Meet Miranda’s Team: Jeremy Trahn

No woman is complete without her team…even if she doesn’t know them.

military technothrillerAn excerpt from Drone:

A young man with Vietnamese features stepped right in front of her.

You’re Miranda Chase? Oh my God! I can’t believe it.” He grabbed her hand and began shaking it. “I’m Jeremy. Jeremy Trahn. Systems specialist. I can’t believe I’m on your team. When the security guy driving me here told me who I was meeting, I didn’t believe him. No way, just no way. But here you are. I’ve read every single one of your investigation reports.” His English was accentless and so fast that it was hard to follow.

Her hand was still tightly clasped between the two of his.

“All the way back to that first Cessna 152 that flew into the powerlines by Boeing Field in Seattle and ended up dangling upside down for hours. I’ve taught you everything I know. No. Wait. Everything I know I’ve taught… You know what I mean. I’m— I’m…speechless.”

“All evidence to the contrary,” Holly remarked drily from somewhere behind her.

Miranda’s attempts to recover her hand weren’t working.

“It’s amazing. I’ve been so hoping to just meet you or even attend one of your lectures. And now here I am assigned to your team. This is too perfect to be true. I’m Jeremy. Jeremy Trahn. Did I already say that? I’m just so excited to be here that I can’t begin to tell you. Such an honor to—”

Holly reached out and casually took Jeremy’s forearm.

“Ow! Hey!” His clasp relaxed suddenly, as if his nerves had been switched off.

Miranda recovered her hand and Holly let the man go.

“I think she got the idea, mate.”

“Sorry, it’s just—” Jeremy wrapped his other hand protectively over where Holly had seemed to barely touch his forearm.

“Honor and privilege and all that rot.” Holly turned to Miranda. “So I’m guessing that you’re some kind of hot shit crash girl in addition to facing down generals. I seriously like that. Want to get married? Not that I’m into girls, but I bet you’re a gas to hang around with. What are you?” She addressed the last to Jeremy.

“Systems specialist: electrical, fuel, hydraulics, you name it,” he rebounded with his full enthusiasm even as he rubbed at his arm. “Oh and weather. I’m always fascinated by the interaction of processes whether it’s electronic, fuel-based, or even atmospheric conditions. MIT at sixteen for computer systems. Though I went to Princeton for a double doctorate: fluid dynamics and advanced system topology modeling. Then I—”

Holly reached out toward his arm again.

Jeremy clutched it to his chest and stopped talking.

Meet Miranda’s Team: Mike Munroe

No woman is complete without her team…even if she doesn’t know them.

military technothrillerAn excerpt from Drone:

Mike Munroe stepped up to the two women after the general was out of hearing range.

“What is wrong with you two? Are you trying to get shot?”

Holly, the blonde Australian who had been on his flight—apparently asleep from the moment she hit the seat until the helicopter’s skids touched the ground—arched an eyebrow at him. Clearly practiced to put men in their place, he didn’t bother reacting to it.

The petite brunette on the other hand ignored him completely as she carefully labeled the scrap of metal she’d bagged.

“I mean seriously. The man had a revolver.”

“That’s not a revolver. It’s an M17; a Sig Sauer P320 to civilians. Nice upgrade from the M9 your Army boys used to carry,” the Australian was emphatic.

“He was going to shoot you.”

“Not with a revolver, he wasn’t, mate. Because he didn’t have one.”

Mike considered kneeling down and pounding his forehead on the sandy soil.

“You’re NTSB?”

The blonde turned her back on him to show the NTSB emblazoned across the back of her vest that he probably should have noticed sooner.

“How’d you get here from Australia?”

“Decided to hop a ’roo and try something new. ATSB, Australian Transport Safety Board, sent me over for cross training.”

“Here,” he tossed her a tube of sunscreen. She was fair-skinned enough to burn in minutes. She tossed it back right at his face. Only his quick reaction time managed to save his nose. Normally women appreciated his thoughtfulness.

She then pulled out a ball cap as if that would save her ears, neck, and other exposed areas. She made an unruly ponytail through the loop of the cap. The woman looked as if she’d hacked off her hair with a knife. Maybe the big one strapped to her thigh.

Her cap was yellow and green and announced the Australian Matildas.

“Who are they?”

“Hallo! Best soccer team in Oz? Well, not yet, but they will be. Catch a clue, pretty boy. There’ll be a quiz at end of week.”

“It’s already Saturday.” And dammit, that reminded him that he’d had a hot date lined up for this afternoon: 5K run, dinner at Basta, and hopefully some serious sex afterward. At least he had before they’d mobilized him out of Denver a couple hours ago. He checked his cell. No reception. No way to reach her. Alejandra—even her name was sexy—was gonna be pissed, probably past recovery. This sucked in so many ways.

“Better get studying then, hadn’t you?” Holly was enjoying herself too much at his expense, so he ignored her.

The brunette was drifting away, turning back toward the wreck. “Excuse me, is one of you Miranda Chase?”

The brunette turned back to look at him with narrowed eyes. Then she opened them incredibly wide—but not as if she was surprised. More as if she was seeing how wide she could make them. She didn’t speak; instead she tapped her badge.

He glanced down and read her name.

Mike held out a hand. “Hi. I’m Mike Munroe, your operations and human-performance investigator.”

“You’re not Evelyn,” Miranda narrowed her eyes again. Was she angry that he wasn’t?

He made a show of glancing down at himself. “No, I don’t seem to be. At least not today.”

“He could be an Evelyn,” Holly inspected him from head to toe as if he was a dead fish. Usually ladies liked what they saw when they looked at him. Alejandra certainly had.

“I’m not.”

Meet Miranda’s Team: Holly Harper

No woman is complete without her team…even if she doesn’t know them.

military technothrillerAn excerpt from Drone:

Miranda turned very slowly; she’d never faced a weapon before.

She could shoot one well enough, though she’d never enjoyed it particularly. Living in a very isolated area as she did between assignments, it was occasionally necessary to put down an injured animal herself. It still made her cry every time. So beautiful and free in life, then—bang!—gone forever. Just like every victim in a plane crash she’d been unable to prevent.

“I said no goddamn photographs. Now give me that thing.” General Harrison tipped the handgun slightly to indicate her tablet.

The pumping adrenaline made her even more hyperaware of details than normal. Every bit of grit shifting under the sole of her boots was a moment of individual assessment until she came face-to-face with the tiny black hole at the end of the barrel, which seemed to expand until it filled the world.

Now her heart rate was escalating toward panic and her palm went sweaty holding the tablet.

She glanced over the barrel at the scowling general’s face. This time when her eyes refocused on the tip of the barrel, the black hole had returned to its normal size—small, black, and utterly void of feeling.

Before she could decide on the best course of action, a tall blonde came toward them from the landed helicopter—slightly behind the general’s field of view. She could have blindsided him easily. Instead, she scuffed her boot loudly by kicking a thorny scrub brush.

The general flinched and redirected his aim at the newcomer, which caused the blonde to do little more than arch an eyebrow.

“Now isn’t this just so interesting.” Her accent was thickly Australian. She remained at perfect ease as she circled around to stand close beside Miranda.

The handgun tracked her closely.

“Now general, I don’t want to be telling you your job, but is this really the best course of action? First, if you do manage to shoot me, there will be a whole mess of paperwork just pilin’ up higher than Uluru—that’s the big red rock at the center of Australia, by the by, just in case you’re not from around about there—which is a lot of paperwork. Shooting a civilian is very bad form. Even worse, firing on the Investigator-in-Charge of the NTSB Go Team investigating your crash would make your motivations appear maybe a tiny bit suspect to people. People you probably don’t want suspecting things about you. However, far more importantly, me former mates in the SAS—that’s the Australian Special Air Service, not my Brit brethren—would be sorely disappointed if I was to let either of those scenarios happen.” She stood as casually as if she was chatting with a friend.

Miranda inspected her more closely.

She was five-ten and looked remarkably fit. Which would be fitting for the SAS. Australian Special Operations might not be Delta Force, but they were very elite military. Miranda had no idea what she was doing here, but the woman appeared far better prepared to deal with a weapon-bearing general than she herself was.

Her hands—Miranda always noticed hands—were strong and had a wide variety of calluses. The most prominent were on the webbing between thumb and forefinger. Miranda tried flexing her own hand through several positions that different tasks might require, but none of them seemed likely to create such a mark. Unless…

Miranda formed her hand as if she was firing a pistol. Yes, each shot would make the weapon buck against the webbing between thumb and forefinger, which matched the observed data. Just how much did someone have to shoot to create a callus there? Obviously, this woman could answer the question.

“So, mate. I’m asking myself, ‘Holly’—that’s my name, so it’s how I typically address myself—‘Holly, should you break one or both of the general’s hands as you take his weapon?’ For the moment, you may consider that an idle question while you consider the next part. As an extra add-on service, I’d be glad to shoot you with it after I rip it from your bleeding fingers. Just a graze, mind you, so that you could claim you struggled manfully before a Sheila took away your personal weapon and spanked you with it.”

Afraid of having too much fun?

Miranda Chase lands soon!

military technothrillerI certainly had too much fun writing this book. It felt as if all the military romantic suspense that I wrote has really found a home and early reviews agree.

“Superb!” – Booklist

“The best military thriller I’ve read in a very long time. Love the female characters.” – Sheldon McArthur, founder of The Mystery Bookstore, LA

About this book

A US Air Force C-130 transport plane, bearing top secret cargo, lies shattered in the Nevada desert at Groom Lake.

China’s prototype fifth-generation jet fighter goes missing.

Far above, a US supersonic, stealth drone flies a very lethal Black Op.

The CIA, the US military command, and the secretive National Reconnaissance Office are all locked in a battle for control of the nation’s future.

Miranda Chase, the National Transportation Safety Board’s air-crash savant, lands in the center of the gathering maelstrom.

Burdened with a new team and a polarizing personality, she must connect the pieces to stay alive. And she must do it before the wreckage of her past crashes down upon her and destroys US-China relations forever.

About finding Miranda

Some characters are elusive and are a long time coming. Miranda wasn’t!

She began as a writing exercise for a class five years ago—or rather a very simple version of her. When I sat down to start writing her, she came to life in very unexpected ways, but said clearly from the first moment, “THIS is my voice.”

Miranda is an air crash savant, with all of the other blind spots that creates in her life. And to keep her on point, she depends on her team. But her team completely changes as she starts her most dangerous investigation yet.

Here’s a little Miranda

The flight attendant stepped up to her seat—4E—which had never been her favorite on a 767-300. At least the cabin setup was in the familiar 261-seat, 2-class configuration, currently running at a seventy-three percent load capacity with a standard crew of ten and one ride-along FAA inspector in the cockpit jump seat.

“Excuse me, are you Miranda Chase?”

She nodded.

The attendant made a face that she couldn’t interpret.

A frown? Did that indicate anger?

He turned away before she could consider the possibilities and, without another word, returned to his station at the front of the cabin.

Miranda once again straightened the emergency exit plan that the flight’s vibrations kept shifting askew in its pocket.

This flight from yesterday’s meeting at LAX to today’s DC lunch meeting at the National Transportation Safety Board’s headquarters departed so early that she’d decided to spend the night in the airline’s executive lounge working on various aviation accident reports. She never slept on a flight and would have to catch up on her sleep tonight.

Miranda felt the shift as the plane turned into a modest five-degree bank to the left. The bright rays of dawn over the New Mexico desert shifted from the left-hand windows to the right side.

At due north, she heard the Rolls-Royce RB211 engines (quite a pleasant high tone compared to the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 that she always found unnerving) ease off ever so slightly, signaling a slow descent. The pilot was transitioning from an eastbound course that would be flown at an odd number of thousands of feet to a westbound one that must be flown at an even number.

The flight attendant then picked up the intercom phone and a loud squawk sounded through the cabin. Most people would be asleep and there were soft complaints and rustling down the length of the aircraft.

“We regret to inform you that there is an emergency on the ground. I repeat, there is nothing wrong with the plane. We are being routed back to Las Vegas, where we will disembark one passenger, refuel, and then continue our flight to DC. Our apologies for the inconvenience.”

There were now shouts of complaint all up and down the aisle.

The flight attendant was staring straight at her as he slammed the intercom back into its cradle with significantly greater force than was required to seat it properly.

Oh. It was her they would be disembarking. That meant there was a crash in need of an NTSB investigator—a major one if they were flying back an hour in the wrong direction.

Thankfully, she always had her site kit with her.

For some reason, her seatmate was muttering something foul. Miranda ignored it and began to prepare herself.

Only the crash mattered.

She straightened the exit plan once more. It had shifted the other way with the changing harmonic from the RB211 engines.

Landing soon

Miranda lands November 19th in audio, e-book, print, and large print. (Print not available until release day 11/19.)