Books

MELTDOWN (2012) is a thriller about a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant in the midwestern United States by “sovereign citizen” militia groups for reasons that are never entirely clear. To avoid the use of this text as any kind of inspiration or planning document, it is set in an alternative “what if” universe in the late 1990s and none of the security requirements nor even the plant itself is based upon real-world conditions. It is intended as an entertainment.

The heroes are the security officers who protect the plant and their new, inexperienced boss, a corporate official imposed on them to cut costs. The guy caught in the middle of the action is Jimmy Berger, an aging hippie, with significant attitude and advanced degrees in engineering and computer science, who knows everything about how the plant runs that can be known. It is his life and his passion. He is kidnapped by the terrorists and interrogated. His disappearance puts the security force on high alert and the attack is frustrated by a combination of Berger’s guile and security’s intense preparations for the day they hoped would never come. Currently, this book is available in e-book form as a “beta” or preview edition.  Also available on Nook at Barnes and Noble.

THE QUEEN OF WASHINGTON (2011) begins in 1850 and explores Rose Greenhow’s possible actions to support Southern secession and divide the nation, something also sought by the French and British, who wanted to frustrate Manifest Destiny and the possibility that the United States would become a Great Power. Rose’s involvement with Joseph Limantour and the land claims that the Federal District Court later declared “the most audacious frauds in history” are but a preamble to her organization of a spy ring even before the Civil War was declared, and her provision of key military plans obtained from her lovers to the Confederate Army. These enabled the South’s victory at Manassas in July 1861, and soon led to her arrest and imprisonment by Allan Pinkerton. She then underwent an ordeal at Union hands that ruined her health before finally being released the next year and sent to Richmond. This is where the second book in the series ends.

The third book will resume the story of Belle Boyd, her promotion to Captain of Scouts and her work with John S. Mosby and J.E.B Stuart. It will also recount Antonia Ford’s spying career and how she helped Mosby capture a Union Brigadier General in Fairfax Court House one night in March 1863, where she met the Union Army intelligence officer who would eventually become her husband.

RISK ANALYSIS (2009) This is an “adults only” story.   A few weeks after the 9/11 attacks a high-level security consultant en route from a family visit in Atlanta to Chicago and then Los Angeles finds himself seated next to Tammy, an attractive younger woman who turns out to be an unhappy housewife returning to a marriage and husband she wants to shed.  As they get to Chicago, a huge thunderstorm closes O’Hara Field.  All connecting flights are cancelled.  He has a hotel to go to.  She does not.  Considerable sexual tension has developed between them. They are two lonely people who have met by chance.  Is offering her shelter a risk he is willing to take?  Can a one-night stand become more than that?

THE SHENANDOAH SPY (2008) is an exciting fast-based historical espionage thriller about the first year of Confederate Army spy and scout Belle Boyd’s career. Belle was a 17-year-old girl in Martinsburg, Virginia, when Union militia troops invaded to put down the nascent rebellion by the southern states. Already dedicated to the Southern cause, she was outraged when a squad of drunken solders from Pennsylvania invaded her home on July 4, 1861; they abused her, her mother, and their servants, and tried to force them to raise a Union flag over their home. Belle shot one of them dead and drove the rest from the house, which they then tried to set afire. Union authorities intervened and the local Union commander released her and excused the death of one of one of his men as justifiable homicide.

Belle then decided to take a more direct role in the conflict, and applied to Turner Ashby, commander of the 7th Virginia Cavalry, to become a spy, while trying to send him military information. Ashby resisted at first, but later, after Belle had served as a nurse and then as a courier between Confederate Army headquarters, relented and accepted her as a member of his unit, and used her to scout enemy positions. Later he sent her to Front Royal where she operated, primarily with the help of local servants (the majority of them slaves), a spy ring against the Union Army headquarters of General Banks.

Conveniently, the headquarters was located in a hotel owned by her uncle, where she was working and living. She became romantically involved with a naive Union Army staff Captain recruited from the Papal Guard. Daniel Keily was the planner for Union Army maneuvers designed the trap and destroy Stonewall Jackson’s army in the Shenandoah Valley. Belle learned of a briefing he was to give on the plan and listened in from a room above. She then rode fifteen miles in the middle of the night to alert Turner Ashby to the plan and managed to return, undetected, the next morning. Tasked with finding additional intelligence, she then traveled to Winchester to coordinate plans with the local Confederate Secret Service chief. Returning to Front Royal, she was able to further assist Jackson when he surprised the Union Army there on May 23rd, 1862, by running across the battlefield under fire to give him a last minute report on the Union Army positions, which were very weak. Jackson was able to rout Union forces and drive them back sixty miles, into Maryland, but his outnumbered and exhausted army could not hold their gains and the Union Army was back in Front Royal a week later. Belle continued to spy on them and was arrested by the Union Secret Service.

This is the end of the first book in the series, which will continue to tell the tale of her and other Confederate Secret Service agents and the extraordinary actions they took as patriots for a cause that was doomed to fail and was on the wrong side of History.

LAST-CALL-TIGER-BAR (2007) This is an “adults only” story that takes place a few months after the Tet Offensive in the best known and steam-bath bar in the Mekong Delta.  Two enlisted men from a specialized aviation company that does Airborne Radio Direction Finding (ARDF) missions have the decided to try to capture a Viet Cong Colonel on their own, with the help the MP platoon leader.  One of them, an operator, knows the man’s voice but not his face, and he is scheduled to meet someone at this bar, which is run by a hard-eyed Vietnamese-French madam.  The MP platoon leader is romantically involved with one of the girls and has not been fully read in to the mission.  The narrator is more than the clerk he pretends to be.  Before the night is done, someone is killed.  (Francis Hamit served in such a unit in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969, but was never a counter-intelligence agent. This is a work of imagination.)

SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (1998) Jack Halliday is a former soldier and current graduate student in Industrial Anthropology working in the Chicago suburbs as an Area Captain for a large security firm.  He supervises over 200 guards at two dozen large accounts.  On this day he is trying to determine why two of his officers have been booted from the firm’s smallest, oldest, and most profitable account, and whether or not the account, which only runs on some weekends in the summer, should even be retained.  It is a private park on a lake,  run by two brothers who don’t like each other, and has a number of problems and requirements that really need more than two guards to handle.  His other guard, George, is his least able Lieutenant.  He has a nasty confrontation with three drunks who turn out to be Chicago PD officers.   In the midst of this routine day, a little boy goes missing.  Tragedy ensues. (Francis Hamit spent 1977 as a Guard Captain in the Chicago suburbs.  This story is intended as the first in a series of stories that will each stand alone but also comprise a complete novel.)

BUYING RETAIL (1996) Arthur Gordon Grant is an actor with a day job he hates. He is a “shopper” or retail investigator, the lowest position in the private investigation field.  Several days a week he and a partner ride around the greater Los Angeles area and test retail clerks for accuracy and honesty.  Usually his partner is Julio, a hateful Hispanic, but one day he gets a new partner and a promotion.  His new partner is Cindy, a beautiful blonde dancer recovering from an injury.  While training her, he discovers a secret about her, and together they discover a beleaguered retail clerk who is being persecuted by a vengeful manager.  If they step up and really investigate what is going on, they risk getting fired.  Gordon’s pride and sense of self leads him to take the risk and draw Cindy in with him.  (This story is based on the author’s experience with what he calls “the worst job I ever had”.) This story was originally published in The Red Rock Review, a literary magazine in Las Vegas.

NIGHTHAWKS (2003) The second Gordon Grant story.  Gordon and Cindy, having been fired for doing the right thing, have moved on to a private detective agency run by a retired LAPD Captain and aspiring actor.  One night in Hollywood they mount an elaborate surveillance on a newsstand frequented by a producer who is hiding from his bankers to avoid being served legal papers. He’s a tricky guy to find, having started as a make-up artist. He is a master of disguise who has taught CIA agents how to conceal their features.  Gordon, who was once a famous child star, knows this man personally and blames him for his mother’s early death and his own loss of fortune.  He views the service of papers as more than just a job and he knows the man well.  He was once Gordon’s step-father.

RESTRAINING ORDER (2005) The third Gordon Grant story.  Gordon, who has worked as a bouncer in strip clubs, and once was married to a dancer with a multiple-personality disorder (she’s literally two women in one body), is asked by his ex-wife to help out another dancer who is being stalked and threatened by a man who hides himself well but seems able to find her, no matter where she goes. His partner Cindy tell him it’s a bad idea but he tracks the man down anyway.  He also, against all common sense and advice from Cindy to the contrary, becomes romantically involved with the victim. It doesn’t end well.  (Some scenes of sexuality.  Not recommended for sensitive readers, especially children.)

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