Once known as Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War I, November 11th became Veterans’ Day in 1938. In honor of our heroes, Thrillerfix has graciously allowed me to present eleven military vets whose bestsellers often do more than merely entertain their fans. Whether intended or not, their stories educate and inform, and their words help those of us who’ve never had the honor of wearing our nation’s uniforms better appreciate the service, sacrifices, and successes of those who have.
Thank you, gentlemen, for your service and your stories. They’ve meant more than you know.
The Spider Heist, November 22, 2019.
Jason entered the US Army as a private, joined the famed Rangers, and retired as a Green Beret captain. His first series introduced readers to David Rivers and his experiences in Afghanistan with the Rangers and earned Jason a devoted fanbase and considerable acclaim. When he spoke with me about this new series, Jason explained his love of heist movies and films, such as HEAT, and that he’d spent a lot of time researching and developing this new series and its opener. In THE SPIDER HEIST, former FBI Special Agent Blair Morgan once pursued a sophisticated robbery crew until the agency dismissed her. Now she’s been recruited to join them. THE SPIDER HEIST is an incredible, scorching story that you won’t be able to put down, and I highly recommend reading the David Rivers series from the beginning.
Daughter of War, January 8 2019.
Brad Taylor served more than two decades in the US Army and retired as a Special Forces commander in the Green Berets. He first introduced the public to his complicated character, Pike Logan, in 2011 and has since added twelve more installments in this universe. DAUGHTER OF WAR is an incredible page- turner that unexpectedly revolves around the life of a young refugee named Amena. When I spoke with Brad about her, he confessed she was originally intended to appear in only the first few chapters but, as he wrote the first draft, Amena compelled Brad to tell much more of her story. I’ve only cared about a few characters like I have about Amena and what happened to her, and Pike’s efforts to save her made for an exceptional novel. Brad’s next Pike Logan thriller, Hunter Killer, lands in February, and a Logan novella called Exit Fee is available now.
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Fast Attack, November 11, 2019.
Commander Wallace studied engineering at Ohio State U, became a submariner in the US Navy, and commanded both Sturgeon and Los Angeles class submarines. During tours on the USS Houston, he worked extensively with the SEAL community to help refine their sub-specific tactics, and CIA awarded Commander Wallace and the Houston crew its Meritorious Unit Citation, which oughta convey how important background units are to the success of at the spear’s tip. When the navy decommissioned all its Sturgeon class subs in the 1990s, Wallace had the inspiration for his first novel, Final Bearing. In conjunction with Don Keith, Commander Wallace writes the Hunter Killer Series, which allows readers to eavesdrop on The Silent Service and experience their often-unsung exploits without squeezing themselves into its confined world. W.E.B. Griffin is a fan, and you should be, too.
Jack Carr: True Believer, July 30, 2019.
Jack Carr is a former Navy SEAL who spent 20 years in Naval Special Warfare. Having begun that tenure as an enlisted SEAL sniper, he later led assault and sniper teams as a junior officer in Iraq and Afghanistan before commanding a platoon in counterinsurgency operations in the southern Philippines. Jack eventually commanded a Special Operations Task Unit in Iranian-influenced southern Iraq throughout the tumultuous drawdown of U.S. Forces. He retired from active duty in 2016, and his debut novel, The Terminal List, published to critical acclaim in 2018 and introduced thriller fans to the heroics and tribulations of his main character, James Reese. True Believer came out last summer, and his third book, entitled Savage Son, is on pre-order for delivery next April. Thriller fans love Jack’s writing, and time invested in Reese’s universe is indeed well-spent.
Dale Brown: The Kremlin Strike, May 9, 2019.
Former U.S. Air Force captain Dale Brown is the acclaimed author of 29 action-adventure techno-thriller novels, the first of which released in 1987. He graduated from Penn State and entered the Air Force in 1978 as a navigator-bombardier in the B-52G Stratofortress heavy bomber and the FB-111A supersonic medium bomber. Dale completed the U.S. Army Airborne Infantry paratrooper training course, and he later instructed Aircrew Life Support training and the infamous Combat Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE). His novels are published in 11 languages in more than 70 countries, and worldwide sales of his content exceed 12 million copies. Dale’s latest novel pits hero Brad McLanahan and his Iron Wolf Squadron against the Russian military in a unique thriller. Set on achieving their president’s goals of global expansion and dominance, our age old adversaries have weaponized a space station capable of simultaneously destroying US satellites and targets in the US homeland. If you aren’t reading Dale Brown, you’re only cheating yourself.
Steven Konkoly: The Raid, October 8, 2019.
Now a Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty novels and novellas, Steven Konkoly graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1993 and served the next eight years in a variety of Navy and Marine Corps units. His personal experiences include enforcing UN sanctions as a maritime boarding officer in the Arabian Gulf, directing aircraft bombing runs and naval gunfire strikes as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) assigned to a specialized Marine Corps unit, and service in more than 20 countries across the globe. Steven’s fictional series cover a range of subgenres from Clancy-esque conspiracy and intrigue, gritty covert operations and espionage, a “24- style" trilogy series in the near-future American Southwest, and a chronicle based on a bioweapons attack against the US. Steven’s third Ryan Decker novel is due out in July 2020, and you should make sure you’re caught up by then.
Rick Campbell: Treason, March 19, 2019.
Rick Campbell graduated from the US Naval Academy, served aboard the USS John Adams (as did Commander Wallace) and three additional nuclear subs, completed tours in the Pentagon and Washington Navy Yard, and retired as a commander. On his last submarine, Rick was one of the last two men whose permission is required to launch its nuclear arsenal. He also helped supervise the conversion of the USS Kamehameha from a ballistic missile sub into a Special Warfare platform to silently transport two platoons of SEALs and their kit into harm’s way. His personal expertise allowed Booklist to praise Rick’s 2014 debut novel, The Trident Deception, as the best submarine novel since Hunt for Red October. If you loved Clancy’s “perfect yarn,” you should be reading Rick Campbell.
Nelson Demille: The Deserter, October 22, 2019.
Nelson DeMille joined the US Army as a lieutenant in 1966, and he served as an infantry platoon leader in the First Cavalry Division where his actions earned the Air Medal, the Bronze Star, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. After Vietnam, he completed studies in Political Science and History and had his first novel released in 1978. Entitled By the Rivers of Babylon, it remains in print today, as do all of Nelson’s published works. He’s written twenty-one New York Times bestsellers, and seven have so far topped that list. The Deserter, which Nelson co-authored with his son Alex, details the disappearance of an Army Delta Force officer in Afghanistan. Taliban videos soon prove he abandoned his unit, so when the deserter is identified in Caracas, Venezuela, the following year, two Army CID investigators are dispatched to bring him home—preferably alive. There’s good reason the International Thriller Writers Association named Nelson its elite Thrillermaster in 2015, but you should find out for yourself.
Stephen Coonts: The Russia Account, October 8, 2019.
The first character I met in the thriller genre was Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October. Jake Grafton was the second in Coonts’ Flight of the Intruder, which was the only bestseller released in 1986 by a debut author. The novel revolved around Grafton’s A6 being shot down in North Vietnam, I’d recently met my stepdad who, among other assignments, served as a Huey door-gunner in Vietnam. I learned more about his wartime experiences through Jake Grafton than my stepdad has ever discussed, and I’m grateful to have been able to personally thank Stephen for that novel during a recent interview. It warms my heart that after writing nearly four dozen novels, nonfictions, and anthologies over almost five decades, Stephen kept Jake Grafton around. He also coauthored a nonfiction this year, called Dragon's Jaw, about the US military’s seven-year struggle to fell a single, overbuilt bridge in North Vietnam, and what that one effort meant to the pilots and crews, as well as to our nation.
C.G Cooper: The Warden's Son, August 28, 2019.
C.G. Cooper grew up on a number of US naval bases, which helped foster his love of books and a burgeoning desire to write. After studying Foreign Affairs at the University of Virginia, Cooper commissioned into the US Marine Corps and served six years as an infantry officer. His final duty station in Nashville became his home, and its laid-back lifestyle contrasts well with Cooper’s writing. Back to War, his debut novel that published in 2012, helped fulfill his need to reconnect with his Marine Corps service. In addition to catapulting his writing career, that first book spawned numerous follow-on novels and spin-offs. Today, Cooper’s a USA Today and Amazon bestseller with thousands of four- and five-star reviews to his name and accolades from seemingly ever titan-author in the industry.
Andrew Watts: Overwhelming Force, February 9, 2019.
After graduating from the US Naval Academy in 2003, Andrew Watts’ decade as a naval officer primarily involved piloting a Seahawk helicopter, which is the Navy’s version of the famed Blackhawk platform. His flight missions included counter-narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific and counter-piracy work around the Horn of Africa. Andrew also helped run ship and flight operations aboard a nuclear aircraft carrier in the Middle East and served as a flight instructor in Pensacola, Florida. When I recently interviewed Andrew, he offered a wealth of information about how his personal experience influenced the authenticity of his writing and storytelling. His first publication, The War Planners, launched in 2015 and Andrew’s since become a USA TODAY bestseller en route to the release of his final War Planners Series title, Global Strike, which is due on February 25, 2020. Andrew’s books are gonna make him a household name soon enough, and I recommend diving in now before all your friends beat you to the punch.
THRILLERFIX ALL-STAR REVIEWER: A former law enforcement officer, Gavin Reese wrote his first six crime thrillers between patrol shifts. An author, thriller aficionado, and podcast host, Gavin has interviewed some of the top names in the genre. If you enjoy novels with authentic cops, crimes, and criminals, you'll want to follow Gavin Reese's book recommendations here on the Thrillerfix blog.