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.
“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.
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
Roi Tri Somboon Sirpreecha was nervous. It had been a whole fifteen days since he had reported to his post as the youngest, least-experienced platoon commander in the Thanan Phran, the Thai Rangers. It hadn’t been an easy fifteen days, either. While the Royal Thai Army provided the Thanan Phran with its officer and NCO corps, many of the men had their own ideas about discipline and responsibility. He’d long heard that many of the Rangers had been criminals, pardoned of their crimes for joining up, but he hadn’t realized just how shadowy the interior workings of the Thanan Phran could be until he’d caught one of his more experienced and respected Rangers brazenly stealing from one of the villagers when they’d passed through Ban Pha Hi on patrol. When he’d confronted the man, he’d found himself half-surrounded by suddenly surly Rangers, all with weapons close at hand. He’d held his ground, backed up by Sip Ek Klahan Phonarthit, and the Rangers had slowly backed down. The culprit, Kamun Amsir, had finally handed the stolen food back to the bent old woman, giving the Roi Tri a smile that promised that he would learn how the Thanan Phran worked, or
The woman was in the lead, two steps ahead of the man. She was also half a head taller than he was, with a narrow, severe sort of face, blond hair pulled back into a tight ponytail behind her head. She looked around at us rather imperiously, her mouth pressed into a thin line. “Who are you people?” she asked. Her voice was clipped and slightly nasal. And her tone immediately set my teeth on edge. “Who wants to know?” I replied, shifting my Winchester to the crook of my arm as I folded my arms in front of me. I could see the badge on her belt and the big yellow letters “FBI” on her blue windbreaker. But her attitude put my back up, especially coming after what we’d just done. “I’m Special Agent Trudeau, and this is Special Agent Miller,” she replied, in the same clipped, arrogant tone of voice. “Now, tell me who you are.” “Lady, unless you’ve got a warrant, which the good police chief over there might object to, given what just happened, I suggest you get a lot more polite in the next five seconds, or you can pound sand,” I told her.
The final edit of Lex Talionis is done, and the files have been uploaded to KDP and Createspace. Still waiting on the final cover file for the paperback, before I can order the proof, but everything is on schedule for release on the 6th. Editing is probably the most grueling part of the writing process, especially when you’re trying to squeeze three passes into three weeks, and the manuscript starts at 161k words. The final version comes to around 165k words, only reinforcing its position as the longest book I’ve ever written. As I read through the book three times, I sort of thought of a theme song for this final ride of the Praetorians’ founding team. It didn’t come from any of the music I listened to while writing it; music with lyrics tends to be a bit of a distraction while writing. I wrote it mostly to the soundtracks from all three Expendables movies, along with a bit of a few Western soundtracks, and Bernard Hermann’s score for North by Northwest. Editing mostly happened to the soundtracks from Hell or High Water and Logan. (It’s that kind of book.) But this just seemed to fit the whole thing:
Well, after a 4057-word day, the first draft of Lex Talionis is done. Finally. This thing is a beast. It is the longest book I’ve written to date, topping the final draft of Hunting in the Shadows by over 13,000 words, weighing in at 161,860 words. And that’s before editing, where a draft usually gains a couple thousand words. But there were a lot of threads to tie up in this one. It’s brutal, it’s bleak, but I think it’s a fitting end to the series. There are parts that were quite uncomfortable to write, and probably will be a bit uncomfortable to read. It is a cautionary tale in many ways, as the tagline, “War and Politics Have Consequences” should probably tell you. I’m going to take a couple of days to let the gray matter rebound, and then it’s into editing. I’ve got thirty days to get this monster ready to go.