Second Strike by Peter Kirsanow has Special Operator Michael Garin returning to save the day again. This Superman quote applies, Garin “fights the unending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.” He will once again face off against his nemesis, Russian Special Operator Taras Bor in this action-packed thriller.
At the center of the plot is the ongoing geopolitical tension between Russia and America. Just weeks after thwarting an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack by the Russians and Iranians, Garin and company realize that Russia is planning something else, a massive cyber-attack using ISIS wannabes. It is a warning of sorts that hammers the point home, America does not have a response doctrine to a massive attack of either magnitude. Without government support, Garin turns to three people for help: Congo Knox, a former Delta Force sniper; Dan Dwyer, the head of a sprawling military contracting firm; and Olivia Perry, an aide to the national security advisor. As the tension mounts up Garin must stop the attack or millions will die.
This story has never ending action. Readers will be on the edge of their chairs as they quickly turn the pages to see how Garin thwarts Bor and the Russians.
Elise Cooper: Why the Russian adversary?
Peter Kirsanow: I have a personal historical perspective. The Russians are people that need to be watched. They are the best hackers and can do it without much of a trace. If they had truly hacked our elections we probably would not even have known about it.
EC: In the very beginning of the book you have the famous Winston Churchill quote, “We shall fight on the seas and oceans…” Why?
PK: I always want something to spur an idea for the story. What I like to do is take a stoic and admired person from history and use their quote as a jumping off point for the plot.
EC: The first book discussed EMP and this one cyber-security?
PK: Because of my job I am at a lot of committee hearings. The first book, Target Omega, was inspired by a 2010 hearing on EMP. For this book, I happened on a committee meeting regarding cyber-attacks. It was shortly after that where China hacked the Office of Personal Management. My assistant on the Committee of Civil Rights had her file hacked. It affected so many people I know. The administration at the time did nothing to protect those individuals. The opening scene in this book refers to how previous administrations let problems fester. If we do not have plans to deal with these dangers it amounts to ‘defense malpractice.’
EC: You do not seem to be very fond of politicians?
PK: How did you guess that, maybe it was the book quotes. When Dan Dwyer, a military contractor said, ‘Doesn’t anyone put country above self-interest anymore.’ Or “He’s also a politician. He’s an American first. One of only three in Washington who is.” Politicians try to develop a narrative for their political cause. They ignore what those on the ground must do to keep us safe and treat them as the bad guys. We just saw that with respect to the CIA Director Gina Haspel confirmation.
EC: How would you describe Michael Garin?
PK: He sleeps very well at night. Never apologetic for defending America. I did not want to write him as an anti-hero. He is sure about the righteousness of his cause. I wanted him to be a Gary Cooper type, the old-fashioned gun slinger who is on the side of right. I met many operators and my brother-in-law used to be one. They believe in America and understand what must be done to keep it as the greatest country in the world. Garin was inspired in part by a couple of operators I’ve known, but he’s chiefly a combination of the attributes of my brother-in-law and my late father, one of the world’s great badasses. In fact, Nikolai “Pop” Garin is my father.
EC: Please describe your dad?
PK: The scene involving the escape from the NKVD, with slight adjustments, actually occurred. In future novels, there will be components of his story. I put the scene of torture in this book for a reason. My father was a soldier in the Soviet Red Army and was anti-Communist. Each unit had a political officer. After the war, he was rounded up and placed in a camp in East Germany. Luckily, he escaped from there. What he saw was true torture making what I wrote in Second Strike mild in comparison. For guys like my father waterboarding would be a day at the beach.
EC: How would you describe Bor?
PK: An anti-Garin. He is scarier than the protagonist. The existential struggle between the two is a metaphor between the existential struggle of America and its chief enemies. In future books readers will find out something about Bor that will surprise them and put some things in perspective.
EC: Will there be a relationship between Olivia, the national security aide, and Garin?
PK: My editor warned me about what happened in the 1980s TV show “Moonlighting.” During the first three seasons, there was tension between the hero and heroine. Once they got together the series tanked. I think I will keep Olivia and Garin’s relationship at arm’s length. They will have this attraction between them, but because of their respective jobs they cannot become a couple.
EC: Are you ever going to cure Garin of his heart problems?
PK: He actually has a heart attack in book three and is debilitated. Dwyer, Knox, and Olivia and a new person all have to fight the adversary themselves while he is recovering. After he comes out of the hospital he seeks revenge and goes after the bad guys. I do not think his heart problem will ever be remedied. This gives him the attitude to go all out.
EC: Were you influenced by any authors?
PK: Yes. I consider Vince Flynn the Godfather of thriller writers while Tom Clancy is the creator of the thriller genre. Vince is the one who made it OK not to be politically correct. He allowed those writers after him to have the freedom to write non-politically correct stories with a basis of realism.
EC: What do you want readers to get out of these books?
PK: A reminder. I was speaking with some high school students that came by the office. What struck me is that they were not born at the time of 9/11. There is a whole generation that has no functional memory of September 11th. Because of this they have no understanding of what we are fighting against and why some of the enhanced interrogation methods were necessary.
EC: Can you give a heads up about your next books?
PK: It is titled Invincible and will be out in May 2019. Bor and Garin form an alliance. The fourth book is The Black Russian and it will have a new antagonist that is pure evil, a Russian assassin that will lurk around to cause havoc.
Second Strike (Mike Garin Thriller #2)
Within mere weeks of thwarting a cataclysmic electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack against the United States, Michael Garin, former leader of the elite Omega special operations unit, discovers that Russia has triggered an ingenious and catastrophic backup plan. Garin’s efforts to warn the administration of the new attack, however, fall on deaf ears. No one can believe that the Russians would initiate another strike of such magnitude so soon.
Alone again, Garin turns to three people for help: Congo Knox, a former Delta Force sniper; Dan Dwyer, the head of a sprawling military contracting firm; and Olivia Perry, an aide to the national security advisor. Yet Garin and his ad hoc team are checked at every turn by the formidable Russian assassin, Taras Bor, who is directed by an individual seemingly able to manipulate the highest reaches of the US government.
As evidence mounts that the Russian plot has been set in motion and that Bor is pivotal to its success, it’s up to Garin and his team to thwart an attack that will cause the death of millions and establish a new world order.
GRAB A COPY!