Monday, September 15, 2014

Beneath the Rose Provides Exciting Debut Thriller Set in Canada and Bosnia...

 Meanwhile on the same morning in a second floor apartment over a bookstore on the eastern fringes of Westmount a middle-aged man was still asleep, having only reached that state a few hours earlier. About the time Laurie Magill arrived at work the man once known as Simon Reston, now called Peter Oulton, would wake still exhausted to face another day of declining fortune and increasing anxiety. Even now healing sleep eluded him. If his body was at rest his mind was not. Had it been able to focus on that chance encounter a few days ago, the recall her if only a moment, it might have brought welcome respite. Instead, in the middle of the night, his mind had replayed the nightmare that allowed no escape from a darker past...
I see the big knife first, gleaming, already glistening with somebody's blood. So much blood. Then the head: the mayor's. It's trying to talk, but no words come out. Then all eight of them without heads but somehow chanting: "Guilty, guilty, guilty!"...
Peter lurched upright, his whole body shaking, shedding sweat like a winter coat. He swung his feet over the side of the bed, to steady himself on the cold floor, then lowered his head into his hands, and took deep breaths to reduce the panic and slow his heart rate. "It's okay," he whispered to himself,  "I'm okay. That was long ago. The Butcher's in prison. And I'm safe here. Just relax..." When his hands stopped shaking, Peter reached for the pill bottle...
~~~


Beneath the Rose:
A Tale of Terror and Love

By David A. Charters


Simon Reston knew even the day it happened that he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't. He still had nightmares of it happening and even though he followed orders and certainly knew they were in no position to take a different role than they had, he had still been damned... Even his coworker with him that day had wanted to take some action and couldn't deal with seeing what they had seen. He later committed suicide...

It didn't matter how many years had gone by, everything was as clear as it had been that day. The difference was that his life had completely changed. They had arranged for his name to be changed and now he owned and operated a small bookstore in Montreal. At least at present but his funds were quickly running out and he had no source of money to salvage the present, little on the future.

Peter Oulton had still been Major Reston when he'd had to appear before The International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia. He had filed an official report but they wanted him to explain in his own words what they had seen. It was the trial for who he knew as The Butcher...

He had been sent in 1993 to collect witness statements, serving as a UN Military Observer. Word of a massacre had already gotten out and they walked right in as it started...

...They'd rounded up the whole town, perhaps a hundred in all and arranged them in a semi-circle...The mayor and a few others were picked out to first sit... The leader, whose real name is Mohammed Khan, but known only as The Butcher owing to his gruesome reputation for excessive brutality, grabbed the mayor and forced him onto his knees with his head on the bench. "Use an axe," I whispered "Make it quick," for his sake. And mine...Instead, out of a boot sheath Khan pulled a big knife, heavy serrated black, the kind used for gutting fish. He raised it up and, for a moment, he looked straight at our position, as if he knew we were there, watching. He grinned, taunting us...
~~~

When he left, the entire town's population was gone... 

But it was as if somebody had to pay for allowing it to happen...and Major Reston was who was chosen.  It was sad, but I can see it happening, that people felt he should have ignored orders and gone in to try to save those people...2 men Against at least 20!

Now, in 2010, The Butcher had been let go and then reportedly killed???

As if it wasn't bad enough to have The Butcher undoubtedly coming after him, there is an organization that is supported by a secret foundation, with the blessing from its leader, who is happy to antagonize both Canada and the U.S. to work with The Butcher in his plans!

I especially enjoyed the scenes when The Butcher was supposedly doing his job!


At the same time, a freedom of information request had been submitted to the National Security Adviser's office... on Operation Slingshot...

"We can't go public with this stuff! It's NATO and Five Eyes Only, you know that."
"Of course we can't, and they know that too. This is just a little game of chicken. They hope we will blink first...
"Still...why now? And how?" 

Unfortunately an over-zealous new employee without brains had provided info on his own... And when he also finds a typed manuscript written by one of the members of the team and former wife of Peter, he passes that on as well! Major Reston, Peter, had never even known it had been written, now he was looking at Beneath the Rose: My Life of Loving, Lying, and Spying, by Abigail Sinclair-Reston. And it was the woman to whom he was now attracted that had given it to him...



Second Cup Coffee Shop
Something in her look told Peter she didn't buy his answer. He nudged a chocolate chip cookie toward her as his mind scrambled for a way to change the subject. "So, what gets you through the winter, apart from hanging around bookstores picking up strange men?"
Laurie laughed gently. "You're not strange, Peter, and I'm not picking you up. But speaking of strange...did that nefarious past of yours ever catch up with you?"
Peter almost gagged on his cocoa. "My what?"



I was gratified to read the author's early activities regarding writing this book. Fortunately, he realized that, being an academic writer does not qualify an individual to write fiction. I've had several books that, in my opinion, flopped because of their inability to move out of the teaching mode... However, this professor of Military History, who also now teaches and writes about terrorism and intelligence activities took the time to evolve into a solid storyteller. This book endorses his acquisition of those new skills... This is a complex,  yet extremely sensitive look at the life of one man who has been greatly hurt by his life roles. It didn't take me long to think about a personality and looks met my image of who Peter Oulton is. As with Mark Harmon's role in NCIS, Peter is a strong intelligent aggressive professional, while his past loss of loved ones, has softened a small part of his heart that surfaces as he stares off...remembering...

Peter has the opportunity to meet someone who just might be able to breakdown the walls around his heart.  Only thing is...yep, she works for the Centre for Accountable Government and in fact is a major partner and live-in lover of the Director...At least until a new female lawyer enters the picture! 

I thoroughly enjoyed the breadth of scope for the novel that takes readers into the past overseas, and then back to Canada into a more urban environment that has just as many criminals, only wearing white collars instead of carrying knives...Yikes!

As usual, I normally hone in on a particular character to watch. Major Reston, AKA, Peter Oulton, as the back cover says, is a "haunted, wanted, hunted man..." I'm certainly glad that his potential lady love turned out to become his ally! That's what I would have done! LOL
Loved it!


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David A. Carters is Professor of Military History at the University of New Brunswick, Canada. He teaches, researches and writes about terrorism and intelligence activities. He lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick.