I’ve made no secret of the fact that in many ways, the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series is a bit of a throwback to the glory days of Men’s Adventure fiction, most exemplified by The Executioner, Phoenix Force, Able Team, the SOBs, and similar series. Mark Allen’s Warlock is the same thing, if in a slightly different direction. The cover should be a dead giveaway, too; it looks like a Mack Bolan cover.
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
It is that time again. Time for some High Desert Vengeance gun porn.
I was initially a bit leery about this one, noticing on MackBolan.com that it was written by Robin Hardy. My last go-round with Hardy was Show No Mercy, which was really, really poorly written. But, a weird, double-entendre back cover notwithstanding (a double-entendre which has no bearing whatsoever on the story), River of Flesh turned out to be surprisingly solid. Hardy still has some odd descriptive flourishes in this one (not to mention an overly high opinion of the lethality of 5.56mm), but the writing is generally a tier above what came in his last standalone SOBs title.
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.
That’s Mickey Spillane, not me. But that’s a manly writer photo, right there. Seemed fitting. So, I’ve been busy. Really busy. Too busy to do much blogging, either here or over on The Unity Wars. Going to try to start picking up the slack on that soon, once I get draft writing somewhat stabilized. Given some market research, and seeing how the last book has done, The Unity Wars is moving somewhat to the forefront for the moment. That doesn’t mean that Brannigan’s Blackhearts is going away anytime soon; it is, however, going to slow down just a bit. Probably going to be four books per year, rather than six. I’ve barely scratched the surface on High Desert Vengeance, Brannigan’s Blackhearts #5, but I should be able to hit it hard after the next couple of weeks. Look for it in August. I’m also working on a pitch for another project that hopefully I’ll be doing with another author and good friend of mine. Can’t say much about it yet; we’re still hashing out the details, and he’s got to sell it to his publisher. Keep your fingers crossed. And with that, back to the word mines with me.
Since there’s a lot of inspiration from the SOBs series behind Brannigan’s Blackhearts, I’ve been slowly working my way through the series, in part as research to see how Gold Eagle ran a long-running action series. I slowed down a bit, due to missing a few volumes in the middle, but since those gaps have been filled, I’ll be getting back to it. Red Hammer Down is SOBs #6, following directly on from Gulag War. In a very real sense, they form a two-parter; Red Hammer Down goes into the backlash from the mission to Siberia in Gulag War.
What’s the key? What makes a combat scene really “authentic?” Pain. There’s an old saying in the Recon community: “Recon ain’t fun.” It’s pain and agony and suffering, only faced with the grit and perseverance to get through it and survive, to kill the enemy before they kill you. Over on Tom Kratman’s wall on FB, the subject has come up of a young woman on a panel at Life, The Universe, And Everything 2017. She claimed at one point that “gamers can write good action scenes, because we’ve experienced that.” No. No, you haven’t.
Frozen Conflict went live on Kindle at midnight. It’s also been available in paperback for a few days now; I approved the proof a little early. The plus side of that is that the Kindle and Paperback pages were linked by yesterday, so I don’t have to pester KDP about it, like I had to with the last two Brannigan’s Blackhearts books. Manhunt In A Post-Soviet Hellhole Transnistria. A breakaway republic on the eastern border of Moldova, and a bolt-hole for notorious black-market arms dealer Eugen Codreanu. Except that it’s suddenly turned from safe haven to prison for the man who was once rumored to be dealing in ex-Soviet backpack nukes. A shadow facilitator reaches out to John Brannigan, former Marine Colonel turned mercenary. The job: get Codreanu out of Transnistria, out from under the noses of the thousands of Russian peacekeepers swarming around the breakaway republic. The hook: Codreanu might have information about the terrorist operation in the Gulf of Mexico a few months before. The catch: there might be someone else trying to beat them to the punch. The terrorists who seized the Tourmaline-Delta platform in the Gulf of Mexico might be trying to tie up loose ends.
“Timeliness” is a temptation that I think most military/spy fiction writers have to deal with. “Ripped from the headlines!” and “Prophetic!” are compliments that reviewers have used for works in the genre going back to Tom Clancy, at least. Those same phrases have been applied to some of my own work, and I’ll admit that it can be somewhat affirming (though often in a grim sort of way) to see events move in a generally similar direction to that predicted in one of your novels. It shows you that you read the situation fairly accurately.