Vulnerable: A Prequel to the Red Dog Conspiracy by Patricia Loofbourrow

Vulnerable P. Loofburrow




Eleanora Bryce faces prison for a crime she didn’t commit.

In the far future domed city of Dickens, no mercy is given.

So when Eleanora Bryce finds her husband dead at his own hand, she finds herself trapped between the truth and his mountain of debt. Eleanora faces debtor’s prison — or worse — unless she can find a way out of Dickens. But can she return to the city which ruined her husband and murdered her son?

A 6,000 word short companion story to the Red Dog Conspiracy steampunk crime fiction series.

Vulnerable takes place shortly before the events in The Jacq of Spades: Part 1 of the Red Dog Conspiracy, and can be read at any time.




The Alcatraz Coup
Vulnerable <- you are here
The Jacq of Spades
The Queen of Diamonds
The Ace of Clubs
The King of Hearts (coming October 2018)




Patricia Loofborrow image


Patricia Loofbourrow, MD is an New York Times and USA Today best selling author, PC gamer, ornamental food gardener, fiber artist, and wildcrafter who loves power tools, dancing, genetics and anything to do with outer space. She was born in southern California and has lived in Chicago and Tokyo. She currently lives in Oklahoma with her husband and three grown children.






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This is a great short story considering the length. It truly reads like a novel and leaves you wanting more. A great beginning to the Red Dog Conspiracy series. Excellent.




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At the beginning of my series starter The Jacq of Spades, my main character Jacqueline Spadros is called to Eleanora Bryce’s fabric shop to investigate the disappearance of her son David. Although Mrs. Bryce doesn’t seem to recognize Jacqui, my main character knows her – the woman has been missing for ten years. Jacqui seems to be afraid of Mrs. Bryce and is worried about taking the case to find David Bryce for a variety of reasons.

The very first mystery in The Jacq of Spades is: where has Mrs. Bryce been for the past ten years?


The best way to describe the domed city of Dickens is social Darwinism taken to its extreme, as you find in much of Charles Dickens’ writings. These people have chose to live there, and of course, they believe their way is best.
Vulnerable is a short story which takes place just before The Jacq of Spades and answers this question. Finding her husband dead of suicide, Eleanora is immediately faced with his enormous debt which she knew nothing about – and his life insurance policy, which is void if he’s found to have taken his life. With the insurance money, she and her two sons can survive – if she hides how he died. But the police constable investigating her husband’s death thinks she’s murdered him. Thus the dilemma.

Audiobook Blog Tour: It Is Las Vegas After All by Howard Weiner

It Is Las Vegas After All Banner





Cover Art



About the Audiobook

Author: Howard Weiner

Narrator: Laura Copland

Length: 7 hours 51 minutes

Publisher: Howard D. Weiner⎮20

Genre: Technothriller

Release date: Jun. 38, 2017


Audio Sample




Synopsis: Two physicists are in a race with federal authorities and three former CIA agents to detonate a dirty bomb in Las Vegas. The physicists deploy several explosive devices, hidden in plain sight, that can be detonated at any time. Federal authorities realize too late that their best technologies, people, and staff cannot detect the existence and movement of small bombs. The safety of Las Vegas depends on three former CIA agents brought together by an employer with ill intent and strong ties to venture capitalists funding the latest crop of entrepreneurs. Who will win? Will Las Vegas be saved?

Buy Links

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Book Review - 3d rendered headline



A very informative book with a fascinating plot and form of storytelling. Two remarkable physicists are set to explode a dirty bomb in the City of Las Vegas, but what you’ll discover is what set them off in the first place.  The narrative is the dominate form of storytelling compared to character dialogue which caused more difficulty following the story. The characters were definitely intriguing with their own set of quirks and personalities.



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Las Vegas Teaser




Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

I recently finished reading John Grisham’s, The Rooster Bar. Grisham relates that he read a news story about for-profit law schools and instantly knew he had a story. It Is Las Vegas After All was born out of a similar set of circumstances. I’d read several news stories about dirty bombs and that became the straw for binding together other professional and personal experiences.






Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

I started the process of commissioning the audiobook while completing my second novel, Serendipity Opportunity. Working with Amazon’s Kindle publishing program was providing good feedback and results, and so it wasn’t a dramatic leap of faith to investigate Amazon’s audiobook publishing division, Audio Creation Exchange (ACX).

ACX has an efficient process for publishing a sample of the novel and soliciting auditions among interested publishers and narrators. I received a surprising number of submissions and set about listening and evaluating each audio segment.

Laura Copland’s submission was clearly the best of the bunch. We promptly agreed to the terms and conditions facilitated by ACX, and Laura began her work in earnest.

After reading the novel, Laura had a number of questions regarding the characters. I was pleasantly surprised at how well she had managed to climb into the skin of each. Her formal education and training in the theater arts clearly marked her as the consummate professional, and for that reason working with her to complete the book took about six-to-seven weeks.

For my part, working on a novel at some point is less about the story and the characters and more about issues of presentation. Getting the book into print is the point, and very quickly you transform from storyteller to scrivener. Listening to the chapters Laura submitted rekindled my joy and excitement about the story and the characters she so ably brought to life.



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Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?

No one appreciates a good story more than a story writer. Beyond the entertainment value of a good engaging book, listening to an audiobook is like taking a master class in writing from authors you enjoy and even envy.

I’m (an old) computer scientist by formal education and industry training. It’s difficult to imagine any of the many textbooks in computer science, mathematics, or the sciences in general, working well as an audiobook–no matter how written and enlightening they may be.

In the fiction genre, I find it easier to listen to an audiobook where the author provides the context for characters and the situations in which they find themselves rather than straight character dialog.



headphones audiobook Its Las Vegas



Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

I’d like to say yes, but it isn’t true. It wasn’t until the publishing process came to an end that I started to contemplate turning it into an audiobook.

I’m in the midst of my fourth novel now, One for the Price of Two, and I still do not find myself designing the storyline, mapping out character development, or doing the research my books require with an audiobook in mind. But I have given the matter some thought, and for now I’ve elected to focus on the written word first, middle, and last.



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How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?

I knew from the moment I listened to Laura’s audition that I’d stumbled on to an extraordinarily talent. I’ve learned throughout my professional career that finding such people can too often be good fortune rather than intent, and it’s important to let someone like Laura “do her thing.” I didn’t always agree with her take on a character’s spoken dialog, but I always found her interpretation to be at least as good as what I intended when putting pen to paper.

We did have a couple, very minor, issues about pronunciation, but again, Laura made those few circumstances a breeze.



Author Howard Weiner



About the Author: Howard Weiner

Howard Weiner was born in Washington, DC, in the distant past when Congress returned home during the summers, new best friends moved in every four years, and old ones never stayed. He attended local public schools and graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a BS in computer science and a spouse.

For the next forty years, he pursued an extensive graduate education, served as a member of the professoriate, an entrepreneur, and leadership positions in information technology in the private and public sectors. He lived during his working years in the Washington DC suburbs and exurbs, Richmond, Virginia, in three locations on Long Island, New York, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and finally, the upper west side of New York City.

Weiner’s first work of published fiction, It Is Las Vegas After All, introduces three unlikely partners who stumble upon two refugees from higher education who abandon their promising academic careers to build and detonate a dirty bomb in Las Vegas. The story takes place in the U.S., U.K., and the former communist east Germany, and ends following a high stakes winter pursuit along the Appalachian Trail.

His second work, Serendipity Opportunity, tells a tale of the dark web meets mayhem, murder, and an international incident involving Russian and U.S. intelligence agencies.

His latest work, Bad Money, takes place in 1993 and features two unlikely heroes trying to escape members of Manuel Noriega’s former intelligence staff in a drugs for money story. The story begins, simply enough, with two suit cases accidentally switched at the Miami Airport. He is also working on two other manuscripts: One for the Price of Two and The Big Lowandowski.








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Blog Tour: Truth or Dead by T.J. Brearton







How far would you go to protect your kids?









About Tom Lange

Tom Lange is like a Wild West cowboy who’s been dropped into the modern world. He has to deal with his impulsiveness and anger in ways men never had to reckon with before. If he wants to keep a relationship, he has to open up. If he wants to keep his job, he has to face his past.

Tom isn’t a West Point graduate or a former special ops. He’s a kid from the streets; he grew up in some of the tougher neighborhoods just outside of New York City as a foster kid with his brother Nick. He applies what he learned growing up –how people survive, how they take advantage– to his investigations for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Truth or Dead takes Tom into a world he knows well – the world of gambling and drugs, run by notorious gangster Mario Palumbo. Tom must help protect the life of a woman Palumbo seems to have targeted, though no one can figure out quite why… Heather Moss, it seems, has a past to face, too… 





gambling chips and aces




TRUTH OR DEAD by T.J. Brearton

How far would you go to protect your kids?

On her drive to work, Heather Moss gets a phone call which will turn her life upside-down. If she doesn’t do what the caller wants, they will kill her two little girls.

An inmate dies in the county jail. He was a witness who could have brought down notorious criminal Mario Palumbo.

Special Agent Tom Lange is trying to get his life back together after losing his brother Nick. And he thinks Palumbo was responsible for Nick’s death.

Tom desperately wants the evidence to point to Palumbo, but it doesn’t all add up.

Can Tom protect Heather and bring down crime boss Palumbo? He faces a choice between the truth and getting the result he wants.

Set in Florida, this atmospheric thriller will keep you turning the pages till the tension-packed conclusion.




TJ Brearton Author photo png




Brearton’s fiction first appeared in Third Rail, an underground magazine in New York City. His short stories have been published with The Rusty Nail MagazineOrange Quarterly, Enhance Magazine, Nonsense Society, and Atticus Review, with non-fiction appearing in The Lake Champlain Weekly and Adirondack Almanack. A previous novel, “Rehabilitation,” was published independently in 2009. He attended the New York Film Academy and has worked in film, broadcast television, and freelance journalism. He lives in the Adirondacks with his wife and two children.

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Blog Tour: Fatal Secrets by Janice Frost


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Book Blurb



Two students coming home from a drunken night out see something strange in the river. It is a young woman’s body.

Hours later, a second young woman’s body is discovered on another stretch of the same river.

DS Ava Merry and DI Jim Neal are assigned to both investigations. And they’re joined by a new detective, Tom Knight.

Soon a connection is found between the two dead women. A list of “victims” is discovered in one of their flats. Who will be next and what really happened to the women on this sinister list?

In a thrilling conclusion, Jim Neal fights for his life as the two detectives struggle to solve a complex case involving people with secrets that may prove fatal.

If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott, Ruth Rendell, or Mark Billingham you will be gripped by this exciting new crime fiction writer.





DS Ava Merry is a young policewoman, recently promoted to detective sergeant. She is fitness fanatic with a taste for dangerous relationships. DI Jim Neal is single dad who juggles his devotion to his job with caring for his son.










My Review:


I found this book to be entertaining and well written. A complex plot with the characters interwoven in some way shape or form. I always enjoy stories that have a strong villain because it makes for a better read. The motivations for the protagonists and antagonists and solving of the crime make this a good read.


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Author Bio:  Janice Frost


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Janice was born and grew up in West Lothian, Scotland. After completing an English degree at St Andrew’s University, she moved to London where she lived for ten years doing an assortment of jobs. Her passions are reading, writing and walking in Scotland and the Lake District. She lives in Lincolnshire with her husband and two sons.




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Benjamin Thomas




Blog Tour: His Third Victim by Helen H. Durrant

His Third Victim



Hello book lovers!  I’ve had an great opportunity to participate in a  blog tour for His Third Victim, which I’m still reading. However, I did get a chance to interview the author. Check it out below!



Book Description

HIS THIRD VICTIM by Helen H. Durrant


A man is shot dead and his body is dumped on the moors. Hisarm is stamped with the Chinese symbol for sorry.

There have been five unsolved murders with the same hallmark. The police can’t find any motive or connection between the victims.

Bella Richards was close to the murdered man. She lives with her five-year son and has begun a new life in the local area.  But although clearly grief-stricken, she is not telling the police everything she knows.

Detective Talbot Dyson wants his most trusted inspector on the case. But DI Matt Brindle is out of action. He was badly injured and his sergeant was killed in a criminal ambush.  He is drawn into the investigation and must decide whether he wants to go to back to his old life.

What is the real connection between the victims and who will be next?

This is a detective mystery full of twists and turns, with a stunning edge-of-your-seat ending.



Interview with Author Helen H. Durrant



helen durrant




Author Bio

OVER 500,000 books sold of her Calladine & Bayliss and DI Greco Series 

I’m one of the ‘baby boomer’ generation. I was born in Edinburgh to an English father and Scottish mother. My father was from the North West of England and this was where the family settled. 


I know the area well, both the good and the bad, and so I set my books here. Sitting between two counties, Lancashire and Yorkshire, and between the city and the hills, it offers a rich mix of the industrial and the countryside and all the character therein. I always planned to write crime novels — to create the characters in my books. Since my retirement from a busy teaching job in FE, this is what I’ve done — almost to exclusion of anything else! 


I have a grown-up family and five grandchildren. They see me as something of an eccentric — always on my laptop writing away. Writing is something of a second career and, despite having a bus pass, keeps me busy, young and tuned in the world as it currently is. 









Name three things that led you to write crime novels.

I have wanted to write since I was ten years old. Had no idea what though. It began with the name ‘Calladine’ and an idea – (which I have never used!) Crime novels are almost all I read – it’s been that way for years.



What kind of work did you retire from?

I was a lecturer at a local education college. The subject – Computing. I had come from a programming background, so mostly taught a language called ‘COBOL’. Since the advent of ‘Windows’, COBOL is not as popular. We are going back to pre DOS times.







Was it difficult retiring from a full-time job to writing full-time?

No. I was ready to retire. I’d worked at the college for twenty years or more. Although I loved the job and the students, it was time to go. Writing was still something I might get round to. The name ‘Calladine’ was still messing with my head. Eventually I knuckled down and got on with it. No one is more surprised than me at the speed I turned out those first three books in the Calladine & Bayliss series, or at their popularity once I was taken on by Joffe Books.




Hello I Am Retired Words Nametag Sticker Older Person




What was your process writing the plot for His Third Victim?

I got the name first – Matt Brindle. And I knew where I wanted him to live. I don’t plot everything in detail. There are times when the characters forge their own way ahead. The house – Brindle Hall, is based on a real place. It is a house with gardens and petting farm that I have taken my grandkids too frequently. So we have been a couple of times this summer while I’ve been working on the book.



“There are times when the characters forge their own way ahead.”




Why was this book a standalone? 

I wasn’t sure how it would be received. But …. Things seem to be okay at this point, so – I am already thinking about a second in the Matt Brindle series.



Name some positive experiences writing this book.

The days out with the kids and wandering around the villages of west Yorkshire – endless teas in cosy tearooms!







Did it turn out the way you envisioned it?
Yes, I think it did.


Do you have any favorite quotes?




What are you working on next?

Currently – DI Greco 4. Followed by Calladine & Bayliss 8 and then the next Matt Brindle. They are all WIP. Most of Greco 4 is complete, C & B – three chapters in and Matt Brindle 2 is in my head!




Young man with Work in progress mark over his head





Connect with Helen!


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Blog Tour: Deadly Lies by Chris Collett






Discover a new detective in a tough city. DI Tom Mariner thinks he’s seen it all, but now he faces an investigation which will push him to his limits.

Journalist Eddie Barham is found dead in his home. A syringe in his arm and a note by his side reading, ‘No More.’

Open and shut case of suicide? Not for DI Mariner. Hours before, he saw Barham picking up a prostitute in a bar. Mariner discovers Barham’s younger brother, Jamie, hiding in a cupboard under the stairs.

Jamie must have witnessed his brother’s death, but his severe autism makes communication almost impossible. Mariner is determined to connect with Jamie and get to the truth. And is the journalist’s death related to his investigation of a local crime kingpin?

What other dark secrets does Jamie hold the key to and can Mariner keep his relationship professional with Barham’s attractive sister, Anna?

In a nail-biting conclusion Mariner races against time to prevent more lives being lost.

Perfect for fans of Peter James, Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson. This is the first book in the DI MARINER SERIES, more books coming soon!



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Birmingham is a city of stark contrasts with a rich cultural and historical heritage. Playing a key role in the industrial revolution, it helped shape the nation’s manufacturing industry

But with its many green spaces, Birmingham also borders on the beautiful countryside of Worcestershire and Warwickshire, is just a few miles from Stratford on Avon and a short drive from the wild country of mid-Wales.

Birmingham’s population is large and ethnically diverse, and while urban regeneration has forged a modern and culturally vibrant city, the decaying remnants of the industrial past and 1960s concrete jungle give it a unique and gritty character; the dark underbelly policed by DI Tom Mariner and his team.




Green Road Sign -  Birmingham, England




Detective Inspector Tom Mariner is, on the surface, an average dedicated policeman, but his experiences as a younger man have given him an insight into life on the dark side, and a clear sense of right and wrong. Mariner has little interest in material things. He lives in a modest canal-side cottage, enjoys the occasional (real) beer and game of dominoes and drives an old car. He is most at home in the outdoors, with an OS map and a compass, and in times of crisis, will take off and walk for miles in any weather.

Police Constable Tony Knox has recently transferred to the West Midlands force and finds himself back in uniform following an undisclosed transgression. A scouser with the gift of the gab, and an irrepressible ladies’ man, Knox is initially wary of the inscrutable DI Mariner, but, when a need arises, is grateful for his unquestioning support and the lack of curiosity about his personal life.

I really couldn’t put it down’ Raw Edge Magazine 

‘Collett is a wonderful writer, subtle, clever, strong on atmosphere and character. This is a fitting follow-up to her debut and reassures the crime fan that the police procedural is in safe hands. More, please’ Yorkshire Post



Chris Collett really knows how to reel you into a good story. From the first page, it simply flows effortlessly until you’re lost within a world of Deadly Lies. I’ve been enjoying reading a few detective mysteries based in England recently. It’s like a breath of fresh air, new blood, and new characters to keep me satisfied.

This has everything you’d want in a book. A gripping mystery, developed characters in the midst of a well written plot ready for consumption. I’m definitely gamed for more of Collett’s work.


My rating


Four golden stars isolated on white background




Connect with Chris Collett

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Chris Collett


Chris Collett grew up in a Norfolk seaside town where she worked in a boarding house (now defunct) a local bakery (closed down) and a crisp factory (razed to the ground). Graduating in Liverpool, Chris has since taught children and adults with varying degrees of learning disability, including autism. She is now a university lecturer, with two grown up children, and lives in Birmingham; DI Tom Mariner’s ‘patch’. She has published short stories, teaches creative and crime writing and is a manuscript assessor for the Crime Writers Association.

The first five DI Tom Mariner books will be released in revised editions by Joffe Books in 2017/2018.

Find out more at

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Thank you!



Benjamin Thomas


Blog Tour- Murder on the Oxford Canal by Faith Martin

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MURDER ON THE OXFORD CANAL is the first in a series of page-turning crime thrillers set in Oxfordshire.

Perfect for fans of Agatha Christie, Colin Dexter, or Ruth Rendell.

The Oxford Canal meanders through the beautiful county of Oxfordshire, sometimes joining up with the rivers Cherwell and Thames, and flows past the world-famous university city of Oxford. Unlike many canals which are practically ruler-straight commercial waterways, built to help transport goods and heavy traffic before the advent of the railways, the Oxford Canal is a more winding and natural-looking body of water, and is a haven for wildlife and wildflowers. It has several romantically-named locks on its length (such as the Three Pigeons Lock, and Dashwood Lock) and boasts the ominously-sounding Somerton Deep Lock, which often terrifies first-time boating holiday-makers.


Oxford thames




locks on the river





DI Hillary Greene
An attractive woman in her forties, Hillary Greene is a police officer of many years’ experience, and came up through the ranks. Consequently, she knows how the system works, and is fiercely loyal to the force without being blinkered to its faults. She is a long-standing friend of her immediate superior officer, ‘Mellow’ Mallow and enjoys a rather enigmatic relationship with the steely Superintendent Marcus Donleavy. Popular with the rank and file for her no-nonsense attitude and competence, she is currently under investigation, on account of her recently deceased, and definitely corrupt husband (Ronnie Greene). But adversity has never stopped her from doing her job.

DCI Philip ‘Mellow’ Mallow
Mel appreciates Hillary’s first-rate ability to solve her cases, and isn’t happy about her harassment by the officers from York. Known for his sartorial elegance and laid-back manners, he has a sharp mind, and an eye for the ladies. A good friend and ally for Hillary in her recent tribulations, he’s determined to keep his best investigator focused on the problems at hand.







Murder on the Oxford Canal is a wonderful beginning to a promising series. I love books that begin with an interesting character to invest in. Author Faith Martin does a marvelous job introducing us to DI Hillary Greene.

This story drew me in right from the beginning and kept me turning the pages full of suspense. A mysterious body was found in the lock, with even a more mysterious crime behind it.

The author does a great job painting realistic characters and excels at crafting interpersonal relationships. Writing a story is one thing. Writing an engaging, page -turner with fascinating characters is altogether different. I’m a fan of this series!



My Rating


Four golden stars isolated on white background





Connect with Faith Martin

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Writing Combat, After Combat by John Mangan





Writing Combat, After Combat


Like many young men I was raised on a steady diet of thrillers and military action novels. After devouring hundreds of books, ranging from Tom Clancy’s techno wizardry, to Robert Ludlum’s classics, and The Outrider series by Richard Harding, I figured that I had combat figured out. After all, I’d read thousands of action scenes that described in excruciating detail every conceivable combat move, gunshot, reload, judo chop, wound and scream. I’d lived through numerous dogfights, firefights, fistfights, bombings and ambushes. I’d sighted down my rifle, pulled the
4.5 lb match grade trigger, felt the recoil, and watched as my 62 grain, boat tailed hollow point bullet impacted a target, center of mass, at 3200 FPS. I was ready.

Then I was in combat, and what I realized within the first 30 seconds was that all those books had gotten it wrong. Phenomenally, epically wrong. Contrary to what I’d read, the experience of combat wasn’t just a linear series of physical events; instead, it was an enormously personal, tidal wave of primordial impulses and scalding, mind blanking fear. My  favorite authors hadn’t only missed the mark, they’d been shooting in the wrong damn direction.





In retrospect, trying to understand combat by reading a thriller is like trying to understand sex by reading a medical textbook. Yes, you will arrive at a detailed understanding of what goes where, and who does what to whom, but ultimately, you won’t see the human side of the game. This is what separates pornography from explicit romance; One depicts a series of discreet physical acts, the other communicates a subjective human experience. Perhaps that’s the crux of the issue; one depicts, the other communicates. Like love, grief, or joy, combat is a complex emotional phenomenon that leaves a deep and wrenching impact upon the people who experience it.

So what was combat like? Imagine that you are on a rafting trip with your friends, thoroughly enjoying the adventure as you explore a new stretch of river. Suddenly, you enter whitewater and the raft begins bucking and spinning. You are tossed about and spray drenches you, but you find it exhilarating because your team responds as a well trained unit, working together, guiding the raft successfully through the chaos. You are going to make it. You are in control. Right up to the moment that you aren’t…






With a heave the raft overturns and you are thrown into the river. You and your team are now being swept along by the power of events far beyond your control, smashing into each other and off of rocks, rolling through rapids and tumbling off of falls. Your actions become base and instinctual, you reach for your comrades, hold your breath, stroke for the surface, and try to guild yourself around obstacles both seen and unseen. But you intuitively know that the best of your efforts are merely token gestures and that you are being carried along by a force more powerful than any single man caught up in it. This force has a will of its own and your attempts to influence it are more illusion than anything else. You will be released at the time of its choosing, not yours. For me, that was combat; being immersed in a force that was terrifyingly intimate, unknowable and beyond any measure of control.

So how did that experience guide the creation of Into a Dark Frontier? First and foremost, I think readers have grown numb to elaborate scenes describing combat in excruciating detail. In today’s world of hyper violent entertainment, the firing of a gun has become routine, the spattering of blood trite, the death of a human meaningless. That doesn’t mean that an artist should shy away from depicting violence, for it is part of the human experience. But how do you do it in a way that stirs your audience, leaves a lasting impression and advances the story? Strangely enough, I think that the poets of old did it best.


While eulogizing World War I in his epic poem, “The Second Coming”, W.B. Yeats didn’t even mention the horrors of trench warfare, instead, he said that a “blood dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned,” and “what rough beast, its time come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?” In one short poem the entire terrible spirit of 1914-1918 is laid bare before you. By omitting physical details, Yeats swept away the clutter and unearthed the soul of the event, not only of the war itself, but what it meant for the future of humanity.

But a poet’s verse doesn’t always have to span continents and nations; Tennyson spoke of “men that strove with gods.”

Sir Walter Scott described, “The stern joy that warriors feel in foemen worthy of their steel.”

And who could forget Henry V’s blood curdling speech to the people of Harfleur?
(Edited for brevity)


The gates of mercy shall be all shut up
And the fleshed soldier, rough and hard of heart
In liberty of bloody hand shall range
With conscience wide as hell mowing like grass
Your fresh fair virgins and your flow’ring infants
While your pure maidens fall into the hand
Of hot and forcing violation.

O’erblows the filthy and contagious clouds
Of heady murder, spoil and villainy.
If not, why, in a moment look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters,
Your fathers taken by their silver beards


And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls,
Your naked infants spitted on pikes
While the mad mothers with their howls confused
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
At Herods bloody-hunting slaughtermen


Just look at those incredible words! Foul hands, slaughtermen, shrill-shrieking, and heady murder. Not only is the poet allowed to paint with a more vivid palette, they are also given the freedom to strip away irrelevant physical details until they find not only the humanity of an event, but its enduring meaning as well. I think that combat, like love, is too complex and forceful to be restrained by the rules of prose. That is why lovers turn to music and poetry to express themselves. Perhaps warriors can as well.



“I think that combat, like love, is too complex and forceful to be restrained by the rules of prose.”


So who describes combat best in these modern times? My favorites are Cormac McCarthy, Charles Frazier, Anthony Loyd and James Salter. They are masters of lyrical prose, telling a sharp and detailed story that swerves into poetry at times and then back again before you even have time to hear the rumble strips. The beauty of their words are a counterpoint to the horrors they describe and I find myself drawn to their stories again and again.







Having said all this, am I satisfied with the action scenes in my novel Into a Dark Frontier? No, I am not. There’s a sentence here and there that I am proud of, maybe even a paragraph or two. I have a long way to go, but I’m confident that I’ll get there someday, and that’s what keeps me writing.




Into a Dark Frontier


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Have a reply for John? Tell us in the comments.



John Mangan
Author of Into a Dark Frontier





Into the Dark Frontier with Author John Mangan

Into a Dark Frontier



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Editorial Reviews


“John Mangan’s Into a Dark Frontier is cut from same cloth as the best of Vince Flynn and Brad Thor, a story written with authority and military authenticity. It’s a harsh look at a continent-wide battlefield, waged not only for land but also for the heart of freedom. Timely and exciting.” ―James RollinsNew York Times best-selling author

“John Mangan’s Into a Dark Frontier is a powerful, realistic, and daringly unique international thriller. Its near-future plotline is as brilliantly crafted as it is dark and foreboding, and the action scenes are visceral and utterly thrilling. Tormented but able Slade Crawford is a perfect anti-hero to root for, and Into a Dark Frontier is a surefire winner of a debut.” ―Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times best-selling author

“A riveting imagined what-if so real you wonder if it might even be possible. Tense, intelligent, harsh, and surprising, this thrill ride is drum tight in its execution.” ―Steve BerryNew York Times best-selling author

Into a Dark Frontier is an international thriller of rare depth and complexity that would make the likes of John Le Carre and Robert Ludlum proud. But John Mangan goes both of them one better by injecting into the mix a loner hero with a gunfighter mentality fit for taming continents as well as frontiers, with Africa subbing for the Old West. A vision splendidly realized and tale wondrously executed.” ―Jon LandUSA Today bestselling author

“Mangan’s debut reads like he couldn’t get the words out and onto the page fast enough, which translates into a…blazingly fast and fun action thriller.” ―Publishers Weekly

“John Mangan’s Into a Dark Frontier plunges the reader into the chaos of an African continent where anarchy reigns. A near-futuristic scenario, one that could really emerge. Expect an overdose of action and danger that careens off the scales.” ―Robert K. TanenbaumNew York Times best-selling author

“Its relentless opening chase sets the tone for Into a Dark Frontier, a winner for fans of techno-action novels. After eight deployments as a combat rescue pilot, its author knows what he’s writing about and does so with speed and insider details.” ―David MorrellNew York Timesbest-selling author

Into a Dark Frontier is a hell of a debut novel with a terrifying plot and relentless action that made sure the only time I wasn’t turning pages was when I was looking over my shoulder.” ―Joshua Hood, author of Clear by Fire and Warning Order







What made you venture into writing?

Initially, it was simply a love of story telling, but as my novel
developed it was the feeling that came from creating complex
characters and the environment that drives them. I think that the only
way to create an authentic story is to study yourself, your
relationships, and the human condition in general. People are what
drive a good story, and so you have to become an observer of
people. The pleasure of writing doesn’t just occur while sitting behind
a keyboard, it also comes from watching the world around you,
grabbing little tidbits of dialogue, vignettes, or interesting human





storytelling word in wood type




Do you have any favorite books or authors that influenced you
early on?

As a boy I loved the Jack London stories where life has been
distilled down to its most base, uncivilized components, where a
man’s fate is decided by fire, food and fang. In Jack’s world, that’s
where you find out who you are.
My novel starts off with our protagonist living squarely in the
modern world, surrounded by gadgets, technology and civilized
mores. But by the ending he has descended into a world that has
more in common with the bronze age than any other, a place where
the day is won by the strength of a man’s will and his willingness to
harness medieval savagery. Perhaps Mr. London would approve…



How long did it take you to finish Into the Dark Frontier?

The creation of the story wasn’t linear, with a precise beginning
and ending. Imagine dozens of seeds scattered across a garden, and
over several years the sprouting seedlings are gradually bound
together, trimmed away, uprooted and replanted until 6 years later
they have been woven into some semblance of a story. Then spend 4
more years pitching that mess to agents, re-writing, editing and
eventually hacking out 60K words. So to answer your question, it was
about 10 years.






Describe some challenges writing your first book.

One of the biggest problems was settling on a point-of- view.
Initially, I chose Third Person Omniscient and the narrator rotated
between the intertwined, converging stories of the Hero, the Sidekick,
and the Villain. This seems to be the most popular format in modern
thrillers but I couldn’t get it to work. The story always kept collapsing
back down to Slade and the peripheral stories always became
lackluster and fell apart. Eventually I realized that this was because
the story belonged to Slade and Slade alone, it was about his
journey. I started over and confined the narrator to Slade’s head and
his immediate surroundings, so the reader lives the story entirely
through his eyes. The advantage of this technique is that it makes it
very easy to generate a sense of mystery and spring surprises on the reader.

The downside of this technique is that it leaves a lot of unfilled
space in the story line, and readers will begin to fill that blank space
with their own preconceived ideas. Overcoming those preconceived
ideas can be extremely difficult, and if not overcome, can lead a
reader to misinterpret what the author is trying to communicate.
For example, IADF devotes only a few paragraphs of backstory
to illustrate Slade’s time in prison and subsequent decision to jump
parole. Recently, a professional review of IADF came out and they
mentioned how Slade had busted out of a “black-site” prison.
It sounds interesting, but unfortunately there was no black-site
and no thrilling jailbreak. The reviewer had filled in details that didn’t
actually exist. It’s only after you have feedback from a broad
audience that you can begin to see where you left holes for readers
to fall through. Actually, feedback like that is priceless, it shows how
much I have to learning about crafting a story.




The 3d guy got over the challenge






What did you enjoy most?

When the characters began to say and do things that surprised
me, or they took the story in an unexpected direction. Once that
happened I began to feel like it was their world and I was just a visitor
to it. After that I wasn’t creating the characters or their story, I was
just a novice painter struggling to draw them properly and my
greatest responsibility was to make sure they weren’t



What motivates Slade Crawford?

Slade is a tragic character torn by competing and irreconcilable
instincts. First and foremost he is a wolf, with a wolf’s passion for the
kill. But he also has a sense of duty to his country, family and those
that depend upon him. Unfortunately, his killer instincts compel him to
return to the fight again and again, leading him to forsake the very
people that he claims he is protecting. Fighting is what he does best,
but a wife and child don’t need a fighter, they need a husband and
dad. So, he fails them, bigly.
Slade is also entering the autumn of his life and has begun to
look back on, and examine his failures. His doubts concerning his
own morality, and his need for atonement become central to the
story. In order to explore this side of his character I surrounded Slade
with a supporting cast chosen for their varying moral codes, ranging
from devoutly moral, to ambivalent, to amoral and then downright evil.
Watching Slade interact with these different people was one of the
most rewarding aspects of writing the book. I painted this facet of the
story with a very light brush as I did not want to come off as preachy.
If I was successful then I think that an attentive reader will experience
something a bit deeper than a straight action novel.



What was it like crafting a character like Slade?

It became extremely personal, as Slade is an amalgamation of
myself and several people that I know. Slade’s internal struggles are
not fiction, they come from the life stories of people that I care about.
The central tragedy that haunts Slade was taken from the real

experience of a soldier that I befriended a few years ago. I asked him
if I could use his story and he eventually gave me permission. I was
hesitant to use it, but in the end I was hoping that if my buddy could
externalize the tragedy, see it happen to somebody else, then
perhaps he could gain a healthier perspective on it.
So to answer your question, it was not easy, I felt like Slade’s
actions and responses had to be true to the real people that he



Lead us into your decision to choose Africa as a setting. 

I wanted to create a modern story in the tradition of the classic
Westerns, and a Western requires two things: #1, a lawless land that
nobody controls, and #2, a place that settlers (pioneers) would
actually want to emigrate to.
There’s lots of places in the Middle East that fit the bill for
characteristic #1, but I can’t picture anybody packing up and
emigrating to Yemen. Conversely, Africa has the right combination of
political volatility, simmering violence, fertile lands and untapped
resources in which I could create a believable story.




Africa map with African typography made of patchwork fabric text




Have you ever been there?

No, it’s one of the few places I haven’t been yet. For research I
read extensively about the Victorian explorers of the 1800’s and their
exploits in Africa. Much of the story’s sense of wilderness is based

upon what they experienced. I also spent a good bit of time doing the
ol’ Google Earth research expedition.

Describe your experience writing about action scenes versus
being out in the field.

I found that actual combat is far different from how it is depicted in
most thriller novels. Modern combat scenes are typically very detailed
and they portray combat as a series of discreet, separate events that
the subject is aware of and in control of; “He turned 45 degrees to his
left, raised the glock 9mm, aligned the sights on his targets center of
mass then squeezed trigger until…”
This technique builds a picture of what is happening, but it’s like
trying to understand sex by reading a medical textbook. Yes, you’ll
end up understanding what goes where, but you will be completely
clueless as to the human side of the experience.
The authors that I tried to emulate, and who best describe the
fear, confusion and altered-state reality of combat are James Salter,
Cormac McCarthy, James Frazier and Anthony Loyd.



Will this be a standalone or part of a series?

It’s set up to be a series. I’ve got the second book plotted out
but I am waiting on reader reactions to the first book before I make
some big decisions. I can reveal that Book 2 will focus on the
character Elizabeth and her response to what happened in Book 1,
but how I will tell her story is still in doubt. I don’t know if I’ll keep my

narrator confined to Slade’s head, share time inside Elizabeth’s head,
or shift over to her entirely. To be honest I’m terrified of trying to
represent what’s going on in her head, I’m pretty sure I’ll make a hash
of it and end up getting loads of female hate mail. We’ll see…






Into a Dark Frontier


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About the author:

Lt. Col. John Mangan is a decorated combat rescue pilot, novelist and coffeehouse poet. He is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, was an instructor at the Survival Escape Resistance & Evasion (SERE) school, and is currently an HH-60G, Pave Hawk instructor pilot. He has deployed to the Middle East eight times and has commanded the 33rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron in Kandahar, Afghanistan. His actions in combat have been documented in the books Not a Good Day to DieNone Braver, and Zero Six Bravo. He has flown combat missions with PJs, SEALs, Delta, Rangers, and the SAS. John has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor twice, The Air Medal twelve times, and the 2009 Cheney Award.