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
One of the fun parts about writing stories about a group of covert mercenaries is that they don’t have a standard loadout. So, I get to include all sorts of weaponry for the Blackhearts themselves, as well as their adversaries, or just the locals they have to steer clear of. Hence, we have the traditional gun porn post for each new volume, and Doctors of Death is indeed no slouch. The team gets a little split up in this one, with one element in Africa, and the other having to operate Stateside. Since the FN FAL is still in service with the Chadian National Army, Brannigan picks the FAL for their primary in Africa, though Van Zandt ends up getting the “Inch FAL,” the L1A1, for them instead. The measurements are different, but the L1A1 and FAL both use the 7.62 NATO round, though the magazines are slightly different. Fortunately, he included plenty of mags in the supply drop.
The sound of crying echoed through the house. The place wasn’t even fully furnished yet, and Carlo Santelli had to cringe a little at just how loud Carlo Junior could get, particularly in some of the emptier rooms. He almost didn’t hear the phone. Part of that was because of Carlo Junior’s wails, part of it was his own deafness in the aftermath of trying to walk the little tyke to quiet again. He’d failed miserably, and Melissa had come and taken the baby, leaving Santelli feeling frustrated and helpless again. So, he wasn’t in the best frame of mind when he snatched up the phone and answered it without looking at the screen. “What?” “Rough day, Carlo?” Brannigan asked dryly. Santelli pressed his lips together and cussed himself silently but thoroughly. He really wasn’t cut out for this family life, and it was taking its toll. Or so he told himself. “Sorry, sir,” he said. “The baby’s colicky, and he’s being a royal…a handful.” “You’re even trying to watch your language,” Brannigan said, sounding congratulatory. “You’re truly becoming a family man, Carlo.” “I’m afraid I’m not doing that great a job at it, sir,” Santelli said. “Knowing you, you’re
“You’ve been rather elusive lately, John.” John Brannigan cupped his hands around his coffee mug and looked across the table levelly at Mark Van Zandt. General, USMC, Retired Mark Van Zandt. “I live in the mountains, Mark,” he said. “It’s not like cell service is all that regular up there.” Van Zandt didn’t react, at least not by much. He’d gotten better at that, but Brannigan could still read him like a book. He was pissed. It was written in every faint line of his movie-poster Marine face, above his usual polo shirt and khakis. Unlike Van Zandt, Brannigan had shed most of the Marine Corps’ appearance upon his forcible retirement several years before. A forcible retirement, he remembered all over again, that had been enforced by the very man sitting across from him at the table in the Rocking K diner. Still big and powerfully built, Brannigan had let his hair get shaggy and grown a thick, graying handlebar mustache. He looked more like a mountain man than a retired Marine Colonel, while Van Zandt looked like he’d just taken his uniform off to come to the diner. “We’ve heard some…faintly disturbing things lately, John,” Hector Chavez said carefully.
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.
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.
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