Rogue Strike by David Ricciardi is relevant to the headlines. Many of today’s current events, written about a year ago are coming true in the real world. After reading this suspenseful novel, readers will understand the context of what is happening today.
This second book in the series has CIA analyst Zac Miller given an alias of Jake Keller. With some training and field experience he has become a hardened, more experienced field operative. Now working for the CIA’s Special Activities Center, alongside Special Ops Marine Corps Veteran, Curt Roach, their mission is to intercept a clandestine meet of some high value terrorist targets. Sending a drone on a kill mission everything goes sour with the drone not responding and the comms down. Realizing that someone has electronically seized control of the Hellfire missiles they watch in horror as it diverts to Saudi Arabia and drops its payload on a couple of thousand worshippers in the city of Mecca, Islam’s holiest city. The chief of Special Activities, Ted Graves, and other government officials try to pin the blame on Keller and Roach, saying the agents have gone rogue. The action never stops as Keller is determined to clear his name and find out what really happened. To add bad to worse, while America tries to come to grips with what happened in Mecca, the United States is attacked on multiple fronts at home.
This very entertaining story has the added bonus that a lot of what was written has actually come true. Anyone following the news will understand how a drone is used by Iran to challenge the US, and that B-52 bombers are put in a holding pattern as part of a reprisal plan.
Ricciardi is two-for-two with thrilling stories. It has over the top action, a conspiracy between rogue individuals, and many twists.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
David Ricciardi: There is not a day that goes by without something being hacked. In today’s warfare drones are used. I thought what if someone hacks into them to actually kill someone. Even though I wrote it over a year ago, some of it has come true. Unfortunately, a little too much for my taste. I think I will write my next story about a guy who wins the lottery and retires to some tropical destination with initials DR. Just kidding!
EC: Why did you pick Iran and China?
DR: For guidance I have some friends who have actually know about these topics. I was told that a lot of people underestimate these countries. They are a serious threat to world stability and the economic security of the US. For example, the Iranian helicopters came about literally from plans stolen from the US. I want Americans to wake up before it is too late.
EC: Is there such a thing as the Special Activities Center?
DR: It really exists. There is a group predominately of ex Special Forces military personnel: Marines, Delta Force, and SEALs. Guys in their forties who want to protect America. Some of them were the first into Afghanistan right after September 11th. They are part diplomat and part soldier who are given a lot of autonomy.
EC: Per Vince Flynn this is a story that shows how politicians threw the CIA under the bus?
DR: You are referring to the quote, “Nothing would get more media coverage for a politician than throwing a CIA Special Operations team into prison for the rest of eternity.” Politicians basically want to show their constituents they took some action. Right after 9/11 everyone had an appreciation for the dangers these people put themselves into. Yet after Enhanced Interrogation a lot of people did not have the stomach for it. It does not seem right to me that the attitude changed since they were told what was done was legal.
EC: You also have a connection between Mexico and terrorism?
DR: Iran has been active in South America, Central America, and Mexico for decades. It was not that much of stretch for me to see them have people infiltrate across the border to perpetrate their attacks. It has been documented that Iran has worked with drug dealers to cause havoc in the US.
EC: Saudi Arabia and Iran are enemies?
DR: They do not agree on what should happen in the Middle East. Since they are right across the Gulf from each other that can be very dangerous. Especially since Iran wants to be the dominant power. They also have different views of Islam since one is Sunni and the other is Shiite. It has not helped that we gave the Iranians a pretty big gift after taking out Saddam Hussein who was a deterrent to Iran’s force. Another poorly executed decision was giving them billions of dollars. Something I address in this book, which has also been in the news, is how they are launching missiles into Saudi Arabia.
EC: Do you consider Jake a loose cannon?
DR: No. He has an internal drive and a moral compass that controls it. In this situation he wants to clear his name, which is why he kept disobeying orders.
EC: Does the Libyan amphitheater where you had multiple scenes really exist?
DR: I went to the Northern part of Jordan to do some research for this book. Ten miles from the Syrian border are Roman ruins called Jarash. Libya also has Roman ruins. Because I did not go to Libya I used what I saw in Jordan. As I went through stone passageways and steep steps I thought this would be a great setting for the dramatic climatic ending.
EC: At the end of the book you talked about the Fallen Patriots project?
DR: I also wrote about it in the first book. They provide counseling and tuition assistance for the children of service members who died in the line of duty. My friend started this charity, which has gown spectacularly. My wife and I supported it for a long time. I give a fixed percentage of my royalties. I hope to inspire and encourage people to contribute. They also give the children encouragement, guidance, and tough love where necessary.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?
DR: It is set in the horns of Africa. Jake is tasked with rooting out a Somalian warlord. Rogue Strike is a geopolitical thriller while the next one is more personal, a man to man conflict. It will be out June next year.