Michael Haskins

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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