My next novel, The Archangel, is a Matt Moretti-Han Li thriller that should be in print in the later part of this year or early 2024. The action primarily takes place in Prague and across the Atlantic Ocean. Although my manuscript is around fifty percent complete, here’s a preview of the current storyline if Moretti doesn’t decide to take the author in another direction:
The United States’ most classified military system, code-named Vigilant, has been stolen from an unmarked Navy ship in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The system, which consists of ninety-seven missiles and nearly five hundred warheads housed in crush-proof capsules that were to be lowered to the deepest depths of the ocean waiting for a launch command, along with the control consoles which are capable of creating launch codes, has been taken by an unknown adversary. The fear is that whoever has taken Vigilant could place the capsules on the ocean floor in locations to which only they know and subject the United States to political and economic blackmail. Because only a handful of people knew the ship’s route, and each was a high-level member of the intelligence community, the president believes one of them is a mole and that his only chance to avoid armageddon is to have Nemesis, an off-the-books black ops team that’s answerable only to him, to either retrieve or destroy the system.
Because an author rarely stops thinking about the characters they’ve created and what storylines would get them into situations that would hold a reader’s interest, I took a couple of weeks off from writing The Archangel to research the novel that will follow it. Although I was tempted to once again put Gunter Wayan and Eka Endah in harm’s way, this idea for the next Mauro Bruno novel was too good to resist, and I moved it ahead of that series. The novel will be titled The Puppeteer. Because researching the locations for this manuscript is better outside of winter, I bit the bullet and went to the south of France and Monaco in late October, visiting locations I’ve previously seen for The Collector but looking at other areas of the French Riviera which will have a significant influence on the storyline. Additionally, a substantial part of this novel will take place in Sicily, a location in which I’ve previously gotten Bruno into trouble.
As most of you know, with few exceptions, such as North Korea, I’ve been to the restaurants, buildings, cities, and so forth described in my novels, believing this familiarity adds to the authenticity of whatever mess I’ve gotten my characters into. During my trip to France, I was fortunate enough to stay at the Grand Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, from which I went to various locations that will appear in The Puppeteer. If you haven’t been to this incredible hotel, put it at the top of your bucket list. Although my Mauro Bruno novel is approximately a year from publication, I want to thank those at the hotel who helped point me and the storyline in the right direction. Therefore, my thanks to the hotel’s concierge, Salvatore Esposito, who recommended sites that I hadn’t considered and arranged for my visits, and also to Elisa, who assisted with the arrangements.
My heartfelt thanks to Monica Estronca and Sofiya Lyashenko, who were kind enough to provide me with an excessive amount of their time answering my daily questions. While there, they gave this author a beautiful blue-leather notebook where I could record my impressions, which I’ve done. This random act of kindness from two generous women with whom I’d never before met, who gave me reams of invaluable information about the area and its culture, brought a tear to my eyes.
Lastly, my thanks to everyone at Club Dauphin, who kept a watchful eye on the author’s wife as she stepped perilously close to the raging Mediterranean Sea to get a closer look at a cove I’ll use in my novel and the kind note they sent to me afterward. In my defense, my wife, a former lifeguard, is a better swimmer, which sounds much better than saying I was the wimp in this situation.
I hope this provides a better insight into my next two novels and the research that goes into making each a memorable reading experience.