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How Private Security Contracting Became Private Military Contracting

Jan 12, 2016 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors

Zero Footprint by Simon Chase and Ralph PezzulloRalph Pezzullo is no stranger to Mulholland Books. With former Navy SEAL Don Mann, he has written five SEAL Team Six thrillers, with a sixth on the way. And with private military contractor Simon Chase, Pezzullo proves that the truth can be even more explosive than fiction.  Zero Footprint, now in bookstores, delivers a dramatic insider account of the missions conducted by PMCs. But how exactly did an industry like private security turn into a powerful private military? Read on for Pezzullo’s take.

On September 11, 2001, British Special Boat Service (SBS) commando Simon Chase (not his real name) was in Kabul, Afghanistan with a team of eleven other contractors providing security to Agha Khan IV—the Iman of Nizari Ismailism, a denomination of Shia Islam—when the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked by al-Qaeda terrorists.

The very next day members of the CIA’s Special Activities Division started to arrive at the Kabul guesthouse where Chase and his colleagues were staying. The director of SAD pulled Chase aside and asked him if he and his men would be willing to join the US effort to drive the Taliban out of power and help destroy al-Qaeda.

He answered, “yes,” and remembers the day as “the exact moment the business turned from private security work to private military.” In Chase’s words, we “exchanged the concealed Glocks and business suits we had previously been wearing for M4s, military gear and armored vests, and returned to our old skills and drills.” Continue reading ›

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Paradise Sky by Joe Lansdale: The Illustrated Edition

Dec 22, 2015 in Books, Mulholland Authors

case6.140x9.210.inddJoe Lansdale’s epic, rollicking Western was one of our favorite publications of 2015. And we’re not the only ones who think so—the Houston Chronicle named Paradise Sky one of the 15 Best Books of 2015. Early next year, we’ll get to experience Nat Love’s adventures in a whole new way when Short, Scary Tales Publications releases the illustrated edition of Paradise Sky. Check out the panoramic dust jacket illustration:

Paradise Sky Illustrated Edition Dust Jacket

And here are three interior illustrations from the book by Ben Baldwin:

Interested in receiving the illustrated Paradise Sky as soon as it’s available? Preorder your copy today.

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A Soundtrack for The Night Charter

Dec 09, 2015 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors, Music

The Night Charter by Sam Hawken

Music has been a part of Camaro Espinoza’s “life” since the very beginning, and different songs have, for me, come to represent her at different stages in her fictional existence. Whether it be Disturbed’s “Indestructible”—not featured here but essential listening—or White Zombie’s “Thunder Kiss ’65,” Camaro has found some of her inner life through musical expression.

The idea of a “soundtrack” for The Night Charter came early on. Between writing sessions I listen to music that speaks to me during the creative process, and little by little I begin to incorporate these into a playlist. That playlist carries the listener through The Night Charter stage by stage, from the free-spirited life Camaro enjoys on the seas (Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Up Around the Bend”) to the moment she realizes she has managed to set herself and her young charge free (Mark Knopfler with “Get Lucky”).

Some songs here represent the characters themselves, such as the aforementioned “Thunder Kiss ’65,” which contains classic lines from Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! that encapsulate Camaro perfectly—“I never try anything, I just do it. Wanna try me?” Meanwhile the melancholy Jimmy Buffett song, “Oldest Surfer on the Beach,” gives us Parker Story, the man whose youthful errors have brought him an old man’s troubles even though he’s not yet 40.

See Camaro on the titular night charter, making an exchange on the water to the eerie sounds of Fever Ray’s “Keep the Streets Empty for Me.” See her go to war as you listen to Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” The final few songs in the playlist are building tension, a climax of violence set to The Prodigy’s “Breathe,” and then released with Pink Floyd’s “Sorrow.” Even anti-Castro group Alpha 66 gets its moment when Dire Straits’ “Ride Across the River” plays.

The playlist is eclectic, but every song has its place and, reading the book, you’ll be able to place them where they belong with ease. Enjoy.

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Meet Camaro from The Night Charter by Sam Hawken

Dec 08, 2015 in Books, Excerpts, Fiction

The Night Charter by Sam HawkenCamaro Espinoza is unlike any other action heroine you’ve ever read. First off, she’s not interested in saving the world. She’d prefer a simple, solitary life—like the one she has chartering catch-and-release fishing trips off the Miami coast. But trouble has a way of finding Camaro. In The Night Charter by Sam Hawken, which Mulholland is publishing today, we have the great pleasure of introducing our readers to “the deadliest female protagonist since Jon Land’s Caitlin Strong and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander” (Booklist). Some advice? Read the first chapter below and stay on Camaro’s good side—this won’t be the last you see of her.

CHAPTER ONE

Camaro Espinoza awoke before dawn. She had fled New York City after the killing of five men exactly 364 days before.

The bright fluorescent bulb in the bathroom hurt her eyes, so she switched it off, choosing instead to shower in the dark. She left the bedroom unlit afterward, putting on her clothes without a shred of
sunlight passing through the slightly parted curtains. Her small backyard, only just visible, was a square of blackness because there was only the sliver of a moon.

She packed a small ice chest with a couple of beers and a lunch she’d made the night before, then let herself out onto the carport where a Harley-Davidson snuggled up against the shadowy bulk of her pickup. A pair of bungee cords secured the chest to the back of the pillion seat, and she walked the bike down the driveway and out onto the street. When it started up, the rumble of the engine was remarkably loud on the quiet street. She gave the throttle a twist and pulled away. The morning air stirred her dark, honey-brown hair.

Her home was in the Allapattah neighborhood of Miami, and she lived fifteen minutes from the water. A pair of lights illuminated the sign at the marina, and beyond the open gates were the steady rows of silent boats waiting patiently for their time on the waves. Camaro parked up against the side of the marina’s office. She took the ice chest with her out onto the pier.

The fifty-nine-foot Custom Carolina waited about halfway down, bobbing slightly as the water shifted beneath her hull. The boat was named the Annabel. It had taken nearly all of the money she had for Camaro to get it. The flying bridge stood tall and white against the slowly lightening sky. Camaro boarded onto the aft deck and lightly touched the fighting chair mounted there.

She stowed the ice chest in the cabin and cast off before she climbed the ladder to the bridge. The boat had an even throatier noise than the Harley did, but there were no sleepers to disturb. The marina was utterly still.

Camaro navigated out of the forest of boats and onto open water. She drove toward the rising sun and found a spot in the blue just as the last of the bright orange disk cleared the horizon.

There were poles on board and bait in a cooler she had stocked a day ago. Camaro let the Annabel drift in the Gulf Stream and cast a line. The bait sank a thousand feet. She sat in the fighting chair and relaxed with the pole in the holder between her legs, listening to nothing and feeling only the feathering morning breeze that carried across the waves.

She carried on until noon, pausing only to slather sunscreen on brown arms and drink a beer. She hid beneath a cap and a pair of wraparound sunglasses. Nothing bit, but she didn’t much care one way or the other. Today was an empty day with nothing scheduled, no clients to meet, and no responsibilities. If she went ashore without a single catch, she would at least have spent the hours with the splendor of the sea around her and the luxury of absolute quietude.

By two she’d had a couple of nibbles but no solid hits. These were swordfish waters, but swordfish hunted by night. It wasn’t unheard of to catch them in the full glare of the sun and see them rear out of the water at the end of the line, battling the hook and the tension of the rod. She could have set the bait lower, all the way down to two thousand feet, and maybe find a little action, but she preferred to let the fish come to her today. If there was going to be a fight, then there would be one, but she wasn’t looking for it.

She reeled in at three and took her lunch inside on the vinyl-surfaced galley counter. The second beer went down cold and good, and even her sandwich tasted better for the wait. There was a bed in the bow, good for naps, and she considered it, but in the end she went back to the water and rod and line and the glare of the cloudless sky.

It was close to seven o’clock when she brought the bait in for the last time and set course for the marina. She’d drifted some forty miles, and the trip back was slow, the Annabel cresting the waves and carving them, the engine keeping her high. Eventually, the shoreline came into view, and the glitter of Miami was visible in the distance. Camaro felt a delicate sadness at returning to people and roads and cars and all of that. It was better out here beyond the skyline, absent all demands. She could stay here forever if the opportunity came. She’d buy a sailing vessel and take to the high seas and be free of it all.

The sun was failing, and already the lights were on as Camaro entered the marina, closed on her berth, and spotted the man coming down the pier.

Read Chapter Two on Sam Hawken’s website

Buy The Night Charter: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Indiebound

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Brian Helgeland: Why is Legend Called Legend?

Oct 01, 2015 in Film, Guest Posts

kraytwinsIt’s been four years since we had the pleasure of interviewing the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker Brian Helgeland for our site (part I, part II). We’re so pleased to welcome him back as we look forward to the release of his new film, Legend. But who—or what—is Legend? Helgeland gives us the story.

The cigarette punch. Shake a smoke out of a pack and offer it to your unwitting victim. When he leans in to accept it—WHAM!—you break his jaw with a single punch; the fact that his mouth is open makes it that much more breakable. Reggie Kray broke the jaws of five men this way. No wait, twenty-five men. No, hold on, it was one hundred and twenty-five men. His paranoid schizophrenic brother Ron, meanwhile, was nailing people to the floor. Those are the types of stories you come across when you begin to investigate London’s most notorious gangsters—the Kray Twins.

kraytwinsmovieOn my mission to make a film about them, one of the first research images I saw was a photo of Reggie Kray’s hearse and a flower arrangement it held: white carnations spelled out the word Legend. With everything I had heard and read, the name seemed to fit and so I adopted it as my title. History is written by the winners, and Reginald Kray’s name will never be counted in that column. His story is told by enemies who hated him, whose self-serving interests necessitate that they diminish and degrade him. His story is told by authorities of law and class who wish to make him an example and hold him up as a lesson. Last, but not least, it is told by those who want to place him firmly in the mythic role of the outlaw. He was certainly some of the things they  say he was, but none of it is close to the whole truth—and no one, as far as I know, tells his story out of love.

Reggie Kray was close to two people during the free part of his life: his brother Ron and his wife Frances. My desire was to humanize him and thereby do right by all of them. How can you humanize a villain, some may protest? Well, demonizing him doesn’t ask or answer very much; it’s too damn easy to be honest and also not very interesting. For me it all begs the question: how do we ever really know what’s true about someone? What we hear is opinion, what we see is point of view, and none of it is necessarily the truth, especially where the Krays are concerned.

reggieandfrancesReggie is a myth now, doomed to a tabloid history and shoddy biography. I am guilty as well. Early on in my research I heard the story that on the morning of the day Frances Kray killed herself, Reggie had bought two tickets for them to go away together on holiday to Ibiza. That story appealed to the romantic in me, but it got even better. In his thirty-three years in prison, the one physical constant in Reggie’s existence was that he kept those unused tickets with him.

A tale of a violent cigarette-wielding gangster? I’m not that interested. But a man torn between his duty and his desire? A man who carries with him a talisman of his lost love and his sins against her for three decades behind bars?
Now we’re cooking with fire. The story of Reggie and Frances? That’s a Legend to me.

Legend opens November 20, 2015. Visit www.legend-the-movie.com for more information.

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A Soundtrack for The Killing Kind

Sep 21, 2015 in Guest Posts, Mulholland Authors, Music

The Killing Kind by Chris Holm

In a recent interview for The Life Sentence, I was asked (by an interviewer who knows damn well that I’m a music geek, on account of she’s my wife) what Michael Hendricks’s theme song would be. Here’s what I answered:

First of all, Michael would never pick himself a theme song; he’s way too self-serious for that. So I envision that question being fielded by his partner in crime, Lester Meyers, who’s a little more playful about their endeavor of killing people for money. Lester would choose James Brown’s “The Payback.” It’s a bouncy revenge tale. It’s funky. It’s interesting. If Hendricks were forced to choose his own theme song, it’d be darker, more morose. Jimi Hendrix’s “Machine Gun,” maybe. It’s a menacing, sinuous anti-war tale. I also think Massive Attack’s “Protection” wouldn’t be a bad theme song for him. In fact, if The Killing Kind were a movie, you could put “The Payback” over the opening credits and “Protection” over the closing credits, since the latter’s built around a sample of the former.

Ever since, I’ve been wondering what a soundtrack for The Killing Kind would sound like. Its antagonist, Alexander Engelmann, takes pleasure in his bloody work, and demands something arch. Its action scenes require propulsive, energetic tracks. Special Agents Thompson and Garfield deserve a nod, at least. Our damaged antihero, Hendricks, longs for a woman whose love he feels he no longer deserves, so songs of heartbreak and longing are a must. And, of course, I need something gut-wrenchingly sad for that scene in which… well, you’ll see.

Chris Holm is an award-winning short-story writer whose work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, and The Best American Mystery Stories 2011. His Collector trilogy, which blends fantasy with old-fashioned crime pulp, wound up on over forty Year’s Best lists. David Baldacci called his latest, the hitman thriller The Killing Kind, “a story of rare, compelling brilliance.” Chris lives in Portland, Maine.

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Mulholland Books at Bouchercon 2015

Sep 18, 2015 in Industry News, Mulholland Authors, Mulholland News

Bouchercon 2015The annual mystery reader extravaganza known as Bouchercon will take place in Raleigh in just three weeks, and our calendars are filling up with riveting panels, award ceremonies, and my personal favorite: “meetings” over BBQ and beers.

Once again the Bouchercon programmers have outdone themselves with the convention programming. Mulholland authors will appear on panels about thrillers, horror, psychopaths, and character development. Even our own editorial director, Joshua Kendall, has a panel! You can find a full list of Mulholland’s events below.

Here’s one event to underscore, circle, star, or however it is you draw attention to important things: on Saturday morning between 7:30 and 12:30, we will be offering free coffee and pastries at the Bouchercon hospitality suite in the Sheraton gallery. If you time your visit just right, you’ll walk away with a free galley of a forthcoming Mulholland book!

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 8

11:30-12:30 Changing Face of Publishing for Writers & Readers with Joshua Kendall, editorial director of Mulholland Books (Marriott: University AB)

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 9

2:30-3:30 The “Masters” that influenced the “Masters” in Crime & Mystery with Lawrence Block, author of Hit Me (Sheraton, Oak Forest AB)

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10

Mulholland_Bouchercon_ad

Visit the hospitality suite to join Mulholland Books’s staff and authors for coffee and pastries! We’ll be giving away free advance copies of new books by Matthew Quirk, William Shaw, David Swinson, Joe Lansdale, and Michael Robotham. Follow us on Twitter or Instagram @mulhollandbooks to find out when specific books will be given away . . . or take a chance and come by the Sheraton gallery to see what’s on offer! You won’t walk away empty-handed . . . or empty-bellied.

8:30-9:30 Where “Crime & Mystery” meets “Horror & The Weird” with Chris Holm, author of The Killing Kind, and David Morrell, author of Inspector of the Dead (Marriott, State AB)

10-11 Human Nature: Our fascination with law breakers & law enforcers in fiction with Lawrence Block, author of Hit Me (Sheraton, Oak Forest AB)

1-2 Psychopaths, Serial Killers, Sociopaths & Human Monsters within Literature with Michael Robotham, author of Life or Death (Sheraton, Oak Forest AB)

4-5 The Facets of ‘Character’ that remain in a Reader’s psyche with David Swinson, author of The Second Girl (Marriott: State AB)

4-5 International Thriller Writers [ITW]: The first Decade & Beyond with David Morrell, author of Inspector of the Dead (Sheraton: Oak Forest AB)

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Kermit Roosevelt on America’s History of Illegal Detention

Aug 18, 2015 in Guest Posts

Allegiance by Kermit RooseveltWe look to the past to understand the present. In 2007, when newspapers highlighted the illegal detentions at Guantanamo and the extent of federal authority in wartime, author Kermit Roosevelt thought back to World War II—specifically, the internment of Japanese-Americans on American soil. This dark period of our country’s history informs Allegiance, Roosevelt’s sophisticated legal thriller from Regan Arts, which lands in bookstore on August 25th. How could our government have supported illegal detentions not once, but twice? Read on for Roosevelt’s take.

In 2007, two years after the publication of my first novel (In the Shadow of the Law), my editor said to me that he wanted my next one to be set in the Supreme Court. I told him I wasn’t sure I could do it. I’d love to write about the Court, but I didn’t want anyone to think I was revealing secrets from my time working there. (I clerked for Justice Souter in 1999-2000, and he’s a very private person.) My editor said, “No problem! Set it ten years in the future when there are nine new Justices.”

That also seemed like an unpromising idea to me, because it would require me to invent nine new Justices and predict the pressing legal issues of a decade hence. I told my wife about the dilemma, and she had a simple answer: set it in the past.

And that seemed like a great idea. No one would think I was writing about the current Court, and instead of inventing nine new Justices I could just research them—something my day job as a law professor has made me quite familiar with. Also, of course, setting the novel in the past would let me scan the whole history of the Court for an era and a set of cases with relevance to the present day. So I started looking…

What I was thinking about in 2007 was the response to 9/11, and more particularly the Guantanamo detentions. I had just recently received a call from a tax lawyer (more on that later) asking me to serve as a constitutional law consultant on a Guantanamo case, and I’d accepted. So I wanted to write something about what we do in times of national insecurity.

The parallels, at a high level of generality, were obvious. There was a shocking attack, striking us in a way we didn’t think possible. There was a President expanding the power of the federal government, asserting he could do whatever was necessary to protect the nation. There were Supreme Court cases about the limits of governmental authority in wartime.

So I thought that mostly what I would be doing was taking these broad parallels and layering current concerns onto a roughly similar history. And I did some of that. I have Supreme Court Justices and other government figures as significant characters in the book. Much of their dialogue is true to life—I read biographies, autobiographies, diaries, and correspondence—but some of it is taken from recent events. “We should look forward, not back.” “We shouldn’t criminalize policy differences or condemn actions taken in good faith to protect the nation.” “You have to remember what it was like then.” “We feared another attack.” Those are contemporary lines about the CIA torture program, but they fit very easily into the mouths of people discussing the detention of Japanese-Americans. (That program, which uprooted over 100,000 mostly birthright citizens, ended up being a large part of Allegiance.) Continue reading ›

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An Excerpt from Crooked by Austin Grossman

Jul 28, 2015 in Excerpts

Crooked by Austin GrossmanWith the publication of his new novel, Crooked, Austin Grossman gives Richard Nixon the chance to finally set the record straight about his presidency, the Cold War, Watergate, and even our starry-eyed notions about the Founding Fathers. This dazzling confession has been called “captivating” by Entertainment Weekly and “a cantering hodgepodge of American history, black magic and political satire” by the Washington Post. Below is a snippet from Crooked in which Grossman sets us straight about our country’s origin story.

Everyone thinks of the Enlightenment as the end of superstition, the breakdown of religion and magic and the beginning of a new and rational order. The United States is the standard-bearer of that order, a nation founded not on superstitions about bloodlines and myths of swords in stones but on sound civic principles and contracts rationally entered into.

Everyone is wrong. The dawn of modernity wasn’t the end of enchantment, only the beginning of a new and more terrible one. The Plymouth elders made a bargain and brought forth nothing less than a new American sorcery, the casting of a vast invisible spell great enough to bind the darkness of the New World. The settlers lived, and prospered, and over time their work was given the name by which we now know it—the Constitution, the thing that opened the way for the master enchanters of the nineteenth century, Lincoln and Whitman, and for the obscene magical forces that would one day push us all the way to the Pacific.

The Pilgrims’ bargain bought them a continent, and we were the inheritors of a contract bound into our land and our nation and infused again and again into the flesh of its principal executive, the president of the United States.

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An Excerpt from White Crocodile by K. T. Medina

Jun 30, 2015 in Excerpts

White Crocodile by K.T. MedinaTess Hardy thought she had put Luke, her violent ex-husband, firmly in her past. Then he calls from Cambodia, where he is working as a mine-clearer, and there’s something in his voice she hasn’t heard before: Fear. Two weeks later, he’s dead. Against her better judgment, Tess is drawn to Battambang to solve the mystery of Luke’s sudden death, but what she discovers there is an entire network of secrecy, terror, and lies. Below is the scene in which Tess learns about the White Crocodile.

The sign was a square of painted wood nailed to a post at the edge of the minefield, hanging crooked, as if it had been hurriedly tacked up. The stick figure of a reptile daubed on a black background. Needle-sharp teeth, a splash for an eye.

Tess realised that her hands were tattooing a rhythm against her thighs. Curling them into fists, she jammed them into her pockets. There was something written in Khmer beneath the drawing. She couldn’t read it. But she knew what the thing meant.

‘White Crocodile minefield.’ A Khmer in mine-clearance fatigues was standing watching her, his flat brown face expressionless. ‘You heard about the White Crocodile?’

Tess shook her head, and thought back six months to an English spring morning: trailing a hand along the sleek lines of a young man’s coffin.

‘No.’ She was surprised at how steady her voice was. ‘What’s the White Crocodile?’

The Khmer slotted some betel nut into his mouth, his saliva reddening as he chewed. ‘It come to Cambodia at time of important change. Present at birth of Cambodia. When Khmer Rouge took country, White Crocodile seen. This minefield.’ He gestured towards the red-and-white warning tape. ‘When this minefield found, White Crocodile here.’ He stared past her, out across the spoiled fields. ‘Seen here.’

‘So it represents fate, does it? Is that what people in Cambodia think?’

The mine clearer levelled his gaze at hers; he hadn’t understood.

‘Fate,’ she repeated. ‘Something that is meant to be. Something that you can’t change whatever you do.’

‘Bhat.’ Sudden understanding lent a gleam to his dark eyes. ‘Fate. The White Crocodile is fate.’

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