Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Germ by Robert Liparulo

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


(WestBow Nov 1, 2006)

by Robert Liparulo


Robert's novel paints a scenario so frighteningly real that six Hollywood producers were bidding on movie rights before the novel was completed. His acclaimed debut novel, Comes A Horseman, is being made into a major motion picture by producer Mace Neufeld and his short story "Kill Zone" was featured in the anthology Thriller, edited by James Patterson.

Robert is an award-winning author of over a thousand published articles and short stories. He is currently a contributing editor for New Man magazine. His work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Travel & Leisure, Modern Bride, Consumers Digest, Chief Executive, and The Arizona Daily Star, among other publications. In addition, he previously worked as a celebrity journalist, interviewing Stephen King, Tom Clancy, Charlton Heston, and others for magazines such as Rocky Road, Preview, and L.A. Weekly. He has sold or optioned three screenplays.

Robert is an avid scuba diver, swimmer, reader, traveler, and a law enforcement and military enthusiast. He lives in Colorado with his wife and four children. He is currently working on his third novel.

My review:~

5 Stars

Love a fast paced well written thriller with genuine characters and a fascinating plot? Look no further, Germ is your book!

A young child watches his father's planned suicide as Hitler's army begins to crumble and grows into a genius bent on revenge and destruction.

FBI Special Agent Goodwin Donnelly has met with a seemingly crazy scientist desperate to make contact with the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and finds himself under sniper attack.

Dr Allen Parker loses a patient but not before he whispers a disturbing message in Parker's ear who soon finds himself pursued by a cold-blooded assassin ~ his only hope, his preacher brother and FBI protege, Julia Matheson.

Can they survive long enough to expose an madman's plot to exterminate millions of people by targeting their DNA with Ebola causing an excruciating and inevitable death.

Robert Liparulo had exceeded expectations with his second novel, following on from the highly acclaimed Comes a Horseman. It appeals to all readers of genuine suspense and particularly men.

Germ is brilliantly paced, the action is non-stop, the reader can hardly draw breath between chapters and the characters have great appeal. Even the villains of the story are expertly drawn with great back stories to give some level of explanation for their evil bent. While Liparulo's descriptions of death are not for the fainthearted there is no glorification of the violence. With the current interest in genetic modification and other bio-manipulation this novel is frighteningly realistic as well as a must-read for any thriller or suspense reader.

Monday, 29 January 2007

Before I Wake by Dee Henderson

3 stars

Dee Henderson's newest release is another multi-layered suspense novel which keeps you guessing until the end.

Rae Gabriella is seeking refuge in the town of Justice, Illinois, trying to escape the memories from her former career as an FBI undercover agent and a case that went horribly wrong. Turning to her former boyfriend and now close friend, Bruce Chapel she takes up his offer to work alongside him as a private investigator and attempts to put her shattered life back together. When women start being murdered in Justice, Rae is asked to investigate by one of the distraught families and her skills and resolve are tested to the limit by a serial killer who leaves little if any evidence behind. The investigation introduces her to Sheriff Nathan Justice, a man dedicated to his town and intent on catching the killer. Nathan is reluctant to accept Rae's involvement but his protective nature and budding attraction to her hit a higher level when it becomes clear she could be the killer's next target.

The storyline of Before I Wake is much more complex and detailed than Dee's earlier books and this is to be commended. The many twists and subtle clues keep the reader intrigued throughout the story and the perpetrator's motives are hidden until the end which makes for a satisfying read. Once again the dialogue between her characters is detailed and provides much of their background and exposes their personalities in a unique way. The three main characters are interesting and their expressions of faith genuine and relevant. The romance angle of the story which Dee usually writes to perfection falls a little flat with Rae happy to encourage Bruce's attempts to reestablish their relationship while enjoying time with Nathan. It was a little implausible for my liking. Despite this the suspense is superb and I hope a sequel is written which reaches a satisfying conclusion of the storyline between these appealing characters.

Dee's books have always been a "must read" for me and that is yet to change!

Sunday, 28 January 2007

A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin

4 1/2 stars

Prolific author, Lynn Austin, well know for her biblical and American Civil War novels brings to life the early 1940's to tell the story of four woman whose lives are forever changed by the Second World War.

Four women, brought together by America's call for women to aid the war effort, take jobs at the Stockton Shipworks and train in electronics. Newly married Rosa wants to escape the disapproval of her parents-in-law while her husband Dirk fights overseas, Jean, the youngest, dreams of going to college, Helen is all alone after the death of her elderly parents and the wealth left to her is simply not enough and Virginia is desperately afraid she has become nothing more than a "servant" to her husband and sons. Working as a team the women discover that their differences are not enough to stand in the way of friendship. They discover abilities previously untapped and challenges never before experienced. When tragedy strikes and prejudice threatens to separate them these women find strength and hope in eachother and discover that faith and friendship is truly enough to overcome all things.

Lynn Austin has written a beautiful novel that held my interest throughout all of its 446 pages. Each chapter is written from the perspective of one of the characters but this is not a distraction or hard to follow. Despite finding Virginia's timidity irritating in the early chapters she soon developed into a character I understood more as her personality and circumstances were revealed. The remaining three characters were fascinating and believable and while from another era, their hopes, fears and challenges were easy to relate to. The author transports you to the 1940's with relevant detail and obviously impeccable research. The prejudices these women face entering a man's world are explored as well as other issues as relevant today as they were then like racisim, prejudice, bitterness and forgiveness.

A Woman's Place is a tribute to all women who sacrificed so much while their men were sacrificing their lives during the World War II era.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007


In honour of MaryLu Tyndall's new release, The Reliance, a blog has been pirated! You may even win some treasure.........

Check it out at ~

CFBA Blog Tour of If The Shoe Fits by Marilynn Griffith

No, you aren't seeing double. This month we are reviewing not one, but two books by Marilynn Griffith! This prolific writer has TWO books coming out this month! This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about If the Shoe Fits (Steeple Hill Cafe', 2007) by Marilynn Griffith (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and mother of seven)


Marilynn Griffith is wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. Her novels include Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006), Pink (Revell, Feb. 2006), Jade (Revell, June 2006), and Tangerine (Revell, January 2007). Her other credits include Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul, Cup of Comfort Devotionals and her Shades of Style series (Revell, 2006). She lives in Florida with her husband and children. To book speaking engagements or just say hello, email: marilynngriffith@gmail.com.


Have Glass Slipper, Need Prince...

If the Shoe Fits is the second book in the Sassy Sistahood Novels. The first in the series was Made of Honor (Steeple Hill, Jan. 2006).

In all my thirty-five years, I, shoe designer Rochelle Gardner, have never had so many men interested in me! My teen son's dad is back in my life after suffering from amnesia (yes, really). The church deacon has had his eye on me for years (and never said a word). And the young waiter (from the restaurant I've visited for singles' events) is trying to steal my heart. I've been struggling with my faith, trying to figure out which man God has chosen for me and wondering if I have the courage to step forward, on my not-so-pretty feet, to accept love. It's almost too much for the Sassy Sistahood to handle, but my girlfriends always have my back!

The book link:

Marilynn's website link: http://marilynngriffith.typepad.com/rhythmsofgrace/
Sorry there isn't a review this week but my copy didn't make it over the ocean!

Friday, 19 January 2007

Scoop by Rene Gutteridge


4 stars

Rene Gutteridge's diverse writing talent continues to amaze me! Scoop, the first in her Occupational Hazard series, details the inner workings of a television news team struggling in the ratings and looking for the one big "scoop" that will boost their popularity.

With a stressed out producer, a young and dedicated reporter, an ageing news anchor and an ethically-challenged news director, Channel 7's 10 o'clock news is looking down the barrel of oblivion if the team doesn't find a story so the news director sees no problem trying to make the news instead of just reporting it. Into this mix comes Hayden Hazard, assistant to the producer, Hugo, home schooled with an honesty about her faith that is both endearing and confronting to her colleagues. When their news anchor disappears, it seems Channel 7 finally has a story that will be a ratings winner and save their futures.

Rene gives fascinating insight into the stressful and fast paced news environment and fills it with genuine and unique characters. As always her writing is injected with humour yet with an underlying depth that encourages the reader to think and contemplate their own workplace behaviour. My only niggle with the book was not hearing more of Hayden's own "voice". Hayden is portrayed through the thoughts of her work colleagues and no doubt while I imagine this was a deliberate choice by Rene, it would have been great to hear directly from this interesting character.

Scoop has left me highly anticipating Snitch (releasing in May, 2007 ) and Skid (releasing in 2008).

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

CFBA Blog Tour of Arms of Deliverance by Tricia Goyer

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Arms of Deliverance (Moody Publishers, 2006) by Tricia Goyer (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and homeschooling mom!)

Tricia Goyer is one the members of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance (Tricia's Blog, "It's Real Life" Tricia's Parenting Blog, "Generation NeXt") and we are pleased to be able to review her exciting historical fiction book, Arms of Deliverance. She was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. Tricia was also a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award and won ACFW's "Book of the Year" for Long Historial Romance in 2005 AND in 2006. She has written hundreds of articles, Bible Study notes, and both fiction (three other WWII novels, From Dust to Ashes, Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. Night Song, the second title in Tricia’s World War II series, won ACFW's Book of the Year for Best Long Historical Romance.) She's and non-fiction books. married to John, and they have three great kids whom she homeschools: Cory (17), Leslie (14), and Nathan (12). They make their home in Northwest Montana with their dog, Lilly.

About the book:~

The fourth and final novel in this exhilarating series capturing the tales of men and women swept into World War II.

EUROPE, 1944

Katrine, a Czech Jew, is so successful in her attempt to pass as an Aryan that she finds herself dating a Nazi officer. Having convinced him of her genetic purity, the officer sends her to stay at a Lebensborn home--a Nazi breeding program in which children are raised and indoctrinated by the state.
Meanwhile, two friends, Mary and Lee, one a socialite, the other a working class girl, land similar reporting jobs at the New York Tribune on the eve of the war’s outbreak. Now rivals with assignments on the frontlines of war-torn Europe, Lee joins troops sailing for Normandy, while Mary's destiny lies in the cramped quarters of a B-17 bearing down on Berlin. Before the presses roll, their lives will be indelibly marked by a caring American navigator, brave French resistors, and a maniacal Nazi officer. Arms of Deliverance is a story of unexpected redemption.

Read Chapter One on Tricia's Blog.

Tuesday, 16 January 2007

Arms of Deliverance by Tricia Goyer

3 1/2 Stars

Tricia Goyer continues her World War II series with a fascinating tale of two very different American female news reporters who find themselves on the frontlines of the war in Belgium and France.

Mary has clawed her way through the journalistic ranks with nothing but grit and determination to aid her while wealthy socialite Lee has shocked her family by leaving her job with Vogue and taking up news reporting. It is through these women that we glimpse the harshness of war and the resilience of those fighting for freedom. There lives become entwined with a young pregnant Jew who has hidden her true identity and is living as an Aryan and in love with a Nazi officer in charge of racial purity. Both Mary and Lee find themselves in life threatening situations as they pursue the real stories of civilians and soldiers caught up in a war that forever changed the world.

Tricia has penned an informative and interesting story of the war through the eyes of reporters, a secret Jew and the crew of a B-17 bomber. Their stories intersect well and although there is some predictability to the ending there is enough suspense to keep the reader enthralled. Lee was less developed as a character than Mary which was a bit disappointing but Tricia has otherwise written an accurate tale of the war and is well worth the read.

Susan May Warren and the Reclaiming Nick Blog Tour

For those of you who have read my previous posts you know Susan May Warren is one of my "must read" authors so I am delighted to be part of a blog tour promoting her new book, Reclaiming Nick. This is the first book in Susie's Noble Legacy series, published by Tyndale and now available in the US. Those of us down under will have to enjoy a couple more months of anticipation!.

Back Cover Blurb:

Nick Noble hadn’t planned on being the prodigal son.
But when his father dies and leaves half the Silver Buckle—the Noble family ranch—to Nick’s former best friend, he returns home to face his mistakes . . . and to guarantee that the ranch stays in the Noble family.
Award-winning journalist Piper Sullivan believes Nick framed her brother for murder, and she’s determined to find justice. But following Nick to the Silver Buckle and posing as a ranch cook proves more challenging than she thinks. So does resisting his charming smile.
As Nick seeks to overturn his father’s will—and Piper digs for answers—family secrets surface that send Nick’s life into a tailspin. But there’s someone else who wants to take the Silver Buckle from the Noble family, and he’ll stop at nothing—even murder—to make it happen.

My copy has not quite made it across the Pacific Ocean yet so I am unable to include a review but check back soon. In the meantime, enjoy the following Q & A's with Susie:

Rel~20th Century Fox wants you to write a screenplay for Reclaiming Nick and you get to choose the actors - who are you going to pick?

Susie~What a fun question! Hmm, well, this is a great question:

For Nick, I’d cast Matthew Fox, because I love his role in Lost as the unwilling leader. He seems like a guy who would try and write old wrongs.

For Piper, I’d cast Erica Durance who plays Lois Lane on Smallville. She is savvy and confident but finds herself in way over her head time and again.

For Maggie, I’d cast Kathryn Hahn from Crossing Jordon. Maggie is a strong woman who feels things deeply and tries to hold everyone together.

For Cole, I’d cast Jerry O’Donnell, also from Crossing Jordan (You’re seeing my favorite shows). Jerry is a beta hero, we don’t’ realize he’s the hero until he suddenly comes out of the woodwork and saves the day. He’s the one behind the scenes who is committed to his life, his heroine, his task, regardless of the cost.

For Stefanie, I’d cast Evangeline Lilly, (again from Lost) only because she has to be strong and independent to run her own ranch for so many years and her long black hair reminds me of Stefanie Noble.

For Dutch, I’d cast Ed Harris, who always plays a quiet man with great wisdom.

I know you are a fan of The Princess Bride! Please give us your favourite line.......

Inconceivable! As you wish, and of course, “Anybody want a peanut?” Lately, however, it’s been “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

What comes first for you - plot or characters?

I usually start with a gem of an idea for a plot, and then go to character, and I ask myself what kind of people might be involved in this kind of plot, who would be the most interesting characters. I often write about people I’d like to know, or professions I’d like to research, in settings I’d like to explore. And then I look at the local news which is rife with ideas, and pulled tidbits from there to jumpstart my imagination. I then ask my characters what would be the worst thing they could imagine happening, and then, of course, I make that happen!

Which of your female characters is most like you or which one would you like to be?

I have to answer that in two parts – the character who is most like me is, of course, Josey Berglund, in Everything’s coming up Josey. But Lacey Galloway, tough, resilient, willing to give her life for her child is who I would most like to be like. I think the best match of these questions, however, is Mona Reynolds, from Happily Ever After – bookstore owner and handy gal who follows her dreams.

How have you and the family adjusted to returning to the US and the cultural/philosophical differences between Russia and the US?

Being stateside, although wonderful for the conveniences, has made us miss Russian relationships. Russians are all about their friends, and think nothing of spending a lot of time together, eating and hanging out. I also miss the adventure of shopping in the market. I always felt like a sort of secret agent as I scoured the market for items I’d need, or interesting food items. Shopping was always a great adventure!!

Thanks so much Susie :)

Thank you so much Narelle, for letting me stop by and talk a little about Nick! Love the questions!

Don't mind me!

I am playing around with my template at the moment so my links will be back up soon!

Saturday, 13 January 2007

And the winner is......................

Davo wins a copy of Hell in a Briefcase......................it will be on its way to you shortly!

Had a rather eventful holiday which my eldest has called the holiday of incidents, accidents and injuries! It almost competed with some of the books I read for excitement and not necessarily the good kind!

Back to regular life now - will post some reviews in the next week or so.

Monday, 1 January 2007

I am going on holidays..............

Here's a pic of where I will be..............I hope to return having read many books :)

Here are a few I plan to read while sitting on the beach and review when I am back:~

Scoop by Rene Gutteridge

A Woman's Place by Lynn Austin

Before I Wake by Dee Henderson

The Bachelor's Bargain by Catherine Palmer

And a number of others for CFBA and FIRST day tours!

Take care..............Rel

FIRST Day Tour of Hell in a Briefcase by Phil Little

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! It is January 1st, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and their latest book's FIRST chapter!

I have a copy from the publicist to give away so please post a comment and you could win:)

This month's feature author is:

Phil Little with Brad Whittington
and their book:
(A Matt Cooper Novel)


With violence in the Middle East escalating daily, Americans are glued to their televisions wondering what will happen next. Meanwhile, Matt Cooper, jet-setting star of Phil Little's debut novel
Hell in a Briefcase is doing something about it. A private security executive, his adrenaline-junkie days consist of last-minute first-class overseas flights, Hollywood parties with his actress girlfriend, and direct calls from top CIA brass.
A chance meeting with Mr. Roberts, “an old broken-down millionaire” and uncommon Christian, sends Cooper on a trip to Israel that will change his life. Matt goes behind the curtain of Middle East terrorism, witnessing firsthand the untold ravages of holy war. The deeper he goes, the closer he gets to a plot involving eleven stolen briefcase nukes and a plan infinitely more sinister than 9/11.


Phil Little, president of West Coast Detectives and a recognized expert in counter-terrorism, provides bodyguards to the stars and runs a detective agency that has served ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, Paramount, MGM, and hundreds of others (
www.westcoastdetectives.us). He draws on this experience in crafting the tightly wound plot of this international thriller. In addition to his duties as a security expert, Phil has also written Hostile Intent, Protecting Yourself from Terrorism and will soon be the subject of a television pilot. In the meantime, you can read more about Matt's adventures in his blog, http://detectivemattcooper.blogspot.com.

In addition, Phil is available for comment on all aspects of international terrorism, both at home and abroad, and he makes for an interesting and colorful guest. His expertise in the area of international issues combined with his personable on-camera style would make for a great interview on this hot topic. From Lebanese terror camps in the 1970’s to American airports in the months before 9/11, Phil Little has witnessed the terror threat up close and can share eye-opening stories and information that all Americans should know.


Marjeyoun, Lebanon.

Thursday, 21 November 2002. 01:30.

A full moon. A glow seemed to rise from the sand, allowing them to drive with their headlights off. The five Jeeps kept to 40 kph on the dark road that wound southward between hills and wadis. In the third Jeep, Major Skaff allowed himself the brief luxury of picking out Pegasus in the sharp winter sky before he compulsively scanned the rocky terrain for signs of Hezbollah fedayeen. He was leading this patrol to check out rumors of increased activity near Shaaba Farms, the disputed area where three Israeli soldiers had been kidnapped two years before.

The ridge road ran from the town of Marjeyoun down to Qlaia’a under the ominous gaze of Shqif Arnoun-the castle called “Beaufort” by the Crusaders-to the west. Christians and Muslims had fought for this ground for centuries, trading possession of the castle as their fortunes rose and fell. In the 1970’s the Palestinian Liberation Organization had used the strategic placement of the castle to shell civilian settlements in northern Israel.

That was when Skaff, then a young recruit of the Southern Lebanese Army, had been a driver in a similar convoy, shortly before the civil war broke out between Christians and Muslims in 1975. Traversing this very ridge on a mission, he had come under fire from the castle. His evasive driving had saved the convoy and drawn the attention of General Lahd.

The intervening thirty years had been a generation of unremitting war. Israel, tiring of mounting civilian casualties and the Lebanese government’s refusal to expel the terrorists, invaded southern Lebanon in 1982 and captured the castle. Eighteen years of occupation followed, during which Skaff had risen through the SLA ranks while working openly with the Israelis to keep the various Muslim factions at bay. When he had started, Hezbollah did not exist. Now the radical Muslim army controlled the south and dealt severely with the Christian resistance.

As the occupation had grown increasingly costly and casualties mounted, the pressure increased for Israel to withdraw. When the SLA collapsed in 2000, Israel destroyed what was left of the castle walls and pulled back behind the Blue Line specified by the UN. The SLA scattered. Thousands fled to Israel or went into hiding. Those who didn’t were imprisoned and tried as enemy collaborators. As Hezbollah gained control of the area, the anticipated slaughter of Christians didn’t materialize. But any SLA militiamen emboldened to return were also imprisoned.

As he scanned the distant ruins of the castle in the moonlight, Major Skaff reflected on change and constancy. Where PLO guns had once rained death on Israel and Lebanese Christians, now tourists snapped pictures and rushed home to post them on the Internet. And the same General Antoine Lahd who had brought him up in the ranks and fought beside him for decades had fled to Paris. Only a week ago he had opened a fancy restaurant in Tel Aviv called Byblos. It had a nice ocean view.

True, Lahd had a death sentence hanging over him for treason and war crimes, but so did Skaff. And so did many of the two thousand SLA in Lebanese prisons.

But some things had not changed. Southern Lebanon was just as dangerous for the men in these Jeeps as it had been when Skaff was driving instead of commanding.

Skaff was drawn from his reflections by a dark shape ahead. At the end of the ridge the road snaked through an outcropping of rock. He had passed through it many times, always with reluctance. This night he felt a peculiar sense of revulsion as he squinted at the misshapen lump of stone looming before him.

He nudged his driver and nodded toward the rocks. Hassan nodded back. He could feel it too. Skaff reached for the radio to signal the lead Jeep. A lifetime of guerrilla fighting had convinced him that such premonitions were not without merit. His transmission was brief, but they were already entering the outcropping when he put the radio down.

Five seconds later a rocket hit the grille of the lead Jeep. The explosion lit the rocks towering over them. He saw the silhouettes of two men blow out on either side of the vehicle, which was tossed onto the nose of the next Jeep. Hassan narrowly missed them, skidding left and stopping next to the driver of the lead Jeep, who was lying half off the road.

The two Jeeps behind slid sideways to a stop in the road as machine gun bursts echoed from beyond the lead Jeep. Skaff was exposed to the attack. He dove from his seat to the rear of the second Jeep, between two men already returning fire with an Uzi and an M-16.

He rolled to his feet and yelled to the two back Jeeps, motioning for them to form a double barricade with their vehicles, keeping the men covered both in the front and the rear in case the attackers attempted to sandwich them in the gap. Skaff turned back, confident that his men needed no further direction. This mission called for battle-hardened veterans, and he had personally selected the nineteen men who were with him now. Every man among them had proved himself in years of combat. Some even owed their life to his cool command in battle. Some had returned the favor multiple times.

Skaff scanned the forward battle to account for the remaining eleven men, his position shielded by the lead Jeep transfixed on the grille of the second. To the left, Hassan was pulling the driver of the first Jeep to safety. The other two men from Skaff’s Jeep were covering him with sporadic fire from their Uzis. Ahead, the driver of the second Jeep was placing a case of grenades handy to his partner, who had fitted his M-16 with a grenade launcher and was set up in the backseat. Skaff was standing beside the other two passengers in the second Jeep. That left the three passengers from the lead Jeep.

He spotted Saif on the right. He had been thrown clear onto the sand without apparent injury. He was crouched behind a boulder, occasionally returning fire with his Desert Eagle .50-caliber side arm. Failing to sight the other two, he shouted to the driver, who had acquired an Uzi.

“Rafik? Sayyed?”

He nodded forward. Skaff crawled over the middle of the jeep to the hood. Sayyed was wedged between the lead Jeep and the grille of the second Jeep, most likely dead. Rafik was lying on the hood of the second Jeep. Skaff checked for a pulse. Nothing. He closed Rafik’s eyes and whispered a short prayer. Skaff couldn’t play favorites with his men, but this loss was harder than any other would have been. At nineteen, Rafik had already spent four years with Skaff, rarely more than fifty yards from his side. Four years of relentless, driven hate. Skaff had been Rafik’s ticket for revenge. Perhaps now he had found the peace revenge had not been able to bring him.

Skaff was crawling back to get a weapon when the second rocket hit the bottom of the lead Jeep. The gas tank exploded, sending most of the shrapnel back toward the attackers. The force of the blast threw the second Jeep back five feet, knocking over the two shooters behind. The grenade launcher and the man with it fell into the front seat. The driver was standing to the side. He returned fire with the Uzi.

Skaff helped reposition the grenade launcher and crawled out of the Jeep. The two in back were already firing again. He scanned the area and then dove toward the two Jeeps in the rear. Of the eight men between the jeeps, one had taken a round in the right shoulder but was still firing left-handed, propped against a door. Three were facing the rear but indicated they hadn’t seen any action, yet. Two were covering the walls on either side with M-16s, but also hadn’t seen action. The final two had grenade launchers on their M-16s. They waited until they saw several volleys of tracer bullets originating from a single location. Then they fired three seconds apart at the source. The machine gun fire stopped. Skaff slapped them on the back. Perhaps they would get out of this thing alive.

Then a rocket hit Skaff’s Jeep. Hassan was behind a curtain of stone, firing with an Uzi, having propped the injured driver in a cleft in the rock. But the other two were using the Jeep for cover. One tumbled backward, clear of the Jeep. The other was knocked down as the Jeep rolled over, pinning his leg under it. Skaff ran through a volley of automatic weapons fire and pulled the first man to his feet. They raced to the Jeep, joined by Hassan, and rocked it back over. Then they dragged the injured man to safety next to the injured driver.

Skaff felt a shudder of unease ripple through the adrenaline-laced focus that always came over him in combat. If this kept up, the whole team would be shredded before they had used half their ammo. He grabbed Hassan’s arm and yelled into his ear over the din.

“We have to take out that rocket launcher or we don’t get out of here. Take those three and circle around.” Hassan nodded and stepped away but Skaff grabbed his arm. “Take a radio.”

He let go, and Hassan ran to the rear while the others laid down covering fire. Skaff used the opportunity to race to the front two Jeeps and get the four there away from the vehicles and behind the cover of the rocks. As they ran for cover, another rocket hit the top of the lead Jeep, sending fragments of the grille and fenders flying in all directions. Skaff ran through the explosion back to the rock curtain. When he fell against a boulder the injured man pointed at Skaff’s leg. He looked down and saw that his left trouser leg was slashed in three places. Blood was seeping down to his boots. He looked around to see how the others had fared.

Saif seemed to have been hit in the arm by something. He was now firing the Eagle while holding his upper arm with the other hand. The other four seemed to have escaped unscathed. Skaff’s radio had not survived the rocket. He nodded to the man next to him, who wielded an Uzi while he made it to the two back Jeeps, getting an Uzi and a radio. He turned it up all the way and slung it over his shoulder. Then he began firing at the source of tracers beyond the rubble of the Jeeps.

Looking for some encouragement, Skaff probed his memory. In almost three decades of fighting, he didn’t recall anything quite as dire as the current circumstance. He had two confirmed dead, one unconscious, three wounded but still firing. Almost a third of the force. The numbers were bound to increase as long as that rocket launcher was working. His calculations were interrupted by Hassan’s voice squawking through the pandemonium.

“We got the rocket launcher, but I think they have another on the left. And now we’re pinned down, so we’re going nowhere.”

The last word was drowned out by a rocket blast on the rock curtain above the injured men. Skaff doubted he could get a team around the other side. Even if he did, the enemy would be expecting them. No way around. No way through. He scanned the sheer rock walls on either side. No way over. The fedayeen had chosen their positions well and appeared to have ample men, weapons, and ammo. It seemed likely that most of this team would share the fate of Rafik and Sayyed. Probably all. The thought sickened Skaff, turning the adrenaline in his veins to bile in his throat.

There was one last hope, but it might be too late. He selected another frequency on the radio and shouted over the gunfire, “Lehafil Levanon Sanctzia. Lehafil Levanon Sanctzia. (Activate Lebanon Sanction.)”

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