With High Desert Vengeance going live tomorrow, here’s another sneak peak. Things are starting to get tense in the aftermath of the massacre in Chapter 1. Mario Gomez squinted in the sunlight. It was cool at the moment, but it still felt warm after Transnistria in the winter. He’d been home for a month, but most of that month had been spent watching over Sam Childress as he underwent multiple surgeries. His wounds had been bad, and he still wasn’t ever going to walk again. He rarely showed it, but Mario worried about his comrade. He’d prayed every night for him, either for his recovery, or the strength to cope with whatever came next. It wasn’t something he talked about much. Mario Gomez wasn’t much of a talker. He never had been. He had always been more comfortable watching, listening, and acting than talking. His tendency to silence had been a source of eternal aggravation to his gregarious younger sister, and his propensity for sudden, apparently impulsive action a matter of often grave concern to his more stolid, hard-working father. Only his mother, Cocheta, had really understood him, and even that was an often-unspoken understanding. She had been the only
Yes, despite launching a new series last month and all the associated work that’s gone into that, Brannigan’s Blackhearts #5 – High Desert Vengeance is coming soon. The preorder should be up shortly. You might remember from Frozen Conflict that Gomez was having some troubles at home. Well, they got worse… Juan Gomez was elbow-deep in the old F-100’s wiring bus when a yell from the house startled him. His head snapped up, cracking his skull on the underside of the hood. He didn’t swear; it wasn’t his way. None of his children had ever heard a word of profanity pass Juan Gomez’s lips, and even fully grown, they were often the targets of his dire glare when they indulged in his house. Even Mario, Marine that he had been. Rubbing his head, he glanced up toward the house. Emilio was standing on the porch, shading his eyes as he stared south, pointing with the other hand. “Dad!” he called again. “Look!” Juan almost didn’t have to. Slowly, heavily, still rubbing the sore spot on the back of his head, he turned and looked. Sure enough, there were three plumes of dust coming up the valley. Coming from the south.
John Brannigan sank the bit of the double-bladed ax into the log round he was using as a chopping block and lowered himself painfully to sit on a bigger log nearby. His breath was steaming in the cold air, and looking down at his bared forearms, he could see steam rising from the graying hairs there, as well. It was well below freezing, but he was sweating and stripped down to his shirt. He gulped air, wincing slightly at the stitch in his side, as he critically looked at the woodpile. He might have gotten a quarter of a cord split. It wasn’t bad, given how long he’d been working, but it wasn’t up to snuff in his mind, either. Stretching, he felt the scar tissue on his side pull. It had been months since he’d been shot out on the Gulf of Mexico, and the wounds were healed, but it felt like it was taking forever to get his conditioning back. His leg and his side were tight, and his leg especially didn’t seem to want to work quite right. Getting old, John. He was further reminded of the fact as the cabin door swung open and Hank walked
“You’re imagining things, Eugen,” Cezar Lungu said. He was leaning back in an overstuffed easy chair with a massy, polished wooden frame, a blond, vacant-eyed Ukrainian hooker on his lap. He was fully clothed; she was in her underwear. He picked up the shot of Kvint and tossed it back with a grimace and a loud, “Pah!” “We have an arrangement! And with what we’re paying the Russians and the Transnistrians both, we should at least get a warning if anything has changed!” Eugen Codreanu did not turn away from the window, but continued peering into the night. He wasn’t looking out toward the Dnieper River below the dacha, either. He was looking back toward the wrought-iron gates and the guard posts, through the trees. He was looking back toward the city of Ribnitza, which was throwing its glow against the near-perpetual pall of smoke and steam coming from the steelworks. When Codreanu still hadn’t replied while he poured more Kvint, Lungu tried again. “You’ve been jumping at shadows for four months, Eugen,” he ventured.
“Colonel Brannigan, I presume?” Contralmirante Huerta stood up and extended his hand. The Mexican officer was in mufti, a dark suit and shiny blue shirt. Brannigan shook the proffered hand. He towered over the Mexican admiral, who was showing a bit of gray in his slickly-parted hair and mustache, though not nearly as much as Brannigan was. Brannigan had dressed up a little for the meeting; he was wearing khakis and a sport coat, in contrast to his usual “retired” outdoor wear. He was still wearing boots, though, and the sport coat hid the Wilson Combat 1911 on his hip. Even with Van Zandt and Gomez in the room, he didn’t trust this Mexican officer very far. He knew too much about how much the bad guys had infiltrated the instruments of the Mexican government. Van Zandt was in a suit, and was standing back to one side, watching the two men meet. Gomez had posted himself up at the door, watching everything impassively with his hard, black eyes. Gomez had become a Blackheart in the plus-up that Hancock and Santelli had conducted prior to the Burma job. Nobody knew much about him. He didn’t talk much. In fact, getting
“No,” John Brannigan said. “Not only no, but hell no.” “John,” Hector Chavez started to remonstrate with him, “we’re not talking about some half-assed Pemex contract, here.” The two men were facing each other across a table in the Rocking K, the best—and essentially only—diner in tiny Junction City. It wasn’t the sort of place most people would immediately think of when it came to planning covert operations, but it was the closest meeting place to Brannigan’s mountain hideaway, and so Chavez had pegged it as their contact spot, more often than not. John Brannigan was a towering, six-foot-four former Marine Colonel, his hair gone shaggy and gray on his head and his face. He shaved his cheeks and his chin, but his handlebar mustache was bushier than ever. He might have had a few more crow’s feet around his gray eyes, especially after his recent turn to mercenary commander. Activities like a hair-raising mission on the island of Khadarkh in the Persian Gulf, followed by a jump into northern Burma to take down a North Korean liaison operation in the Golden Triangle, were not calculated to keep a man young. Brannigan was dressed in his usual flannel shirt and
Brannigan’s Blackhearts #3 – Enemy Unidentified is up for Kindle pre-order, due out the 15th. So, here’s the first preview chapter. Officer Lou Hall had been on the San Diego PD for about a year. He’d just gotten off night shift, and frankly wasn’t sure whether the tradeoff had been worth it. Sure, he got to see the sun a lot more, and with the sun, in San Diego in the summertime—the winter tended to be pretty gray and damp—usually came the California girls, dressed in as little clothing as they could get away with. But his partner, Fred Dobbs, was a surly, balding cynic, he wasn’t getting paid that much more, and most of those same attractive California girls turned up their noses as soon as they saw his badge. He’d even gotten berated by one for, “just wanting to shoot minorities.” He was half Mexican, himself, so he didn’t know where the hell that had come from. Then he looked on social media, and didn’t have any more questions. Dobbs was grumbling, as usual, and Hall had tuned him out after about the first five minutes, as usual. It was always the same thing. Dobbs was in the
Brannigan’s Blackhearts have a team logo now. Though the Colonel might be a bit less than enthused about it, given the nature of the team…
Well, there’s less than a week until Burmese Crossfire comes out. One last peek before it’s go time. Joe Flanagan was not a man given to many words or noticeable outbursts of emotion. He was often best described as “laconic,” and he took some pride in that fact. He was a quiet man, often a gray man, passing unnoticed through the crowd, and he liked it that way. He and Brannigan were of similar temperaments in that respect, as both preferred the wilderness to the hustle and bustle of the city. Right at the moment, though, Flanagan’s eyes were smoldering, and his jaw was tight under his thick, black beard. He was not a happy man. He checked his watch again. He knew he was in the right place. The Vegas apartment complex hadn’t been hard to find. It had been a long drive to get there, and now Curtis was late. He would have let the man make his own way, but he’d been hiking in Utah, so he’d been close enough to swing through Vegas and pick the other man up on the way up to Colonel Brannigan’s place in Idaho. But they still had a long way
The paperback proof is here, the Kindle pre-order is up ($0.99 until Jan 20, when it goes up to $3.99), and here is Chapter 2 to whet more appetites. The unimaginatively-named “Road-House” lay just off the highway, about twenty miles from the nearest town. It didn’t get a lot of traffic, except for the occasional motorist stopping in to grab something to eat, either at the gas station attached to the “Road-House” or at the restaurant and bar itself. John Brannigan nearly filled the doorway as he stepped inside. Six-foot-four, broad-shouldered, he retained the leanness and power of a man much younger than his nearly fifty years. His hair was going gray, as was the thick handlebar mustache he’d grown since he’d retired—not entirely willingly—from the Marine Corps, some years before. Deep lines surrounded his icy eyes as he swept the interior of the restaurant with a practiced, professional gaze. This was a man who had never stepped into a room without knowing the layout, who was in it, and how to get out. It wasn’t that he was paranoid. It was simply a fact that twenty-three years as a Marine, both enlisted and commissioned, had hard-wired certain habits into