Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lex Talonis by Greg Smith

At the time I was due to be born my parents were living in Lae, Papua New Guinea and mum elected to have me delivered in Sydney, Australia where medical facilities were more reliable. Dad was a partner in a air charter business and was unable to accompany mum but planned to follow as soon as possible on another DC3 he was due to pilot to Sydney. Among the family mementos is a copy of the newspaper containing the article of dad’s aircraft reported missing on its flight to Sydney. It took weeks for dad and his crew to make engine repairs and finally resume their trip during which time mum put on a brave face to the attending doctors and nurses. I was eventually born blue with the umbilical cord wrapped several times around my throat as evidence mum’s composure was anything but ‘composed’. Such was my entry into the world.  

We returned to Lae where my earliest memories of those years are few but I clearly recall a day being caught by my mother sharing weevil-ridden rice with our local native ‘house boy’; of the night when dad ran through a tropical deluge to check on my brother and myself left to sleep in the family Jeep while he and mum attended a Saturday night party; of the time we all flew in an iconic DC3 to Mt Hagen in the highlands to attend a ‘Sing Sing’ - a gathering of hundreds of tribal natives (very much like the native Americans’ Pow Wow); of the weekend our family and friends went swimming at a nearby river where the men folk stood waist deep in the water at either side of a bend to watch for crocs.

That was more than a half century ago.

My love of writing evolved during high school when I always achieved 10/10 for my english and history and art history assignments. However, it took a backseat to my love of drawing and even more so as I pursued a career in graphic design. It wasn’t until a few years prior to retiring that I dared put aside time enough to try my hand at writing once again. My imagination has always been extremely fertile and I have a host of stories I’d like to tell . . .. NOT TO MAKE MONEY but merely to share with anyone interested enough to read them.

My first published book, Killing Softly, was born from a dare and was pumped out in 6 months. It wasn’t my intention to involve myself in the erotica genre, but that was part of the dare. I decided to take it a step further and turned it into an erotic thriller. Those who have read it, and who know me, have been shocked by that ‘side’ of me but all have enjoyed the story for what it really is . . . a thriller.

With that book under my belt I began researching the background for an historical fiction story idea,The Archer’s Diary. It revolves round a medieval character, but my approach is from a completely unique premise and now, after 7 years, working on it periodically it has now evolved into a 2-book collection, the first of which is well into the 5th rewrite.

It was while working on this novel that I stepped away from it occasionally to develop an idea that came to me after reading an article on dogfighting by the ASPCA. That idea blossomed into The Pits that subsequently led to book 2, You Can Run. My latest book, the third in this series, has recently been released. Lex Talionis (an eye for an eye) continues to follow the exploits of US Marines, Capt. Kramer and his dog, Sgt. Shadow, who are now retired from the Corps and working as partners in a global security corporation headed by an Australian whom Kramer encounterd while deployed to Afghanistan. The premise is of a woman who ‘inherited’ her husband’s criminal empire upon his death at the hands of Kramer and the FBI and who vows to bring America to its knees in retribution.

To date, of all the books I’ve written, Lex Talionis is the one I can well imagine being adapted for the big screen. I assume this is a dream held by every writer and as much as it would positively send me over the moon to happen, I am certainly not holding my breath for it to become reality.

I certainly don’t consider myself exceptional in any way when compared to my peers whenever I claim I have literally dozens of story ideas whirling in my mind on any given day. It’s an assumption I have about every writer and I have even encountered several who are or have been working on numerous books simultaneously. So, having said that, now that Lex Talionis is published I am concentrating on my historical novel while entertaining other ideas, one of which could be regarded of the paranormal genre but is based in part on real life. And there is always the possibility of another book in my Kramer & Shadow action crime crossover series should Lex Talionis generate enough followers.

One of the aspects I really love about writing is reseaching my subject. I aim to include as much realism in my stories as I can without overloading the reader. While I have a high regard for authors like Tom Clancy I sometimes feel they incorporate too much technical jargon and detail. It’s my hope I achieve a good balance in my books.

As already mentioned, an article by the ASPCA on dogfighting inspired The Pits, book 1 of my series. It tells of a US Marine rescuing a pup off the streets of a Afghani village after a massive car bombing. The pup finds a home on base among Kramer’s troops, is named Shadow because he follows Kramer everywhere and is given the honorary rank of corporal. Kramer and Shadow become inseparable, training together every day, and the Anatollian shepherd quickly shows a very high degree of intelligence. Then comes the day the dog is allowed to accompany Kramer’s unit on patrol that turns into a savage ambush. It’s while recuperating from their injuries back in Oceanside, California that Kramer and Shadow get involved in an FBI operation to bring down an international crime boss who has dogfighting as one of his main revenue generators.

Kramer is a farmboy born and raised and has a deep love and regard for all animals. He cannot abide ANY kind of animal cruelty and despises anyone for metering out harm on animals whose sole reaction towards humans is unconditional love. And his empathy extends to anyone and everyone targeted by those operating outside the law. This led him to join the United States Marines.

Kramer is modeled after my son-in-law who is a major in the Corps with 23 years service. And during my research into dogfighting I discovered the misconception surrounding Pit Bulls which resulted in me coming up with the book’s title, The Pits. I am also one of those writers who quite often finds himself or herself surprised by decisions and directions taken by their book characters. I recall the day I announced to my wife my shock that a murder happened in one of my books I was working on at the time. Being the author she couldn’t understand why I, of all people, could be surprised. Well, on occasions the characters have a mind of their own, I answered.

Being retired has its pros and cons. It provides me with the time to devote to my writing (I’d like to write many more books) and for my own artwork (I’m a painter and illustrator), but it also provides far too many opportunities to go see new sights, travel, etc which threatens my writing and art time. It’s more of a time management / balancing act than I ever expected, and not so easy to control. There have been plenty of occasions when I’d rather have been writing but felt compelled to spend time going somewhere else. It can be extremely frustrating at times. Retirement can be very distracting. At least with 30+ years experience as a graphic designer in the printing and publishing industries I am able to design my own covers and promotional material.

I’ve been writing now for just on 10 years but feel very much a beginner in many respects. It makes it hard for me to dole out advice to others because I still regard myself a learner in this game and would hate to give bum advice. But if I feel capable of giving a reasonably sane answer to a question about writing I certainly will give it a try.

My ultimate goal is to have a decent following for my writing, enough to keep me encouraged to stick with it.


Lex Talonis: An Eye For an Eye
Kramer & Shadow Crime Series Book 3
by Greg Smith
Genre: Action Crime Thriller

One woman’s thirst for revenge unleashes the dogs of war in this action crime thriller. The first stage of her plan makes 9/11 pale in comparison – but she is not finished. She has one more target in her sights.

When investigations into a huge diamond heist point to their nemesis, Shelley Harper, being involved, Kramer and his canine partner, Shadow, are forced to take on a new team member. As they chase down the diamonds they uncover the truth behind the theft. Harper has joined forces with an international terrorist organization and intends using them and the diamonds as part of her diabolical plan to exact retribution from America on a monumental scale for the deaths of her family.

This is a strong story with an intriguing premise; one that can easily become all too real in this day and age. Kramer must struggle with his own doubts and demons as he leads his team against a malevolent opponent. They are faced with an almost untenable situation; one that has their survival highly questionable.

Who will be left standing when the dust settles?

“Smith is the Hemmingway of crime fiction. Brutal, concise, and elegant.”
David Bailey, English Professor
Director and CEO at Bailey Education Professionals

Kramer rolled onto his side and looked back at the way they had come. We don’t have time to get back to the Land Rover, he thought.
“How good are you with that?” He nodded at the rifle bag lying at Brandt’s side.
“Good enough,” she replied simply.
“I hope so.” Because I’m about to find out in the worst possible way, he thought.
Kramer quickly outlined his plan while Brandt slid out her Mk-11 .300 Win Mag and attached its Knights Armament suppressor. She set the tripod up, checked the sniper rifle’s bolt action and fitted the Nightforce NXS 8-32 x 56 scope. To Kramer it certainly looked like the woman knew her business.
“Ready when you are, boss,” she said, screwing her ball cap backwards on her head.
Kramer laid a hand on Junior’s shoulder. “Remember, whatever happens you stay close by Charlie.” The boy nodded solemnly. Brandt gave Kramer a curious look; he’d never used her first name before.
“Hey, boss.” Brandt pointed towards the house. “I guess their curiosity got the better of them.”
“Damn,” Kramer muttered.
They watched as three figures emerged from around the front of the house and began moving somewhat in their direction. They’ve come looking for their mate, Kramer thought. He decided to stick with his plan nonetheless.
“Okay, I’m moving out. Keep a close eye on those guys. I’m trusting you to watch my six.”
“Roger that.” Brandt nestled into a comfortable firing position. “Ready when you are.”
With a last command to Shadow to stay with Brandt and Junior, Kramer wriggled backward a few feet then rolled to his left through the scratchy brush until he judged he was below the ridge line. He rose to a low crouch and began moving as swiftly as he could in a shallow arc toward the house. As his senses heightened he became acutely aware of the sun’s growing heat on his neck and through his clothing.
Shrubs scratched and plucked at his pants as he broke into a crouched run. He had to be in position before the ISIS group left the house. Beads of sweat formed at his hairline and seeped into his cap band. He dragged air in through gritted teeth, occasionally swiping his drying lips with his tongue. If only he had another couple of people in his unit to improve the chances of his plan succeeding.
Oh well, he thought, it is what it is. He speeded up. As he forged ahead he couldn’t help part of his mind going off on a tangent. From the moment he decided to have the boy along part of Kramer rebelled at the added responsibility. It was the last thing he needed on this mission. The youngster was undoubtedly a liability that could suddenly turn into something deadly.

You Can Run
Kramer & Shadow Crime Series Book 2

U.S. Marines, Capt. Kramer and his dog Sgt. Shadow survive hell in Afghanistan — but worse awaits them back home.
HOLD ON FOLKS!!! YOU CAN RUN is not your average crime thriller. Full of crime, absolutely! A thrilling ride, most definitely! But Greg Smith takes it up a couple of notches, pulls you, the reader, into a dangerous, action-packed FBI operation. You enter the world of 2 U.S. Marines who offer their services to bring down a diabolical kingpin.

The Pits
Kramer & Shadow Crime Series Book 1

After nearly 20 years serving in the Marine Corps, Captain Kramer thought he'd been prepared for anything life had to throw him. He returns from deployment to Afghanistan with a new dog, Shadow. Back in Oceanside, California he and Shadow are drawn into a struggle to oust local gangs involved in a bloody sport. Kramer and Shadow's activities capture the attention of the FBI who quickly enlist their help in an operation to bring down a major crime lord based in Florida. Captain Kramer, USMC and Corporal Shadow, USMC soon find themselves in their deadliest fight ever.

Even as a young child I was always conjuring up stories and filling them with colorful characters, sharing them with anyone and everyone who would listen. Since then, I’ve progressed quite a bit to formulating longer and more complex stories and sharing them with much larger audiences. As a professional storyteller, I’m adept at using my imaginative thinking and creative flair to bring my stories to life in engaging and entertaining ways.
Originally from Sydney, Australia, I moved to America in 1999 and now live with my wife, Trish, Sydney, our 12 year old Border Collie, and part-Bengal cat, The General (Bugsy), in our 36ft 5th wheel as we travel and explore the United States.

The advent of retirement opened a whole new world to me and now that it has come to pass, I am turning my artistic bent from graphic design and illustration to that of writing.

The Kramer and Shadow series is an action, adventure, crime thriller series that encompasses the world and has our two Marines fighting hard against organized crime at many levels - but always involving do-or-die confrontations.

My hope is to establish a fan base for my writing so that my readers can have an active role in helping me grow and develop as an author in the years to come. I invite you to join me in this adventure.

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