Michael Haskins

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dissecting "To Beat the Devil" - Part Three

Last week we dealt with the Russian mob. 
The chase has gone from South Florida to Mexico as Mick Murphy and his friends are trying to find the location of Alexei, the Russian gang boss. The search takes them to Tampico, Mexico. Tampico is where Mick’s friend, and ex-drug smuggler Pauly, sometimes worked out of and where he decided to leave the business. Read the book and you’ll find out what caused Pauly to make a run for it!
It is also at Tampico, where they discover Alexei’s journal that will take them back to Key West. So, how factual is it that Iranians would use a Mexican cartel to sneak Palestinians into the US? You’ll learn about the plan in my book. Let me explain what my intel contact told me. Iranians are not Arabs, they are Persian. You don’t hear about Iranian suicide bombers. But the Iranians pay Hezbollah to do the dirty work and Hezbollah recruits Palestinians.
Has it happened before, Iranians using Mexican cartels for smuggling people into the US? No one can say for sure, but Iranian militants, as well as other Muslin terrorist groups have a foothold in South and Central America. That’s a known fact, so American intelligence probably keeps an eye on them. Might make another good book.
So, my premise is possible.
The Russian gangster’s journal is a throwback to his days in the KGB. Again, it is known the KGB kept good records. That was proven when East Germany’s government went the way of all Eastern Communists bloc. It is still not know what facts were found at the Stasi HQ, but it made a lot of West German politicians nervous. Yes, Alexei’s journal would be a prize.
But, ain’t there always a but? The journal is in Russian (come on, Alexei is Russian so of course he’d write in Russian) and no one among Mick cohorts speaks the language. Mick and Pauly know that their friend in Key West, Burt, has a relationship with a Russian woman. Escaping a Mexican Navy attack on the cartel’s smuggling base, and facing off threats from another cartel, the crew get airborne. While in flight, Murphy flips the journal’s pages and comes across the longitude/latitude numbers and realizes they designate Key West Harbor (remember, he’s a sailor and would know his home ports coordinates).
This discovery brings them back to Key West, to warn the authorities, but not until they get Burt’s friend to translate the journal. What they discover shocks them. What happens when they bring the time sensitive material to the authorities shocks them even worse.
Just a quick side note here, if you’ve been watching the news about the Malaysian Airline that has gone missing (as I write this), you may have heard that an Iranian bought the two men using stolen passports their tickets. That news has the world’s intelligence agencies paying close attention now. As in “To Beat the Devil,” Iranian agents are behind many terrorist actions, even if it’s a terrorist act performed by an Arab, or other non-Iranian.
Truth can be as strange as fiction. We’ll talk about what the Iranians wanted the Palestinians trained for and why it was scheduled for Key West, next time.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dissecting "To Beat the Devil" - part two

All right, the overall premise of the book was done in my last blog. Now it’s time to deal with the opening of the book.

“To Beat the Devil” opens differently than my other books, because it’s told in Norm’s voice. I began in Murphy’s voice, but realized what happened in the end of “Stairway to the Bottom” would have left Murphy in bad shape, both physically and mentally.  So, Norm, Murphy’s black-bag friend begins the story and it’s not in Key West. About 100 pages into the book, they arrive back in Key West, and I have Murphy telling the story.

So, the book opens with Norm explaining why Murphy is beating a Russian gangster with a rubber hose. There are some later torture scenes that I made up, but the practice is not fiction.

A lot of the story in the beginning deals with tracking Alexei, the person responsible for the violent ending of “Stairway to the Bottom.”

Without giving too much away, there’s a few chapters set in South Beach outside and inside a Russian “private club.” It’s true, the Russian Mafia brings over bar girls from the old Soviet Bloc and use them to entice wealthy men visiting Miami to come to the clubs, where they guys are usually fleeced with prices of up to a grand for drinks. Stories have appeared in the Miami Herald about these clubs and sometimes the owners are taken to court. But it takes a while.

There’s a few altercations with the Russians that leads Murphy to Mexico and drug gangs fighting each other. Remember, Murphy’s friend Pauly is an ex-drug smuggler and knows his way around Tampico, Mexico. Thanks to Pauly’s connections, during a Mexican Navy attack to the drug compound from a drug dealer who wants to escape the attack, Murphy finds out about a possible terrorist attack about to happen in Key West.

These chapters are built around Iranians, Russians and Mexican drug cartels. Is it real? Can it happen? When I brought the chapters to my intelligence expert, he said I was right on, especially about the Iranians. To find out what I was right on about, you’ll need to read the book. But, I can assure you, the chapters concerning the Russians and their cohorts are plausible and what I have them involved in may scare you as much as it did me. Sometimes in writing fiction, the truth behind the story may be more titillating.

Next blog, why the refusal by authorities to believe an attack is coming.

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