Tag Archives: Mexico

Doc Ford’s deadly assignment brings trouble to his island community

Deep Blue, by Randy Wayne White. Putnam. 336 pages. Hardcover $27.00.

Though we rarely see Doc Ford on one of his secret government assignments these days, one has come his way. He must, says his government handler, assassinate a madman who has reached the top of the most wanted terrorist list. A recent convert to Islam, Chicagoan David Abdel Cashmere, AKA Maximo Al-Amerikee, has been making a lot of trouble by heading people with his ruby-handled Persian knife and circulating videos of his slayings. A failed actor, he has now become a star. ISIS calls him its American Senior Operative and Video Advisor. cover_DEEPBLUE

Sound a bit over-the-top? Yes, and you’ll love it. Surreal, whacky, but darn scary and suspenseful, too.

Our hero, now in Mr. White’s 23rd Doc Ford adventure, packs up his tool kit and heads for a swanky resort near the ruins of ancient Tulum, on the Yucatan peninsula. After some preliminary surveillance and study, he meets his supposed contact, an attractive woman named KAT. Somewhat suspicious of her behavior, he sends her a message that the mission has been scrubbed and assesses her reaction.

From here on, Doc knows that there’s a game on that involves manipulating him, perhaps even substituting his assigned target for another. More than that, he discovers that his community on Sanibel Island is in jeopardy.

Two unusual occurrences threaten the Dinkin’s Bay Marina. One is the appearance of Hello Dolly, a great white shark that is at once a source of fear and a possible source of increased or collapsed tourism. The other is the appearance of two drones. Extremely well designed, they do not seem to be under the control of government agencies.

White - photo by Wendy Webb

White – photo by Wendy Webb

Other odd things happen. Some force (or someone) invades and captures Sanibel area cyberspace, taking over computers and other electronic devices in a show of power.

Soon enough, readers get to know the main villains. More about David Cashmere is revealed, and a grotesque pair – an estranged father and son of great intellect, wealth, and criminal intent – come into play. The father is Winslow Shepherd, whom Doc had seen in the company of KAT (conceivably a traitor or double agent). The son, Julian, is a madman whose derangement and genius far exceeds that of the Muslim terrorist. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the March 16, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the March 17 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Deep Blue

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A semi-private war against terrorism continues in a fast-paced thriller

Unit 400: The Assassins, by T. L. Williams. First Coast Publishers. 298 pages. Trade paper $14.50.

Former Navy SEAL Logan Alexander’s semi-private war against Islamic terrorism continues in this high energy novel that grows smoothly out of its predecessor, “Cooper’s Revenge” (2012). Now running a maritime consulting business in Boston, Logan is soon involved in payback for payback. A year earlier, he had put together a special forces’ team, funded by a wealthy Kuwaiti businessman, that had destroyed an Iranian IED facility. The businessman’s son, Hamid, who had saved Logan’s life during the raid, has come to Boston to pursue a graduate degree. As he and Logan are about to meet for lunch, Logan is witness to Hamid’s murder in front of the restaurant. Unit400Cover

This killing is not a spontaneous event, but a carefully planned execution that is payback for the episode back in Iran. Iran’s Qods Force had compromised Kuwaiti intelligence and gained detailed information about the IED raid. This means that the participants, including Logan, are known and in danger. Iranian leadership wants to make it clear that it will brook no interference with its jihadist intentions. In fact, it has created a special cadre known as Unit 400 to carry out actions such as assassinating Hamid.

Logan had a glimpse of the assassin, a Middle Eastern man whom he described to the police. The killer’s weapon? It’s Logan’s own knife that he had plunged into an enemy leader during the raid.

While meeting with the Boston police detective assigned to the case in the police station, Logan sees a picture of the very man who killed Hamid. He is part of the police academy’s recent graduating class! Armeen Khorasani is quickly identified, but he has an ironclad alibi. He also has a twin brother, Nouri, who had left the family home in Massachusetts five years ago and was last reported to be living in Tehran.

Soon, Mr. Williams widens the lens of his novel by introducing the assassin and writing chapters and subsections from Nouri’s perspective. We learn about his motives, his training, his strengths, and his weaknesses. Through Nouri, readers come to know more about the mission and strategy of Unit 400. He is a credible, dedicated, cold-blooded monster.

T. L. Williams

T. L. Williams

Unit 400 plans take Nouri from Spain to Venezuela, then to Mexico and back to Boston. T. L. Williams does a spectacular job of describing Nouri’s precautions, in particular how he manages to avoid being followed and finds ways of moving from place to place so that he can confidently determined that he is not being followed. Readers learn, as well, about his ability – through specialists who assist his Unit 400 mission – to shift identities and deflect suspicion.

Nouri’s travels posit an Iran-Venezuela axis of rogue nations. Soon, his handlers get him back onto the completion of his mission to revenge the IED raid, which means having him return to Boston. What transpires there and what lies ahead for Logan Alexander must await your own reading of this most exciting story. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the March 19, 2014 For Myers Florida Weekly and the March 20 Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, and Naples editions, click here Florida Weekly – Unit 400 1 and here Florida Weekly – Unit 400 2.

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Kuzneski’s new thriller offers suspense, sparkle, and smiles

The Death Relic, by Chris Kuzneski. Putnam. 464 pages. $26.95.

Mr. Kuzneski once again puts together his special blend of humor and suspense in this new archeological thriller featuring the investigatory team of Jonathan Payne and David Jones. These men, former Special Forces operatives who maintain key connections in the world of secret government agencies, are summoned by gorgeous, rising star archeologist Maria Pelati, with whom Jones had enjoyed an aborted romance. The Italian woman had been persuaded to come to the assistance of American archeologist Terrence Hamilton, who claims that he needs her special expertise in Christian history to further his research into a unique treasure of Mayan relics.  CoverArt-THEDEATHRELIC

Soon after she meets him in Cancun, Hamilton disappears. Not only is she perplexed, but she also feels threatened by some strange goings-on about which she has no clue. The dynamic duo of Payne and Jones arrive on the scene, all three having trust issues that need resolution before they can work together effectively.

Maria seems to have fallen into a tangled knot of crime and greed centered on a revenge plot against a kingpin in the world of high-profit kidnapping. Someone has turned the tables on Hector Garcia, taking his children as hostages and demanding an antique medallion as ransom. After his children, Garcia’s hoard of artifacts is his passion, and this medallion is the most treasured.

Having set a few plot engines in motion, Chris Kuzneski brings red-headed Tiffany Duffy onto the stage. She is in Mexico City on some kind of assignment, and her tourist education in Mexican history becomes the readers as well. Slowly but surely, the clouds obscuring Duffy’s relevance to the Death Relic quest, Maria’s obscure mission, and the threat against Hector Garcia’s children begin to disperse. What is revealed is astonishing and frightening.



A novel like “The Death Relic” requires mountains of exposition. Explorations of Mayan and Aztec history, the Spanish suppression of these Central American civilizations, and the role of the Roman Catholic Church in the settling and unsettling of the New World are all linked to the present-day situation.  Dialogue handles much of this task with a seeming naturalness – not small feat for the burden placed upon it. Beyond the tool of dialogue, Mr. Kuzneski uses his third-person narrator to bring readers other portions of the staggering fact-load. Here, the story-telling sometimes loses shape and pace.

Fortunately, there is always enough action just around the corner to rev up the momentum, and this author is a master of action scenes. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears in the January 10, 2013 Naples and Bonita Springs editions of Florida Weekly, and also the January 16 Fort Myers edition and the January 24 Palm Beach Gardens / Jupiter edition, click here Florida Weekly – Kuzneski 1 and here Florida Weekly – Kuzneski 2

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