Monday, November 25, 2013

Extraordinary Retribution Went Into My Top 10 for 2013! Erec Stebbins Brings Passion Caused By Today's Headlines Into Fantastic Thrillers!

Sometimes evil is not born of madness, but madness of evil...

"The man looked up from the floor, confusion on his face. "Why can't you kill me?" He seemed almost desperate.
"Lopez sat down as well, the sirens much louder and the sound of men's shouts ringing out above them. He pulled his knees up into his chest, fingering the weapon.
"I believed I would be a holy man by becoming a priest," said Lopez, a sad smile on his face. I thought that the sacrament of ordination would fill me with the Holy Spirit, and I would then overcome myself and march toward righteousness." He laughed, pointing the barrel of the gun at his chest. I always feared what was inside. Terrible things. Violence. Murder. Things to be suppressed. Confessed. I ran from it all, praying that God would cure me. But God has not.
"Lopez flipped the gun into the air and caught it. He repeated the process over and over as he spoke. "When I walked into that cabin in Gatlinburg and saw what you had done to my brother - things changed. I have chased you now for months. Not for justice. Justice is impartial. It is procedural. It is careful. I wanted none of those things. I wanted you dead. I wouldn't let myself see it, but I wanted to kill you. I chased after you for vengeance."
"So do it!" demanded the wraith. "Now you can! Take your vengeance!"

Extraordinary Retribution
By Erec Stebbins

I'm happy I read this book by Erec Stebbins first. Actually, he had already submitted requests for two other novels, but my backlog had prevented my not even opening those requests. They, too, are great books, but this one, for me, was clearly my favorite. One of the top 10 favorites for the year... In his acknowledgements, Erec recognizes his main character, whose voice he had heard and could not get out of his mind. This novel reveals the passionate response to this character--it is the author's exorcism... I felt it and shared it. I wonder--if the world could--or would--cry together for this character, maybe all wars could cease... May you cry for this...wraith... May he only remain a fictional character... For what if all...

"It had been a difficult week--his usual teaching
load, a marriage, two funerals, and tonight's
coming mass. He had already met twice with
the local city council, pleading a case for
Hispanic families who felt terrified by the new
Alabama anti-immigration laws. U.S. citizens,
he thought bitterly, who already were becoming
second-class citizens because of the fears of
immigrant workers. And the laws were achieving
their goals. Fields were full of rotting harvests
because no Americans wanted the jobs, schools
with dropping enrollments, and businesses
sucker-punched in a recession as the workers
took their pay to other states...
"Hanging over everything was the constant
reminder that his Catholic school was bank-
rupt. The church had decided to close it down.
They protect pedophiles in their ranks and
turn children out on the street! He felt like
a heretic once again, crossing himself as he
stacked his lecture notes. Have we failed you,
Where the offense is, let the great axe fall. 
                                                     --Hamlet, Shakespeare

Father Francisco Lopez had received a frantic call from his sister-in-law. Miguel had rushed home, tossed clothes into a bag and gone! Telling her that he loved her and to tell the kids,  still he had left. Running Scared!

Now he was dead... But he had made his last confession to his Priest...his brother... Miguel had said goodbye, hoping also for some forgiveness from God... although he had never told him what he--and the others--had done.

Others had died before him, some also had tried to run...

Now Miguel remembered his childhood, hoping to find that safety with family he had once felt:

"Turning northeast, he finally began the drive toward the old cabin. It had been in the family since before he was born, and as very small children, he and Francisco had spent many vacations there...
"But it had been abandoned--too old, too far, and too much trouble once his sons had grown. His father had never even bothered to sell it. Or maintain it, he thought and smiled. It had cost him a lot of work and money to bring the cabin to the condition he required of it. He had told no one. Why he thought there was a need for a safe house had no rational answer. It was that part of his mind that had kept him alive, the part that sensed vulnerability and constantly sought ways to reduce it.
"The family's mountain cabin was the perfect solution. He had nearly rebuilt the entire structure, to a different set of specifications. The walls were reinforced with thick steel, the windows of bullet-proof glass. Security systems spread like a web from the cabin into the neighboring woods: cameras, a centralized control module in the cabin itself. Underneath the floor, he had built a storage room that housed an armament of weapons from high-powered assault rifles to grenades. Somehow, some part of his sensed that it would all be needed someday. That day was now.
"He didn't know why this was happening. That it was could not be denied. The victims, one after the other, were all known to him. They had run the secret operations together. They had handled the cargo as a beam. They had followed orders. Orders from above that told them that this was necessary, that this would save the lives of potentially thousands of Americans. This was a war, even if the form and manner of the execution was unlike anything ever seen before. In war, you followed orders; that much he knew from the battlefield. 
But sometimes, things went wrong..."

But the safe house, his family cabin,  was not enough to keep Miguel safe. When Father Lopez had finally remembered their family cabin and had arrived, he saw the remainder of a nightmare. Almost all of one cabin wall--a wall that had been reinforced inside by steel rebar--was gone. Something had ripped the wall apart! It was clear that Miguel had fought to the bitter end, but whatever, or whoever had been there had won...

And that's when it started to get strange... Father Lopez knew what he'd seen, but later when he talked to the police, they indicated that it was probably just a robbery. The nightmare scene had disappeared...

Sara Houston had come to Miguel's funeral and started saying some strange things to Lopez. Who was she and what had his brother been involved with? But by the time Lopez had learned more, he was making a demand of his own--to participate in the investigation! Would he be able to get over what he was discovering about his brother, and others?

To find out more, Houston and Lopez broke into a "secure" CIA compound!

CIA Compound
"He's involved because his brother
was killed only days after I took that
leave! Before I could warn him! You
remember Miguel, don't you Jesse?"
"Don't you patronize me, Sara! Her
boss relaxed momentarily and ran his
palm across his sparse hair. You don't
think I've gotten enough heat with the
deaths of so many agents? A conspiracy
to hunt down and kill CIA agents has
a nice, satisfactory Jason Bourne feel
to it. It gives meaning and makes sense
out of what are, from all the facts,
unrelated, coincidental deaths...
"That they all were involved in covert
missions together, hidden from the
rest of us, going on for years? That
this topic is so hot-button that infor-
mation on these missions is denied
to most CIA employees?...
"You've taken to covertly investigating
your own division?"
"Damn it, Jesse, it's not covert!
"But he saw that her pain was deeper. She was losing part of the America that she had devoted herself to, that she loved and served with all her heart. Her agency directed these atrocities. Her entire belief system was collapsing...
"Houston grunted. Not all is great. According to Fred, the CIA now has me listed as a top-priority catch. And if you can believe it, I'm coded 'GADAHN.' You're listed as a possible accomplice, if that makes you feel less left out.
"What's Gadahn? Accomplice to what?
"Adam Gadahn, the first American indicted for treason in more than half a century...
"Basically, you're fucked," said the floating head of Fred Simon on the monitor. His pixelated image showed little emotion. Lopez and Houston sat close together in front of the screen listening to the parade of bad news. It was worse than Lopez could ever had imagined, even given what they had done. Their theft of CIA documents had crossed a line in the Agency neither Houston nor Simon knew existed.
"They can't make a charge of treason stick, of course, but that won't matter for the manhunt..."

But he was also having a major personal issue--his growing feelings for Sara and what that meant to his vows to the church...

Now there were a sufficient number dead to know that a specific group of individuals was being hunted. The hunted had to become hunters...or else... But they were hunting not only who was doing the assassinations, but anybody else who got in their way of coverup--and that included Lopez and Houston if necessary...

So far, the hunter had gotten near enough to kill every target he was after...and there were more to come...

Those of you who have already read The Ragnarok Conspiracy which told of a conspiracy intensely affecting the entire world by actions of a group of terrorists, will find a much more subtle, almost quiet--elimination. Yet, the suspense is so much more heightened, even once readers know who initiated the actions... The back cover calls him a madman... I find it important to repeat the phrase I quoted from the backcover:

Sometimes evil is not born of madness, but madness of evil...

This novel is a confrontation to every reader--every American. How will you receive it? With understanding?  With empathy? Will it change your thinking? This story demands a reaction, a realization? It is an outstanding explosion of reality--smack in our faces! There are those in the United States who are just as evil as those we are asked to fight in other countries...

I loved it! Payback, retribution, revenge...What if every victim of crime began to fight back? Chaos, yes, but...  Is it time to stop the evil before madness reigns? I recommend this highly as a must-read!


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