Elise Cooper interviews

Active Measures by Marc Cameron is a suspenseful thriller.  With the Cuban regime as a backdrop this novel reminds Americans how Cuba has overwhelming poverty, is a police state, and a violator of human rights. The plot has a rogue general, Zayda de la Guardia, wanting to enact revenge on America by firing off a nuclear weapon left over from the Cold War. 

 

Hoping to stop him, Special Agent Jericho Quinn and his team have traveled undercover to Cuba. He is pursued by assassins, captured, thrown into a secret prison, and trapped on the island during one of the worst hurricanes.  Yet nothing can deter Quinn and his team from eliminating the threat to the US.

 

This plot has nail-biting action and very likeable protagonists as well as antagonists who are pure evil.  Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they turn the pages.

Elise Cooper:  How did you get the idea for the story?

Marc Cameron:  I read somewhere where Robert McNamara heard a rumor that Russia left up to 100 nukes in Cuba that could hit Miami.  Although the Russians eventually removed them, as a storyteller, I started to think what if one was left behind. I decided to let my characters respond to what was actually happening. They were not very fond of socialism.  

 

EC: How would you describe Quinn?

MC:  He is driven and wants to right wrongs.  He is the type of person that will run towards the sound of gunfire.  A pragmatist who has a compulsion to serve.  

 

EC:  How would you describe his girlfriend and CIA analyst Ronnie Garcia?

MC: Independent and in love with Quinn.  I based her on the female Marshalls and Law Enforcement women I know who have a spunky attitude.  Ronnie is well educated and can speak Russian, English, and Spanish. A strong Patriot who comes from a Russian father and Cuban mother.

 

EC:  There is a lot of Cuban culture in the book?

MC:  When I was in Florida after the hurricane, while still a US Marshal, I spoke with a lot of Cubans.  I kept notes about their culture and put that in the book.  The Cuban regime pitted neighbor against neighbor and family against family.  I did not want to write a political story, but a story about people.  The politics is in the background just like the setting.  

 

EC:  How would you describe Emiko Miyagi?

MC:  She has been in all the Quinn books as a modern assassin.  A Japanese woman character who is stoic, quiet, and keeps people off balance because they never truly know what she is thinking.  I am a lover of Japanese culture.  

 

EC:  Weather plays a big role?

MC:  As a Marshal weather influenced us how we pack gear, weapons, and how we would track bad guys.  I see weather as another character.  The hurricane and the buildings that are not built up to code allowed me to put problems on the antagonists/protagonists.  Hopefully it adds tension to the plot.  

 

EC:  I was so disappointed you had the child returned to Cuba.  I remember Elian Gonzalez.  Did you base this part of the story on him?

MC:  I am sure he crossed my mind.  I was friends with one of the deputies that guarded him.  I thought that is probably what the courts would say.  We as Americans think that my character would have a better life here, but her grandmother was in Cuba.  It is a choice of her living with family versus being adopted.  

 

EC:  Can you give a shout out about your next books?

MC:  The Clancy one is about AI software weaponized by China.  President Ryan’s friend in Indonesia is arrested because he knows something.  It is a “spy in the cloud digital agent.”

 

Stone Cross is an Arliss Cutter novel. Cutter and his deputy Lola Teariki have been assigned to shadow a Federal Judge in Alaska who refuses protection. They are in a small village where people keep disappearing.  They must navigate protecting the Judge and finding out what is happening to the villagers.

 

There will also be at least one more Jericho Quinn book.

 

THANK YOU!!

The Accomplice by Joseph Kanon shows why he is one of today’s best espionage writers.  Not only is the story thrilling but it also explores some very moral questions.  

 

The plot opens in 1962, seventeen years after the defeat of the Nazis. As Nazi hunter Max Weill is in a café with his nephew Aaron, he spots the notorious concentration camp doctor Otto Schramm, who worked with Mengele, “The Angel of Death.” Max spots Schramm walking down the street, but many question his observation since Schramm is supposedly dead.  It was reported and confirmed he died in a car accident two years ago. Knowing he is about to die Max convinces Aaron to pursue Schramm and seek justice for his war crimes. The search leads Aaron to Buenos Aires where many Nazis were protected by theJuan Perón regime. Even though Peron had been overthrown, the current regime does nothing to out the Nazis living in their country. Wanting to keep a promise to his dying uncle, Aaron pursues Schramm back to Argentina and the chase begins.  

 

In the vastness of Argentina, Aaron knows he can only find Schramm if he pursues his daughter Hanna. This is where the moral questions begin.  Should she be blamed for the sins of her father? How could she have any affection for such a monster; yet, he was her loving and doting father. Should she confide in Aaron with information? After meeting Hanna, the two have a love affair so how can Aaron reconcile wanting to capture her father and bring him to justice? Eliciting the help of the Mossad, Aaron is confronted by their desire to kill Schramm instead of going through a trial. Should Schramm be killed or put on trial? The Mossad argues by killing him, other Nazis will always look behind their backs with the fear they might be next.

 

This story will grab readers’ attention from the very first page and never let up.  It reminds people how complicit the world can be and why it is so important to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

 

Elise Cooper:  Why this story?

Joseph Kanon:  With all my books I like to put myself in the time period.  During this period, 1962, one of the hot topics was the Eichmann trial.  I started reading more about it and realized now fifty years later what a pivotal moment it was. It changed how we talk about the Holocaust.  What struck me was that Eichmann was on the loose for about fifteen years.  I started asking myself: what was it like for him, how did he get to Latin America, what was he and the other Nazis life like, did their families know and if so how did they live with what happened?

 

EC: You have tidbits about Eichmann and the trial in this book?

JK: Ever since I wrote The Good German I thought how is justice rendered for an unthinkable crime? Who becomes the judges?  The Eichmann trial ushered in a new wave of how people searched for the Nazis.  It would not be so easy for them to get away.   I wondered how the other Nazis felt when he was caught.  I think many of them changed their lives and became running scared.  In this story the Nazi, Schramm, fakes his death to be out from the running fear caused by Eichmann’s capture. Before the capture, many of the Nazis did not even change their names because they felt so secure.  

 

EC: You point out how the Church helped many Nazis escape? 

JK: They feared their mortal enemy, Communism, more than the wrong of helping the Nazis.  After all, the Nazis were called anti-Communists.  Just as the US hid some Nazis because they provided anti-Russian intelligence, the Church helped them extensively to escape Europe.  These people were considered valuable in the next war, which will be with Russia.

 

EC:  Many of those Jews who stayed were criticized for not leaving? 

JK:  My attitude is that the victim should not be blamed.  This is why I put in this quote, “She didn’t die because she stayed.  She died because they killed her.” Many German Jews did get out because they were richer, more educated, and more sophisticated.  They were likely to have contacts or the means to leave.  Don’t forget, this was a time when the gates were closing all over the world.  The Baltic and East European Jews did not have the means.  I feel very strongly that people should blame the murderers, not the victims.  

 

EC:  Was Schramm based on Mengele?

JK: Somewhat.  What intrigued me was the role doctors had in the Holocaust.  They were used by the Nazis to justify the policies. At Auschwitz, these people said who was medically fit to work and who was not medically fit.  They were the ones doing the killing. They talk about the experiments as scientific research.  This is beyond reasoning.  None of them felt guilty, but felt what they were doing was for the good of science.  What I wanted to do with Schramm is to make him a complex evil person who had a deep-seated anti-Semitism.  He never regretted what he did. 

 

EC:  How would describe Hanna Schramm?

JK: Troubled, damaged, haunted, and wounded. Being the daughter of such a father gave her extraordinary emotional conflict.  He was her father, someone she loved, but he was also morally bankrupt.  Someone who actually participated in the atrocities. I hope the reader likes and sympathizes with her.

 

EC:  How would you describe the Schramm hunter, Aaron?

JK:  He feels a moral sense of duty and obligation, and is a stand-up guy.  He was devoted to his uncle and wanted to get justice for him.  He was determined to put Schramm on trial to get justice rendered. He never lost sight of what Schramm really did and wanted him to have to take responsibility. 

 

EC:  Can you give a shout out about your next book?

JK:  Most probably the setting is back in Berlin during the Cold War.  The first Berlin book took place in 1945, the second during the airlift, and this one will take place at the Berlin Wall.

 

THANK YOU!!

The Hidden Nazi by Dean Reuter, Colm Lowery, and Keith Chester 

 

The Hidden Nazi by Dean Reuter, Colm Lowery, and Keith Chester delves into the story about America’s deal with the devil.  It lays out the case that Hans Kammler was truly the worst of the worst, a general in the SS who perpetrated war crimes.

 

Who was this little-known Nazi?  Kammler was an assistant to Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the Reichsfuhrer-SS, head of the Gestapo and the Waffen-SS, and Nazi Minister of the Interior. Kammler was in charge of building the concentration camps, perfecting the gas chambers/crematoria, deciding to use slave labor, and supervised underground factories where the V-2 rocket was built, which could have had the capability of reaching the US.  

 

This war criminal appears to have escaped punishment, helped by the Americans, in exchange for the scientists that would assist in defeating the Russians in the Cold War. The book begins with the hypothesis that Kammler did not commit suicide as was reported and probably lived out his life in South America. The authors use past and present documents to prove their assumption, that Kammler cheated justice and death. 

 

Even more interesting is the author’s side note that explains how Wherner von Braun was not the American hero he became.  He was involved in the Nazi program to attack the US with rockets, had used slave laborers, and kept the US in the dark about some of his research.  

 

The authors take readers on a spellbinding, thrilling, and suspenseful hunt in search of this mysterious war criminal.   The Hidden Nazi reads like a crime thriller. People are once again reminded how many Nazis survived the war and escaped justice after they struck a deal with the Devil in exchange for their secrets. 

 

Elise Cooper:  How did you come across Kammler?

Dean Reuter: About twelve years ago someone I knew in college had written a book on WWII.  Since I am a lawyer he asked me for a collaboration agreement between himself and someone who did a WWII forum on line.  Because of my fascination with WWII, being born in Germany, and my German heritage, I was fascinated to learn about this Nazi-figure, Hans Kammler.

 

EC: How would you describe Kammler?

 

DR: He was Himmler’s most brutal henchman, the worst of the worst.  He was described by other SS men as obstinate, ruthless, and the worst man they knew.  These are from those that were involved in an organized genocide. There is nothing redeeming about his character.

 

EC: As a German did you reflect on the Nazis?

DR:  I was born in Heidelberg Germany, because my dad was a US army officer. My family has been in America since the late 1800s. Yet, one of the things I struggled with is how such a highly advanced society could do such actions. I was appalled by what happened in WWII, particularly with the Holocaust. Part of the reason I wrote this book is to make sure what happened is studied so it does not repeat itself.  

 

EC:  You delve into the atrocities against the Jews in this book? 

DR:  It happened incrementally.  First Jews were denied admission to college and jobs; they did not allow them to own businesses; they were forced to sell their homes at low prices; and then even at the end of the war the German leaders decided to kill as many Jews as possible, wanting that to be their legacy.

 

EC:  There was actual a program where children were kidnapped?

DR:  Yes.  Himmler wanted to populate the Reich with German Aryan people.  He took over Poland and the Baltic States and then paid German families to live in the occupied territories. Since there were not enough German families, the regime would kidnap children from their families and give them to their officers’ families to raise. After I talked to Kammler’s son, during the interview I thought “could I be looking at one of the kidnapped children.’ After all, he had lost two children and was an officer on the rise. 

 

EC:  What was Kammler’s involvement in the rocket program?

DR:  He oversaw the V1 and V2 rockets and was in charge of the research and mass production.  He was the person in command from cradle to grave, from the research to the firing on England. 

 

EC:  There is a powerful quote in the book about the Holocaust?

DR:  You must be referring to, “If Adolf Eichmann was the architect of the Holocaust, then General Hans Kammler, was its engineer.” He identified Auschwitz as the source, drafted up plans to double and then redouble it, negotiated with the locals, put in irrigation and waterways, designed the concentration camp barracks, and the gas chambers/ovens. He actually went from one camp to another to study methods of the death camps.  

 

EC:  He also engineered the slave program?

DR:  It was his idea to turn healthy prisoners into slaves.  He took them and rented them to the government, army, and private companies.  These people were worked to death and that created the work force.

 

EC:  You make the case that the US aided and abetted Kammler’s escaping justice? 

DR:  We have multiple documents that Kammler surrendered to the US, was held in US custody, and at the same time was sought by the War Crimes Branch as a wanted war criminal.  We have this book quote, “Everything American officials did from that point forward to help Kammler was aiding and abetting a wanted war criminal.” 

 

EC:  The US helped him for what reason?

DR: Kammler wanted to make sure the Americans had the entire technology for jet planes, as well as the V-2 rockets and the transcontinental rocket.  He knew he could trade this technology and his rocket team for his freedom. On April 3, 1945 Kammler told Albert Speer about the deal with the Americans and that is the same date he ordered the rocket team to move down to the American zone. As I say in the book, if the deal with Kammler was not made, the US might not have gotten the rocket team and we might have lost the Cold War.  Basically, it was a deal with the Devil to win the Cold War. 

 

EC: One of the most famous scientists the US helped was Von Braun? 

DR:  We discuss at length in the book how he was Kammler’s underling who delivered him to the US and made sure he did not fall into the hands of the Russians.  Records were ignored, scrubbed, and the hard questions about their involvement in the Nazi regime were not asked.  Von Braun actually withheld documents from the US.  Through our research we found that he hid documents on some technological advances of the rocket team. He never told anyone he withheld them.  I think he kept them hidden as a trade, but became trapped, and if he revealed them, he would look devious.  In essence, he betrayed his saviors by never turning over the documents.

 

 

EC:  He also worked on making chemical weapons?

DR: He was working on rockets that could reach the US Eastern seaboard and turning them into chemical weapons.  In his initial interrogation when asked why he did not tell anyone about this he said, ‘nobody asked.’  

 

EC:  What do you want readers to get out of the book

DR:  I hope it reads as a thriller.  But I want them to learn these heart-wrenching stories and in a sense to have Kammler face justice and to be exposed.

 

THANK YOU!!

The Accomplice by Joseph Kanon shows why he is one of today’s best espionage writers.  Not only is the story thrilling but it also explores some very moral questions.  

 

The plot opens in 1962, seventeen years after the defeat of the Nazis. As Nazi hunter Max Weill is in a café with his nephew Aaron, he spots the notorious concentration camp doctor Otto Schramm, who worked with Mengele, “The Angel of Death.” Max spots Schramm walking down the street, but many question his observation since Schramm is supposedly dead.  It was reported and confirmed he died in a car accident two years ago. Knowing he is about to die Max convinces Aaron to pursue Schramm and seek justice for his war crimes. The search leads Aaron to Buenos Aires where many Nazis were protected by theJuan Perón regime. Even though Peron had been overthrown, the current regime does nothing to out the Nazis living in their country. Wanting to keep a promise to his dying uncle, Aaron pursues Schramm back to Argentina and the chase begins.  

 

In the vastness of Argentina, Aaron knows he can only find Schramm if he pursues his daughter Hanna. This is where the moral questions begin.  Should she be blamed for the sins of her father? How could she have any affection for such a monster; yet, he was her loving and doting father. Should she confide in Aaron with information? After meeting Hanna, the two have a love affair so how can Aaron reconcile wanting to capture her father and bring him to justice? Eliciting the help of the Mossad, Aaron is confronted by their desire to kill Schramm instead of going through a trial. Should Schramm be killed or put on trial? The Mossad argues by killing him, other Nazis will always look behind their backs with the fear they might be next.

 

This story will grab readers’ attention from the very first page and never let up.  It reminds people how complicit the world can be and why it is so important to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

 

Elise Cooper:  Why this story?

Joseph Kanon:  With all my books I like to put myself in the time period.  During this period, 1962, one of the hot topics was the Eichmann trial.  I started reading more about it and realized now fifty years later what a pivotal moment it was. It changed how we talk about the Holocaust.  What struck me was that Eichmann was on the loose for about fifteen years.  I started asking myself: what was it like for him, how did he get to Latin America, what was he and the other Nazis life like, did their families know and if so how did they live with what happened?

 

EC: You have tidbits about Eichmann and the trial in this book?

JK: Ever since I wrote The Good German I thought how is justice rendered for an unthinkable crime? Who becomes the judges?  The Eichmann trial ushered in a new wave of how people searched for the Nazis.  It would not be so easy for them to get away.   I wondered how the other Nazis felt when he was caught.  I think many of them changed their lives and became running scared.  In this story the Nazi, Schramm, fakes his death to be out from the running fear caused by Eichmann’s capture. Before the capture, many of the Nazis did not even change their names because they felt so secure.  

 

EC: You point out how the Church helped many Nazis escape?

JK: They feared their mortal enemy, Communism, more than the wrong of helping the Nazis.  After all, the Nazis were called anti-Communists.  Just as the US hid some Nazis because they provided anti-Russian intelligence, the Church helped them extensively to escape Europe.  These people were considered valuable in the next war, which will be with Russia.

 

EC:  Many of those Jews who stayed were criticized for not leaving?

JK:  My attitude is that the victim should not be blamed.  This is why I put in this quote, “She didn’t die because she stayed.  She died because they killed her.” Many German Jews did get out because they were richer, more educated, and more sophisticated.  They were likely to have contacts or the means to leave.  Don’t forget, this was a time when the gates were closing all over the world.  The Baltic and East European Jews did not have the means.  I feel very strongly that people should blame the murderers, not the victims.  

 

EC:  Was Schramm based on Mengele?

JK: Somewhat.  What intrigued me was the role doctors had in the Holocaust.  They were used by the Nazis to justify the policies. At Auschwitz, these people said who was medically fit to work and who was not medically fit.  They were the ones doing the killing. They talk about the experiments as scientific research.  This is beyond reasoning.  None of them felt guilty, but felt what they were doing was for the good of science.  What I wanted to do with Schramm is to make him a complex evil person who had a deep-seated anti-Semitism.  He never regretted what he did. 

 

EC:  How would describe Hanna Schramm?

JK: Troubled, damaged, haunted, and wounded. Being the daughter of such a father gave her extraordinary emotional conflict.  He was her father, someone she loved, but he was also morally bankrupt.  Someone who actually participated in the atrocities. I hope the reader likes and sympathizes with her.

 

EC:  How would you describe the Schramm hunter, Aaron?

JK:  He feels a moral sense of duty and obligation, and is a stand-up guy.  He was devoted to his uncle and wanted to get justice for him.  He was determined to put Schramm on trial to get justice rendered. He never lost sight of what Schramm really did and wanted him to have to take responsibility. 

 

EC:  Can you give a shout out about your next book?

JK:  Most probably the setting is back in Berlin during the Cold War.  The first Berlin book took place in 1945, the second during the airlift, and this one will take place at the Berlin Wall.

 

THANK YOU!!

Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd creates an atmosphere of suspense and tension, that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.  This story never lets up from beginning to end. 

 

A psychopath, Mara Phillips, has a vendetta against the main character, Kellen Rae. She has escaped a maximum-security facility for the criminally insane. This psychopath targeted Kellen, her husband Max, and their daughter Rae who still has a maturity level beyond her years. Hoping that authorities will re-capture her, the family decides to stay on an island off the Northern California coast. There is no cell phone service, WiFi, internet, and TV, basically having the family totally cut off except for the radio in the helicopter. To pass the time Kellen and Rae explore the many hidden rooms and tunnels throughout the house. One of the main discoveries is a diary from the WWII years of a young girl whose father was the original owner of the Hearst-like home. As they read it, Kellen, Rae, and Max find out that the father was abusive, and that the writer’s lover died in the war. They also are kept busy by repairing and restoring a 1955 Ford-100 pickup truck.

 

But, since seeing Mara at her wedding, Kellen knows she and her family are in danger. She is also recovering from brain surgery that removed a bullet from her brain, and now is trying to regain the use of her atrophied hand. Unfortunately, Kellen will also have to battle Mara in a fight to see who will live and who will die.

 

This book is a fast-paced and a riveting read. Readers are kept guessing about the outcome. People will be sad knowing that the story of this family has come to an end.

 

Elise Cooper:  Had did you come up with the last book in the series?

Christina Dodd: It is the logical progression of the first two books.  For me, it is the only story that can follow the previous two.  This will be the last book in the series, because I told my editor I would only write three stories.

 

EC:  Did you know anyone that had brain surgery?

CD:  My brother-in-law had a non-malignant tumor on his brain.  The part affected was how he controlled his foot.  Everything I wrote about was similar to his experience.  He did not quite get his foot working, while I wrote Kellen having problems with her hand. I wanted to give her another level of difficulty and something she needs to overcome.

 

EC:  The dog Luna was based on your dog?

CD: Luna was based on my daughter’s dog who recently died at the age of sixteen.  We are dog people.  My own dog died last year and we do not plan on getting another dog.  He was originally saved as a service dog and flunked out because he was too social.

 

EC:  Rae is growing into adolescence with some attitude?

CD:  I did it and so did my children.  It is terrible for everyone around them, but then they become lovely human beings.  This is why I put the book quote, “A lovely child one moment, the next a temperamental, shrieking virago.”

 

EC:  Did you get the island from someplace?

CD:  The island, Isla Paraiso, was completely made up. I like geology/geography, and read about what happened in California so I decided to invent an island. I put in this sail boat for them to get off the island.  I do not sail but both my children learned to sail in the girl scout camp.  I had fun in making it real and not able to use technology.  

 

EC: How did you come up with the book quote?

CD:  You are referring to “If a book isn’t read, it cries in its soul.”  Once a book is read there is more to it than just a cover with a story inside.  After reading it people’s imagination can go wild and they can put their own imprint on it.  What means the most to me is when readers find something that affects them personally.  For example, I was told how my stories kept them company as their mom was in hospice, or how they were touched by the story.  I also had in the story another type of book, a diary.  Unfortunately, they are something of the past.  But readers hopefully saw how books can be a form of entertainment when there is no technology.

 

EC:  There are a lot of tidbits about the army?

CD:  Like the motto, “Always prepare for the worst,” or how “the children in Afghanistan held rifles, fighting in wars so old their distant great-grandparents had started.” Most of the information came from my father-in-law who fought in WWII.  A lot of what he went through in his service applies today.  

 

EC:  There is a reference to “Beauty and The Beast” and “Alice in Wonderland?”

CD:  I think the story of “Beauty and The Beast” is enduring to children, especially that scene when Belle enters the library. It was such a beautiful scene. I think the storytellers nailed that one.  The quote about Alice In Wonderland refers to the serial killer as the Queen of Hearts that says “off with her head.” This was one of my favorite books.

 

EC:  How would you describe Mara?

CD:  Bad and crazy.  I wanted to explore how her father drove her to these extremes.  Yet, she always had a choice not to go off the rails.  Overall, she is competitive, mad, delusional, and a psychopath.

 

EC:  Why the Ford-100 pickup truck?

CD:  My husband had this type.  I relied heavily on him since I know nothing about cars.  After finishing the book, I handed it over to him to make sure I had all those scenes correct.  After he read it he was sad since I blew it up.  I knew I had to do something with cars because the family needed a distraction and Kellen’s background in the service was repairing autos.

 

EC:  What about your next book?

CD:  It will be a stand-alone based on the “Fugitive” TV show, but with a female on the run, who is innocent.  It comes out next year.

 

THANK YOU!!

Latest comments

25.11 | 11:05

Much media suggest teachers teach only subjects, but really: "... our job as teachers to help her learn to read, understand and think critically on her own."

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29.08 | 02:19

I love reading. I will start reading Rough Ride by Kristen Ashley after my https://www.goldenbustours.com/grand-canyon-tours/ and hope it would be interesting.

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10.06 | 12:03

The news Jacquelyn Winespear is on my summer reading list.
Looking forward to another Maise Dobbs

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24.12 | 00:28

Always look forward to your weekly blog, Marti ... safe travels this week. Merry Christmas!

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