Source: Aneirin Flynn design and graphics

End of Lies is out in eBook form. Check out a revamped www.bradleywest.net for purchase options. While you’re there, if you sign up for the True Lies newsletter, you’ll come away with two free books. Or simply visit Amazon (Amazon End of Lies Kindle), or your favorite eBook retailer and drop $0.99. Fans of physical books can buy the paperback edition on Amazon for $11.99.

Word of mouth and it’s first cousin the online book review are powerful influencers of book sales. I’d appreciate if you left a review on the site where you made your purchase and then copy-pasted it on Goodreads (Goodreads End of Lies) if you are a member of this free readers’ club.

This rest of this fortnight’s newsletter consists of the transcript of a Q & A session that describes why I wrote End of Lies and describes the book’s main themes: family-over-country, Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and a fictitious take on the possibility of a constitutional coup in the US.

Happy reading!

Bradley West, Singapore, March 18, 2019 

The Bradley West Bourbon Interview

True Lies blog sat down in early March with Mr. West (L) and Basil Hayden (R) and recorded their conversation.

Photo Credit: David Longstaff
Source: https://www.haskells.com/basil-haydens-750

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is End of Lies like?

The book features Raiders of the Lost Ark-type pacing with a high body count and plenty of current affairs topics. Complicated personalities populate the book, and the action takes place in parallel in three geographies. Don’t pick up EOL expecting a conventional linear thriller with a superstar hero dominating the villains. Bob Nolan is a desk man who, late in life, has added pistol marksmanship and good physical conditioning to his cryptanalyst and hacking skillsets. Travis Ryder is a partially disabled former SEAL with an alcohol problem. Sam Hecker is a DEA senior manager with near zero trade craft and a secret to hide. These are folks you invite to your home for grilled steaks and wine, not people who jump out of helicopters or rappel down buildings. EOL features characters readers can identify with and say, “Hey, that could have happened to me.”

 

End of Lies is the third book in Countless Lies, yet you recommend that new readers to the series start here. Why’s that?

End of Lies is shorter and less complicated than predecessors Sea of Lies and Pack of Lies. Mind you, EOL runs to 113,000 words, and readers still have to pay attention, but it’s nothing on SOL’s up to six parallel plot lines and three-dozen characters captured in 194,000 words, or POL’s four plot threads and two-dozen characters spread over 141,000 words. With that in mind, it may be easier to read the books in reverse despite a smattering of spoilers.

The same characters populate each book, and while a couple of them die in End of Lies, I don’t think that makes POL or SOL any less suspenseful. If you like the Countless Lies-style of conspiracy espionage fiction, by the time you get to Sea of Lies the length will be more a blessing than a curse. You can even buy all three eBooks on Amazon in one go for under eight dollars at Amazon Kindle Countless Lies series.

 

So what actually happens in End of Lies?

Bob Nolan’s family is in the crosshairs, first pursued by former FSB director and long-term nemesis Chumakov, next by the new Medellín Cartel and finally from right-wing cabal calling itself “Higher Love” (see The Secret Team, March 1, 2019). Nolan, Hecker and Ryder simultaneously must defeat these adversaries while protecting their own families and safeguarding Nolan’s wife and two adult children.

In the first two books in the Countless Lies series, Nolan put country and duty ahead of family. End of Lies takes place over two weeks in August 2016, more than two years after Sea of Lies (March 2014) and Pack of Lies (April 2014). Nolan’s changed—for one thing, he’s legally dead—and End of Lies opens with Nolan hot on the cyber trail of “Mr. Love,” the anonymous leader of a treasonous secret society. The president directs Nolan’s Project Abyss team to investigate Russia’s interference in the forthcoming 2016 election. Nolan’s world goes sideways shortly later and the book takes off.

Sea of Lies and Pack of Lies dealt with MH370 and other mysteries and conspiracies in Burma, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, China and Australia versus End of Lies which takes place 95% in the US. Was this by accident or design?

At little bit of both. I wrote EOL in 2018 when the Mueller investigation was ramping up and Russia’s role in the 2016 election was less-well understood than today. I also wanted to include a bit on MH17’s downing as Russia received a free pass from the United Nations for reasons I don’t understand. As for geography, many US-based thriller readers are more familiar reading home-grown stories. I thought Pack of Lies would appeal to lovers of exotic locations such as Balochistan and Sri Lanka, but one reviewer wrote, “West writes convincingly about places you don’t want to visit.” That comment stuck with me and helped steer the third book to North America.

The back flap blurb mentions Russia and the 2016 election, a North Korea nuke and a coup while Nolan’s crew tries to free his kidnapped family. There’s a lot going on.

End of Lies overlays fiction on top of actual or plausible scenarios such as Russia’s efforts to undermine US democracy and the damage a nuclear electro-magnetic pulse bomb could do to America’s power grid. There are tidbits on the downing of MH17, and the function and location of the CIA’s cold war weapons repository, the infamous Midwest Depot located inside Camp Stanley in San Antonio. Then there are two wholly fictional storylines, the first the Mr. Love-Higher Love cabal and the planned installation of a dictator presiding over an American empire, and the rebirth of the Medellín Cartel. So there’s plenty for Countless Lies series conspiracy junkies to sink their teeth into without losing sight of the more traditional central plot thread, a man out to protect his family. I guess EOL is just a twenty-first-century Western at its heart.

Source: Aneirin Flynn design and graphics

Now that it’s early 2019 and we know a lot more about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, what, if anything, would you change in End of Lies?

London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral contains a Latin inscription commemorating architect Sir Christopher Wren: If you seek my memorial, look around you. Vladimir Putin likely views the fractious, precarious state of the US democratic system in the same way: his life’s crowning achievement. Russia’s multi-level manipulation has been masterful and supersedes anything I’ve ever read in spy fiction. What’s grabbed most of the headlines is arguably the least important, that being Russia’s role in hacking Clinton’s and the DNC’s emails and taking them public versus Wikileaks. It’s not that these thefts weren’t damaging—they probably cost Clinton the election—it’s that there are well-known ways of securing servers to prevent this from happening again (although there’s no antidote for stupidity).

Dig one layer down and we see the Internet Research Agency and several other arms of Russia’s intelligence community using internet trolls, bots, fake news and social media to destabilize US society. In aggregate, these actions caused so much ill-will and distrust that America still hasn’t recovered. There are still stories coming out in 2019 describing how Russia-directed fake Facebook groups held rallies from opposing factions (e.g. Muslim rights versus white supremacists) across the street from one another to foment violence. An open society is still the best society, but it also needs to guard against outside manipulation. In 2016 Russia’s intelligence community ran circles around the US.

At the bottom of the dirty tricks pile and virtually unmentioned are the successful penetrations of seven states’ voter registers and plans to break into another fourteen prior to the election. Did Putin’s spies succeed in falsifying votes? Not this time. If unchecked, would Russia attempt the same in 2020? Absolutely, which is why the US intelligence community worked tirelessly to keep the 2018 midterms clean. The stakes are high: the 2016 presidential election saw fewer than half of eligible voters turn out. Already jaded citizens don’t need much of a push to conclude that the entire system is rotten and decide that their votes don’t count. The death of democracy could easily follow within decades.

If I were writing End of Lies today, I’d make it more about Russia’s massive programs to undermine the US democratic system. Having said that, I’m pleased with End of Lie’s mix of pace, plot lines and characters.

Speaking of Russia interference, I see that Putin has emptied my glass while we’ve been speaking. Can you pass the ice bucket and roll over to my side of the table, Basil?

 

Source: Aneirin Flynn design and graphics