Death and the Damned, Sabel Security #5, is finally here!
It started with my usual protest-driven thought: I hate terrorists and the wealthy people who finance them. As a writer, what can I do about it?
When I say wealthy people finance terrorism, I’m talking about people like me who use oil, gas, plastics, and other oil-derived products. However, there are some ultra-wealthy people, like Osama bin Laden, who use oil based wealth to create and finance terrorism. It’s easy to demonize Saudis and other oil producers, so I extrapolated my idea to: what if an American billionaire was financing terrorism?
Add to that, the fact that Pia and Jacob have been in dire need of a little love. I had to face what I’d put off in the first four books: Is Pia a human or a crystal? Humans tend to fall in love. We are eternally optimistic about love—despite the odds against us. Even when we shouldn’t we fall in love, we do. And with the wrong people for the wrong reasons while every warning sign flashes red. Why shouldn’t Pia fall into the swamp with the rest of us?
(I’m one of those optimists. After twenty-three years of marriage, I still hope my wife will fall in love with me.)
These two themes drove the longest story in the Sabel collection.
Who is the damned? We all are in a way, but I’m not going down that theological rabbit hole here. The bad guys are the damned, naturally. But so are the ambitions and relationships of several other characters. I’m not talking about Dante’s version of damned. I’m talking about how we often delude ourselves at the outset of an endeavor and realize at the end—when it’s too late—that we never should have begun. An example comes to mind whenever I think of the immortal philosopher, Steve McCroskey (Airplane!), who once said, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.”
Dreaming up the ideas and themes was easy. Writing it turned out to be a lot harder than I imagined. As I did in Death and Dark Money, I wrote three interwoven points of view: Jacob, Pia, Bad Guy. As the plot wound through two romances, Pia began her corporate career of trading companies and outwitting other billionaires and Jacob chased a group of terrorists around the world, I had trouble keeping it straight. But, with dumb luck and a lot of note-taking while flipping back and forth through 466 pages of manuscript, I got it to work.
I hope you like it.
If you’ve not joined my VIP readers’ group, consider that members get exclusive info on deleted scenes, homage soliloquies, and hidden Easter Eggs. In the next three month’s there will be a prize awarded to the VIP member who unravels a puzzle buried in the book.
Still not convinced? Here is the opening page:
Who to trust is the scariest decision we make in life. I grabbed him by the hair, pulled his head back, and, cheek-to-cheek, we contemplated the sparkling stars dotting the moonless Syrian sky. I sensed his eyeballs strain all the way to the right to look at me. His fingernails dug into my forearm. Anxiety caused him to miss the grandeur of the moment. Too bad. It was stunningly beautiful. You don’t see that many stars from over-lit American cities. But I tired of our two-second relationship and drew my blade across his throat, severing his carotid artery and larynx before he could scream a warning to the others. I dropped his carcass on the other jihadi at my feet. He trusted me because I speak Arabic. Bad idea.
I stared at the dead fighters and thought about how ISIL’s perversion of Islam wasted so many lives.
But then, I’m hardly the guy to judge other people’s religious beliefs.
Mercury, winged messenger of the Roman gods, waved to me from the narrow, dusty village lane. Earth to Jacob. Ain’t the time for contemplative yoga, dawg. That monster raped three women yesterday. C’mon now. Get your head in the game. You need to find that cowboy.
After a decade guiding me through battles as a disembodied voice in my head, Mercury decided to make himself manifest. Some people would consider meeting god in person as a divine miracle. Others would encourage me to go back on my meds. Maybe I had taken a swan dive off the sanity cliff, but when I ponder how lucky I am to have god on my side—even if he’s been surviving on unemployment benefits since the late fourth century—I count my blessings. And when he tells me to keep my eyes open for a cowboy in an ISIL-held Syrian town, I listen.
Until next time, take care and remember: beware of idle gods. Peace, Seeley