“How’d you even find out about this?” Santelli eyed the small studio from across the street warily. “The dumbass tried to recruit me.” There was wry contempt in Mario Gomez’s voice. Which was more than Gomez usually expressed; he was a quiet man, and rarely spoke, much less showed much emotion. “I guess he thought the quiet guy would make a good wingman, or something.” Santelli shook his head, frustrated. Even so, this was more the kind of problem he was used to as a Senior NCO. This was the sort of thing he’d wrestled with for years as a First Sergeant, and later as a Sergeant Major. “Well, let’s go corral our wayward prodigal.” He wasn’t sure if he was using that combination of words right, but it sounded right. Santelli knew he wasn’t the most eloquent or well-read of the Blackhearts, but like most men of his background, he tried. At least he had never flubbed things to the level of one First Sergeant he’d known, back when he’d been a Corporal himself, who had tended to say, “It would be the who of you,” when he’d meant to say, “It would behoove you.” Of course, if he’d
Carlo Santelli straightened up, wiping his hands on a rag, and eyed his handiwork with some satisfaction. It had taken a lot to get this particular specimen finished. Finding parts for a ’67 Fury III had proved to be more difficult than he’d expected, but it had been worth it, especially since he already had a buyer for this particular car. And the man was eager enough for it that the price tag was going to more than pay for the parts, never mind the paint job. He nodded with a sigh. This little side business had been working out better than he’d ever expected. He’d needed to do something. It had been months since the Argentina mission, and while he and Melissa weren’t exactly hurting for money yet, he’d needed to keep his hands and his mind occupied. And not just because he missed the action. If he was being honest, he wasn’t sure how much he really did miss the action, right then. He missed Roger Hancock more. Roger had been short-tempered and volatile, but he’d been one hell of a professional soldier. He’d been one of the pillars of Brannigan’s Blackhearts. And only after his death did
Night was falling fast over the rugged hills as Shamil Mashadov took a knee under the short, scrubby pine and looked back at his little strike force. The fifty men were strung along the side of the mountain behind him, following the narrow goat path in single file. They blended in well, especially as the light failed. Much of that was thanks to the brand-new camouflage that the Emir had gotten them; the pixelated tan and green was every bit as effective as the American OCP, particularly amid the scrub and short trees of Paktika Province. Most of the men behind him, except for Dilawar Safi, his Pashtun guide, were fellow Chechens, warriors of the Aswad al Islam. They were a long way from home, but what they would do tonight would be worth it. Turning back toward their objective, he lowered the night vision goggles mounted to his helmet and scanned the valley below. The Americans had said that they would be gone from this part of Afghanistan months before, but, infuriatingly, they still had yet to withdraw. Tonight, Mashadov and his brothers would teach the infidels that they should have fled long ago. He lifted the encrypted Russian
Some of you have already noticed the new covers for the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series in the sidebar. While I know a few have been getting close to despair that the series was ever going to continue, never fear. The facelift (to include descriptions on the Amazon pages) was all I was waiting for–well, that and the need to get some serious work done on Maelstrom Rising. Now that the cover revamp is done, I can get back to work on Enemy of My Enemy. In fact, I already have. It’s coming along nicely, and is already up for preorder. It’ll be out in December. A new terror mastermind is on the rise… …And the Blackhearts might have a chance to stop him But is the opportunity a trap? Abu Mokhtar al Shishani wants to be the next Osama bin Laden. And if he takes delivery of the five former Soviet backpack nukes making their way across Central Asia, he just might accomplish that goal. But no one knows where the nukes are. The Russians have located the money that al Shishani intends to buy the nukes with. And since they have a mutual enemy, they’ve approached the US for help to seize it.
This collection came together thanks to a couple of things. One goes way back to the beginning of my writing career. In a way, it could even be said that this entire book is Dave Reeder’s fault. I sent Dave a copy of Task Force Desperate, in the hopes that he’d review it on Breach-Bang-Clear. He did, and the review was pretty glowing. Over the next couple of years, as the American Praetorians series advanced, his enthusiasm didn’t wane. In many ways, I’m indebted to Dave as a perpetual source of encouragement as an action thriller writer. He also brought up the possibility of writing in one or another of my series. When the idea for the Maelstrom Rising series came to me, I initially worked up a little promotional graphic, a black and white photo of a raging fire on a street, with the following text: Most of the pundits are calling it World War Three, though a friend of mine says it’s really more like Five or Six. Others are calling it the Great Global Breakdown, or the War of All Against All. We Triarii? We just call it work. Dave immediately wanted to know what
Just posting a quick link today. A couple months ago, Hank Garner, who runs the Author Stories podcast, contacted me to invite me on the show. He had picked up Escalation and was enjoying the series. So, a few days before Crimson Star came out, we sat down and had a chat. You can listen to it here. It was really great to be on the show. That somebody like Hank, who has interviewed far more high-profile authors than I, took an interest is gratifying. If you’re reading this, Hank, thanks again for having me on.
New Wave of Murders Hits Baltimore While estimates are still coming in, at least seventy-two people have been killed in a fresh wave of violence in Baltimore this weekend. Victims include several police officers, and at least one family of four, identified as Jim and Patty Gorson and their two daughters. Gunfire tore through the night, and social media posts have claimed most of the killings in the name of the Black Kingdom Revolutionaries. The group’s anonymous spokespersons have said that the killings are in retribution for the Fourth Reich’s assassination of activist Kamal Lamont Granger last week. Standoff in Detroit The siege of Harm’s Elementary School enters its second week today. The leader of The Martyrs of Al Gharb, Abdulqaadir Ismaili Abdi, has issued another statement, claiming that, “The sons and daughters of the filthy kufar will be returned to their unbelieving mothers and fathers one limb, one piece at a time, unless Siad Muhammad Abdi, Ahmed Abu Qadir, and Ali Omar Hersi are freed. If the Martyrs of Al Gharb do not receive, in addition, five hundred million dollars, we will cut out their tongues before we set them free. Allahu Akhbar!” Local police still
Brannigan’s Blackhearts are out for blood. John Brannigan doesn’t take too many things personally. But he’s lost three men to the Humanity Front. So, when Erika Dalca offers him a target package on one of their facilitators, he’s going to go for it, even if it takes him to the ends of the Earth. On The Hunt Flanagan and Gomez hardly needed to communicate except by a glance. They both scrambled up to their feet and rushed forward, each moving to the nearest bend in the creekbed before dropping down behind the best cover they could find. In Flanagan’s case, that was the bend itself. Gomez had to wedge himself back into a slight, crumbling overhang on the far side. He’d lost track of exactly where Jenkins was, aside from behind them, but he was more focused on the threat in front of them, as the Front shooters opened fire, realizing that their flanking maneuver was compromised. More bullets gouged sand out of the creekbed, but the two Blackhearts were already down and aiming in. Flanagan quickly tracked in on a man down on a knee, several yards behind the one Gomez had shot. He blasted him, pumping a round
Yes, it is time for a guns post again. What kind of hardware shows up in the seventh outing for Brannigan’s Blackhearts? The Blackhearts get to pick their loadout before insert this time, as opposed to some of their previous adventures. But with the AO being in South America, they’ve still got to find weaponry that will, if not blend in in South America, at least be compatible for ammo resupply. Wade selects the IWI ACE 52 for their rifles. The ACE is an updated version of the Galil, and the ACE 52 is chambered in 7.62×51. It’s been adopted by several South American special operations forces, including in Argentina.
John Brannigan was not a happy man. The fact that he was wearing a tux, sitting at a very expensive table in a very expensive, very exclusive restaurant, high atop a luxury hotel in the middle of San Francisco, would have been bad enough. Ever since his forced retirement from the Marine Corps and the death of his wife, Rebecca, of cancer a short time later, he’d essentially retired to the mountains, living not too differently from an old-time mountain man. Fancy restaurants, fancy clothes, and big cities put his teeth on edge. He’d gotten a haircut and shaved his cheeks and chin, but his massive, bristling handlebar remained, setting him apart even more than his broad shoulders and six-foot-four-inch stature from the soft men around him. But all of that was only a minor annoyance compared to the woman sitting across the table from him.