(See what I did there… this was supposed to be my Saturday post, but for the whole of yesterday I was living like it was Friday – anyone else getting days muddled up?)
Without further ado, I’m delighted to welcome back bestselling author, David Ricciardi
Black Flag by David Ricciardi shows how this author can predict the future. It has riveting scenes of a biological weapon about to be unleashed. Sound familiar? The other aspect brings back piracy to the high scenes.
Although the culprit in this book is not China, but Iran, there are still fascinating details that can be compared to today’s pandemic. After a pirate team captures a ship’s container that is being cooled from the inside, the hero, Jake Keller, becomes suspicious. A quote hammers the point home, “Chemical weapons don’t need to be refrigerated, high explosives won’t ignite until around four hundred degrees Fahrenheit, and nuclear weapons can survive the heat of re-entry through the atmosphere…The only thing that makes sense is a biological weapon.”
After years of calm, the Pirates are back, unfortunately, better and more powerful than ever. Instead of the small motorboats this new breed of pirate has increased in number, becoming more technological savvy, well-armed, and seemed prepared for any situation. Jake is assigned to investigate what the pirates are taking, how they have become so effective, and what has happened to the crew and ship. His plan is to lure the pirate masterminds into the open by infiltrating their organization. The mission becomes complicated by a secret agenda originating from his boss, Ted Graves, at CIA headquarters. Is Graves self-serving or willing to do anything to complete the assignment?
The novel has surprising twists, a changing battlefield, and non-stop action. Ricciardi has hit a homerun with this story showing that his insight is very spot on.
Elise Cooper: When I was reading a quote in the book, I thought about today’s situation?
David Ricciardi: You must be referring to this one, “Bioweapons are engineered to be highly contagious and resistant to treatment. If enough people are infected before they become symptomatic, it could kill half of Mogadishu inside a few months-call it a million people.” I had it come from Iran because I demonized China in the last book. I thought how it is almost impossible to prepare for and is very difficult to thwart.
EC: The other event in this book is piracy?
DR: It kind of went away for two reasons. First, ships took responsibility for their own security by putting armed guards, moving faster, and changing up their routes. The second reason is that the world’s Navy makes it a priority to patrol the seas. The pirates never evolved so it all but died out. I changed that and had them well funded by warlords. They hired a bunch of Special Forces operators who attacked by coming in fast, jammed communication, and taking the ships off the grid. These warlords were corrupt, stole the cargo, and killed the crew.
EC: Jake has also evolved from the first book?
DR: In the first book he made the transition from desk jockey to field operative. All of a sudden, he was in this survival situation in a hostile country. In the second book he made the natural evolution from intelligence analysis to operations. He had a mentor that helped him make the transition. In this book, Jake is now in charge of his own team. He leverages the skills he had as an analyst with the skills he developed as an operative.
EC: Jake’s boss, Ted Graves, is not a nice guy?
DR: Yes, but is he a bad guy or just a hard-ass doing what is necessary to complete the mission? Finding intelligence means dealing with unsavory characters. Ted understands this, whereas Jake wants to still be a boy scout, and finds it distasteful. This causes a tug of war between the two of them. Yet, Jake stays in the job because he feels he must protect the innocent and sees himself as a balance to Ted
EC: Why the setting in Africa?
DR: I wanted to use a place with failed states that has massive corruption and enormous terrorist recruiting. Speaking of China, it has exploited this region not just for the mineral wealth, but to extend political influence. This presents a security threat to the US and has been on the intelligence and military radar.
EC: Why the title Black Flag?
DR: Pirates used to fly the flag of skulls and cross bones. In the book, there is a paragraph that tells the difference between a black and red flag. The black flag is a warning signal, giving ships a chance to surrender. If they don’t, then they put up a red flag, the bloody flag, that means they are attacking.
EC: Why the baseball reference?
DR: I put in this quote, “He was holding the Ngulu sword over his right shoulder and wagging it from side to side, like a batter waiting for a pitch.” It was a baseball swing attack. The sword is an ancient African weapon that is shaped like a question mark. The bad guy swings using Jake’s head as a ball.
EC: In each of your books you refer to the organization, Children of Fallen Patriots?
DR: It was started by a friend of ours who was an Army Ranger in 2002. Someone in his unit was killed, leaving behind a young child. David and Cynthia Kim decided to do something to help them and other families who lost a loved one. They committed time and money to this organization. After hearing what they wanted to do my wife and I were on board.
EC: What about your next book?
DR: Someone is trying to kill Jake. He does not know if the threat is external or internal. A constant theme is that valuable relations erode and isolate him. He does not have a network of friends and family to lean on, but must find the killer.
After years of relative calm, piracy has returned to the high sea.But the days of AK-47s and outboard engines are over. The new pirates hit like a SEAL team. Highly trained, and using cutting edge technology, they make sure their victims are never heard from again.
Ships and crews are vanishing at a staggering rate.
As the threat to international shipping grows, U.S. authorities become determined to find the source of this new danger.
Jake Keller has a plan—to lure the pirate mastermind out of hiding by infiltrating his organization—but it’s a dangerous gambit, made more so by Jake’s personal involvement with the beautiful heiress to a Greek shipping fortune and an ulterior agenda coming out of CIA headquarters.
As the threats close in from all sides, Jake finds himself faced with a familiar choice: back off, or go on the offensive.
His fate, and the fate of a nation, hang on his decision.
Book Beginnings / First Chapter First Paragraph / Tuesday Teaser!