America might be dead, but Nick Angriff will kick your ass to resurrect her.
Lt. General Nick Angriff has spent his adult life protecting family and country from a world of terrorism spinning out of control. On the battlefield, off the grid, in clandestine special task forces and outright black ops, Angriff never wavers from duty. But when a terror attack on Lake Tahoe kills his family, he’s left with only the corrosive acid of revenge… that is, until a hated superior officer reveals the deepest of all secret operations. Against the day of national collapse, a heavily-armed military unit rests in cryogenic storage, to be awakened when needed, and Angriff is named its commander.
Fifty years later he wakes to find the USA destroyed and predatory warlords roaming the ruins. Stalked by assassins bent on seizing his command for their own purposes, Angriff has to prepare for war while avoiding murder.
Because the only wall still shielding survivors from slavery and death are the men and women of The Last Brigade.
Targeted Age Group:: Ages 16-up
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wanted to write a series where the US military are the good guys, carrying out their missions for all the right reasons, but without building them into more than they really are. These are flesh and blood people risking their lives to protect the rest of us, and this series is my love letter to them.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My main character, Nick Angriff, is one part George Patton, one part Jack Reacher and one part Captain America, with a heaping helping of Gary Cooper in High Noon. He does things other people can't, but doesn't think he's better than anybody else. Nick is the culmination of all my literary heroes.
Norm Fleming is the man who keeps him humble, and both men know they supply the other with personality traits they wouldn't otherwise have. I came up with him to keep Nick from being too over-the-top by having the best friend that we all wish we had.
Tom Steeple might be the most complicated character in the series. He truly believes in his agenda, regardless of who gets hurt in fulfilling it.
As the series progresses the ladies step forward more and more, because women are at least as heroic as men, and I love exploring their characters almost more than the men.
Lake Tahoe sparkled under a high sun in a cloudless sky. From the
warmth of the tour boat’s passenger lounge, Mary Buffer giggled as her
chubby husband Winslow braced against the bow railings and turned his
face into the wind. They had not vacationed since Emily’s birth three
years ago, and Mary intended to enjoy every moment.
The red-haired toddler stood on tiptoes and waved at her father,
then knocked on the window to get his attention. Her warm breath
steamed the glass. Winslow grinned at her despite the cold spray and
Out of the chill and sipping hot chocolate from a foam cup, Mary
watched Winslow acting like a little boy and her giggle turned into a
laugh. He often painted with words his fantasy of cutting the clear waters
of the Caribbean, wind blowing his sparse hair, as he stood at the
helm of his own sailing ship. He even confided that those daydreams cycled
in an endless loop in his mind. She hoped so; starting a practice as a
new CPA required long hours and hard sacrifices, and he deserved time
to dream and play.
The muffled buzz of a speedboat grew louder as it neared. Mary
glanced left, but milling people blocked her view as the smaller boat
throttled down near the port bow. She looked back at Winslow in time to
see something metal hit the deck and bounce, stopping near his feet. The
egg-shaped object seemed familiar, but her mind did not recognize it before
the blast of the grenade ripped him apart.
His right arm smacked into the lounge window and left a bloody
smear as it slid to the deck. His right shoe, and most of the foot and shin,
remained upright on the deck. The rest of Winslow Buffer swirled astern.
Inside the large cabin Mary Buffer watched her husband’s arm slide
from view. Stunned, she dropped the foam cup and covered her mouth for
almost two seconds before she screamed and grabbed Emily. Panic flooded
her with adrenaline and the instincts of motherhood took over. Getting
away from the horror on the bow drove her to claw and elbow through her
fellow tourists, headed for the stern while dragging Emily behind her.
Another woman followed with a toddler under each arm, yelling for
her husband, but panicky screams drowned her out. Mother and children
fell when a large man shoved through, and they disappeared in the tangle
of feet. Two men fought to shield their families from the stampede as
everyone made for the starboard door. Mary stumbled, but a lithe middle-
aged woman with blonde hair caught her left arm, and a girl who
could only have been her daughter grabbed her right. Together they got
Mary back to her feet. The two women exchanged a brief glance and
Mary drew strength from the older woman’s nod of confidence.
A moment later the crowd shoved Mary against a window, Emily
behind her and the women on either side. Outside, the speedboat bobbed
on the waves. Three of the four men jumped aboard the tour boat and
fanned out. They wore black shoes, gloves, and three-hole balaclavas,
and all carried machine pistols. One of the attackers locked eyes with her
through the window. His were green, but she could see no humanity in
them, no spark of empathy, nothing except cold indifference. He turned
as a deck hand rounded the stern corner of the lounge and hosed him
with 9mm rounds that chewed his chest into a red slaw of bone and lung.
As the crewman toppled over the side, the killer met Mary’s eyes again.
This time he smiled.
Mary screamed and his smile widened. Pinned against the glass with
Emily, she could not move no matter how much she struggled.
Forward of the lounge, the pilothouse overlooked the entire boat
from a height of ten feet. The port door opened and the ship’s captain
stepped out, aiming a large pistol in shaking hands. Mary’s breath
caught. The terrorists on board had their backs to him, but the fourth
man, still on the speedboat, spotted the danger and sprayed the pilothouse
doorway, grinding up both the captain and the door frame. She
watched as shells ejected from the gun and bounced on the boat’s deck in
a shining stream of metal.
Mary tried to squirm away as the terrorists burst in through the
nearest door. Several men without families dove over the starboard side.
Stopping next to her, the smallest of the three black-clad killers pointed
with his machine gun and another killer charged back outside. After
clubbing and punching his way through hysterical women and children,
the gunman emptied his magazine into the swimmers’ backs.
The leader, short but exuding authority, stood next to Mary. He
scanned the lounge and spotted Emily huddled behind her. He leaned
over and tousled her hair. Emily’s face reddened as she sobbed louder,
gulping little breaths.
“What a pretty little girl,” he said. “You should be very proud.”
Mary could not speak. The man’s accent strongly hinted of New England.
She smelled something fragrant, shampoo, or maybe cologne. Deep
creases in his face resembled knife scars and a large mole dominated his
upper lip. She edged away, hoping he would not notice, but he pointed at
her and shook his head.
“Everybody shut up and stand still!” he yelled.
He repeated it three times before the terrified tourists quieted, except
for Emily, who kept crying. Mary whispered, “Don’t cry, sweetheart,
Mommy’s here,” and stroked her forehead. Sliding sideways, she interposed
herself between Emily and the gunman and buried the toddler’s
face in her shoulder to hush her. At the first opportunity, she would run
for the door and not stop; she would take her chances in the water. If she
dove deep enough, maybe the bullets wouldn’t hit her.
Two young mothers clutching babies fell to their knees, begging for
mercy. The leader motioned them to their feet and patted the air as if reassuring
them all would be fine. He scanned the terrified crowd and examined
each face, as if selecting a steak for dinner, and stopped when he spotted
the slim blonde hugging a twenty-ish version of herself, the same
mother and daughter who’d kept Mary from falling moments before.
“Those two.” He pointed with his gun again. “They’re the ones. Take
care of them first.”
The biggest attacker grabbed the women by their arms and dragged
them, kicking and biting, to the port side bulkhead, and jammed his machine
pistol against the younger woman’s temple. Mary watched them
with horror and relief, assuming those two had been the target of the
attack, but shame kept her from looking at them.
Following a burst of gunfire, the leader pointed his machine gun at
her. Mary froze.
“Sorry, lady,” he stage-whispered. “Allahu akbar,” he said, much
louder. It came out as ‘Allayhu akbah.’
He squeezed the trigger. Mary saw the flash, then nothing more.
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