters sent into a vacuum. Nobody ever answered.

Byron asked, “Do you know where you’ve come from?”

“How do I know who you are?”

Byron began to reach for his wallet, where he stored his business cards. He caught himself because of the absurdity of that: he could have any number of fake business cards. Engraved with gold lettering, his real business card had his name and the name of his law firm, one of the oldest and largest in the country. Ali Hussein was obviously too intelligent, too alert, and too suspicious to be convinced by a name on a business card or a license or a credit card.

“I don’t have any way of proving who I am. I can just tell you that I’m Byron Johnson, I’ve been a lawyer for years, I live in New York, and I was asked by your brother and others to represent you.”

Almost unblinking, Ali just stared at Byron, who tried to hold his gaze, but failed.

At last Ali asked, “And you want to know what’s happened to me?”

“We can start there. I’m only allowed thirty minutes to visit you this week. Tell me what you feel you want to tell me, or can tell me. And then we’ll see where we go. You don’t have to tell me everything about who you are, what you did before you were arrested, who you know in the outside world. Or you don’t have to tell me anything. I want nothing from you other than to help you.”

Ali leaned close to the metallic hole in the smoky window. The skin around his eyes was far darker than the rest of his face, almost as if he wore a Zorro-style mask. Byron took no notes, because to do so might make Ali Hussein even more mistrustful.

“Today don’t ask me any questions. People have asked me lots of questions over the years. I’m sick of questions.” It was like listening to a voice from a world other than the one in which Byron lived. There was nothing angry or abusive in his tone: just a matter-of-fact directness, as though he was describing to Byron a computation he had made on one of Byron’s tax returns. “One morning five Americans in suits stopped me at a red light. I was in Bonn. I drove a rented Toyota. I had a briefcase. They got out of their cars. They had earpieces. Guns, too. They told me to get out of the car. I did. They told me to show them my hands. I did. They lifted me into an SUV, tied my hands, and put a blindfold on me. I asked who they were and what was happening.”

He paused. Byron, who had been in the business of asking questions since he graduated from law school at Harvard, couldn’t resist the embedded instinct to ask, “What did they say?”

“They said shut up.”

“Has anyone given you any papers since you’ve come here?”

“I haven’t had anything in my hands to read in years. Not a newspaper, not a magazine, not a book. Not even the Koran.”

“Has anyone told you what crimes you’re charged with?”

“Don’t you know?”

“No. All that I’ve been told is that you were moved to Miami from a foreign jail so that you could be indicted and tried in an American court.”

There was another pause. “How exactly did you come to me?” Even though he kept returning to the same subject—who exactly was Byron Johnson?—there was still no hostility or anger in Ali Hussein’s tone. “Why are you here?”

In the stifling room, Byron began to sweat almost as profusely as he had on the walk from the security gate to the prison entrance. He recognized that he was very tense. And he was certain that the thirty-minute rule would be enforced, that time was running out. He didn’t want to lose his chance to gain the confidence of this ghostly man who had just emerged into a semblance of life after years in solitary limbo. “A lawyer for a civil rights group called me. I had let people know that I wanted to represent a person arrested for terrorism. I was told that you were one of four prisoners being transferred out of some detention center, maybe at Guantanamo, to a mainland prison, and that you’d be charged by an American grand jury rather than held overseas indefinitely. When I got the call I said I would help, but only if you and I met, and only if you wanted me to help, and only if I thought I could do that.”

“How do I know any of this is true?”

Byron Johnson prided himself on being a realist. Wealthy clients sought him out not to tell them what they wanted to hear but for advice about the facts, the law and the likely real-world outcomes of whatever problems they faced. But it hadn’t occurred to him that this man, imprisoned for years, would doubt him and would be direct enough to tell him that. Byron had become accustomed to deference, not to challenge. And this frail man was suggesting that Byron might be a stalking horse, a plant, a shill, a human recording device.

“I met your brother Khalid.”


“At a diner in Union City.”

“What diner?”

“He said it was his favorite, and that you used to eat there with him: the Plaza Diner on Kennedy Boulevard.”

Byron, who for years had practiced law in areas where a detailed memory was essential, was relieved that he remembered the name and location of the diner just across the Hudson River in New Jersey. He couldn’t assess whether the man behind the thick, scratched glass was now more persuaded to believe him. Byron asked, “How have you been treated?”

“I’ve been treated like an animal.”

“In what ways?”

As if briskly covering the topics on an agenda, Ali Hussein said, “Months in one room, no contact with other people. Shifted from place to place, never knowing what country or city I was in, never knowing what month of the year, day of the week. Punched. Kicked.”

“Do you have any marks on your body?”

“I’m not sure yet what your name really is, or who you really are, but you seem naive. Marks? Are you asking me if they’ve left bruises or scars on my body?”

Byron felt the rebuke. Over the years he’d learned that there was often value in saying nothing. Silence sometimes changed the direction of a conversation and revealed more. He waited.

Hussein asked, “How much more time do we have?”

“Only a few minutes.”

“A few minutes? I’ve been locked away for years, never in touch for a second with anyone who meant to do kind things to me, and now I have a total of thirty minutes with you. Mr. Bush created a beautiful world.”

“There’s another president.” Byron paused, and, with the silly thought of giving this man some hope, he said, “His name is Barack Hussein Obama.”

Ali Hussein almost smiled. “And I’m still here? How did that happen?”

Byron didn’t answer, feeling foolish that he’d thought the news that an American president’s middle name was Hussein would somehow brighten this man’s mind. Byron had pandered to him, and he hated pandering.

Ali Hussein then asked, “My wife and children?”

No one—not the ACLU lawyer, not the CIA agent with whom Byron had briefly talked to arrange this visit, not even Hussein’s heavy-faced, brooding brother—had said a single thing about Hussein other than that he had been brought into the United States after years away and that he was an accountant. Nothing about a wife and children.

“I don’t know. I didn’t know you had a wife and children. Nobody said anything about them. I should have asked.”

It was unsettling even to Byron, who had dealt under tense circumstances with thousands of people in courtrooms, that this man could stare at him for so long with no change of expression. Hussein finally asked, “Are you going to come back?”

“If you want me to.”

“I was an accountant, you know. I always liked numbers, and I believed in the American system that money moves everything, that he who pays the piper gets to call the tune. Who’s paying you?”

“No one, Mr. Hussein. Anything I do for you will be free. I won’t get paid by anybody.”

“Now I really wonder who you are.” There was just a trace of humor in his voice and his expression.

As swiftly as Ali Hussein had appeared in the interview room, he disappeared when two guards in Army uniforms reached in from the rear door and literally yanked him from his chair. It was like watching a magician make a man disappear.

Comments Off on Excerpt: Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista
Posted in Blog tour, Political thriller on October 25, 2012

Today I am helping spread the word about a political thrilled by author Paul Batista.

Paul Batista, novelist and television personality, is one of the most widely known trial lawyers in the country. As a trial attorney, he specializes in federal criminal litigation. As a media figure, he is known for his regular appearances as guest legal commentator on a variety of television shows including, Court TV, CNN, HLN and WNBC. He’s also appeared in the HBO movie, You Don’t Know Jack, starring Al Pacino.

A prolific writer, Batista authored the leading treatise on the primary federal anti-racketeering statute, Civil RICO Practice Manual, which is now in its third edition (Wiley & Sons, 1987; Wolters Kluwer, 2008). He has written articles for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The National Law Journal.

Batista’s debut novel, Death’s Witness, was awarded a Silver Medal by the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA). And his new novel, Extraordinary Rendition, is now being published—along with a special reissue of Death’s Witness—by Astor + Blue Editions.

Batista is a graduate of Bowdoin College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Cornell Law School. He’s proud to have served in the United States Army. Paul Batista lives in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.

When Ali Hussein—suspected terrorist and alleged banker for Al Qaeda—is finally transported from Gitmo to the US mainland to stand trial, many are stunned when Byron Carlos Johnson, pre-eminent lawyer and the son of a high-profile diplomat, volunteers as counsel.  On principle, Johnson thought he was merely defending a man unjustly captured through Rendition and water-boarded illegally. But Johnson soon learns that there is much more at stake than one man’s civil rights.

Hussein’s intimate knowledge of key financial transactions could lead to the capture of—or the unabated funding of—the world’s most dangerous terror cells. This makes Hussein the target of corrupt US intelligence forces on one side, and ruthless international terrorists on the other.  And, it puts Byron Carlos Johnson squarely in the crosshairs of both.

Pulled irresistibly by forces he can and cannot see, Johnson enters a lethal maze of espionage, manipulation, legal traps and murder. And when his life, his love, and his acclaimed principles are on the line, Johnson may have one gambit left that can save them all; a play that even his confidants could not have anticipated. He must become the hunter among hunters in the deadliest game.

Written by no-holds-barred-attorney Paul Batista, Extraordinary Rendition excels not only as an action thriller, but as a sophisticated legal procedural as well; tearing the curtains away from the nation’s most controversial issues.

Provocative. Smart. Heart-pounding. A legal thriller of the highest order.

You can purchase the book directly from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

Comments Off on Blog Tour: Extraordinary Rendition by Paul Batista
Posted in contest, Giveaway, Political thriller, suspense on October 14, 2012

I will admit, I had never heard of this author until a marketing company contacted me and asked if I would like a copy of the book to review and giveaway.  I read the synopsis and it seemed like the book was right up my alley so I said sure.  I don’t mind being introduced to new authors…I may love it and I may hate it, you just never know!

Eric Van Lustbader is probably known for continuing Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series.  That isn’t all he has written though, he has quite a few credits to his name.  This series features Jack McClure and Alli Carson.  Father Night is the fourth book in the series.


“An eye for an eye will make the world go blind.”—Gandhi

A tidal wave of reform is sweeping across the Middle East. Many lurk in the shadows, eager to seize power–giants of a vast criminal underworld, fueled by revenge and vengeance. Their wars know no end.  Their power knows no bounds.

At the center of it all are two men who are inches away from holding the world in their hands: one is known as Dyadya Gourdjiev and the other is known only as the Syrian.

Department of Defense special agent Jack McClure has followed this trail of shadows and lies right into the arms of Gourdjiev’s alluring, powerful granddaughter, Annika Dementiev. The lovers are in Moscow when news of Dyadya’s failing health draws a slew of vultures–circling, anxious to seize the empire of secrets he spent a lifetime building. Jack and Annika find themselves locked in battle to ensure his safety…but when it comes to Dyadya, nothing is as it seems.

Alli Carson, the child of a dead US president, has become Jack’s surrogate daughter. While Jack is in Russia, Alli is targeted by a cyber-stalker who knows more about her than anyone should. With no one to trust but her friend, Vera Bard, Alli is determined to discover the truth, but her path forces her to come face-to-face with the nightmarish terror of her past.

As these two stories play out, Secretary of Defense Dennis Paull, with the help of detectives Nona Hendryx and Alan Frain, follows a trail of lies, corruption, and secret pacts that begins with Washington D.C.’s Head of Detectives.

All paths collide at the feet of one man, an old legend adapting to an ever-changing landscape… a man history might have forsaken, but whose heinous evil is still very much alive: Father Night.


As I mentioned before, I had not read any of the previous books in this series.  I think in this case that might have been a detriment because there were references to things that happened in the past that didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  And since I was not familiar with the author, the style of writing threw me.  It did take me about 50 – 75 pages to understand the author’s writing style which included switching between the story lines quite often.

That all said, once I did get into the book I was fascinated with the characters.  How their lives intertwined (remember, I hadn’t read any of the previous books!) and how the three or four different stories would all be woven together as the story progressed.

We give this book 3 1/2 paws.


The Giveaway:

I am giving away 2 copies of this book, my copy that was sent to me and one from the publisher/publicist.  This contest is open to all US & Canadian residents.  The contest will close on October 22nd.