Friday, November 7, 2014

Breached by John J. Hohn Brings Readers Characters You'll Want to Meet...

Nichols stood up and looked around as
if assuming command and suddenly
shouted at the group of bystanders,
"The rest of you, spread out! Whoever
shot Dennison is still out there." He
looked like a lumberjack foreman; broad
shouldered, muscular even at age 62. A
thick shock of brown hair flared out
beneath the rim of his baseball cap. His
gray eyes peered right through anyone
he confronted. He grimaced, his mustache
parting to display bright teeth that flashed
with anger. He looked down the embankment
to the shoreline, glanced at Raker, and then
walked down to the water to wash the blood
off his hands.
Neighbors who lived along the shoreline
of the lake had come running in response
to the cries for help. They jumped back
in alarm at Nichols' commands...
 "I...I know this man," Art Nichols said as he and Detective James Raker drew closer to the body lying on the lee side to the dam. "It's Norm. Norm Dennison." Nichols' pace slowed until, with a final step, he knelt beside the body. "Ah, God, Norm. So this is how the anger ends."
"A friend?" Raker asked standing at Nichol's side.
"We worked together on the property owners' association a few years back. I haven't seen him in a couple  of years. I can't believe this. What happened here?" Nichols asked looking up at the onlookers who had gathered around the dead man. "Is this an accident?"
"I said 'spread out,' goddamn it!"
Nichols barked again as he turned
around at the waters edge. "Get
down below the ridge line where
you aren't so easy to spot."
Raker studied his friend as Art
walked back from the water. Art's
brow was furrowed. His face taut.
Their eyes met. The detective
could see Nichols was not in the
moment. "New kids!" Nichols
cursed as he came closer. "They're
all gonna get themselves killed."
Raker shook his head as he studied the victim. A high caliber round had blown the back of the man's head away and splattered brain tissue all over...

"OK, Art," Baker said. The detective had heard about flashbacks veterans experienced years after combat, but he had never been in the company of a man who was overtaken by the phenomenon. His friend, Art Nichols was back 40 years in time, in the dark mists of the Viet Nam jungle.
Raker turned to the bystanders. Most were elderly. Retirees, he thought, Their eyes were following Art's every step. "The law enforcement people will not want traffic around the body," Raker said hoping to restore a measure of calm. "Did anyone call the authorities?"
"Yes, I did," an older woman wearing gardener's gloves and a head scarf replied. "They're on their way."
"Anyone else know this man? Any of you?" Raker continued.
"Dennison. Norm Dennison! The new guy." Nichols shouted at Raker. "Now let's move!"
A siren could be heard in the distance.
"He wasn't supposed to be here. Why the hell can't people keep orders straight?" Nichols said looking away...

By John J. Hohn

Hohn has once again used his extensive financial expertise and experience to engage readers in deep financial issues in which some of us may become entangled. This is a sequel to Deadly Portfolio: A Killing in Hedge Funds, his debut novel. Check if out if you've not had a chance as yet... 
"That's going to delay everything," Helen whined.
"I don't know why."
"You don't think for one minute they're not going to postpone
the deadline now. They will!" Helen whined. "The longer they
delay the more time people will hold out and then something
will break against us. You wait. You'll see. People are scared
now. Two lots sold just last month. But they won't stay scared
forever. This gives them time to plan. They didn't think the
state is serious, but people are beginning to find out they are."

...."I'm not in a panic. But it took forever to get the Department
of Environment and Natural Resources to set a deadline for
bringing the dam into compliance. It was only when we 
pushed for additional inspection that they came around..."

Breached takes us into a retirement community. This one is somewhat unusual in that a dam and artificial lake was built as part of the complex... The ownership of the dam is a key point since it's on private, or corporate, land...

Frank Schreve heard his wife's Mercedes charge up the driveway and grind to a halt at the foot of the stairs ... "Frank! Frank?" Helen called out crossing the deck to the door. "You'll never'll never guess." She stopped one step inside the screen door to catch her breath. 
"Norm Dennison got shot at the dam about a half and hour ago," Frank said flatly. "How'd you know that? I just came from there."
"Highway patrol and county sheriff cruisers are all over the place. I just waved one guy down and asked him...

Frank is head of the property owners' association. Helen, his wife, is the woman you love to hate--at least most of the community members do. She's the type of woman that tries to usurp the power of her husband as her own. Example, she had just visited the Dennison crime scene and demanded to see the body, learn everything that was happening, and let them know how she would be participating... Yeah, you got it--she was not so gently kicked off the area and told to go home...for, of course, she would not be willing to stand along with all the other onlookers...LOL I hated her quickly! But, later, I felt sorry for her--when the truth was revealed...

The town of Riley's Creek, North Carolina, was
snuggled in the valley on both sides of the stream
from which it drew its name. From the top of
nearby Black Mountain, the tallest peak in the
county, the valley looked like the crushed crown
of a man's hat with mountains rimming the
The stop at the church was the last Cheryl had
In the front material the author mentions the veteran who spent time with him sharing his experiences and struggles with flashbacks. For me, it was the best part of the book, as I was able to learn and empathize more fully with what our veterans face with PTSD. Thanks to both of you for making this a part of your story.

Art Nichols, who is a victim of PTSD, was with his friend retired Detective James Raker, who is a carryover from the first novel, when they discovered the body of Norm Dennison. During the discovery and knowing he'd been murdered, Nichols went into a flashback in which he thought he was back in a war zone.  Raker was able to see what was happening and, throughout the book, would calmly talk with Art, both during and after each flashback to help him through and back to the present time. Kudos to Hohn for these remarkably realistic and sympathetic scenes!

Art Nichols was also a former member of the owners association, but had resigned...Somewhat of a rebel, I'm assuming, he had not paid dues since that time. By the time, the major problems occurred, whether or not you had paid your dues became a very important issue!

As mentioned by others, the characters drive the novel and Art's wife Cheryl, was a beautifully drawn wife for how to respond in her situation at the times Art was experiencing problems...

Art and Cheryl were hosting visitors at the time of the murder. James Raker was an old friend but they had not been in touch for many years. James had brought a woman he was dating, Diane. She also was a woman I immediately hated, but then softened to...Again, well developed character...

"This feels so Catholic," Diane Welborn said as she entered the church with Cheryl Nichols... 
It's an Episcopalian Church," Cheryl explained.
"I know I saw the sign. But it feels Catholic. The Madonna fresco. Episcopalians don't venerate the Virgin Mary. Do they? Oh my God, she's pregnant! The two women stopped half way up the center aisle of the small church where they could see the full fresco of a several times larger than life pregnant Madonna on the wall to one side of the main altar. Diane looked at Cheryl. "Episcopalian?"
..."Smell that incense. It just hangs in the air. Makes me sick to my stomach. It reminds me of when I was pregnant. I hated it..."
On the way back to the car, Cheryl wondered whether Diane would like anything without reservation. She and Art looked forward to meeting Diane, the first woman their friend Raker had mentioned since his wife Susan died almost two years earlier...

The title refers to the dam supporting the community. The murdered man had been an inspector who had submitted his report on its condition. Now he was dead. A major split of residents was forming. Many lived far enough away from the lake that they never considered it as a factor to their homes' locations. They suggested that the land be allowed to dry up and not be concerned about the dam. Obviously, the other group wished to keep the lake available.

At least that's the issue that's presented to residents...

Art and James become interested, not only because they found the body and Art lives there, but, hey, James was a detective and naturally started to consider everything as a new case. Besides, having met many of the people, especially Schreve's wife who had been constantly inserting herself into everything, he began to sense something was...happening behind the scenes...

Then it got more complicated as some records were turned over to Art. He was still upset though and didn't feel he would get to them quickly so willingly allowed James to take them when he left to go back home. BTW, on that trip, he "broke up" (kinda) with Diane...

Before long, dangerous situations begin for Art and his wife and James... with some really nasty men coming after them!

Hohn's expansion of personal drama and inclusion of several characters beyond the norm has greatly enhanced this second novel. My favorite of the two... He's shown great empathy in creating all of his characters, giving them a life of their own, that allows readers to become much more involved. I love his main character, James Raker, but could you lighten up, John, on presenting women who we love to hate?   You're going to start getting some feedback from some of your female fans! LOL Hohn has found his stride in merging his experience within the fiction genre...I foresee his books getting better and better...

Check this one out--I think you'll enjoy!


John J. Hohn has been writing all of his life. His first story was published in nationally circulated Pilot magazine when he was just 10-years-old. He has won several awards for his poetry of the years. Though he majored in English at St. John University in Minnesota, he did not pursue a career in writing, but chose instead a 40 year career in the financial services industry. Over that time, he held positions with The Travelers, Blue Cross/Blue Shied of Minnesota and Wilson Learning Corporation in Minneapolis. Hohn moved to North Carolina in 1978 where he joined Wachovia Bank and Trust and retired after 16 years from Merrill Lynch in Winston-Salem. While still working full-time, Hohn published a book of poetry in 2000. Once retired, he published his first novel, Deadly Portfolio: A Killing in Hedge Funds in 2011. His sequel Breached came out October, 2014. John Hohn and his wife divide their time each year between a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains near West Jefferson, NC, and a cottage in the village of Southport NC, on the banks of The Cape Fear River. Between them, Hohn and his wife has six grown children.

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