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.
Special Agent Vito Castiglione looked up from the spotting scope as the door opened behind him. Special Agent Cara Hernandez walked into the room and stood next to him, peering out through the black mesh laid over the gap in the curtains. “Aren’t you supposed to be keeping eyes on the objective?” she asked. “Nobody’s budged out of that place in the last thirty-six hours,” Castiglione said dismissively. “We’ve got the whole place tied up tight. Besides, have you seen the pictures of this guy? I don’t think we really have much to worry about.” The fact that he was admiring the view presented by the willowy, olive-skinned Special Agent next to him was beside the point. She was much more interesting to look at than the dull, expensive house across the street. She rolled her eyes at him, exasperated. He just leered back. “Yes, I have seen the photos,” she said. “Still, you should at least pretend to be taking this warrant seriously.” “What’s to take seriously right now?” Castiglione replied. “He’s a pasty-white billionaire wanted for bribery, money laundering, and influence peddling. He’s hardly Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah. The whole point of putting an Enhanced SWAT team on him
Since I’m working on Brannigan’s Blackhearts #7 – Kill or Capture, I’ve been back to the SOBs series for some reading. Which is when I realized that I haven’t written up the last few I’ve read. So, here is Eye of the Fire. Eye of the Fire has a couple of things going on. The mission is an assassination in Cuba. But the target isn’t a Communist official or guerrilla leader. He’s an Argentinian known only as “Colonel D,” a torturer-for-hire who has spent decades finding inventive ways of making Communists die in agony throughout Latin America. And, coincidentally, he’s also been employed by the CIA. This makes him valuable to several people. Jessup, “The Fixer” hires the SOBs to take him out in order to keep him from burning his contacts with the Agency. Barrabas isn’t having any of it to start with; he says he’s a soldier, not an executioner. But the mission isn’t the only thread in this book. There are a couple of others, that make things much more interesting.
As I’ve written elsewhere, setting a story in the near future sometimes requires some attempt at clairvoyance. Some of the weapons systems that will be used in a future war are still in development. Some might not exist yet, but getting too crazy sci-fi could derail things, so I’ve got to strike a balance. One of those systems that I introduce in Escalation is the M5 Powell Infantry Fighting Vehicle. This is set up as the replacement for the M2 Bradley IFV, which has been in service since 1981. Now, there is an M2 replacement in the works. The Army calls it the Next Generation Combat Vehicle program, and the Request For Proposals went out in March of this year. Right at the moment, there are three major contenders, the BAE Systems CV90 Mk IV, the Rheinmetall and Raytheon Lynx IFV, and the General Dynamics Griffin III.
The thunderous report of the 7.62 echoed across the hills around the town, shattering the early morning calm. The dark-clad man with the FAMAS bullpup staggered, staring down at the widening dark stain on his chest for a brief fraction of a second before he crumpled, crashing to the deck with a thump and a muffled clatter as he landed on top of his rifle…