DEADLY ADDITIVE by Donn Taylor ~ a review

Deadly Additive

Billionaire Steve Spinner has been manipulating his daughter Jocelyn since her birth. Now he’s endangered her life by forcing her and journalist Kristin Halvorsen to embark on a dangerous  mission in Columbia. They are posing as bird watchers, in that South American country, when they stumble upon a brutal massacre in the village of Chozadolor and are captured by a group of guerrilla fighters headed by the ruthless and viscous Diego Contreras. Kristen took photos of the massacre which show most of the men massacred in the village were butchered, but some apparently died due to some sort of chemical agent. Contreras’ men smash Kristen’s cameras, but she manages to hide a memory card with photos at the gruesome site.

No amount of money can entice soldier of fortune Jeb Sledge to rescue the young women. The hyper-responsible soldier of fortune who must right the wrongs in this world was the Old Sledge. He is determine to become the more relaxed New Sledge. This idea of the Old Sledge and the New Sledge confronting each other is a theme running through DEADLY ADDITIVE.

When Spinner dangles the name Diego Contreras as bait, Sledge bites. In the not so distant past Contreras and his men killed Alita, a young Colombian woman from a notable family Sledge had fallen in love with. Her entire family was killed in the attack and Sledge was severely wounded. However, in his gut, Sledge knows Spinner, the master manipulator is keeping something from him.

Sledge is assisted by Roger Brinkman, a retired CIA operative, now running his own private ‘information service’ which doesn’t have the constraints of a US government agency. Brinkman puts Sledge onto the quirky Ramirez family who offer their special services.  The entire family speaks in malapropisms which adds a touch of humor in just the right places. Two of my favs are: “It’s time to wake up and smell the coffins” and “That I must take with a fifth of amendments.”

Few male writers can write about the internal drama going on inside a woman who has been sexually threatened or abused. Donn Taylor does this extremely well by not intensely highlighting it (as many authors are inclined to do). He simply states it. We, the reader, understand what the character is going through.

The inspirational element is authentic and organic to the story as Jeb and Kristin, having confronted abject evil,  try to figure out if anything has a greater meaning. This is an edge of your  seat, page turning story.


One Night In Tehran by Luana Ehrlich ~ a review

One Night In Tehran


I read ONE NIGHT IN TEHRAN by Luana Ehrlich as a judge in the Grace Awards. Right in the first pages, its authenticity  floored me and made me want to keep reading.  The author has such a vast knowledge of CIA protocols, one wonders if she’s had some type of connection to that highly secretive world.

The story begins in Tehran. Titus Ray, an undercover American CIA agent is being hunted by Iranian authorities, but manages to escape the country. Back in the states, he learns he’s been targeted by an Iranian assassin. The CIA gives him a new cover story (a legend) and ships him to Oklahoma for his own safety. The rest of the story plays out on American soil and is a skillful combination of detective novel and spy story.

This book was a finalist in the Action-Adventure/Thriller/Western/Epic Novel category of the Grace Awards 2014 because it’s main character, CIA agent Titus Ray, was deeply affected by the Christian family who gave him shelter while he hid in Tehran. Thus he began a personal, spiritual search and converted to Christianity. The faith element of the novel doesn’t at all intrude on the action-adventure, spy story. It simply gives the main character depth.

The novel is well written, exciting, actually. It kept me fully engaged. My only criticism is that it seems to end abruptly with a major string untied. This is deliberate on the part of the author, a literary choice she made. I recommend this novel and will indeed be reading the sequel.

Vince Flynn, Best Selling Thriller Author Loses His Battle To Prostate Cancer at 47


I’m a Vince Flynn fan. I love the way he engages my mind with his portrayal of the intricacies of CIA procedure. If an author’s knowledge of how agencies actually pull things off on the ground seems shoddy, my mind jerks right out of the story. I never have to worry about that with a Vince Flynn tale.

In fact former president George W. Bush is a Vince Flynn fan and the president once jokingly complained about his worries as to how Flynn got his inside CIA information, saying, “He’s a little too accurate.” Then there was that time when Flynn hitched a ride from Andrews Air Force Base in the president’s limo and Dubbya grilled him on what his sources were…all in good fun, of course.

Vince Flynn died this past June, but due to the crush of my last historical novel going into edits and facing my own deadlines, I just now heard of it from a fellow crime fiction writer who had been so engrossed in his life he’d also just heard. Isn’t that how life is today? We rush from one thing to another striving to accomplish something. And that cliche is all too true, there’s no time to smell the roses. At least not too many of them. However it goes without saying, the news of Flynn’s premature death rocked me. It’s a testimony to the author that he kept writing during his battle with cancer. It is not known how much he finished on his current work-in-progress.

Flynn can be held up as a positive role model to anyone seeking to overcome a challenge, but especially to writers. Twenty years ago he was making his living in sales and commercial real estate. He began a self-styled program of reading voraciously in an effort to overcome his childhood dyslexia. A side benefit was he fell in love with spy-novels and wrote one. After receiving sixteen rejections he self-published his first novel. When it sold extremely well, he soon found an agent and a publisher for his work. His novels are pro-military, CIA, and law enforcement themed.

It is extremely important that men get checked for prostate cancer. There is a simple blood test men should have taken when they go for their regular physical exam. Some of the signs of prostate cancer are urinary problems, erectile dysfunction, pain in the back and legs. These should not go without being checked out, but too often by the time the symptoms show, it’s too late.  So get that blood test, men! If not treated prostate cancer can become aggressive and spread to the bones and other organs. The good news is prostate cancer develops very slowly and when caught early is highly treatable.

Flynn is survived by his wife Lysa, two daughters, and his stepson.

Mark Young Nails It Again with FATAL eMPULSE

FATAL eMPULSEMark Young is a name that comes up all the time in purpose-driven crime fiction. I’ve read his work and I’d put his heroes in the classical “warrior” archetype — self-controlled, possessing moral courage. Taking full responsibility for his actions in the mission. Demonstrating an ethical code of personal honor, noble restraint, and individual humility for his deeds. These qualities in Mark’s heroes intrigue me and make me want to keep reading.

So, I thought I’d get him over here and ask him a few questions about his writing and his new novel FATAL eMPULSE.

Nike: What about Gerrit O’Rourke intrigues you the most? Why did you create him?

Mark: Gerrit is a man of contrasts. His eidetic memory allows him to recall sensory as well as visual information, allowing him to master languages, laws of science, and the intricate rules of combat and survival, but he is a dismal failure in the area of personal relationships.

I created Gerrit with a set of unique abilities that he will need to face the future. Off the Grid, and its sequel, Fatal eMpulse, embark on a journey that will take us from now to the tribulation. We have all read biblical prophecies about end times, but how about the time between now and then. How do we get to a point where there are ten kings ruling the world, and the anti-christ desecrates the temple mount. What part does the U.S. have in this…if any. Gerrit and his crew of characters will have to struggle through all this as Gerrit is forced to consider his own faith, his own beliefs, in the contact of these perilous times. Gerrit—through each novel—must deal with the rise of new technology, the dynamics of world politics, and the clash of good and evil.

Nike: What impresses many readers is your talent for hiding who the villian is. In fact, you sometimes hide who several of the bad guys are until the end. Is this a talent you simply have, or do you have to plan and plot this out in your novels?

Mark: Thank you, Nike, but everything about writing comes hard for me, particularly when I struggle to orchestrate a dynamic, ahh-got-you moment. If a writer miscalculates, it’s like a comedian messing up the punch line—the story goes flat and dies. The reader becomes disappointed. So I kick it around in my head for a while, maybe even months at a time. An idea might pop up out of nowhere and I run with it. Other times, I’ll settle on an outcome and carefully go back through the novel—planting little hints like seeds—before the reader finally discover who the true villain might be. Now my next novel, Broken Allegiance (A Tom Kagan Novel), coming out this summer, has more villains than you can shake a stick at. Take your pick.


So, let’s find out a little bit about FATAL eMPULSE…

A presidential edict hurls Gerrit O’Rourke and his international team deep into the heart of the Mid East to prevent an aerial attack threatening to start another world war. To make matters worse, a traitor close to the president alerts others of Gerrit’s mission. Only days away from the attack, the team must stay alive long enough to complete their mission and thwart whoever is trying to orchestrate their deaths.

Racing from the blue waters of Florida’s Key West and California’s Lake Tahoe to the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, everything comes down to this—who will survive? Gerrit’s past again rises to create conflict between himself, his Mossad-trained partner Alena Shapiro, and a flame from the past—CIA agent Shakeela Vaziri. Beyond romance, beyond survival, Gerrit and his team must race against the clock as attack planes launch. Every second counts.


Off The Grid

Mark’s first novel in the series is OFF THE GRID. Readers can follow this main character from the moment he first appears on the page.


Mark Young

Mark Young is an American novelist. He worked as a police officer with the Santa Rosa Police Department in California for twenty-six years; an award-winning journalist; and a Vietnam combat veteran. He served with several law enforcement task force operations, including the presidential Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force targeting major drug traffickers, and the federal Organized Crime Task Force charged with identifying and prosecuting prison gang leaders. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his family.

Mark Young: Arresting Fiction Blog

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