Great Historicals

Author and Top 500 Amazon Canada reviewer Mirella Patzer, of Great Historicals’ Historical Fiction Book Reviews, has this to say about our new release novel WHITE SPIRIT:

Lance and James Morcan love to write books about aboriginal peoples of the world. Their novels always intrigue me with their blend of historical fact and fiction. White Spirit is my favorite of all their novels so far.

It is a brutal, no-holds-barred retelling of the true story of Australia’s notorious Moreton Bay Penal and the one prisoner who successfully escaped and eluded capture for decades – a man named Graham.
The story takes from the harsh conditions of the penal settlement to the brutality of the aboriginals and their daily lives. The book is very long – about the length of a trilogy – but I can see why it is important for the tale to be told in one book as opposed to three. The best way to describe this novel is disturbing, brutal, honest, and unputdownable. It is real, very, very real with fascinating characters at the helm. Very highly recommended! Both men and women will enjoy the story.
The entire review can be seen at the Great Historicals blog site at:  http://greathistoricals.blogspot.co.nz/

White Spirit (A novel based on a true story)

 

WHITE SPIRIT (A novel based on a true story)  is exclusive to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/White-Spirit-novel-based-story-ebook/dp/B01LWIRH9J/

 

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The paperback edition of our controversial book THE CATCHER IN THE RYE ENIGMA: J.D. Salinger’s Mind Control Triggering Device or a Coincidental Literary Obsession of Criminals? (The Underground Knowledge Series, #4)  has been published.

 

The Catcher in the Rye Enigma: J.D. Salinger's Mind Control Triggering Device or a Coincidental Literary Obsession of Criminals? (The Underground Knowledge Series Book 4)

Paperback edition launched.

 

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE ENIGMA  unearths the mysteries surrounding the J.D. Salinger’s 1951 novel The Catcher in the Rye – arguably the most controversial book of all time. Nicknamed the ‘Bible of teenage angst’, the classic novel, which is frequently labeled immoral by different groups, has been banned in various parts of America over the decades. However, the main controversy, and indeed the most common reason for it being banned, was that it either inspired or was associated with some of the most infamous crimes of the 20th Century…

This balanced exposé ultimately leaves it up to you, the reader, to decide whether J.D. Salinger’s novel is a “Mind Control Triggering Device” or simply a “Coincidental Literary Obsession of Criminals” just as this book’s subtitle suggests.

 

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE ENIGMA  is available as a paperback and Kindle ebook via Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0473380498/

 

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By the mid-1800’s, Fiji has become a melting pot of cannibals, warring native tribes, sailors, traders, prostitutes, escaped convicts and all manner of foreign undesirables. It’s in this hostile environment an innocent young Englishwoman and a worldly American adventurer find themselves in FIJI: A NOVEL (The World Duology, #2).

 

Fiji: A Novel (The World Duology Book 2)

 

Prologue

A Fijian maiden stooped to pick up a shell as she walked along a white sand beach at Momi Bay, on the western side of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. Sina had a natural island beauty. Lithe and graceful, her dark skin glistened in the tropical sun. She wore a traditional grass skirt and shawl made from tapa, or bark cloth.

The beach was bordered by a grove of coconut trees and the turquoise waters of the bay. Tropical birds filled the sky—among them Kingfishers that dived into the sea, competing for fish.

At one end of the beach, a distinctive headland protruded out into the Pacific. It accommodated a village whose entrance was marked by defensive fortifications in the form of bamboo palisades. The village was home to the Qopa, the region’s predominant mataqali, or clan.

Out in the bay, Qopa fishermen speared fish and cast nets from their canoes. Beyond them, foaming surf marked the reef that ringed much of Viti Levu. The constant sound of waves crashing against the reef was like the boom of distant thunder.

Several miles beyond the reef, a ship sailed by, her sails billowing as she was pushed along ahead of a light southerly. Sina and the other villagers paid scant attention to the vessel: they’d become used to the comings and goings of the white man’s ships.

The maiden noticed the shadows were lengthening. It was time to think about returning to the village. She smiled as squealing village children playing at the water’s edge splashed one another, white teeth sparkling against their black skin. Like all Fijian children, they seemed to wear permanent smiles.

Sina stopped to pick up another shell, dropping it into a woven flax bag hanging from her shoulder. Humming a traditional lullaby to herself, she was unaware a tall, muscular warrior was watching her impassively from the shadows of the coconut grove. Standing motionless, the sinister warrior held a musket in one hand. Only his coal-black eyes moved—his heavily tattooed, battle-scarred face adding to his air of silent menace.

This was Rambuka, also known as the Outcast, the charismatic leader of a tribe of cannibals feared by villagers up and down the coast. Rambuka’s eyes subconsciously widened as he studied Sina. He liked what he saw. Finally, he moved, gliding soundlessly among the palm trees like a spirit as he stalked his prey.

Still singing, Sina bent down to study an unusual shell. A sudden movement to her left caught her eye and she looked up to see Rambuka rushing toward her, musket in hand. She recognized him immediately. Screaming, she turned to flee, but had barely taken a step before her assailant was onto her, dragging her back to the trees. Startled by her screams, the children ran toward the village, shouting.

Terrified, Sina lashed out and twisted around, trying to bite her attacker. Rambuka slapped her hard, momentarily stunning her. Everything started spinning and Sina felt as if she might faint. Effortlessly hoisting her over his shoulder, the Outcast began running inland.

Behind them, Qopa warriors came running from the nearby village, alerted by the children’s screams. Most carried clubs or spears, while some had tomahawks they’d acquired from white traders. Nearly all were tattooed about the arms, legs and torso. The warriors were led by Joeli, son of the village ratu, or chief.

A big, powerful man, Joeli’s proud bearing and intelligent eyes were clues to his royal bloodlines. Bone earrings hung from his ears and a huge, intricately-carved, whale bone club dangled from a cord around his waist, a dozen human teeth inlaid around its head testament to how many men he’d killed in battle. Most striking, however, was his massive hairstyle. Nearly two feet high and even wider across, it was dyed blue with yellow stripes through it. Earlier treatment with burnt lime juice would ensure it remained stiffened in place for a few more days at least.

Some of Joeli’s warriors wore equally flamboyant hairstyles—many dyed a bright color and some even multi-colored; several sported hairstyles of a geometric shape while the orange-dyed hair atop one proud warrior was all of six feet in circumference. Such weird and wonderful styles could be seen on men throughout Fiji and were worn as a symbol of masculinity and social standing.

The frightened children all talked at once and pointed down the beach. Joeli led his warriors to the spot the children had indicated and there two sets of tracks were immediately visible in the sand. He turned, grim-faced, to his warriors. “It could only be the Outcast,” he decreed.

A fine-looking young warrior with a distinctive birthmark on his forehead and a zany, geometric hairstyle asked, “Who has he taken?” This was Waisale, a close friend of Joeli’s.

Joeli looked down, avoiding his friend’s eyes. He suspected that Rambuka had abducted Sina, but didn’t want to say as much until it was confirmed. It was common knowledge Waisale and Sina were lovers.

A sense of foreboding suddenly came over Waisale as he studied the footprints that Rambuka and his captive had left behind. “Sina!” he murmured. Without another word, Waisale sprinted into the coconut grove, following the tracks into the dense rainforest beyond. The others ran hard on his heels.

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Dusk was approaching and Sina was near exhaustion when the Outcast finally stopped running, allowing her to briefly rest and drink from a shallow stream. Their flight had taken them into the forest-covered hills above Momi Bay.

Scratches and bruises covered Sina’s face and body, and she winced as she splashed water over her face. Aware of Rambuka’s reputation and knowing what fate awaited her, she looked frantically around, her mind racing, desperate to find a way out of her predicament.

Rambuka grabbed her by the arm. Sina shrank back, expecting to be raped. Instead, she was dragged into the water. Her heart sank as the Outcast began pulling her along upstream, leaving no tracks for anyone to follow. The realization was setting in that Rambuka wasn’t merely intending to rape her—he was abducting her. Her skin crawled at the thought.

A quarter of a mile behind, Joeli and his warriors followed their quarries’ tracks. With night approaching, they knew they were running out of time. Waisale led the chase, desperate to save Sina. However, as Rambuka had intended, the tracks ended at the stream. In the fading light, Waisale ran up and down the bank, frustrated at the dearth of signs to follow.

Joeli shook his head. “The Outcast is taking her to the Land of Red Rain,” he said simply. His tone suggested the dye was cast; there was no saving Sina now. Joeli and the others reluctantly turned and began retracing their steps back to the village.

Waisale stayed behind, looking east toward the highlands of the interior. He knew the land Joeli had referred to lay beyond those same highlands. Exactly where the outcasts were hiding wasn’t known. They moved around constantly, using various hideouts. Many a raiding party had set out from Momi Bay to try to find their enemies in the past, but the land was rugged and the outcasts hid their tracks well.

Pain and anger rose up like bile in Waisale’s throat. He vowed he’d go to the Land of Red Rain and rescue Sina.

 

Product Details

 

FIJI: A NOVEL (The World Duology, #2)  is exclusive to Amazon and is available as a paperback and Kindle ebook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0057YCZM0/

 

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Set in the nineteenth century, World Odyssey (The World Duology, #1)  follows the fortunes of three young travelers as each embarks on an epic journey. Their dramatic adventures span sixteen years and see them engage with Native American Indians, Barbary Coast pirates, Aborigines, Maoris and Pacific Islanders as they travel around the world – from America to Africa, from England to the Canary Islands, to Australia, New Zealand and Samoa.

 

World Odyssey (The World Duology Book 1)

Prologue

Summer, 1832

Alone in his father’s study, young Philadelphian Nathan Johnson surveyed the lavishly furnished but slightly musty room. His keen eyes rested momentarily on the titles of some of the hundreds of books lining the shelves behind his father’s desk. Many had a nautical theme, alluding to the occupation of the absent Captain Benjamin Johnson.

The boy never tired of being in his father’s study and often ventured into it even though Johnson Senior had made it clear the study was out of bounds whenever he was away.

Although physically absent for the moment, his father was present in a sense: a recent portrait painting of the forty-year-old captain hung on the far wall. Dark, curly, shoulder-length hair framed his unsmiling but still youthful face. The ruggedly handsome Johnson Senior had the appearance of someone who didn’t suffer fools. His startlingly blue eyes seemed to bore into Nathan’s as the boy studied the painting.

Nathan couldn’t know it, but he was looking at a mirror image of himself in later years. Even at the tender age of ten he was already a chip off the old block. Tall for his age, he was more mature than his schoolmates, and more serious, too.

Sounds of children’s laughter drifted in through an open window. His two older sisters and their friends were making the most of a sunny day after several days of constant rain. From the kitchen downstairs, the clink of crockery could be heard as the maid cleared away the breakfast dishes.

Nathan switched his attention to a faded world map hanging alongside the painting. A dotted line connecting North America’s west coast and the coast of mainland China showed where his father had journeyed on his latest expedition. Johnson Senior was a successful trader whose latest enterprise had involved trading goods to the Native Americans for their prized sea otter furs. He had transported those same furs to China where they fetched huge prices.

The thought of sailing to some exotic destination thrilled Nathan to the core. He lived for the day he was old enough to go to sea. Meanwhile, he contented himself studying the world map and dreaming of far-off places.

So engrossed was he, he didn’t hear his father arrive home from town. It wasn’t until the study door burst open and Johnson Senior strode in that Nathan realized he was in trouble.

When Johnson Senior saw Nathan, he turned livid. He grabbed his son by the hair and began cuffing him hard about the head.

Johnson Senior’s mood wasn’t helped by the fact he’d been drinking and gambling since the previous night, and had lost a considerable amount of money. As a man of means, it was money he could afford to lose, but that hadn’t helped dampen his already foul temper.

Nathan could tell his father had been drinking. He could smell the whisky fumes on his breath, and Johnson Senior was unsteady on his feet and slurring his words as he cursed and beat the son he wished he’d never had.

Determined to remain staunch, Nathan bit his lip to stop from crying out. This further infuriated his father who removed his belt and began flailing the boy with all his considerable strength. The belt’s buckle cut into Nathan’s bare arm and drew blood.

As Nathan covered up as best he could to protect himself, he fixed his gaze on a portrait painting of his mother hanging on the near wall. It gave him strength. The painting was the work of one of Philadelphia’s leading artists and it captured pretty Charlotte Johnson as she was in her early twenties. There was a quiet determination in her sparkling brown eyes.

Charlotte was the mother Nathan had never known for she had died giving birth to him ten years earlier.

The beating ended as quickly as it had begun when Johnson Senior pushed the boy from the study and slammed the door shut after him.

Now alone at the top of the first floor landing, Nathan swore he’d run away from home as soon as he was old enough.

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At that very moment, across the Atlantic in England, little Susannah Drake was playing with dolls and other girlie things while watching two white swans that had taken up residency in the lily pond behind her Methodist clergyman father’s rectory in the affluent west London district of Kensington.

The cute, red-headed, six-year-old closed her eyes to protect them from the bright sunlight reflecting off the pond’s surface. When she reopened them, one of the swans had paddled to within an arm’s length of her at the pond’s edge, causing her to jump back in surprise. Swan and child stared at each other for a second or two before the majestic bird paddled off to rejoin his mate.

On the lawn behind Susannah, her father Reverend Brian Drake was chatting to visiting members of his congregation while her mother, Jeanette, served Devonshire tea. It was a very English scene.

Jeanette, a pretty but frail woman, called out to Susannah who promptly skipped over to join her parents. Jumping up onto her father’s knee, she licked the strawberry jam off one of her mother’s famous scones as Drake Senior talked to the other adults.

Susannah amused herself as the conversation turned to the missionary work the Methodist Church was engaged in, in far-off places. Drake Senior expressed a desire to become a missionary one day. Jeanette didn’t seem to share her husband’s enthusiasm for missionary work and quickly changed the subject.

Finding the adult conversation boring, Susannah jumped off her father’s knee and ran back down to the lily pond. She laughed delightedly when the two swans paddled to the pond’s edge to greet her. Her laughter turned to screams as one of the swans waddled up onto the lawn and proceeded to chase after her, hissing. It seemed the swan was intent on securing the remains of the scone Susannah was still holding.

Chuckling at his daughter’s predicament, Drake Senior advised Susannah to give the swan what it wanted. Although frightened, Susannah refused to back down. She rammed the remains of the scone into her mouth and shooed her tormentor away. Beaten, the swan gave up and waddled back to the pond.

The adults laughed and commented how cute Susannah was. Drake Senior and Jeanette observed their daughter with pride. Not for the first time, she had demonstrated that, despite her angelic appearance, she was not easily intimidated.

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Several miles away, in southeast London, sixteen-year-old Jack Halliday was traipsing from door to door looking for work in the capital’s busy dockyards. The Cockney’s spirits were uncharacteristically low. Since his mother had kicked him out of the family home two weeks earlier, he’d been job-hunting without success.

Back in the East End, Jack had a reputation for being a lovable larrikin. Shorter than average and not especially good looking, the curly-haired lad nevertheless had a mischievous face and engaging personality which generally endeared him to others. Generally because his cheeky manner ensured he had his share of enemies too. Any who underestimated him did so at their own risk. He never took a backward step and he compensated for his lack of height by fighting with all the fury of a pitbull.

The shadows were lengthening when Jack arrived at Sullivan’s Foundry, a large establishment next to the River Thames. Having experienced around twenty rejections from prospective employers that day, he had to force himself to adopt his normally cheerful disposition as he entered the noisy foundry. The fact he hadn’t eaten in two days gave him extra motivation. He desperately needed to earn some money. If he didn’t land a job soon, he knew he’d have to find money via other means.

Approaching the front office, Jack was suddenly confronted by a big, bad-tempered man who demanded to know what he wanted. The young Cockney guessed, correctly, the man was the foundry owner, Henry Sullivan. When Jack explained he wanted a job, Sullivan advised him he wasn’t in the habit of employing runts and ordered him off the property.

Jack stood his ground, his perceptive green eyes flashing with anger. The look wasn’t missed by Sullivan who decided to put him to the test. He’d recently laid off an apprentice blacksmith who hadn’t measured up, so Jack’s interest in a job was timely. Pointing to a thirty-foot long steel shaft resting on the floor nearby, Sullivan challenged the young Cockney to lift it up onto a shelf that was just above Jack’s head.

Without hesitating, Jack bent down to lift the shaft. He suddenly realized every eye in the foundry was on him. Taking a deep breath, he managed to straighten up while holding the shaft, but when he tried to lift it up onto the shelf it fell to the floor with a mighty clang. Several onlookers chuckled at his misfortune.

Unimpressed, Sullivan turned his back on Jack and returned to his office.

To the surprise of those still watching, Jack prepared to make another attempt. This time, he put everything into it and, to the resounding cheers of the assembled, managed to hoist the steel shaft up onto the shelf just as Sullivan re-emerged from his office. Suitably impressed, the proprietor immediately hired Jack as an apprentice.

Mindful of the hunger pangs that were now causing frequent tummy rumbles, Jack tried to negotiate his first week’s pay in advance. Tightwad Sullivan agreed to pay him two days in advance on condition that he put in some extra hours unpaid. Jack reluctantly agreed. At least now he could afford a square meal.

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Jack Halliday, Susannah Drake and Nathan Johnson had no way of knowing their paths would cross one day; their destinies were integrally linked. Fate and the unfathomable twists and turns of life would eventually throw them together on the far side of the world in a place some called the Cannibal Isles.

 

Product Details

 

World Odyssey (The World Duology, #1)  is exclusive to Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/World-Odyssey-Duology-1-ebook/dp/B00HHVOMO0/

 

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In this explosive conclusion to The Orphan Trilogy, the ninth-born orphan’s dramatic story resumes five years after book one, The Ninth Orphan, ends.

 

The Orphan Uprising (The Orphan Trilogy Book 3)

THE ORPHAN UPRISING (The Orphan Trilogy, #3)

 

Chapter 1

A man and a small boy knelt before a large, golden Buddha statue inside a temple and recited an affirmation in well-practiced unison.

“I am a free man and a polymath. Whatever I set my mind to, I always achieve. The limitations that apply to the rest of humanity, Do not apply to me.”

A hundred flickering candles added to the tranquility of the setting. They’d been lovingly prepared by an elderly Buddhist monk who sat cross-legged just inside the temple door as he waited for his two guests to finish their devotions.

The distant sound of children playing outside carried to them on a gentle tropical breeze. Unfortunately, the breeze did little to alleviate the humidity, which was already oppressive even though the sun had not long risen. The temple’s occupants were drenched in sweat, but they were used to it: heat and humidity were part of everyday life in the Pacific Islands.

Finally, the guests arose and walked hand in hand toward the exit. The man was Sebastian Hannar, or Number Nine  as he’d been unceremoniously labeled by the Omega Agency when he was brought into the world thirty-six eventful years ago; the boy was his five-year-old son Francis. They enjoyed the temple’s peaceful atmosphere and the togetherness they experienced within its confines, and so such visits had become a regular occurrence of late.

The affirmation they’d just recited was similar to one that Nine had been forced to recite every day of his life alongside the other twenty-two orphans raised at Omega’s Pedemont Orphanage in Riverdale, Chicago. Since breaking free of the agency five years earlier, Nine had changed the affirmation’s opening line from I am an Omegan and a polymath  to I am a free man and a polymath.

Although the affirmation reminded him of a past he’d rather forget, it also served to remind him that not everything he’d experienced at the orphanage had been bad, and many of the lessons learned could be applied to everyday life.

As father-and-son approached, the elderly, bald-headed monk stood to receive them. Luang Alongkot Panchan, a native of Thailand, couldn’t help thinking how alike Nine and Francis were. Living in the tropics had darkened their skin so that they were hard to distinguish from the Marquesas Islanders who made up the bulk of the population in this remote corner of French Polynesia.

When the pair reached Luang, they bowed to him. He and Nine exchanged pleasantries. The ninth-born orphan treated the kindly monk with respect bordering on reverence. He viewed Luang as his adopted spiritual master.

Nine’s startling green eyes locked with Luang’s all-knowing eyes. There was much between them that was unsaid. Over the years, they’d come to know each other so well they could communicate without even speaking. Nine felt it was as if his friend could look into his innermost being and know him better than he knew himself.

Luang could see that Francis was straining to get outside and play, so he stepped aside and smiled at Nine. “Remain in light, my friend,” Luang said, bowing deeply with hands clasped in prayer.

“And you, my friend,” Nine said responding in kind.

The former orphan-operative allowed Francis to pull him by the hand outside. Though it was still early morning, the sun’s rays hit them like a furnace, serving as a rude reminder how hot it could get in the islands.

A cluster of frangipani trees some fifty yards away beckoned them, and the pair hurried toward the trees and the heavily pregnant woman who waited for them in the shade. She was Nine’s French-born mixed-race wife Isabelle, the mother of Francis.

“Race you!” Francis challenged his father.

“You’re on!” Nine said. “On three. One, two–”

The boy knew this game well and set off before Nine finished counting.

“Three, go!” Nine said. “Hey!” He took after his son whose athletic little legs were pumping like pistons. Nine quickly made up the lost ground, but slowed to make a race of it.

By now Francis was shrieking with laughter, alerting his mom to the imminent arrival of the two favorite men in her life.

“Faster, Francis!” Isabelle shouted in French.

Before the boy could reach his mom, Nine scooped him up with one arm and collapsed, panting, beside Isabelle. They were all laughing now.

As soon as he’d regained his breath, Nine kissed his wife tenderly. “Miss me?” he asked in English. As they’d done since first meeting, they effortlessly switched between English and French whenever they conversed with each other.

“Yes and so did our daughter,” Isabelle chuckled, rubbing her pregnant belly. This time she, too, spoke English, but there was no hiding the strong French inflection.

Nine placed his palm on her belly and immediately felt the baby kick. At the same time, he observed his wife lovingly. What a goddess. He never tired of her beauty. Thirty-three-year-old Isabelle’s French-African heritage combined with her strong accent gave her an exoticness that excited him even in her current state. Nine was convinced she looked more radiant than ever. It was obvious that motherhood and years of island living agreed with her.

“I’m thirsty,” Francis announced, breaking the mood.

Isabelle laughed and immediately produced a tumbler of freshly squeezed pineapple juice from a cooler, which the thirsty boy gulped down.

Squeals of delight carried to them from a nearby grove of coconut trees. Local island children were playing tag while their mothers looked on. The children didn’t seem to notice the heat. Beyond them, fishermen could be seen casting their nets into the turquoise waters of the bay. It was an idyllic scene so typical of this part of the world.

Francis recognized a couple of the children. “Can I go play, mama?”

“Of course you can, but don’t outstay your welcome!” Isabelle chuckled in French.

Francis ran off to play. His doting parents watched as he unabashedly introduced himself to the children and joined in their play.

“He makes friends so easily,” Isabelle said.

“Yes he does,” Nine agreed. “He gets that from you.”

“And from you,” Isabelle countered.

Nine shook his head. “No he has made more friends in the past year than I did in the first thirty years of my life.”

“Well, there’s a good reason for that, my love.” Isabelle kissed him tenderly.

“I guess.” Nine smiled. His eyes were drawn to the ruby that hung from the silver necklace Isabelle wore. He had inherited it from the mother he’d never known and had given it to Isabelle as a declaration of his love for her.

Isabelle noticed the object of his attention and reflexively touched the ruby. For some reason, its touch brought her comfort, as it had Nine when he’d worn it.

“Well, I must love you and leave you,” Nine announced.

Isabelle watched as her husband donned a pair of running shoes in preparation for his daily training run. “Don’t overdo it in this heat,” she warned.

“No, mother.”

“I mean it, Sebastian!”

“Don’t worry.” Smiling mischievously, Nine set off at a gentle pace. As always, he would pick the pace up as soon as he was out of his wife’s sight.

Isabelle’s concern was not without good reason. Nine had developed a heart condition, which his specialist had diagnosed as a relatively common complaint called stenosis – a narrowing of one of the heart valves.

The former operative had become aware all was not well soon after he and Isabelle had arrived in the tropics from France. Chest pains had prompted him to seek professional advice. The specialist had prescribed physical activity and a heart-smart diet, but warned an operation would be required if Nine’s condition deteriorated. That had been four-and-a-half years ago, and so far so good. Sensible food and exercise had seen no recurrence of chest pains. Even so, Isabelle had insisted Nine keep to the recommended schedule of quarterly visits to the specialist. A major inconvenience considering the specialist was based in Tahiti, nearly a thousand miles away.

A caring Isabelle watched Nine as he jogged away. She noted for possibly the hundredth time how different he was to the man who had abducted her while on the run in Paris. Apart from a few gray hairs around the temple, she thought he looked as youthful and vibrant as ever. There was a certain calmness surrounding him – proof of the peace he’d found. Proof also that he’d finally banished the inner demons that had plagued him since his unusual and some would say abusive upbringing at the Pedemont Orphanage.

Once out of sight of Isabelle, Nine strode out. Though not in the same peak condition as when an elite operative with the Omega Agency, he was still a fine physical specimen – a shade over six foot and toned like an athlete. He moved like an athlete, too. Soon he was breathing hard and sweating even more profusely.

As he ran, Nine reflected on how content he was with his life. After many years as a virtual prisoner of the Omega Agency, constantly traveling the globe and killing at the whim of his Omega masters, he finally had the life he’d always wanted – a family and a normal existence. It was, he reminded himself, a far cry from the dark days working as an operative. An assassin more like it. He used to have nightmares about those days, but no more.

After he’d broken away from Omega, he and Isabelle had fled France and settled on an isolated and unoccupied island he’d inherited in the Marquesas Islands, effectively getting off the grid. Their stay there had been short-lived. The onset of Nine’s heart condition and other circumstances had conspired to prompt their relocation to the main settlement of Taiohae, on the island of Nuku Hiva, elsewhere in the Marquesas group.

A difficult pregnancy with Francis meant Isabelle had required ready access to medical assistance – assistance that wasn’t available on their former island paradise. And she and Nine also wanted Francis and any future offspring to receive proper schooling.

So the move to Taiohae had been almost inevitable. It had worked out for the best. The couple, who married soon after they relocated, had been readily accepted by the locals and had made many good friends. Francis had also adapted well to life at school. The boy spoke French and English equally well, and could even communicate with the islanders in their native tongue.

In material terms, life was treating the family pretty well, too. Some shrewd offshore investments had seen Nine increase his not-inconsiderable wealth several times over, so money wasn’t a problem.

Nine was following a well worn path that took him high into the steep hills overlooking Taiohae Bay. He could just make out his wife and son down near the waterfront. Francis was playing an impromptu game of soccer with his newfound friends while Isabelle and the other mothers sat in the shade, looking on.

The sweat was pouring off him as he ran up a steep incline. Sudden shortness of breath prompted him to slow to a walk. He thought nothing of it, putting it down to the heat. You’re getting old, Sebastian.

Still looking down at Taiohae Bay, he noticed an inflatable craft approaching the distant waterfront at speed. It was manned by two men and appeared to have come from a floatplane Nine had seen touch down on the water a short time earlier out in the bay. He watched as the inflatable nosed up onto the beach and two men jumped out. They began walking purposefully toward where Francis and the other children played.

Something about the pair bothered Nine. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but it didn’t seem right. Even from a distance, he could see the two weren’t your average tourists. Besides the dark sunglasses they wore, there wasn’t a camera, sun hat or beach towel in sight. They looked more like business executives in their white shirts and long, dark trousers. One even wore a tie.

Nine found himself growing apprehensive as he continued to watch the pair closely.

 

Product Details

 

THE ORPHAN UPRISING (The Orphan Trilogy, #3) is exclusive to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BFC66DM/

 

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An epic, atmospheric story that begins with twenty three genetically superior orphans being groomed to become elite spies in Chicago’s Pedemont Orphanage and concludes with a political assassination deep in the Amazon jungle.

 

The Orphan Factory (The Orphan Trilogy Book 2)

THE ORPHAN FACTORY (The Orphan Trilogy, #2)

 

Prologue

An old vagrant hummed tunelessly to himself as he warmed his bony hands over a fire he’d lit minutes earlier in a drum long since blackened by perhaps a hundred such fires. Certainly more fires than he, or any of his street cronies, could remember. He stopped humming when, across a busy thoroughfare, a gravel-voiced busker began reciting poetry.

“Stormy, husky, brawling,” the busker rumbled. “City of the big shoulders.” He was reciting verse from the works of hometown poet-made-good, Carl Sandburg. The poem was appropriately titled Chicago. “Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.” The busker, a long-haired Vietnam veteran whose only concession to his military past was his VSM service medal which he still wore with pride, looked directly at the old vagrant opposite.

The vagrant imagined the busker smiled at him, though he couldn’t be sure in the fading early evening light. Even so, he flashed a toothless grin in the other’s direction.

Soon, the old man was joined by half a dozen street pals. All homeless like him, they appeared like disheveled ghosts out of the shadows, attracted partly by the warmth of the fire and partly by the busker. They listened intently to the poet’s words that flowed effortlessly from the busker’s mouth. Words that painted images so vivid in their minds it was as if the men were watching a kaleidoscope of their own youth.

“Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,” the busker continued. “Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs.”

Several passersby paused to listen, but none bothered to drop a donation into the hat that lay at the busker’s feet. Finally, as the busker finished his recital, a business executive threw a quarter into the hat without breaking stride. Encouraged, the busker launched into another Sandberg poem.

Listening to the busker delivering further verses about his beloved Windy City, the old vagrant couldn’t help but note the irony: there wasn’t a breath of wind on this still Chicago evening.

The vagrant’s parents had always assured him the city’s misleading nickname had nothing to do with the weather. His mother had insisted the Windy City  label came from the longwinded speeches given by the city’s Nineteenth Century politicians, while his father claimed the moniker had been mischievously bestowed by competitive New Yorkers in their attempt to win the World Trade Fair of 1893.

To add to the contradictions, even though it was February, it was an unusually mild winter’s evening. The vagrants gathered around the fire warming their hands did so more out of habit than necessity on this occasion.

Chicago’s streets were busy and the mood downtown was fairly upbeat. President Jimmy Carter was due to visit the city and greater Illinois the following day. Word had spread: the President would be here soon, and come hell or high water he was going to receive a right, royal Illinois welcome.

As Chicagoans went about their business, hurrying home after a long day at the office or heading out to sample the city’s nightlife, none were remotely aware of the sinister, Nazi-like experiment taking place virtually under their noses.

Despite the experiment’s seventy five million dollar price tag, only a select few knew about it. Those in the know did not include the city’s Mayor or any state politicians; at Federal level, not even the President knew about it.

The experiment was taking place in a laboratory in the concealed basement of a renovated warehouse just off North Michigan Avenue. Seven pregnant women were in various stages of labor in the lab that served as a makeshift maternity hospital.

Like some Orwellian nightmare, the women were giving birth in clockwork-like fashion, almost in unison.

Small teams comprised of doctors and white-coated geneticists assisted the women. A specialist induced latecomers. In the lab’s far corner, two suited men looked on expectantly.

The numerous personnel in attendance were all in the employ of the Omega Agency, a recently formed and highly secretive outfit which would one day become the world’s most powerful shadow organization.

Supervising the eerie experiment was Omega’s own Doctor Frankenstein – better known as Doctor Pedemont, the brilliant biomedical scientist responsible for the radical science behind it. Over the past few years, with the help of his team of geneticists, Doctor Pedemont had painstakingly selected the fetus’ genes from thousands of sperm donations combined with the genes of his female subjects. The donations had come from another medical experiment referred to as the Genius Sperm Bank.

The motivation behind the Genius Sperm Bank, which had been initiated over a decade earlier, was to advance the breeding of super-intelligent people. The bank was stocked full of semen donations solicited from many of the world’s most intelligent men.

Benefiting from the efforts of some of Omega’s elite operatives, Doctor Pedemont had unlawfully obtained hundreds of samples from the Genius Sperm Bank. Then, taking the best of the sperm donations, he’d artificially inseminated the very women who were now in the process of giving birth. This meant each child that was about to be born effectively had one mother and numerous fathers.

The legalities of the entire operation were of no concern to Omega. Although still in its formative stages, the agency was already above the law.

A tense Doctor Pedemont and three geneticists fussed over the first mother-to-be, a young redheaded woman, as she entered the final stages of labor. The two suits observing from afar waited anxiously as the geneticists used advanced scientific equipment to monitor the birth.

The redhead gave birth to female twins. They arrived six minutes apart. Doctor Pedemont picked up the first twin. After removing the umbilical cord, he placed the newborn baby on a set of scales. “Number Five,” he announced. “Born 7.43 pm. Weight seven pounds, thirteen ounces.”

One of the geneticists recorded the doctor’s findings in a file labeled Number Five. Sadly, this would be the closest the girl would ever have to a real name.

Doctor Pedemont gave the baby to another geneticist then grabbed her newborn sister and weighed her. “Number Six. Born 7.49 pm. Weight seven pounds, one ounce.”

The advent of twins was no accident, of course. Their arrival had been planned for, like everything else that occurred within the Omega Agency.

The next baby was born minutes later to an African-American woman. It was a boy who was clearly of African descent. However, he had a much lighter skin tone than his mother, indicating most or all of the sperm donations inseminated into the woman were taken from Caucasian men.

“Number Seven,” Doctor Pedemont announced. “Born 7.56 pm. Weighs exactly five pounds. A few weeks prem, but is perfectly healthy.”

Because Number Seven was a premature birth, one of the geneticists immediately placed him in an incubator. Number Eight, who was born quarter of an hour later, was a healthy girl of Oriental descent.

When Number Nine was born, the mother, a beautiful dark-haired woman with striking green eyes, reached out to Doctor Pedemont to indicate she wished to hold the boy she had just birthed. The doctor looked around enquiringly at the two mysterious suits who remained in the corner. After discussing it between themselves, the older of the two nodded.

Doctor Pedemont looked back at the newborn’s mother cautiously. “You know you’ll never see him again, Annette?”

Annette nodded forlornly. She fully understood the ramifications of her agreement with the Omega Agency. Doctor Pedemont reluctantly placed Number Nine in Annette’s arms. The baby boy reached out and placed his tiny hand on the ruby that hung from a silver necklace she wore.

“Sebastian,” Annette whispered tearfully as she looked into her son’s eyes. “I name you Sebastian, after my father.”

Anxious to avoid further bonding between mother and son, Doctor Pedemont took Number Nine from Annette and handed him to one of the geneticists who, without ceremony, jabbed a needle into the boy. Predictably, Nine started screaming. His mother looked on resignedly.

Later that night, two more boys and another girl were born. Like Number Nine, all three were Caucasian.

As Number Twelve, the last of the newborns, was weighed, the two suits approached a relieved Doctor Pedemont. They looked more relaxed now. The older of the two, a short, stocky, dapper individual with heavily pock-marked skin, reached for the doctor’s hand and shook it firmly. This was Andrew Naylor, the Omega Agency’s hard-nosed director who was known for his foul temper as well as for his lazy eye, which never quite managed to focus on whomever he was addressing at the time.

“Congratulations, doctor,” Naylor mumbled without even a hint of a smile.

“Thank you,” a beaming Doctor Pedemont responded, taking care to avoid eye contact with Naylor as he found the other’s lazy eye highly disconcerting.

Naylor’s companion, Special Agent Tommy Kentbridge, patted the doctor on the back in congratulatory fashion. “Well done,” Kentbridge said. Tall and ruggedly handsome – physically the polar opposite of Naylor – the special agent was one of Omega’s young stars. As a field operative, he had the sort of record most agents twice his age would be proud of. Although only in his early twenties, Kentbridge had been assigned to manage the products of this agency experiment. Like it or not, he would be the nearest to a father any of them would have.

It was a long-term experiment and no-one knew exactly what the outcome would be. The experiment was known in Omega circles as The Pedemont Project

 

Product Details

 

THE ORPHAN FACTORY (The Orphan Trilogy, #2)  is exclusive to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008M9WWKW/

 

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An orphan grows up to become an assassin for a highly secretive organization. When he tries to break free and live a normal life, he is hunted by his mentor and father figure, and by a female orphan he spent his childhood with. On the run, the mysterious man’s life becomes entwined with his beautiful French-African hostage and a shocking past riddled with the darkest of conspiracies is revealed.

 

TheNinthOrphan ebook cover

THE NINTH ORPHAN (The Orphan Trilogy, #1)

 

Prologue

A deer grazed on lush grass in a forest clearing. Around her, early morning mist clung to the tops of the spruce and fir trees common to Montana’s Custer National Park. Her ears twitched as the distant screech of a Merlin falcon carried to her in the still mountain air. The deer looked up, but mist concealed any view of the small and relatively rare bird of prey. She resumed grazing.

The deer wasn’t to know, but her remaining lifespan could be measured in minutes.

Two hundred yards downwind, an unusually large hunting party approached. This was a hunting party with a difference. Only one of the hunters was armed – their leader, Tommy Kentbridge; the others were all children ranging in age from ten to twelve. Male and female, they were of various racial backgrounds. Following Kentbridge, they walked silently in single file along a forest trail.

A tall, powerfully-built man in his mid-thirties, Kentbridge moved effortlessly across the hilly terrain. In his wake, the youngsters had to scramble to keep up. Muddy underfoot conditions added to their difficulties. Despite the challenges posed by keeping pace with their fast-moving leader, the children were doing admirably well. Their faces were flushed with excitement.

Kentbridge, who earlier that day had transported the kids from Chicago’s Pedemont Orphanage, kept one eye on his charges as the trail took them along the edge of a cliff. He noted with satisfaction not one of them seemed fazed by the thousand foot drop. They appeared to cope with the danger with all the poise of adults, or of young adults at least.

As he continued to observe the orphans, Kentbridge’s keen eyes missed nothing. A head count confirmed all twenty three were still with him. Strangely, he only ever referred to them by numbers. The oldest child was Number One, the youngest Twenty Three.

Directly behind Kentbridge, following like a shadow, was a serious-looking, twelve-year-old boy. Number Nine, who was the ninth-born orphan, had startling green eyes that seemed all-knowing and gave him a maturity beyond his years. Nine’s intelligent face was framed by dark, wavy hair. He wore a silver necklace. A ruby dangled from it, bouncing on his chest as he walked. The exquisite stone gave off a blood red glow in the sunlight.

A slightly younger, blonde-haired girl followed close behind. Number Seventeen was, of course, the seventeenth-born orphan. She surveyed the world through icy-blue eyes. Those same eyes were now fixed on the center of Nine’s back. It irked the competitive Seventeen that Nine had ensconced himself between Kentbridge and herself. She felt like she was always following in the boy’s footsteps.

Kentbridge slowed momentarily as the trail took them away from the cliff-top. The screech of a Merlin falcon attracted his attention. Just as the mist had concealed the falcon from the deer’s view moments earlier, it also concealed the falcon from Kentbridge’s view.

Some sixth sense prompted Kentbridge to unshoulder his rifle – a powerful, semi-automatic, military-issue weapon which he handled with the familiarity of a sniper.

The orphans’ leader suddenly froze. Behind him, the children became motionless also. A hundred yards upwind, a beautiful deer stood grazing, superimposed against the green foliage. She continued to graze, unaware humans were in the vicinity.

Kentbridge flashed military-style hand signals to his young charges. In unison, the orphans dropped to the ground. Close behind Kentbridge, Nine and Seventeen watched in awe as their leader sunk down onto one knee and aimed his rifle at the deer. At the last second, he lowered his weapon a fraction then fired. The shot shattered the silence. The deer went down.

The orphans and their leader raced over to the deer to discover she was not yet dead. On her side, the deer was trembling and white foam covered her nose and mouth. The foam turned pink then red as her inner organs reacted to the trauma caused by one not-so-well-placed bullet. Her breathing came in short rasps. The dying animal pawed the air with her legs as the orphans crowded around her.

Kentbridge handed his rifle to his shadow, Number Nine, and nodded toward the trembling animal. Of all the orphans, Nine was his most brilliant pupil. He was stubborn and defiant, but also highly intelligent. In many ways he reminded Kentbridge of himself.

The other twenty two orphans felt varying degrees of jealousy as they watched Nine psyching himself up to carry out their teacher’s order. Although very intelligent and gifted in their own right, the others sensed Nine had some indefinable X-factor that gave him an edge over them. It set him apart and they knew it.

Not even Kentbridge could say exactly what it was that gave the ninth-born orphan the edge. It wasn’t as if Nine was necessarily smarter than the others. He just seemed more sensitive and maybe that, Kentbridge reasoned, was where the boy’s genius lay. Nine appeared to feel life so deeply at times it was as if he had an extrasensory awareness.

Indeed, Kentbridge knew that kind of heightened consciousness, or right-brained intuitiveness, was the common element among all great thinkers. It was the mental frequency he hoped all his orphans would eventually operate at.

Cradling the rifle which was almost as long as he was tall, Nine looked down at the deer and prepared to put the animal out of its misery. The others watched intently as he lifted the weapon to his shoulder and took aim. Through the rifle’s scope, he saw the deer’s terrified eyes staring back at him. The boy hesitated.

“Finish the mission, Nine,” Kentbridge commanded. Nine looked up at his master then returned his gaze to the deer which was now twitching violently. “That’s an order!” Kentbridge said, raising his voice.

Nine was feeling increasingly traumatized. Seventeen shuffled close behind, as if encouraging him to hand the weapon to her. Unable to do the deed, Nine lowered the rifle.

Kentbridge snatched the rifle from him and handed it to the blonde-haired girl. “Complete the mission, Seventeen.”

Seventeen was delighted. She’d been waiting all her life for an opportunity to outdo Nine. However, she hid her delight as she expertly raised the rifle and took aim.

Unable to watch, Nine walked away from the scene. As he did, Kentbridge observed the boy had the same haunted look the deer had at that very moment.

A single shot rang out, its echo rebounding off the surrounding hills. The sound reverberated in Nine’s head, like a jackhammer inside his brain.

Without looking back, Nine walked deeper into the forest. He began to cry as he internalized the deer’s pain. Almost without realizing, Nine touched the ruby that hung from his necklace. As always, for no apparent reason, its touch brought him comfort.

 

Product Details

 

THE NINTH ORPHAN (The Orphan Trilogy, #1)  is exclusive to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0056I4FKC

 

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