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Thursday, March 1, 2018

SPOTLIGHT: Pray for the Innocent by Alan Orloff @alanorloff

Pray For The Innocent
by Alan Orloff

It's my pleasure to spotlight, Pray For The Innocent by Alan Orloff today!
While the book doesn't officially release until 3/6/18, you can always preorder from the link below.
Continue below for a synopsis, about the author and an excerpt from this thriller!   

Published by Kindle Press
Kindle Edition
Publishing: March 6, 2018
Genre: Military Thriller, Sci-Fi

Preorder:  AMAZON

Can former best-selling novelist Mathias King—now a rumpled, grizzled English professor—save America from a terrorist of his own making? 

In the shadow of the Pentagon, a secret DoD brain research experiment goes terribly wrong, and an ex-Special Ops soldier escapes, believing he is Viktor Dragunov, the Russian operative from the 80’s thriller novel, Attack on America. To capture him, the Feds turn to the person uniquely qualified to predict his next moves, the man who created the fictional character, best-selling author Mathias King. 

Now a reclusive English professor, King is reluctant to get involved, having sworn off the culture of violence after a deranged fan murdered his wife. But when innocent people start dying, King is thrust back into that dark world. With help from his enthusiastic graduate assistant Emily Phan, King must outsmart his own creation—while outmaneuvering the cover-up-loving Feds—before Dragunov succeeds in his hell-bent mission.

To destroy America.

About the Author:

Alan Orloff’s debut mystery, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, was an Agatha Award finalist, and his most recent novels are the thrillers RUNNING FROM THE PAST and PRAY FOR THE INNOCENT.

His short fiction has appeared in numerous publications, including JEWISH NOIR, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, CHESAPEAKE CRIMES: STORM WARNING, Mystery Weekly, NOIR AT THE SALAD BAR, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, SNOWBOUND: BEST NEW ENGLAND CRIME STORIES 2017, THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD, and MYSTERY MOST GEOGRAPHICAL. His story, “Rule Number One” (SNOWBOUND, Level Best Books), was selected for the 2018 edition of THE BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES anthology, edited by Louise Penny.

Alan lives in Northern Virginia and teaches fiction-writing at The Writer’s Center (Bethesda, MD). He loves cake and arugula, but not together.

Follow him here:  Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website


Cole Tanner eyed the back door of the generic warehouse, willing his heartbeat to slow. It was one of the less lethal talents he’d picked up during his years of training, both in the classroom and in the field, but one of the handier ones. He’d realized, somewhere around the fourth or fifth assignment, that it was a lot tougher to kill people if your pulse was pounding like a drum at an AC/DC concert. Somehow, though, he didn’t think he’d have any trouble with today’s target.

He’d waited until 0900 to begin the operation. Everyone needed to be in place—the timing was critical. From his car, parked behind an abandoned building, it was a straight shot through the hole he’d cut in the chain-link boundary fence and across the warehouse’s back parking lot to the rear service door, about forty yards away. Tanner figured it would take Gosberg about sixty seconds to reach the car. A little less if he sensed trouble.

He agonized over his decision to go through with it. Peter Gosberg was a good man, a truly decent man, whose goal was to make other people’s lives better. Gosberg was also a fine brother-in-law. His fine brother-in-law. When Tanner first met him, he’d seemed a little high-strung and a lot humorless. But once he’d gotten to know him better, Tanner realized Gosberg possessed many of the same qualities his Janie did, just in a male manifestation: compassion, intelligence, loyalty.

Over the years, they’d spent a fair amount of time together, drinking beer and shooting the shit. Talking about politics, vacations, Gosberg’s cutting-edge research. Two government drones on different sides of the coin. Research and Operations. A symbiotic relationship.

Tanner glanced at the syringe sitting on the center console of his rental car. Throughout his productive career, he’d eliminated a lot of people in a lot of ways. Some creative, some gruesome, almost all with torturous efficiency. Whatever the mission called for, he’d deliver. On time. Excellent results. Tanner hadn’t risen to the top echelon of wet work operatives by playing coy. The US government might be incompetent at many things, but training field ops to carry out their missions wasn’t one of them. They had it down to a science. And he’d taken to the training with the fervent dedication seen in the most effective killing machines.

Unfortunately, the eighteen years in various special ops units had taken its toll on Tanner’s “machine.” He was leaking oil with every passing mile, misfiring on more than a couple of cylinders. Rusting out from the inside. Just about totaled. The army shrinks called it PTSD, an affliction common in Gulf War vets. They’d written a prescription for rest and therapy, and he’d tried both, but neither had managed to dent his all-consuming anguish.

He’d been suffering from it for years—the debilitating feelings of despair, the crippling I’m-just-a-piece-of-worthless-shit thought spiral. Tanner referred to it as the Big Black Vortex. A deepening, darkening abyss that sucked you down, farther and farther, until you could no longer see the surface. And you knew—simply knew—you’d never see topside again. Too far gone. Worst of all, the Vortex eliminated all traces of hope. No escape. No mercy. No comfort. Not unless you took the ultimate step.

Cole Tanner was not afraid to kill. He also was not afraid to die.

Tanner had given a lot of thought to today’s mission. It would serve everyone’s purpose. Except Janie’s, of course. Poor sweet Janie. As his superiors so often reminded him, collateral damage sometimes couldn’t be helped.

Pray for the innocent and pass the ammo.

Tanner made sure the car doors were unlocked. He held up the syringe and tapped it lightly with his forefinger, then took a deep breath and punched a few buttons on his phone.

The call got picked up after the first ring. “Hello, Pete. It’s Cole.”

“Hey, man, how are you?”

For a moment, Tanner thought about scrubbing the mission. Surprising Janie with his return to the States. Having a burger and a cold one. But the Big Black Vortex wouldn’t ever let go. Never. Unless . . . “Pete. I need your help.”

“What’s wrong? Jane okay?” A waver in Gosberg’s steely voice.

“She’s fine.”

“Where are you?”

No one knew Tanner had returned to the US. No one knew where he’d been lately, either. He’d bounced around from Afghanistan to Iraq to Libya most recently, but before he’d deployed he’d told everyone he’d be out of circulation for a while, no specifics. They knew what that meant. No more questions. “Actually, I’m nearby. Listen, I need your help. It’s important. Urgent, in fact.”

“What’s going on?”

“You need to come out the back door of your building. Cross the parking lot. Peel back a hole in the fence. I’m in a white rental parked next to a rusted-out dumpster. I’m the only one here, so I shouldn’t be hard to find. But come quickly.”

“What the hell—”

“Take care, Pete.” Tanner disconnected the call and felt through the material of his shirt pocket to make sure the vial was still there. Reassured, he picked up the syringe with a steady hand. Once it found its mark, death would be quick.

Forty seconds later, the back door of the warehouse swung open. Tanner made sure Gosberg was coming his way before he put things into motion. He’d broken his arm and both legs before and had suffered lacerations requiring fifty stitches, but the sight of a tiny needle in his arm always made him queasy. Just another one of God’s inexplicable jokes.

When Gosberg was halfway across the parking lot, Tanner found a vein on his forearm, jabbed the needle in, and depressed the plunger. Who was this joke going to be on, Tanner thought, him or God?
Finally, mercifully, the Big Black Vortex loosened its grip on Cole Tanner’s soul.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for letting me visit today, Chandra! Love your site!