Review of Evil Town by J. David Bethel

Evil Town Book Cover

Published February 2012

Genre: Political Thriller


Evil Town by J. David Bethel

Book Description halfsize

The wife of popular Florida Congressman (and prospective Senatorial candidate) Clegg Caffery is murdered. FBI Special Agent Matt Thurston begins an investigation that leads him from the Pentagon to the small town of Clewiston, Florida in search of a photographer responsible for the photo found in the murdered woman’s hand. He arrives too late. The man has committed suicide. Although Thurston uncovers a strange and suspicious story about the dead photographer that he believes is worthy of continued investigation, he is abruptly steered away from the case by his superiors.

Angered by this turn of events, Thurston enlists the assistance of two reporters. With their involvement, he begins to peel away layers of lies and deceit hiding the truth about the murder. Along the way, Thurston slowly unravels a complex weave of story lines that includes a sex for hire plot involving the President’s wife; an attempt by computer magnate Norman Bremen to subvert the workings of Congress to ensure the survival of his sugar interests in Florida; and the revelation of a cover-up of a war crime in Vietnam that threatens the Presidency.

Although Evil Town is a work of fiction, it is based on historical and current events. The Vietnam element of the plot delves into the massacre of Vietnamese villagers at Co Luy. This occurred on the same day as the My Lai killings and happened as described in the novel. The military and political cover-up of the incident detailed in Evil Town is an interpretation of actual events that relegated Co Luy to the back pages of history.

The description of the political maneuvering related to the restoration of the Everglades, and to the “sugar wars” in Florida, is a dramatization of the intrigue currently being played out by power brokers, the media and Congress on this issue.

While it should come as no surprise that the drug war can be managed and waged for political purposes – a subplot in Evil Town – it is the subtleties of international politics that often allow this to happen. The novel provides insight on how this is possible.

Through it all, Matt Thurston and his allies match wits with the most powerful in Washington putting themselves in harm’s way. Truth, honor and justice are slippery concepts in this story of politics and fragile human relationships.

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Book Blitz & Author Guest Post for Executive Actions

Executive Actions

Genre: Political Thriller

Executive Actions by Gary Grossman

Book Description

An assassin takes aim at a Presidential candidate during a primary stump speech. The instant he pulls the trigger, the outcome of the election is irrevocably changed. But Democrat Teddy Lodge, an upcoming media sweetheart, isn’t killed. His wife is. As a result, Lodge emerges as the man to beat and the greatest threat to the incumbent President, Morgan Taylor. Under a specific directive from the President, Special Service Agent Scott Roarke delves into the case and begins to unravel a deadly plot that incubated for more than 30 years; designed to alter America’s allegiances in the Middle East. From the very first page, Executive Actions culls events from today’s headlines intersecting with a scenario that’s shockingly real: An insidious plot hatched in the old days of the Soviet Union continues to grow to fruition in the hands of a power hungry Middle East heir to the throne. At its core, a sleeper is awakened to take a prominent role in American Life. Executive Actions is a tense political thriller; an election year page-turner, where both the Presidency and the Constitution are at stake.

Meet Gary Grossman

Guest Post by Author Gary Grossman

Novels That Sound Alarms

     My thanks to SunMountainReviews for inviting me to participate in a blog that weaves my fictional work, EXECUTIVE ACTIONS, published by Diversion Books, into the very real and often dangerous world we inhabit.

I’ll start with an admission.  I have a pair of jobs that nobody actually gave me.  I write thrillers and, as a result, I sound warning bells.   I’m not alone at the job.  Other thriller writers are on the watch, too.  Maybe that’s why after 9/11, the Bush Administration invited thriller and screenwriters to share their own “What If?” scenarios so America’s intelligence community could be better prepared.

A brainstorming session actually took place at the Pentagon where members of the “creative community” discussed possible terrorist scenarios.   They considered achievable scenarios.   A short time later, President Bush advisor Karl Rove met with Jack Valenti, the head of the Motion Picture Association of America and leaders of Hollywood’s major studios and television networks to see what they could come up with to help raise awareness.

Valenti said the meeting was designed to engage Hollywood’s creative thinking and the persuasive skills of top flight writers to assist the ongoing war against terror.   The meaning was not lost on thriller writers either.   And so, movies and books soon reflected the message that the attacks of September 11th were against the civilized world as a whole, that they required a global response, that the anti-terrorism campaign was a war against evil, and that U.S. troops and their families needed support.

I wasn’t part of this informal and perhaps manipulative call to action.  My first novel, EXECUTIVE ACTIONS, came out well after Washington’s outreach to writers.  But even without a presidential or military heavy hand on my shoulder, I certainly felt as a novelist who thinks the unthinkable, I had something personal to contribute to the greater awareness and I could sound alarms that worth hearing.  That feeling has grown the more I’ve written and researched the possibilities.  It’s further evident in my EXECUTIVE ACTIONS sequels, EXECUTIVE TREASON and EXECUTIVE COMMAND.

However, it’s worth noting that I’m actually not a conspiracy theorist or paranoid.  But what’s the old saw?   Sometimes someone is really following you.

Consider recent breaking headlines:

Is the Government Listening into our Phone Conversations?

Top Secret Documents Leaked to the Press

Russian Sleeper Cell Spies Deported

Old Soviet Tactics Return

Smuggled Cuban Missile Parts Destined for North Korea Found in a Panama Canal Raid

The truth is history repeats itself because we don’t learn from the past.   And a good political thriller writer needs only look to yesterday’s news for a plot that’s destined to feel real tomorrow.

For me, I turn to both the front page and the history texts…to accounts as wide ranging as Wall Street industrialists who plotted a coup to remove President Franklin Roosevelt from the White House…to a vitriolic radio host named Father Charles Coughlin who spewed anger across the airwaves years ahead of today’s hate radio hosts…to Cold War fears returning…and to bombings at a marathon finish line that brought an end to whatever innocence was left.

EXECUTIVE ACTIONS is fiction…up to a point.  At its core, it thrusts fictional characters into nightmarish scenarios where basic tenets of American life are at risk, where a sleeper spy cell plot could work, where charismatic political figures might not be who they appear to be.  Also, the thriller dramatically raises questions about the fragility of our election process and whether it’s long past time to consider changes in our succession law.   They’re all alarms.

Fiction?   Not necessarily.  With multiple plots constantly intersecting, my goal as a writer is to engage readers and to keep them guessing from the standpoint of real-world concerns.   I want to expose relevant threats of the day…or at least days within reach.  Maybe that’s why I describe my novels as “political reality.”  The trilogy is rooted in the possible, the imaginable, and against all prayers, perhaps the inevitable.

While I hope EXECUTIVE ACTIONS delivers a fast, exciting and thrilling experience (whether in eBooks, print or Audible book editions), the drama also leads readers to think the unthinkable…to heed the past…to listen to alarms.

The alerts I sound are loud enough to keep women and men (my thrillers have solid crossover appeal) up at night frantically reading and wondering whether “What If?” will become “What’s Next?”  They’re loud enough for us to recognize that we must pay attention to the mistakes of the past to prepare for the future.  Loud enough to hear the echoes from more than 400 years ago when Francis Bacon wrote, “He that will not apply new remedies, must expect new evils, for Time is the greatest innovator.”


About the Author

Gary Grossman color photoGary Grossman, author of EXECUTIVE ACTIONS and the sequel, EXECUTIVE TREASON, is a print and television journalist, an Emmy Award-winning network television producer, and a film and TV historian.
His career has included stints producing for NBC News, ABC, CBS NBC, Fox, PBS, and more than 27 cable networks.
Grossman is partner with Robb Weller in Weller/Grossman Productions, a prolific documentary and service and information television production company. Together, they have produced more than 6,000 programs and earned numerous awards including the prestigious Governor’s Emmy Award for their 1996 USA Network special, “Healing the Hate,” and an Emmy for Best Informational series with the 2002 production of “Wolfgang Puck” for Food Network.
The company’s widely recognized series and specials have aired on NBC, Fox News, CNBC, History Channel, A&E, Discovery Channel, Food Network, Discovery Health, National Geographic Channel, HGTV, Fine Living, Do It Yourself, The Learning Channel, USA Network, and Sci Fi Channel, among other channels.
Grossman earned a Bachelors Degree in Communications from Emerson College in Boston and a Master’s Degree in Urban Affairs from Boston University.
He began his career at 15 as a disc jockey at WHUC, his local radio station in Hudson, New York. He went on to work at Boston television station, WBZ; joined The Boston Globe as a special contributor, and then became a full-time television critic and columnist at The Boston Herald American, before moving to Los Angeles. His articles have also appeared in The New York Times and numerous magazines. He has taught journalism and media classes at Emerson College, Boston University, and USC. Grossman’s two previous acclaimed non-fiction books, Superman: Serial to Cereal and Saturday Morning TV, cover television history.
Grossman lives in Los Angeles with his wife, writer Helene Seifer, and their children Sasha, Zachary, and Jacob. He serves on the Emerson College Board of Trustees and the Boston University Metropolitan Advisory Board.
Author Links:
Goodreads: (Where a giveaway for a signed copy of the entire Executive trilogy is currently ongoing!)
Gary Grossman’s website:
Executive Actions is on sale today for $.99 at all major Ebook retailers.  
Click on the book cover to purchase from Amazon

Spotlight & Giveaway for Jack Canon’s American Destiny

book cover

Publication Date:  March 4, 2013

Publisher:  Itoh Press

Word and Page Count:  314  pages, 99,994 words

Genre:  Thriller / Suspense Adventure, Romantic Political Thriller

Erotic Content:  PG-13

Jack Canon’s American Destiny by Greg Sandora

Book Description

It’s the steamy summer of 2016 in Washington, D.C. just days before the Democratic National Convention. A long and painful recession has left ordinary Americans suffering, spawning the hottest Presidential Contest in history. Jack Canon, a man born into privilege, a witness to great social injustice is going to be President of the United States–no matter what! Desperate and corrupt, the leader of the free world orders a hit to slow him down. The plan backfires–the wrong people are dead–a manhunt points to the unthinkable–The President of the United States.

Rewind one year, Jack’s focus on redistribution of wealth and energy has made him powerful enemies. Once his friends, Rogue Billionaires, Oil Sheiks, the Mob, all want him gone. The current President wants him alive–thinking he can win against an unabridged liberal. A Universal Raw Nerve of wealth vs. poverty is exposed becoming a thrill ride as deep machinations of espionage, geo-politics and deception, even murder play out. Kind and charismatic, Jack’s just naughty enough to have you falling for him like one of his loving circle of loyal friends. Of course he’s flawed, a dedicated family man, faithful to one woman, but in love with two. Is it his fault his best friend is impossibly jaw dropping beautiful? Think the crime and passion of the Godfather meets the romance and innocence of Camelot. A story that could spark a movement, a book that can seed a revolution. A heart thumping climax so shocking you’ll pull the covers and draw the shades! One things for sure, through all the drama and suspense, you’ll be pulling for Jack!

Watch the Book Trailer 

Read an Excerpt

Change is seldom easy, but moving into our new offices the final year of the campaign was anything but hard. Sandy decorated our campaign offices with style, comfortable furnishings, light- colored woods, and plenty of glass. She said her taste was as big as my pocketbook, and lucky for us, friends of the campaign had donated plenty of cash to do the job right.

Sandy popped her head around the door. Dressed in a black skirt and form-fitting zebra print blouse, she carefully positioned the toe end of her black stilettos toward the floor to keep the door from closing. I could just see the faint line between her toes as her foot was flexed.

We had a tight spring closer installed right after one of my senior staff accidentally left the door ajar. There are a lot of sensitive issues discussed in here we would never want the rest of the office to know.

“Jack, you’ve got senior staff in 20 minutes.” Sandy’s voice had an almost musical quality. She rarely spoke to me in anything but the most dulcet tones, a trait which matched her pleasing personality.

“Hey, Sandy,” I jumped up from my seat and moved quickly towards her.

“Come with me; I want to show you something.”

“What’s going on, Jack? You seem excited.”

I didn’t answer – instead I led her gently by the arm toward the seventh floor elevator. We passed several staff members busy working at their desks, each calling out like dominoes, one after the other, “Hey Jack.” I smiled and gave thumbs up as Sandy and I hurried past.

“Damn, the elevator’s busy; let’s take the stairs.”

“Do we have enough time, Jack?” Sounding concerned as we turned the corner.

Ignoring the question, I pushed open the door and started down the steps. Sandy had one hand gripping the cold metal railing and her other digging into my arm for support, luckily she had short nails. A couple of years ago, I mentioned I didn’t like the plastic ones she was wearing. The next day she came into the office, plopped both hands down on my desk, and said, “I cut my nails, Jack!”

It was hard for her to move fast in high heels with her skirt fitted snug just above the knee. She managed by holding tight to my arm, scuffing along, taking quick small steps.

“I’m parked on the third floor of the parking garage. Keep going; it’s only one more floor.”

“Jack, I’m out of breath,” Sandy said as I pushed open the door to P3.

We entered a large open area to see a shiny sports car parked alone.

“It’s my new car; you like it?”

“What is it?”

“It’s a car,” Teasing, knowing what she meant.

“I know it’s a car, what kind is it? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Don’t feel bad. I didn’t know either; I had to look it up. It’s French made, a Bugatti. The guy that delivered it said it’s one of a kind.”

Sitting before us was a machine that pushed the envelope to unreal. Lines so amazing it seemed to be in motion just standing still. The Bugatti Veyron is basically a street legal racecar. Exciting as all hell to drive. I never dreamed I’d own an automobile that could hit a top speed over 250 miles per hour. Truth is, before last night I didn’t even know I wanted one.

My version was custom painted black metallic with shiny chrome over dazzling wheel rims in a wave pattern over the single door. The porcelain moldings formed a body impossible to duplicate with steel alone. The styling was accentuated by a triple round grill that gave the car personality and elevated the handcrafted masterpiece to a work of art. To say this car was rare was an understatement; I’d seen only one similar car and that was in a magazine. The Bugatti was hot, a real head turner, all eyes were on it as I drove to the office this morning.

Sandy said, “It’s beautiful, Jack When did you get it?”

“They just dropped it off last night.” I ran around the car and opened the passenger side door for her.

“Sandy, get in. Let’s go for a spin around the block; we’ve got time.” She tried to enter, first sideways then lowering herself gracefully as far as she could. Instead, she ended up plopping down, practically falling into the very low seat. She crossed her legs, trying to get situated and buckled in. The seats were so steeply angled, they looked like twin toboggans racing downhill.

Watching Sandy try to get comfortable, I thought cars like these are not made for long drives or tight skirts.

Sandy warned, “I hope you’re gonna take it easy, Jack?”

“Engine on,” I spoke. The car was outfitted with prototype voice activated control. The engine obeyed, immediately humming to a start. The understated throatiness of the exhaust stood in quiet contrast to all the glass packs out there trying to Sound Street tough. All the gauges lit blue and the dials went to the hilt before settling down. The windows looked like mirrors from the outside and the interior cabin was nearly sound proof.

“Hear that purr?” I revved up the 16 cylinder 1000 horsepower engine, flooring the accelerator several times, burying the tach.

“Look at this thing Sandy – it doesn’t red line until 12,000 rpm!”

Sandy was admiring the leather wrapped interior, running her hands over the dash settling on the round vent of the chrome airstream.

“We won’t need the air conditioner today,” I joked.

“You think? – It’s like 40 degrees outside; I should’ve brought a sweater. You hurried me out so fast I didn’t have time to think. ”

I told her, “You won’t need it in here; the cabin heats up in seconds.” The car must have been equipped with some type of radiant heat system.

I flipped the dial and we were warm almost immediately.

Sandy said, “I wonder how they do that; I freeze waiting for my car to heat up. You know, Jack, I never thought I’d say this about a car, but this one is sexy… I guess some guys need this sort of thing.”

I sank back into the driver’s seat richly upholstered in a diamond patchwork of raised blond leather. The headrests had the Bugatti Logo richly embroidered to adorn the center. Everything in the cockpit was chrome or leather trimmed with a fragrant new car smell.

It’s always amused me that people are willing to pay many times the intrinsic value of an item just to obtain the status of a brand. This was not one of those times. We were seated in an example of excellence, worth every penny of the $1.6 million price tag. It wouldn’t have mattered what they called it.

About the Author

authorI’m originally from the Portland, Maine area and lived and worked there for years before moving to Southwest Florida. I am currently working on the sequel to Jack Canon’s American Destiny – which will be titled Camelot  A Tender Romantic Thriller. The sequel will be available in about three months.

My Dad and Mom were artists, my father painted and my mother wrote poetry and loved to garden. Most Saturdays we loaded up the 1970 Chevy Impala to trek to a one man show somewhere or other. I took a different track graduating with a business degree; owning and operating an Award Winning Franchise Fitness Center. Currently a professional manager I am living in Florida with my beautiful wife and children, and following my passion.

Some of my other projects include a children’s book called Sammy the Sea Turtle – about an infant sea turtle taken from his nest the night he was to find his way to the sea. Sammy lives with the family until their son – the boy who took him, graduates from high school. On that day Sammy, backpack in tow – begins the long journey home.

My second project in the works involves angels – a man during a visit to Bar Harbor Maine encounters an angel; quite accidentally, he is told – she was not supposed to make him aware of her existence. Only three others have ever seen the real thing. Naturally he falls hopelessly in love with the beautiful creature.


Buy Link:  Jack Canon’s American Destiny




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