Book Review Small Admissions

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel is a study of the high-school admissions process with perspectives by four women who are connected by blood, friendship, and ex-boyfriends. The story is enduring for those who understand about entitlement, but beyond that there is the personal story of Kate, the main character.

The author created the story about eight years ago, “After we moved to New York City we started the interview process to see which school was best for our children. Unfortunately, my husband and I were really bad at it. After thinking about it, I started writing comedic parent interviewing scenes. Using humor for dialogue I turned those into a play for the Actor’s Studio, and then into a novel. My experiences led me to take prospective parents on tours at the school we sent my son to. One thing led to another and I ended up applying for a job in the admission’s office. Then all of a sudden I was on the other side of the desk, as I was seeing it from the school’s perspective instead of the parents.”

The plot begins with Kate being dumped by her fiancé. Her life is in disarray where she prefers to stay hidden in her apartment until her sister gets her a job interview. Although Kate gives completely inappropriate and not politically correct answers she somehow gets the job. This becomes a springboard for Kate getting back on her feet as she uses the position to regain her confidence. She takes the job as an assistant admissions officer at the prestigious private New York Hudson Day School.

Readers are taken on a hilarious ride as they explore the absurd competitive world between the prospective students and parents. Kate begins to understand that she was wallowing in self-pity and decides to change her life around. She starts to piece her life back together and figure out exactly what she wants. Between Kate’s relationships and the different personalities of the children/parents, as well as the school, it becomes obvious this book is an examination of human nature.

Poeppel hopes readers will get out of the book, “A fun peek at this crazy private school world. I tried to show humor in the situation where people get into such frenzy over it. Readers should question, what are the criteria in how we evaluate people financially, socially, and educationally? What are our priorities? Who do we want to impress and with what matrix?”

The exploration of the different personalities of each character enhances the plot. Kate is intelligent, unorthodox, and caring. She is contrasted with her ex-fiancé who is narcissistic and does not care if he hurts those around him. Her sister Angela is like many older siblings who always has their younger ones best interests at heart; even though at times they can be seen as overbearing. The rest of the characters, college friends of Kate, have their own heartbreaks and hidden secrets.

Poeppel told blackfive.net, “Kate is imperfect and makes mistakes, but overcomes adversity. She must handle acceptance and rejection in her professional and personal life. She took three steps forward and one step backward. Because of her job she gained confidence and accomplishment. The springboard of her job forced her to talk and listen to people.”

Small Admissions is not just about the process of applying to a private school it is also about how each character looked within to find their faults and strengths. The core of the story is about friendship and family, disappointments and joy. 51u1dV19-AL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review Duplicity

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Duplicity by Ingrid Thoft is an informative and gripping novel about abuse. It brings back Fina Ludlow, an outcast in her own family, and a fighter for justice. It is very interesting how Thoft intertwines a murder mystery while having readers question organized religion and abuse. There are many similarities where people learn facts about a community or person; yet, choose to ignore it. These two seemingly unrelated plots come together as Fina must convince those who have this information and facts to act upon it. It is a wonderful story about what is right and wrong within the context of religion and life itself.

Thoft got the idea for the story in reading about “a Seattle Church that imploded. Although the Covenant Rising Church was Evangelical what was put forth in the book could be applied to any religion. I wondered what happens to people when the cornerstone of their experience doesn’t turn out to be what they thought. I am fascinated with the idea of mega churches where it is about faith, but also is about money and power, especially those personalities that rise to the top who are very charismatic.

I also thought of what happened in Penn State. So many people chose not to do anything because of money, position, and power. It blows my mind how people got this information and chose to ignore it. They did their minimal duty and had the attitude of washing their hands from it. It was as if they did not want to upset the apple cart.”

The story begins as Fina and her dad, the head attorney in the high-powered personal injury law firm, meet with his old flame, Ceci, who asks that they investigate the Covenant Rising Church. Ceci’s daughter wants to bequeath a large amount of expensive property to them. Fina finds the Church has a slick chauvinistic pastor whose wife has her own infidelities. In addition, both have suspiciously used the donations for luxury cars, a vacation home, and a fancy house. After a prominent Church member dies unexpectedly, one Fina was to meet with; she becomes more suspicious of the Church’s undertakings. The investigation uncovers misguided loyalties and questionable motivations. This is rivaled only by Fina’s own family problems, her abusive brother Rand, who she is trying to build a case against.

According to the author, “The common thread is where lots of people knew things, but did nothing about it. I questioned ‘at what moment do people speak up and say something is wrong?’ The dynamics of power, status, and social interaction influence how people make difficult decisions. You cannot always believe with blind faith and look the other way. We must keep our moral compass and allow dissent. Should you subvert your critical thinking to fit in or subvert your judgment?”

Fina is someone that not only stands up for herself, but also for those who she feels cannot speak for themselves. She has a strong sense of justice that spurs her to, at times, act above the law. She is independent, headstrong, focused, and loyal. Being a non-conformist, even within her own family sometimes makes her feel lonely and unaccepted. In this book she is not left in a good place as she tries to deal with family issues and why she prefers not settling down to a typical domestic life.

Duplicity delves with serious topics, but the banter between the characters and Fina’s sarcastic demeanor present a welcome release. Readers will question along with Fina the true meaning of faith and are given access to all the dynamics within her dysfunctional family. In addition the murder mystery is very riveting. 516QVaVE8eL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review: Enhanced Interrogation

Enhanced Interrogation by James Mitchell with Bill Harlow discusses the EITs. Having spent years training US military personnel to resist questioning he explains the procedures, safeguards, and the results from the interrogation program. Being on the front lines Mitchell personally questioned thirteen of the most senior high-value detainees in U.S. custody, including Abu Zubaydah; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the amir or "commander" of the USS Cole bombing; and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Mitchell is a psychologist who served twenty-two years in the Air Force and who helped develop the CIA’s interrogation program. He only dealt with the top-tier terrorists and by his own admission has spent more time with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) than other interrogators.

He helped incorporate some of the harsh techniques employed by the US military SERE schools. He told blackfive.net, these survival, evasion, resistance, and escape techniques had been used for over five decades without significant injuries to “train warfighters to protect secrets. I had been subjected to them myself, had used them to train others, and helped the Air Force Survival School revise its approach to resistance training after the first Gulf War.”

Readers will understand that EITs, when applied correctly, were useful in drawing detainees to cooperate, and, when applied incorrectly, they were counter-productive. He was particularly critical of Ali Soufan, a former FBI special agent who first interrogated Abu Zubaydah at a CIA black site in Thailand. Soufan, a darling of the Left, said the rapport-building techniques he used when he questioned Abu Zubaydah resulted in a huge intelligence score: the identity of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed versus what the CIA was doing in using “borderline torture techniques,” which made Zubaydah not cooperate.

Not true, says Mitchell, and recounts in his book, “Zubaydah shut down after Soufan called him a son of a b---- and then tried to bribe him. He thinks he buddied up with him after offering him spiritual guidance. This is ridiculous. Zubaydah later told me he did it because if talking about religion then he was not speaking about operations.”

Mitchell thinks “too much has been made of waterboarding. Of 1623 days in CIA custody only 14 days was he subjected to EITs. People are focusing on two weeks out of years. The CIA made sure to have doctors to evaluate the detainees before and after the interrogations to prevent long-term mental and physical problems. When you hear about Zubaydah’s mental problems, remember he wrote in his diaries about how he faked mental issues.”

What did work, according to Mitchell, was President George W. Bush’s response. “The swiftness and veracity put the terrorists off balance. KSM told me, ‘How was I supposed to know that cowboy George Bush would announce he wanted us ‘dead or alive’ and then invade Afghanistan to hunt us down?’ He made it clear that had the US treated 9/11 like a law enforcement matter, he would have had time to launch a second wave of attacks.”

KSM also predicted how those in the press and some in the political arena would turn on the interrogators who took aggressive action to prevent other attacks on Americans. Mitchell is especially critical of the Democrats, notably Senator Feinstein who “set us up as the fall guys. They were writing things in official reports that were inaccurate and misleading without giving us a chance to defend ourselves. Her report has stirred up the crazies and Jihadists, essentially issuing a Fatwa against everyone and me, past or present, working to protect Americans from Jihadist terrorist attacks. In fact, Feinstein staffers on ‘deep background’ outted me.”

He wants Americans to understand that the media, the Obama Administration, and some Democrats “live in a bubble of protection provided by the men and women who are willing to sacrifice their lives. Yet, they will throw them under the bus afterwards so they can claim the moral high ground. In my mind, the temporary discomfort of a terrorist who has voluntarily taken up arms to destroy our way of life does not outweigh my moral obligation to do what I can to save hundreds, maybe thousands of people. Good luck finding anyone who will actually use EIH if asked to. As General Michael Hayden said, ‘you better bring your own bucket and rubber boots.’”

In this gripping and illuminating book people will get a glimpse into the thoughts of high-ranking terrorists, an explanation of what was done to get them to talk, and a front seat view of how some on the Left would rather turn the Jihadists into victims rather than perpetrators. Enhanced Interrogation is an outstanding explanation and understanding of what is needed to keep America safe. 51l8Z-uH-lL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review: The Guests On South Battery

The Guests On South Battery by Karen White is part paranormal, mystery, historical, with a little romance. Readers will be kept enthralled with the scenes of historic Southern houses and spooky happenings.

White has done a lot of research on the subject of ghosts. “I describe this series as ‘my Sixth Sense meets National Treasure meets Moonlighting series.’ There were certain parameters I wanted to include in this series: It had to be in the South with the city old, charming, and having a lot of historical significance. I wanted to set the plot around haunted houses. Every culture, every religion has them existing. I think there is a lot about the universe we do not understand. So yes, I do like the possibility. I do think people can communicate with the dead and I find it fascinating.”

The mystery begins after a young woman, Jayne Smith, is bequeathed a home in Charleston by someone she does not know. Questions arise as to why she randomly inherited this house and what is her relationship with the spirits who do not want her to inhabit it? She seeks out Melanie Middleton, a Charleston realtor, who specializes in historic real estate. She also has a hatred for old houses because she sees dead people come alive. White’s details about the architecture, history, old historic houses including hidden passages and other fixtures, make the story even more riveting.

Jayne and Melanie become kindred spirits after Melanie hires her as a nanny. Intertwined within this ghostly story is also the theme of family.   The different relationship dynamics are fascinating. Both Melanie and Jayne have abandonment issues; Melanie is insecure about her husband Jack; and her mother is struggling to make up for lost time now that she is back in her daughter’s life.

According to White, “Melanie, as a young child, was abandoned by her mother, but it was done to save her. Because Melanie’s alcoholic father raised her she had to be the adult in the relationship. Her sense of insecurity stems from this. She has two personalities, the public and private. Outwardly she appears strong and competent, but inside she is like a quivering bowl of Jello: neurotic, OCD, and a control freak.”

This book is an excellent read. It seems any Karen White book never disappoints with her spellbinding plot and cast of characters. The charm of the series is the relationships the main character Melanie has with friends and family. 619BcT1F69L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review: Her Every Fear

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson delves into the human psyche and the mind of a serial killer. The story’s strength is with the character’s thoughts. By having four different narratives readers are able to understand the complete picture of the disturbing circumstances of the plot.

Swanson noted, “The idea for this story has been rattling around in my head for awhile. Originally I was going to write it as a romance where two people swapped apartments, never met, but somehow fell in love. The more I thought about it the more I thought it should be a murder mystery. Then it all clicked, where a woman moves into her cousin’s apartment and the day she arrives a corpse is discovered next door.”

There are just a few times in the story that people might need to suspend belief, as the main character, Kate Priddy, becomes a psychopath’s magnet. After being traumatized by an abusive boyfriend she escapes to Boston, MA to try to gain some perspective. Kate is able to leave her home in London when she and her cousin, Colin, decide to exchange apartments. Soon after her arrival she finds her neighbor, Audrey, has been murdered with the person of interest, her cousin Corbin. To make matters worse she meets Alan Cherney, a handsome, quiet tenant who lives across the courtyard, in the apartment facing Audrey’s. He confesses to Kate that he was drawn to Audrey and basically stalked her from afar. The suspense ratchets up when Kate’s fears, brought on from her intense panic attacks, become well founded as a serial killer, Henry, targets her for his next victim.

This story is reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock. Rear Window, Dial M For Murder and Wait Until Dark come to mind. Drawing inspiration from other movies and books Swanson commented, “When growing up I loved Roald Dahl, The Hardy Boys, and Nancy Drew. I also watched my first Hitchcock movie, Rope, around the age of ten. It had a scene in it where two college students strangle their victim. I wanted to play off this relationship in my story, having an alpha and beta psychopath with Corbin as the beta and Henry as the alpha. This is definitely a story about the damage men can inflict on women. Besides Rope the other Hitchcock movies that influenced the story are Rebecca, with the setting becoming an important element, and Dial M For Murder where the villain does not look like a villain. Since I have seen all 53 of his films I hope to put in my books his mode of suspense.”

This book has readers invested in the characters. It is a psychological study of obsessive relationships that include Allen with Audrey, Corbin and Henry, and her ex-boyfriend George with Kate. It is a story of betrayal and revenge where monsters lurk under every bed. 51ohqYOdTHL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_


Q/A WITH W.E.B. GRIFFIN and WILLIAM BUTTERWORTH IV

The following is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Curtain Of Death by W.E.B. Griffin and William Butterworth IV present a fact filled novel about the early days of what will become the CIA. Even though the period between WWII and the Cold War is intense in itself these authors were able to make the plot even more riveting.

The story reflects Griffin’s own experiences during the mid 1940s in war torn Germany. It becomes obvious that the clandestine agents must not only deal with the Nazis trying to escape to Latin America, but an entirely different kind of war. The enemy has changed, the rules have changed; and the stakes have never been higher.

The time is January 1946, the setting Munich Germany, and the protagonists are the men and women fighting a covert war. The plot begins with two WACs and intelligence analysts kidnapped by four KGB agents. Unfortunately for them one of the women, Claudette Colbert, hid a pistol in her bra, and shoots three of her assailants, wounding a fourth. Readers take the journey with the DCI-Europe unit as they navigate through the conflicts within the different US agencies and with the two logistical enemies, Russia and the Nazis.

Curtain of Death is a novel that mixes intrigue and diplomacy within a suspenseful and enthralling story. An added bonus is the sarcasm and humor sprinkled throughout the scenes.

Q/A with the authors below:

Elise Cooper: Can you tell us what is true in the book?

51oI4AtCSBL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_W.E.B. Griffin: I was there when I was a kid. I knew and saw a lot. The Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen, who became the head of German intelligence in the, 1940s, did work for us to save his people from the Russians. Also true are the Operations OST, Paperclip, and Odessa.

EC: What about the women characters?

W.E.B: We also had many good women who played a prominent role in 1940s Germany as spies and intelligence analysts. Characters in the story like my fictional Claudette Colbert were real and did carry pistols, but the idea of her hiding it in her brassiere was mine. They did this because we could not afford to have them kidnapped. Seven-K was a character I created. She was based on some Mossad agents who did work with us in exchange for getting Zionists out of Russia.

William Butterworth IV: There are fascinating stories of women spies in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA, and their missions are the stuff of legend. Yet the contributions made by the 4,000 women, including Julia Child and Marlene Dietrich are largely unheralded. Exceptions include Elizabeth McIntosh’s book Women of the OSS: Sisterhood Of Spies.

EC: Can you explain this quote from the book, “The DCI itself-was that its formation was going to displease the Pentagon, the Navy, the State Department, and the FBI, all of whom had urged the President to disestablish the OSS and have its functions transferred to them.”

W.E.B: President Truman realized putting the OSS out of business was a mistake. He created the DCI under his buddy Rear Admiral Sidney Souers, who formerly worked in insurance. He was in charge for about eighteen months, but then wanted to go back to his profession to make some money. Truman allowed them to do anything they wanted, but they were not allowed to tell anyone else what to do. Unfortunately, there was no cooperation among the units. Truman purposely kept Central Intelligence out of everyone’s hands but his. This caused bureaucratic infighting, because Truman made sure he kept the sole control.

EC: You interject humor in the story?

W.E.B: I love to write humor. If I could make a living doing it that is all I would write. The happiest period of my life is when I was writing the sequels to MASH. I was able to ridicule everyone.

EC: What is the difference between the CIC and the DCI?

IV: CIC is the Counterintelligence Corps and the DCI is the Directorate of Central Intelligence. The DCI is the fictional name in the series for what became the Central Intelligence Agency.

EC: Is the story based on anyone?

IV: Dad said he subconsciously wrote in part, about Rene J. Defourneaux, and called their relationship cousin-like. He was an Army OSS Second Lt. and later became a legendary US Army intelligence officer. Like a lot of highly intelligent spooks he also had a terrific sense of humor. I am intrigued by the history and stories of these men and women.

EC: What is the process you both use to write the books together?

W.E.B: We talk a lot. I send to him a chapter and he tells me what he thinks: ‘don’t do this’ or ‘do this’. One of us will write 90% of a book and the other 10%, and then it reverses with another book. Billy is a very good editor and had been one for sixteen years before we began working together on a daily basis.

IV: Dad lived this period, knew the principles from having worked with General White and others, so he wrote most of this book. And I added what I could. A good editor has an invisible hand in the work, making suggestions and edits that help the story without changing the writer’s distinctive voice.

EC: Speaking of edits, would you ever put in the front of the book a list of characters and their relevance?

 IV: I can see it as possibly a companion book, but do not like doing that because it bogs down the story.

THANK YOU!!


Book Review How Will I Know You

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

How Will I know You by Jessica Treadway is not just a crime story, but is also has a psychological aspect. The storyline refers to a small town community where everyone knows everyone else’s business. This time around, Treadway decided to have multiple narrators telling the story ranging from a teenage girl, black graduate student, a middle-aged art teacher, to a policeman.

The plot begins where a high school teenager, Joy Enright, in upstate New York is found in a pond strangled to death. Martin Willett, her mother’s teaching assistant and lover has been accused of the crime. The arresting officer, interim police chief Doug Armstrong, has his own agenda for solving the crime quickly. He is hopeful that the town board will appoint him the full-time police chief.

Treadway noted, “ The premise for the book came from two places. Several years ago a family I knew went out ice-skating. They all fell under but one of the daughters slipped away and drowned in the pond. I was haunted for years by this family’s grief. Then there is a well-known murder case in Massachusetts where a mother dropped her teenage daughter off at her lifeguard job. She disappeared and was never found. I decided to make the pond the focus of the drama involving a girl who first disappears and then is found murdered. My previous novels are based on actual incidents, but this one was much more my imagination.”

Most of the characters appear to have their own set of problems. Joy wants to be part of the in-crowd and has turned into someone mean and nasty, compromising her own values. Her mother, Suzanne, is an elitist who had an affair to reconnect with her artistic self. Allison, the daughter of Doug, is a daddy’s girl who makes her husband feel inferior to her father. Each is affected by their decisions that have huge consequences.

This novel strings together small town secrets leading readers to the conclusion of the plot where the truth behind Joy’s killer is revealed. It is a study of how humans react under pressure. 51--1-bZENL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review The Soul Of A Seal

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

The Soul Of A Seal by Anne Elizabeth has something for every type of reader. It is part adventure, part military thriller, part political, and has a steamy romance. If so inclined, people my want to skip some of the hot and heavy physical intimacy and concentrate on the extensive and detailed scenes of space, shuttle design, and the training involved. The book references different military settings, military issues, and historical events.

Being married to a Vietnam veteran, a retired SEAL, she wants “to give insight into the SEAL community, respectful of our courageous souls, and to illustrate how hard and complicated dedication can be as well as how precious those peaceful moments are. There are basic facts that are true to all military life: struggles with marriage, family, relationships, money, health, and returning home. My husband told me that in my writing I should honor the community and country. I wanted to inform people about the challenges and to show their personal courage. The characters are based on real life former SEALs. I am very careful to craft a plot that does not hijack the veteran’s story so I only use elements of it.”

The plot has a Navy SEAL, Captain Bennett Sheraton, sent to find out who is sabotaging a top-secret program that will allow him to captain a space shuttle. He becomes attracted to the lead scientist, Dr. Kimberly Warren. They must untangle if the culprit is a lone wolf or part of a major conspiracy involving different US agencies or foreign powers.

The action and adventure comes from her personal experiences that include her flying an airplane, parachuting, and mountain biking. Anne is one of those authors who does not just do the talk, but have actually done the walk.

She noted the fact versus fiction of the story. Fact: SEALs are on call 24/7 if they are in operational mode. Many SEALs desire to become astronauts after retiring and some have actually achieved that goal. At the end of the book Anne details the experiences of Chris Cassidy and William Shepherd. She also wants people to understand how “Underwater Demolition Team Frogmen, precursors to the Navy SEALs played a key role during the Gemini and Apollo programs by leaping in the water to recover the capsule and help the astronaut.” On the other hand pure creative thought was the Lester Facility, a covert place that will launch hardware into space via the Warren shuttle.

A powerful quote describes these silent fighters, both in real life and fiction. “The public would be unaware of the men’s pain and sacrifices. The selfless warrior did not require an accolade; rather, survival and success were the greatest gifts of all.”

The author explained, “I hope readers are encouraged to learn more about the real life personalities of these men who contributed to the betterment of all humanity. They are my words but it is based on the SEALs who I know. Part of their motto is ‘never quit.’ They are not limelight guys but rather are quiet, humble, bold, strong, and brave.”

This novel has elements of a thriller, science fiction, mystery, and romance. It is a good read to understand a little of the SEAL personality and missions, as well as the effect it has on th 51zU+uZ+fPL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review The Seventh Plague by James Rollins

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

The Seventh Plague by James Rollins blends scientific intrigue with a small dose of historical mystery. Unlike his other books this one has more of an emphasis on the science, both physical and biological. However, readers of Rollins’ books always learn from interesting facts within a gripping story and this novel is no different.

This as well as the other books always has scenes between Commander Grayson Pierce and his father who has Alzheimer’s’ disease. Rollins believes he was influenced “by my father’s death during the course of writing this book. No author writes within a vacuum. This is reflected in the storyline, which started with the first book and the subsequent decline of his father. My own dad was my biggest promoter, and my loudest cheerleader.”

The novel begins with an archeological dig in Egypt going very awry. Archeologist Harold McCabe is found stumbling out of the sands, but dies before he can tell his story. The mystery deepens when his body appears to have been mummified before his death. During the autopsy it becomes apparent that within is a deadly pathogen that threatens to cause a pandemic, with the virus spreading throughout the globe. It is airborne and highly contagious with a mortality rate similar to Ebola and somehow connected to the plagues listed in the book of Exodus. Turning to McCabe’s daughter Jen a connection is further discovered tying the current threat to Mark Twain and Nikola Tesla.

The theory proposed in the book attributes an environmental change that turned the Nile red. The book speaks of the “algae blooms, bacteria growth, even heavy contaminations.” Rollins noted to blackfive.net, “I wanted to write a story about the book of Exodus that will try to prove the events depicted about Moses were factual. The scientific explanation for the plagues was due to a major climatic period of change within Mother Nature. This is a modern version of the cascade of events where I made the connection that it mimicked the ancient plagues.”

Furthermore, Rollins explained why he included two famous historical figures. “I am a big Mark Twain fan. I like the fact he and Nikola Tesla were friends. Twain hung around his lab and did experiments with him. At the end of his life Tesla claimed of having a shocking discovery, a new energy source. The possibility became the ‘germ’ for this book. He had research surrounding energy and new electrical sources. He actually invented an alternating current, which is what we pretty much use in every single US household, the electrical infrastructure.”

Through Sigma Force’s investigation a mysterious group of assassins is found that attempts to erase all evidence through destruction and death. Seichan is pitted against the Russian assassin Valya Mikhailov who can match her skill for skill while Commander Grayson tries to keep the scientists safe. On the other side of the globe Director Painter Crowe struggles to stop a mad genius locked within a remote Arctic engineering complex.

Rollins, “I put in the sub-plot of how someone with a massive geo-engineering program could have things go terribly wrong if he succeeded. Global warming is happening, but my goal for this book is to show how geo-engineering is ignoring the change to the carbon in the atmosphere. Instead, they are going for the Hail Mary pass that includes wrapping a big blanket around Greenland.”

He told of his next book projects: “Seichen and Vayla butting heads where Seichen represents the non-dark side and Vayla stayed in the shadows. There will be a resolution to their battle. This next Sigma book will bring back as a major character, Maria, the human mother of the gorilla Baako. It will involve a mystery surrounding the end of World War II. This one will be more historical. I am also writing by myself a Tucker and Kane book where Kane will get a girlfriend, a search and rescue dog. There is also talk, coming out in the summer, of a compilation of short stories in an anthology with a new novella added.”

The Seventh Plague blends action, adventure, with a lot of science. It has an interesting premise based upon the reality of the plagues imposed by Moses on the Egyptians as well as informing readers about the Twain/Tesla relationship. 61M7QkVRpYL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Krentz

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz leaves readers spell bound. Although billed as a suspense romance novel it can easily fit into the thriller category. As with the Columbo TV series there is very little attempt to hide the identity of the antagonist, but the motive and possible conspiracies are masked throughout much of the novel. Just when the reader thinks they had found the answers, the carpet is pulled from under them with a new set of questions.

This is the first in a trilogy. Krentz noted to blackfive.net, “I am writing the other brother’s story as we speak. The third novel will resolve the evil cult mystery left over from this book. Each is a stand-alone with a mystery on to itself. There will be cameos from the characters of this first book. I really love that set-up of a private investigator series. Any mystery with a PI can handle more personal stories involving confidentiality, keeping secrets, and probing the personal corners of other people’s lives. This series is now a trilogy, but if it works it can be the core for a PI series.”

This story has two plotlines that come together at the end. The plot begins with the possible murder of a woman and the disappearance of another. It appears that the one with all the answers is Jocelyn Pruett, but she has disappeared. A private detective, Max Cutler, is hired to find out why one woman was murdered and in the course of his investigation meets up with Charlotte Sawyer, the stepsister to Jocelyn. Together they search for answers and link the death and disappearance to an on-line based investment club and Jocelyn’s past of being a rape victim. They find that power, privilege, an escalating serial rapist, and a friend-enemy are all fighting to silence Charlotte and Max.

An over-riding arc that will continue in this trilogy has three stepbrothers obsessed in trying to find out the cult leader who imprisoned them, and set a fire that ultimately killed others. Because they had no relatives the police chief who rescued them adopted the three and raised them as his sons. The question of what became of this cult leader has haunted the brothers. Max was affected so deeply he had to leave his criminal profiler job, got divorced, and relocated to Seattle.

The theme of the novel involves deceptions, unanswered questions, and finding out the truth. Revenge, vigilante justice, and becoming avengers are the central part of the story. Something most readers can relate to is how “life passes in the blink of an eye.”

Krentz feels the “avengers crossed the line to find justice and then became vigilantes, which is not healthy. This is why I could not make the heroine one of them. Her own core values would not allow that kind of justice that involves less than legal means. I wanted to show women are perfectly capable of thinking about revenge and will have their own way of doing it. I always believe that whoever plans revenge has a dark side. Vengeance is a dangerous thing and usually comes back to haunt you. Vigilantism is like the western story of meeting a guy in front of the saloon and shooting it out.”

The two sisters appear to be as different as night and day. Jocelyn is flashy, an “A-list girl”, bold, and self-confident. Charlotte is seen as risk-averse, cautious, vulnerable, level headed, honest, and not spontaneous. She is in-sync in personality with Max who is also vulnerable, doubtful, a plodder, and comfortable enough with each other to share their past.

As with all her books the characters grow throughout the story. “I had Jocelyn learn

something about herself, which is she does need Charlotte as a sister of the heart. On the other hand, Charlotte learned that her inner strength was greater than she gave herself credit for. Most of us do not understand our own strength until something stresses us and then we have to deal with it. Regarding Max and Charlotte, Something I have in my books is how the relationship develops when the hero sees the strengths and the heroic qualities in the heroine and she sees those same qualities in him. Their story compliments each other. They share the common core values: courage, honor, determination, and the healing power of love.”

This novel is a great read for fans of mysteries who will not be able to put the book down. The many twists and turns create an exciting plot with action building throughout the story. 51rwc4TUN4L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review A Voice For Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

If there is any reason to rejoice over the fact Hillary Clinton was not elected President, it is one word, Benghazi. The 3 a.m. phone call came and she did not answer the call. Americans still do not know the truth and facts surrounding her role in this tragic incident.

Lydie M. Denier has just released her book, A Voice For Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Denier, the former fiancé of Ambassador Stevens and Patricia Smith, the mother of Sean, the information officer in Libya, discussed their feelings about the election, Hillary Clinton, and the Benghazi cover-up.

Lydie is disgusted that people are rioting and in mourning because Hillary Clinton was not elected President. She and Patricia understand it is their right, but are glad Hillary Clinton did not become Commander-in-Chief.

As a Hollywood actress, Lydie, has some words of advice for her peers, “When they asked me why I was against having a woman President, I responded, ‘I want one, but not her. Lots of my Hollywood friends say I am now moving away. I answered go and I will help you pack. Move on.’”

She wanted people to know that for the past three years she has had a hard time getting A Voice For Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens published. “I was told who cares about his life. This sounded like they were echoing Hillary Clinton’s comment before the Congressional Committee when she said ‘what difference does it make?’ It does matter because Chris needed a voice and I am happy to be it. He was always in my heart and I wanted people to get to know him as a great human being. In going through his stuff his mother found some pictures with me. The letters I have, some of which I published, show him to be a very romantic and thoughtful person. It has been a constant fight to get the story out, and I had to publish it in Canada.”

Lydie told how she saw emails where Clinton referred to the Ambassador as “Sean Stevens,” when asking if she should immediately go public or wait until the next day. Was she uncaring or ignorant as she mixed up the names of those who died?

She also wonders what happened to Chris’ journal, since he kept one every day. “I heard his passport, belongings, and journal were never given to his family. I can speculate that someone gave them to the State Department. Who knows what they did with them, possibly burning them. There was also a picture of him taken the day he died where he is standing between two men. I was told those were the two who are responsible for Chris’ death.”

The book has a quote that shows her frustration, “No one seems interested in digging for the facts to learn the truth about what happened to Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty who died tragically and needlessly that day. Instead, they want to obscure the truth to protect a political position...”

The quote is more applicable today since the Wikileaks’ emails have come out. They show how Hillary Clinton told the truth to Chelsea, but not the American people. Lydie noted, “I want Americans to understand that Clinton sent him to Benghazi without any security. She ignored the 600 requests for help. He had been to Benghazi twice before. Even though she knew how dangerous it was she sent him there because she wanted a presence on September 11th. He was to go there in August 2012 but because of the lack of security he and his team cancelled it. The trip was supposed to be postponed until October or November. Chris went there on 9/11 because she directly told him to go.”

She went on to say that “Chris had decided it was way too dangerous and had decided not to finish his term as Ambassador and to come home. He was thinking of retiring because he saw a lack of respect within the State Department. Gregory Hicks told me they had tried desperately to get help after receiving the call from Chris that they were under attack. He felt powerless since he could not convince anyone to send help. Probably because this was the real “3 AM” phone call and she was sleeping.”

Patricia Smith echoes Lydie’s sentiments. She also believes Clinton was sleeping and that she “never had their backs. I suspect she knew what was going on and went to bed. Her lies were never ending. First, she looks me in the eye and says that a video caused my son’s death, and then when I called her on it she says ‘one of us is lying and its not me,’ basically calling me a liar. When I tried to get answers no one in the State Department spoke with me because ‘You are not part of the immediate family.’”

She went on to say that she does not even know where her son is buried and worries that his body is not the one in the casket brought back to America. “They never opened up the casket so I could see him. They did not even take them out of Libya in an American plane, probably because it was too dangerous. I truly believe she murdered my son.”

Lydie and Patricia are glad Hillary Clinton lost, but it is a bittersweet victory since that will never bring back their loved ones. As Lydie noted, “How could anyone have trusted Clinton to take care of this whole country when she could not even take care of four men in Benghazi. I truly believe Hillary Clinton’s choice to sit still, leaving Americans alone, to fend for themselves in Benghazi, will go down in history as a singular act of cowardice.” 51e3GrDl-SL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review Terminal Impact by Charles Henderson

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Terminal Impact by Charles Henderson is about Marines written by a retired Marine. This novel takes readers on a journey about a sniper on the trail of al-Qaeda terrorist al-Zarqawi in Iraq. He allows readers to understand how those in the military can be haunted by a missed opportunity.

The protagonist of the story Marine Scout-Sniper Jack Valentine missed a critical shot that would have killed a terrorist leader during the Persian Gulf War. Now back in Iraq in 2006 to lead a highly trained unit, he vows to make things right. To complete the mission he must overcome greedy contractors who hire mercenaries to play both sides. Readers get a glimpse into the life of a Marine including anecdotes, asides, history, and combat language.

Henderson told blackfive.net of how he drew inspiration from “Marines I know. These Scout Snipers are big influences on who my main character Jack Valentine is including his training, skill set, and personality. He is a compilation of three or four guys. For example, when I wrote about the “Mob Squad,” that is real. In the First Gulf War some Italian guys who chose to be together dubbed themselves this nickname. Their favorite saying, ‘It is just business, nothing personal.’”

Wanting to write a story that was believable, accurate, and real, Henderson noted, “I dug into the well of my life. I grew up hunting, living outdoors, and surrounded by rifles. Snipers are the people I know best. They are quiet, down to earth, and not boastful. I wanted to honor them. Ernst Hemingway once said, ‘To write something well you have to have lived it. You can’t write about what you don’t know.’”

Anyone who wants a realistic glimpse into the life of a Marine should read this book. It appears the scenes and the jargon are very realistic. 51KlKvc9wVL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review True Faith And Allegiance by Mark Greaney

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Tom Clancy’s True Faith and Allegiance by Mark Greaney explores the world of cyber threats and cyber security. Government officials have been talking about these dangers for a decade; yet, it seems it has been all talk and no action, that is until Jack Ryan Sr. became President.

The plot begins with seemingly random acts against America’s military and national security officials. First, an armed man in a crowded restaurant attacks U.S. Navy Commander Scott Hagan, captain of the USS James Greer, when on leave. Hagan demands to know how the would-be assassin knew his exact location, but the man dies before he says more. This is followed by an American operative being arrested in Iran for spying, even though he has made the trip numerous times before. It comes to a head when a man is kidnapped by American covert officials accused of being a traitor and reveals he gave away classified information to save his wife from being outted as an American operative.

Through much investigation it is determined American intelligence is under attack by someone selling classified information on the dark web. The information up for grabs included lengthy and detailed profiles of America’s highest-ranking military personnel and undercover operators. As more deadly events involving American military and intelligence personnel follow, all over the globe, it becomes clear that there has been some kind of massive information breach sold to ISIS that uses this weapon of stolen data to take out targets. President Ryan asks the Campus, a top-secret intelligence agency, to track the leak of this source.

This scenario appears to be a warning to those that use social media since the cyber antagonist was able to find what people were doing, where they were, and piece together this information. Greaney believes “People worry about the NSA tracking them, but they are actually allowing this through social media. This book talks a lot about social media intelligence that is completely open source. For example, we were able to track Russian soldiers fighting in the Ukraine through their Instagram accounts. They were shown to be 65 miles within the Ukraine at the same time the Russian government was saying it was not true. But the absence of information can also give someone information. Say you went to college majoring in Arabic studies, and then suddenly your social media goes dark. With a leap of faith a person might suspect you of going into the covert world.”

The theme of the book shows how government cannot adequately protect its own agencies, corporations, or even individual American citizens. Greaney wants readers to understand, “This is a very realistic plot. Remember when China breached the database of the Office Of Personnel Management. Twenty-five million records were lost. Anyone who had applied for a classified position was at risk. They did not even have a cyber security department. What I did was take things in the real world and fictionalized it.”

Current events allow for readers to grasp the multitude of importance of a security breach. Greaney noted to blackfive.net, “I thought of the Secretary of State who had an unsecure server while emailing on Yahoo. This is one of those instances when I did not want to make our government officials that accurate. I did not want it happening on the Jack Ryan watch. It seems the real world is more unrealistic than this plot line.”

Unlike some other thriller authors, people know that in a Clancy novel some of the main characters can be killed off. What Greaney has done effectively with this story is to expand the Clancy world by refilling the ranks of the Campus. The new characters added or have taken on more of a role. Adara Sherman and Midas, ex Delta Force, enhance the story with their grittiness.

True Faith and Allegiance allows readers to have their eyes opened to the dangers of cyber breaches. It is a warning for the US government to quit doing the talk and start doing the walk regarding the need for a strong cyber security program. 51RebJ5fdRL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review Chaos By Patricia Cornwell

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Chaos by Patricia Cornwell has a “chaotic” plot. This book fascinatingly shows how people are losing control. In some ways technology has made lives easier, while in other ways it has taken away someone’s independence. Cornwell shows in this absorbing thriller how that can happen.

Cornwell commented to blackfive.net, “The major theme in my most recent books is that we are living in the age of technology. My more current research is moving more and more towards the sorts of technology that the military is developing. A lot of what ends up in criminal investigations begins with the military. Much is first implemented in combat. A good example is when Scarpetta uses her CT scanner. It was modeled after the one at Dover Air Force Base. The military is also using a scanning x-ray electron microscope. It can possibly determine the projectile used to kill someone in combat and who was the one responsible for making it.”

Dr. Kay Scarpetta, the Cambridge Forensic Center’s Director, is receiving anonymous poems that are on the bizarre side from a cyber bully known as Tailend Charlie. In her professional life she must find out why two people died after being struck by lightning, including her good friend General John Briggs who has also been electrified. Scarpetta starts to suspect the involvement of Carrie Grethen, her nemesis. She determines that the deaths by “acts of nature” are actually related to this cyber bully, a cunning and technically savvy predator.

Will Carrie be the antagonist in future books? “I don’t know where Carrie will go and want to leave things open ended. She will be in the next book, which also has an international connection to Scotland Yard and Interpol. An old case has just re-surfaced.”

Dr. Kay enlists the help of her “work husband,” partner detective Pete Marino. They begin a perilous investigation of who is behind the cyber bullying and the murder of the two victims. Her niece Lucy does not play as prominent a role in this book as in others, but she is enlisted to try to find out how this criminal could have access to private information and the ability to use electricity for murder.

In this thriller Cornwell shows how Kay balances the demands of her work life with her personal life. Besides having to deal with a cyber bully she has to confront her feelings of sisterly rivalry with Dorothy. The backstory is told of their early life together and why at this time her sister decides to come for a visit.

Anyone who has a sister knows about rivalry. Cornwell wants readers to “think of Scarpetta as human with a family, scars, dysfunction, memories, and loses. Her only sibling, Dorothy, has always been in the shadow from day one of my books. She was going to be the homecoming queen in high school, while Scarpetta was the nerd in the science lab. In this book and going forward readers will spend some time with her. Her visit has a big connection to the plot.”

As with all her recent books, Chaos demonstrates how technology advances can be beneficial to criminals. Readers work the investigation with Scarpetta as they try to disentangle the puzzle and mystery of this gripping plot. 51dx85217PL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_


Book Review Secret Service Dogs

The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.

Those who love dogs write the best books about them. This becomes evident with Maria Goodavage’s latest book Secret Service Dogs. It is filled with colorful, funny, dramatic, and heartfelt anecdotes intertwined with a history of this special unit.

She decided to write this book after researching and finding there was very little out there about the Secret Service agency’s canine program. After two bestsellers about military dogs, she commented, “I thought it would be fascinating to shift gears and look at the dogs that protect the president of the United States, the First Family, presidential candidates, and even the Pope, when he visits the United States. I was surprised and impressed by how integral Secret Service dogs are to the many circles of protection for the president.”

Right from the very beginning readers understand the heroism of these men/women and their canine partners. Another hero, Clint Hill, who put his life on the line as he jumped on the JFK car in Dallas, wrote the forward. Goodavage feels honored that Clint Hill contributed to the book. “I met him on a boat in San Francisco. After the Lucca book I was thinking of what I should do next. I talked to him about writing a book on Secret Service dogs and handlers and he was so gracious in offering to put me in touch with the right people. After reading an advance copy he offered to write the forward.”

Never before has anyone been given the access that this author has by the Secret Service. Readers are taken into this world that has been “secretive” for many years. It is informative about the different types of dogs used to guard the White House and the President, the First Family, and dignitaries. The Explosive Detection Team travels worldwide with the President. Emergency Response Dogs is part of a “SWAT” team, where they would attack an intruder. Tactical dogs protect the President and the First Family inside the White House grounds. Floppy-eared dogs aka as Friendly dogs patrol outside the White House. They are named for their ability to be affable to those people who are walking or viewing the White House from the outside.

The incident that brought attention to these dogs was when someone jumped the White House fence. This book explains all the details surrounding it and how the Belgian Malinois, Hurricane, became a hero. After being punched and kicked by the intruder he still was able to subdue him and had the man give up with the help of another canine, Jardan. It is through stories like these that readers gain a good understanding of how the extensive training allows these dogs to risk their lives to protect the First Family and the President.

But there are other stories as well. When President Ronald Reagan, an apparent dog lover, decided to pet one of the dogs he almost had his hand bitten off, after coming out for a photo op with the agents and their dogs. He reached out to shake the Agent’s hand, but the canine at his side stared up at the President and showed his teeth. Luckily, the handler put the dog at ease, and nothing came of the incident.

Some might wonder how does the First Family’s dog interact with Secret Service dogs. The author addresses it within a chapter. Noting that the handlers were very vigilant about the pets of the First Family they tried to avoid any confrontation. She recounts such an incident involving President George W. Bush’s dog Barney, a Scottish Terrier. Thinking he is the alpha dog he charged at the ERT dog, Oscar, a Belgian Malinois. The handler scooped Oscar up high in his arms and avoided a major incident although Barney did bite his tail.

Besides these anecdotes she also explains the policies of this unit. One that appears to make no sense is the one and done. As Goodavage notes to blackfive.net, “The “One and done” has been a policy of the Secret Service’s canine program since the beginning. It means that as a handler, you get one dog during your career. Usually, when the dog retires, so does their human partner. The Canine Unit is popular, and the idea is that this rule would give others a chance. But many handlers feel, and I tend to agree, that you’re losing incredible talent this way. You want the best of the best when it comes to protecting the president and other key world figures. Deeply experienced handlers can be tremendous assets. Fortunately, there have been plenty of exceptions to the one-and-done policy with a few on their second dog after their first had a long and fruitful career before retirement.”

Secret Service Dogs by Maria Goodavage is an interesting insight into this unit. It is eye opening since very little has been written. Readers will learn about the relationship between handlers and their partners. 51kFWvdlSVL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_