A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Making a Killing- A Novel of Money and Murder by John L. Hart and Olivia Rupprecht- Feature and Review

The CIA s most valuable assassin, Agent J.D. Mikel, wasn t supposed to fall in love with anyone especially not Kate Morningside, a woman coveted by another powerful world player. When Kate is kidnapped, J.D. is pulled into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, and one false move could cost him everything. Indeed, there are players and then there are the masters who make the rules only to break them. It s not an even match for those joining an epic search for Kate on a twisted dark hunt down the Mekong River in the midst of a bitterly disputed war: Izzy, a brilliant young psychiatrist assigned to the Army s 8thField Hospital andcounting the days until he can return home; and his best friend Gregg, a gifted psychologist who served his time only to be driven back to Vietnam by his own inner demons and a rivalry with Mikel that burns as intensely as napalm. There are other wars within wars in turbulent 1970.From the CIA to the American mafia to an International cartel helmed by a master of the sadistic, all eyes are on Southeast Asia s Golden Triangle.And when it comes to a certain cash crop flourishing under the dominion of the mysterious Poppy King, everyone wants a piece of the action. Money talks. The currency?Heroin.It s a spinning maze of intrigue, politics, and mind games; a hotbed where sex, drugs, and Janis Joplin aren't always a beautifulthing.But even when no one turns out to be quite who or what they seem, one ruleremains fastacross the Devil s chessboard: Winners live. Losers die. The sequel to the national bestseller THERE WILL BE KILLING, MAKING A KILLING artfully weaves a spellbinding tapestry of dark history, psychology, and seduction the best and worst of our humanity . . .andthe hunger of our hearts. PRAISE FOR THERE WILL BE KILLING: A riveting journey into the perils of war and the darkness of the human heart stylish and provocative. Tara Janzen, New York Timesbestselling author There Will Be Killingis mesmerizing...a chilling and astonishing novel by authors who know their way around a story. Peggy Webb, USA Todaybestselling author ofThe Language of Silence Make sure you have some time to spend because you won t want to put it down until you turn the last page. Book Bug"

JD had been waiting nearly one hour as instructed after being dropped exactly at the coordinates received. He’d spent far too much time touching his bracelet, checking his watch, and reassuring himself that Claymore had seen that Kate was safely escorted back to the mission hospital.

He had to get his mind off that boat with Kate. If he wanted to see her again he had to keep himself safe until this last job was over. For now he was completely alone and surrounded by miles and miles of dense, highland bush, no sign of civilization beyond the newly created landing zone where a black chopper was descending.
It had no ID and dropped into the LZ on powerful rotors that were more silent than any JD knew to exist. JD took his cue and greeted the man who emerged from the craft.
“J. D. Mikel, is it?” The voice had a sandpaper quality. Thin and scratchy, it suited the rest of him.
“Yes and a pleasure to meet you, sir.” JD bowed slightly.
The Pale Man nodded. His self-ordained title was apt. He was pale as a porcelain plate and wore all white: a long-sleeved, tropical linen shirt and matching trousers, with a protective straw hat to shield as much of his face as possible, with dark sunglasses hiding his eyes. He seemed nearly an albino but not quite.
The Pale Man smiled now and his yellowed teeth were like the old ivory of an aged tiger.
He signaled and four guards spilled from the chopper. Two were armed with short, ugly, powerful German automatics and had the look of South Africans. Behind them were two Asians that JD identified as Cambodian Hmong by their traditional clothing and the accents he picked up in a quick, conspiratorial exchange. They were much smaller than the South Africans but contained a lithe, smooth strength that would serve them better in this environment than the brutally strong build of the others, that would endure only so long in this kind of jungle.
Both Cambodian guards’ faces were intricately tattooed with snakes; one matched the picture of the man from the intelligence files.
His host had come highly insured. JD’s body tensed and a premonition moved through his psyche like something with dark wings as the strange Pale Man led the way.
JD fell in step slightly behind him, the formidable group of guards so close he could smell their collective muscle, differentiate their individual scents. Eventually they emerged from the dense double canopy and crossed a small, arched bridge over a swift-flowing stream and moved past a large, black stone. It was a sculpture, JD realized, with a cobra carved inside. It stood sentry beside an iron gate which opened into a garden.
The guards hung back and did not impose their presence on the garden’s perfection. A small wonder stood in its center—a carved teak palace of perfect proportions. JD ascended the highly polished stairs with The Pale Man and paused on the landing, where a pair of carved jade doors fronted two large, porcelain vases filled with flowering ginger.
The Pale Man swung open the double doors, revealing a cool, dark interior space. They both stepped out of their sandals and left them at the door. As JD’s eyes adjusted he could see the fine rugs, the carvings and furnishings, all museum quality antiquities. An enormous gong and a breathtakingly beautiful Go board were set up near a lotus pond.
By way of invitation The Pale Man gestured to the pond’s other side where a gathering of batik-cushioned chairs invited contemplation. Indeed, JD was caught by the vision of several extraordinary carp swimming amongst the floating, bright-pink lotus blossoms and verdant green leaves. The carp were large, very old and exquisitely colored in shining, iridescent deep blues and whites and pale gold.
He bowed toward them. “They are remarkable,” he said.
Aged tiger teeth glistened past an approving smile. “Ah yes, they are, aren’t they? I had been told you have a fine consideration and appreciation of the Oriental.” There was a pause and then abruptly, “I would gift you one. Which would you have?”
JD hesitated. This was a swift and ruthless player. The offered gift would be nearly impossible for even a very wealthy man to repay. It would also be extraordinarily rude to refuse and, under the circumstances, dangerous; yet to accept imposed a heavy debt.
“I would take the pale gold one,” JD carefully responded, “but given she is only a component of the entire piece, I would have to take all of them. Taking her alone would flaw the composition and make it common—still lovely, of course, but common, as Wu Tao-Tzu would have said.” Such a reference to Wu, JD knew, would place his adversary in an awkward position if he was a true student of the Asian arts, for how could he possibly contradict anything the great Tang Dynasty master painter would have said? When The Pale Man responded with an unguarded expression of surprise, JD seized the advantage. “Therefore, I can only assume you have something of more value you want to speak to me about?”
“Well spoken.” The thin, papery voice reminded JD of a snake’s warning hiss. This one was particularly cunning, hiding behind the veil of politeness. “Wu Tao-Tzu would have certainly complimented you. A drink?”
“Tea, please.”
“Also well spoken.” The Pale Man nodded to a servant who disappeared into the dark hallway as silently as he had appeared. Again The Pale Man gestured to the batik cushion. “You have had fine teachers I see.”
JD did as he was bid and made the appropriate response to the compliment. “I have been fortunate in my teachers, but of course am still not worthy of them.”
As they sat in silence while waiting for the tea, The Pale Man removed his sunglasses. His nearly colorless eyes appeared like glassy, pink halos around the black marble of his pupils.
JD noticed The Pale Man staring at the tribal bracelet on his wrist and felt strangely violated. There was no other word for it, nor any rationale for the kind of gut reaction that had kept him alive more than once. He discreetly covered his wrist. The Pale Man nodded slightly, indicating the action had been noted.
The tea arrived, the ceremony flawlessly performed. The teapot and small jade cups were of the finest quality and the tea, exceptional. JD knew he could not say the same of his maneuver with the bracelet and sought to reestablish the balance of their lunge and parry.
“You honor me with this,” said JD, “and your tea is worthy of its cup.”
The older man nodded. “It comes from one of my own plantations.”
“From Lamdong I would say, south slope. A very fine Iron Buddha, tie guan yin.” JD took another small sip of the extraordinary tea he knew was worth a staggering sum, as would be a rare, vintage wine. “I myself grow a Longjing, the Dragon Well, near there on a north-facing slope.”
“Again I say your teachers were very fine.” The Pale Man smiled his tiger smile again. “Perhaps you would someday sell me your Longjing plantation . . . or perhaps trade it for something of value?”
“Perhaps.” JD smiled back.
“I am now expanding my farming interests into other lucrative crops.”
“The war provides many opportunities.”
“Yes,” agreed The Pale Man. “And I will be establishing my operations from north down to the south with our friends in Air America, and then to Europe through the usual family channels in Marseille, and the USA. In order to ensure this—and I always like to ensure things—I would appreciate your and your Ambassador’s cooperation.” He turned the full ferocity of his smile on JD and clapped his hands.
The servant with the tea service appeared again, this time with a domed silver tray. JD’s earlier premonition barreled full force into his psyche, the dark wings converging into an ominous black mass.
“Usually, I would offer perhaps one of her lovely ears or a finger to show my sincerity,” explained The Pale Man, “but in her case, as you said of the golden carp, it would ruin the overall beauty of the composition to mar her. And I certainly would not want to do that, especially if I have to keep her. Now, please allow me to offer some proof that she is already mine.”
The servant removed the domed lid.
JD’s breath stopped.
Centered on the tray was the severed head of the sampan’s boat pilot. Between his teeth was the silver bracelet JD had given Kate.


Making a KillingMaking a Killing by John L Hart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Making a Killing by John L. Hart and Olivia Rupprecht is a 2016 Story Plant publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book is the sequel to “There will be Killing”, which introduced us to Gregg, Izzy, Kate, Phillip, and J.D., as they try to navigate the treacherous waters of Vietnam and try to stay alive.

As the second book begins, J.D. and Kate are enjoying a holiday together, while Gregg has returned to the states and Izzy is still serving his time. However, when Kate is kidnapped, J.D. enlist his old comrades to help him find her.

When I first started this series, I was really unsure how I would feel about it, because books about war, fiction or non-fiction, just is not my thing at all. But, because the book was listed as a mystery thriller, I took a leap of faith and I am really glad I did.

This story deals with the shadowy, and often forgotten or ignored, drug problem and lucrative poppy trade during the Vietnam war.

A great many interesting details of J.D.’s past, is woven within a complex plot concerning “The Pale Man”, the ‘Poppy King”, and serves as a basis for a plethora of mind games and intrigue.

“If GO is like war, chess is a knife fight in a phone booth”
- Anonymous

The game of ‘GO” is a theme in the book, and anyone familiar with the game will be able to draw parallels due to the complexity of the strategy game J.D. was coached on as a child, and the complexities of the real life game he is drawn into in Vietnam.

As the players are surrounded by various types of war, be prepared for death and graphic violence, amid the sudden twists and jarring developments.

I did feel pretty bad for Izzy and Gregg who once more got suckered into a mission that really wasn’t their battle to fight. However, I think Gregg has made a turning point, which is probably for the best. The story has a rather odd epilogue, which suggests another book could be in the works. I certainly hope that is the case and will be keeping my ears open and eyes peeled for any new developments on that front.

I strongly urge you to read the first book before diving into this one, although you can read this one a stand alone.

This book is recommended to those who enjoy historical fiction, and smart, well crafted, and tense thriller.




This wasn’t supposed to be Israel Moskowitz’s war. What country in its right mind would draft a child psychiatrist fresh out of his residency from Columbia University Med School and send him to Vietnam in 1969? But Izzy was here for the duration: three-sixty-four and a wake-up. A year that would change everything.

Assigned to the 99KO, the psychiatric unit of the 8th Field Hospital in sultry Nha Trang, Izzy attempts to use his skills in ways he never could have imagined; not to heal, but to get boys back onto the field of battle. A circle of compatriots soon grows around him – Gregg, the surfer dude turned psychologist; Rick, the tough-as-nails Special Ops commando; J.D., a man of many guises and even more secrets; Margie, the gorgeous, relentless head psychiatric nurse; Kate, the stunning thrill-seeker with a taste for the illicit; Nikki, the endearing, incongruously sweet Red Cross dolly. As their relationships weave and intertwine, the face of Vietnam evolves for Izzy.

But nothing will turn his world upside down – and redefine the nature of war to him – like the mission on which he finds himself an unwilling participant. Someone is massacring soldiers in unthinkable ways with the goal of demoralizing via terror, and Izzy needs to be part of the team tracking down the killer. Before he’d come to Vietnam, Izzy had never heard the term “ghost soldier.” Now one might dictate what remains of his life.

Written with the verisimilitude only possible from someone who has been there, THERE WILL BE KILLING is an unforgettable work of fiction brimming with horror and humanity.


John L. Hart, Ph.D has been a practicing psychotherapist for over 40 years, starting in Vietnam where he was a psychology specialist. He received his doctorate from the University of Southern California. John is an internationally respected lecturer, has been a consultant to the nation of Norway for their Fathering Project, and maintained a private practice in Los Angeles for twenty years. He is the author of Becoming a Father from HCI Books, co-author of Modern Eclectic Therapy (Springer), and was mentored by the renowned poets Robert Bly and William Stafford.

OLIVIA RUPPRECHT (aka Mallory Rush) is an award-winning, best-selling author who began her career as a novelist with Bantam Books in 1989. After seventeen published novels with extensive foreign translations from Bantam, Harlequin, and Doubleday, Olivia managed fiction and non-fiction projects for major publishers as a copywriter, ghostwriter, book doctor, and developmental editor. She has served as editor for NINK, the official newsletter of the international author’s organization Novelists, Inc., and was Series Developer for the groundbreaking reality-based novel series from HCI Books, True Vows.
Olivia’s moveable feast of a desk is near Madison, Wisconsin, where she continues to collaborate with Dr. John L. Hart on a series of novels that are partially based on his experiences as a young therapist in a front line psych unit during the Vietnam War. There Will Be Killing is published by The Story Plant.

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