Book Review – A Subtle Agency by Graeme Rodaughan

It’s hard to come up with something new to say about vampires. No pun intended, but the bloodsucker genre has been done to death. They’ve been monsters, lovers, sex objects, monsters again, sparkled when the light hit them, exploded into dust when the light hit them, and hit on teenage girls. Sometimes they’re vicious killers, other times they’re morose mopers with chips on their shoulders.

So, it’s pretty cool when you come across something new.

Graeme Rodaughan has taken a look at extremely long-lived critters and wondered what they’d really do if they existed. The answer, of course, is consolidate power and lurk in the shadows. Rodaughan’s vampires are less romantic mopers or mindless monsters and more Machiavellian creatures. Don’t think Twilight, think more along the lines of Game of Thrones or House of Cards with a hint of Doc Savage thrown in for good measure.

The world of A Subtle Agency is very much like our own, only inhabited by vampires and the secret societies out to do stuff secret societies like to do. Like our world, most people have no clue the vampires exist and the secret societies are branded as terrorists. Into this mixture is thrown a kid who gets to watch his parents tortured by vampires.

After that, the hunt is on.

Full of twists and turns, action and martial arts, A Subtle Agency is a rollicking thriller that goes for the throat and never lets go.

Hunting Anton Slayne?

Just get in line behind the Boston Police Department, Chinese Triads, the Shadowstone Organization, the Red Empire and the Vampire Dominion.

Witness to a brutal murder, eighteen year old Anton is inducted into the Order of Thoth by the mysterious Mr Wu. He soon discovers that vicious local gangsters, determined Boston Police Detectives, and relentless Shadowstone operatives pale into insignificance as he is drawn into the machinations of the enigmatic vampire, General Chloe Armitage.

When mastery over Anton’s soul is at stake, survival is the least of his problems.

Get your copy on Amazon

Follow Graeme on Twitter

Book Review – The Doodlebug War by Andrew Updegrove

If you ever want an opportunity to feel the kind of creeping malaise that can only come from knowing just how electronically entangled you are with everyone else, go hang out with some IT professionals, especially those who deal in IT security. It’s a (small) part of my job, so I’ve come to grips with the fact that my cell phone is probably listening to me type right now and just how dependent I’ve become on the Internet in my daily life. Not just for cat pictures, either; there’s data storage, access to applications I’ve written and maintain, interactions with other people, and, let’s face it, the Internet is pretty much the only way to get computer games anymore.

So, since I’m feeling like being a bit of a jerk, think about this way: Everything you do online – and this includes your phone, your car, your computer, your gaming system, your stereo, everything – is probably working through a series of choke points. What Steve Jobs called “The Cloud” is really just someone else’s computer and they’re renting you storage, access, and processing power. If that computer goes away, so does your data, your application, and your ability to do stuff. Poof. Gone. The backups are probably toasted, too, unless you’ve been keeping your own.

You have been backing up your own data, right?

Okay, now that I’ve lit a fire under your butt, let me also tell you there are still a whole bunch of people out there who want you dead and no wall, no mass deportations, no ban on certain religions entering the country is going to change their ability to get to you. Mostly because they’re already here. With some pretty common, off-the-shelf tools and hardware, a small, but determined adversary can cause a horrific amount of damage.

And when that small, but determined adversary really wants to stick it in and break it off? Well, remember the choke points I was talking about earlier?

So, just how bad can it get and what can be done to stop it? Read the Doodlebug war to find out. Like all of Updegrove’s books (read the review for The Alexandria Project), The Doodlebug War manages to finesse that fine point between action and thriller, giving us a tense read with plenty of moments of action and emotion interspersed throughout. There’s also a turtle. But the seriously scary thing about Updegrove’s books is he finds those little things that no one thinks about and finds ways to tighten the screws on them. If you like thrillers and thinking-person’s books, try one of them out. You won’t be disappointed.

The time is the immediate future, and the Caliphate is the enemy in the third Frank Adversego Thriller. Mullah Muhammed Foobar, the mysterious leader of a post-ISIS terrorist organization, has won control of much of the Mid East. Now he threatens to launch a horrific attack that will bring the United States and Europe to their knees. But How? The CIA turns to cybersecurity super sleuth Frank Adversego to find the answer. In a race against time, Frank must overcome personal as well as cyber trials to save the Western world from destruction. When he does, he discovers an all-too-real vulnerability that may lead to our own downfall – not at some theoretical point in the future, but as soon as tomorrow. In the words of “world’s greatest hacker” Kevin Mitnick: “Andrew Updegrove has done it again – delivered an impossible to put down thriller while exposing a dire cyber vulnerability that until now has gone unnoticed.”


Get your copy here

Follow Andrew on Twitter

Check out Andrew’s website


I was reading the news today and came across an interesting article about Texas and it got me thinking about how that article would make one hell of a good book.

Texans are an interesting bunch.  Inside Texas you’ll likely never meet a nicer group of people provided you don’t go pissing on the Alamo.  Their politics, however, are the stuff of legend.  Texas is back in the news again now because they want their gold back from Fort Knox.  For the few people who have been living in a cave, on Mars, with their fingers in their ears, Fort Knox is the US Gold (and other important stuff) depository.  It’s one of the most secure places on the planet, a place guaranteed to earn you several bullets should you be foolhardy enough to try to knock it off.  Unless you’re these guys, but they were really only there for the Cheetos.

Rico, Kowalski, Private, and the Skipper.

Rico, Kowalski, Private, and the Skipper.

It must be my writer’s mind that looked at that story about Texas wanting its gold back and saw not just strange goings on, but the framework for an excellent thriller.  So, in honor of the day after the 4th of July, let’s take a look at a story in the news and see if we can’t plot it out into a seriously cool book.

Now, normally I don’t write out full plots or character sketches of any of my books.  I’m what’s called a pantser, in that I write by the seat of my pants, so this is an exercise in changing and growing as an author.

Plot: Texas is transporting its gold from Fort Knox to the safer shores of Texas proper.  The gold is essentially untouchable now and will be completely untouchable once it hits the Texan border where every Texas Ranger in the state will be waiting to receive it.  Even this guy:

Already practicing his spinning back kick.

Already practicing his spinning back kick.

We’re talking a pretty serious amount of money in a relatively small package.  According to the article we’re looking at about $650 million dollars that takes up about twenty square feet.  Gold’s heavy stuff, though, so it will take some serious hardware to haul it off and you can rest assured the gold will be guarded by a bunch of trigger happy dudes with machine guns.  The convoy won’t be stopping from the time it leaves Fort Knox, Kentucky until it’s safe in the bosom of Texas.  Depending on the route the convoy will go through Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas or Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, and Oklahoma.  If they’re smart (and can damn well bet they will be), there will be two convoys, each taking a different route.  Of course, it’s also possible the gold will be airlifted out.  That would be the smart way to do it, but one guy with a surface to air missile can ruin the whole plan, so for the purposes of the narration, we’ll force them to take the longer overland route.

The guys driving the convoy and the Texas politicians who want their gold back will be the good guys.  For now, anyway.  We’ll have a twist in the plot.  At any rate, we need some bad guys.  A small team should suffice, with all but two of them being disposable.  The head of the team will be a former Recon Marine (Marines are less commonly used than Army or Navy Special Forces and are also cooler anyway.  Semper Fi).  He’s tough, but smart, and was sold down the river in Iraq or Pakistan when he and his team were caught behind enemy lines.  We’ll later find out one of our Texas senators sent them into the village for nefarious purposes and made the call to abandon him to his fate in that Mid East Hell Hole.  His partner will be a woman from that region.  She saved him after he dived to save her brother from stray machine gun fire from either Taliban or pre-ISIS forces.  Together they made it out and made their way back to the US to take care of the Texas Senator who ordered the strike to cover up his drug running side-line.  There will be some others, including a getaway driver who just had a kid (movie speak for you’re gonna die before the show is over) and a completely loose cannon that jeopardizes the whole mission when he gets greedy.

Did a GIS for Loose Cannon and got this.  It'll do.

Did a GIS for Loose Cannon and got this. It’ll do.

On the “good guy” side of the lawn we’ll have another special forces guy in charge of the convoy.  He’ll know our hero and be the guy that turned and walked away from a fire fight when the Senator told him to.  He’s a greedy bastard but he’ll have a change of heart and redeem himself before the end of the book.  He’ll also get killed in the end, but he’ll die a hero’s death, so it’s all good.  We’ll also see more about the Senator and his various wheelings and dealings.  There will be a smattering of other characters, mostly disposable.

By a twist of fate and the blessings of Fortuna, our anti-heroes manage to find the right truck and get the gold.  This should take less than a third of the book.  The second act will introduce the twist.  This is where we’ll find out more about the Senator spearheading the whole drive to get the gold back to Texas and his ultimate intentions for it.  He wants it back, safe and secure in Texas, so he can use it to buy a Mexican drug cartel or bribe officials to look the other way while his Mid East drugs are brought up through Mexico into Texas.  That’s why he sent our good guy’s team into that hell hole and that’s why he abandoned them when they didn’t find what they were looking for.  He’s using the backdrop of the war to camouflage his international drug ring.


An evil politician? NO WAY!

When our politician learns his gold has been hijacked he does the only logical thing he can think of: send in a handpicked team of Texas Rangers lead by Slag Rockjaw to get the money back.  Rangers are supposed to be incorruptible, but these guys fell from the purer faith when copious amounts of money were thrown at them.

Now the Rangers are hunting the Marine and his partner, the former Army spec ops guy is hunting the Marine and his partner.  The Marine and his partner have a shit ton of gold but they’ve also uncovered evidence (during the heist they’ll find a note from the politician to some cartel leader) that the politician is not on the up and up.  When the Army spec ops guy joins the Marine it will be the end of the second act, but they’ll be trapped in a shack, surrounded by Texas Rangers.

Through some kind of chicanery the group will escape and start to make their way to Dallas where they’ll turn the gold over to the people of Texas and spill the beans about our bad Senator.  The Texas Rangers are tracking them, though, and the Rangers never miss their mark.  Gun fights will ensue, the Army spec ops guy will join the “bad guys” and, together, they’ll fight off the Texas Rangers.  The final battle will be between the Marine and the head Texas Ranger, mano a mano, in a knife fight to the death in the middle of the Texas desert.


In the falling action, or the denouement if you’re so inclined, the Senator will attempt to escape to Mexico, only to be captured by Texas Rangers and brought to justice.  Our hero and heroine will marry and all will be right in the world.  We’ll also find out that our hero managed to secret away a couple gold bars (a fact recognized by the Rangers but considered an okay thing considering what they did), and they’ll live happily ever after.