Do they still play King of the Hill on playgrounds? If you aren’t familiar with this game, let me explain it to you.
First, you have to have a hill. I’m not talking about Mount Rushmore, I’m talking about a big hill. It can be a huge mound of dirt. Sand is even better because it slips out from under your feet, which makes it hard to get up.
Then, you put a flag at the very top of the hill. The one who takes the flag is the King of the Hill.
Now, imagine this.
Two teams are trying to make it to the top of the hill to snatch the flag so that they can be the winner. You can picture the two teams anyway you want. One can be a team of bullies while the other are the good guys. Or both teams are bullies. Or maybe both teams are good guys. Fact is, they are both big and strong.
In their effort to get to the top of the hill to win the prize, they start fighting each other.
As the fight grows in intensity, both teams lose their focus on the flag at the top of the hill, which is taken by a lone child who belongs to neither team. How did this child become King of the Hill, he kept out of the fighting and remained focused on the primary objective of capturing the flag.
That child represents the Phantoms as I have created them in my latest Mac Faraday Mystery, Three Days to Forever.
Who are The Phantoms?
Three Days to Forever opens in the Middle East where David O’Callaghan, Mac Faraday’s half-brother, is leading a team of special ops Marines in taking out a terrorist training camp. While scoping out the camp, they discover that the trainees are being visited by a major terrorist leader who is on the Homeland Security’s most wanted list.
However, protocol dictates that David needs to call in for permission to use fatal force to take out the target. His team bets that he will be told to stand down, not execute the man who was responsible for leading a terrorist attack that took out many of their comrades. This is not the first time this leader had been in the military’s sights and every time they had been told to let him go.
In this excerpt from Three Days to Forever, Hallie, a member of David’s special ops team, tells him the legend of the Phantoms.
“They will (give us the order to proceed),” David said with as much confidence as he could muster to pass on to his team. “We’re at war. We can’t win it if we don’t neutralize the enemy, no matter how nasty killing might be. I don’t like shooting people, but in situations like this, there are two options. Kill, or have my brothers and sisters in arms—or even innocent civilians like those in the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and flight ninety-three—murdered.”
“We may not have forgotten,” Lieutenant Dean said, “but Washington sure has.”
“Not everyone in Washington,” Hallie said. “Not the Phantoms.”
“Phantoms?” David chuckled while cocking his head and pressing his radio to his ear to make sure he got the order when it came.
“It’s a myth.” Dean was laughing as well. “You know how people in the military talk.”
Hallie was shaking her head. “A friend of mine who works on the top floors at the Pentagon says it ain’t.”
“What’s a Phantom?” David asked with a grin. “Do they run around wearing black capes?”
“According to what I was told—do you remember the untouchables from Al Capone days?”
“That was before my time, but yes,” David said. “A group of federal agents and cops who banded together to take down organized crime in Chicago. They couldn’t be bribed or intimidated. They were untouchable.”
“Well, this is the military version,” Hallie said over Dean’s quiet laughter. They were all aware of the camp full of men who would think nothing of torturing and killing all of them if they were discovered.
“This team is made up of members of each branch of the government and military, more highly trained than special ops and Navy SEALs,” Hallie said. “You don’t apply to be a Phantom. You’re hand-picked. They have the top equipment and training, and their sole mission is to protect our country and citizens without the influence and intimidation of politicians and deal-makers with their own personal and political agendas.”
She jerked her chin at the chief terrorist down at the bottom of the mountain. “Twice we’ve had that man in our sights, and twice we’ve been told by someone high up in Washington to let him go. Why?” She scoffed. “Because killing him would hurt those poor terrorists’ feelings. Like he didn’t care about hurting our feelings when he planned and coordinated the jihad attack in Afghanistan?” With a knowing expression on her face, she said, “It’s going to take a Phantom to terminate him.”
“They’re a myth,” Dean said.
“Do you remember that mansion that al-Baghdadi had in Syria?” Hallie asked.
“I wasn’t there.”
“Huge mansion,” Hallie said. “They say that the downstairs was a command center for ISIS. Well, that mansion is no more. It’s an eighteen-foot crater in the desert.”
“Caused by an accidental explosion from their own weapons,” Dean said.
Hallie whispered to David. “That’s the hallmark of the Phantoms. When they strike, it’s never traced back to us. You’d be surprised by what I heard—”
Readers will learn more about the Phantoms in Kill and Run, the first installment in the Thorny Rose Mysteries, which is to be released later on this year.
In the meantime, Three Days to Forever is not my standard Mac Faraday Mystery. It is filled with murder, action, suspense, thrills, home-grown terrorists, jihadists, twists and turns, conspiracies, and even political cover-ups.
Novels that include political corruption and cover-ups have been around as long as there have been novels. While some may have based less that savory fictional political figures on real politicians, most have not.
Not surprising to me, after the release of Three Days to Forever, some more sensitive readers have perceived it as a political message and bashing of our current administration, in spite of the author note that I have included on the book page on Amazon and in the front pages stating that this book is fiction and not a political commentary.
For those itching for a political commentary, here it is:
Back in my youth, I worked as an editor and layout design artist with the federal government during the term of three presidents: Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and Bill Clinton. Two republicans and one democrat. I met and worked with people from all different backgrounds, status, and worldviews.
By the time I left the government to concentrate on my writing, I learned this about Washington:
Cover-up is a way of life and knows no party-line. Watergate was the republican’s cover-up. Ronald Reagan had the arms for hostages deal. Monica-gate was Bill Clinton’s cover-up. Obama has Lois Lerner and the IRS, and Hillary has Benghazi.
From my mountaintop in West Virginia, I see two opposing groups of children, fighting each other for the flag at the top of the hill so that they can be King and, in the process, losing sight of that flag … and the security of our country and its citizens against its enemies.
Thus, behind them, in slips the Phantoms to do what they need to do.
About the Author:
Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Three Days to Forever is the ninth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series.
In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried Murder.
Three Days to Forever introduces Lauren Carr’s latest series detectives, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday in the Thorny Rose Mysteries. Look for the first installment in this series in Spring 2015.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Visit Lauren Carr’s website at www.mysterylady.net to learn more about Lauren and her upcoming mysteries.
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