Bullet Under a Blue Sky: Bill Larkin
You are out for the day with your family and you are driving over a bridge when all of a sudden you feel a shimmer, shake and the bridge collapses. Your car goes over the edge and is hanging by a thread. Someone else is riding in a train or even an elevator in high rise building coming from the top floor hoping to reach the lobby and go to lunch when all of a sudden the elevator falls, the car turns over and all that is left is rock, dust, glass and debris with bodies all over the place. A sudden movement of the earth’s crust caused by the release of stress accumulated along geologic faults or by volcanic activity caused what you experienced, an earthquake. Some are stronger than others and we often think that even though scientists predict these catastrophic events you can’t stop them. But, earthquakes are caused by the release of built-up stress within rocks along these geologic faults or by the movement of magma in volcanic areas. Even worse they are often followed by aftershocks. But, what if I told you that these quakes could be human-caused and that somebody orchestrated the events that you are about to learn about wanting to destroy the state of California and that were just the beginning. As the day began many police officers were driving to work and were about to start their day. The earthquake was over 8.0 on the Richter scale and the deaths; devastation would be in the thousands. But, someone knew about this beforehand, someone saw something that triggered a chain of events that would take many LAPD officers, Army officers, FBI and Special Opps groups to find out just why this occurred and if what they learned the quake was man-made. LAPD deputy chief Jenkins decides on a strange tactic although there are many that are hurt, killed or might need help he assigns six officers to hunt, find search and bring back Detective Gavin Shaw. Do not stop to help anyone, do not rescue anyone, do not perform any other duties and ignore the sites, devastation and destruction and follow orders. In other words he states: Whatever it takes!
The team of six entered what was left of the LAPD office and found that they were about to embark on mission that would lose some of the best people on the team. Lt. Tallon, Mata, Schmitty, Anderson, new to the job, Hogan, young and inexperienced and Tommy Uribe would take on a task that only the best, smartest and brightest could handle but what they face is more terrifying than the quake itself. The streets are broken up, the roads are impassable and their goal is to find Detective Gavin Shaw but they have no idea why or the reason behind the request. Some missions are not what you might expect as they travel through gang-riddled areas, guns fly, shots hit their targets and too many go down. But, first we meet the mastermind behind the earthquakes, hear the voice of this person as no one realizes that sometimes killers can be hiding in plain sight. Working for someone and carrying out a mission that person is high up in our own government agencies and is responsible to help rescue and save those hit by the quake. But, Gavin Shaw is just one catalyst and the other is the man who sent them on the mission as the author takes up back to 1991 and a shoot out that changes both Shaw and Jenkins’s lives. Questions are unanswered and each member of the team is unique and different as they set about to find Shaw but at what cost and why? There orders are to find Shaw a member of Major Crimes and no questions asked. The introductions made and the order of ranking decided as Lt. Tallon takes charge and they take radios, any ammo they have and whatever food is available and head for Seal Beach. But, the mission is not easy, attitudes run high among the six and each one begins to voice opinions that will not foster any kind of camaraderie within the group. The LAPD Newton Station at the Center of Central Avenue was their stopping point. But, the war was just starting and one life would be lost before they even got their mission underway. But, within this complex plot we hear the voice of Schmitty and the voice of someone on the inside who is working both sides of the fence. Battle lines drawn, alliances formed and the team has to face and make some hard decisions if they are going to find Shaw and stay alive. One member down and more deaths to come as they battle their way through gangland fights, darkened streets, broken down roads and the stench of death permeates in the air.
Chapter 10 reveals the history behind Roger Jenkins and Shaw. Their alliance is formed during a shooting that goes south and the reasons for the cover-up and deceits run higher than you think. Why would someone take a backseat to make someone else look good? Why would it take what happened in the present to bring out what really took place in the past? Captain Simonichi of the U.S Army and the Delta Troop Commander for this adventure into the earthquake is about to take center stage and each branch of law enforcement has to determine if they can work together, share intelligence, food, equipment and work as one unit.
Throughout the novel there is an air of tension, uncertainty as facts come to light about the area where the quake took place and then another site just might be the target as the men decide after finding Shaw that instead of bringing him in they follow their gut reactions hoping to stop what someone has already set in motion and you won’t believe who or why?
Can human actions trigger a quake? Can humans employ what is called “Induced Seismicity to create a minor earthquake or tremor callused by human activity that alters or changes the stress and strains on the Earth’s crust? As the team encounters more gangs, finds themselves without ammo and food, tired, dirty and needing transportation the author relates just how far some will go to survive and how taking one wrong turn might save lives and lose others. Learning that there might be a group planning to create another quake, and bringing what Shaw has shared to Jenkins and Boyd the head of Cal OES, who thinks they are way off base and wants to convince them to not pursue what they think happened, the team gets some intelligence from someone working with Shaw and the chain of events brings in many agencies, many different groups, Black Hawks, Small Planes and the hope that even though their vehicles have been shot at, marked up and practically useless they will find their target and stop what they have planned. But, they are blindsided more than once as Uribe pays the price and then someone even higher up too as the team has to decide whether to forge ahead and how to proceed. When they finally realize what is happening and the truth behind the quakes is revealed, lives are lost and two terrorists are captured and the end result is powerful in more ways than one. The Cao OES business and Utilities Operations Center worked with private industry partners to make sure to monitor resource demands. Hoping to restore power was on the top of the list and hoping to get some type of cell communication was paramount. A mound of dirt in the center of a riverbed, had someone drilled down into the Newport- Inglewood fault? As Shaw relates that their primary concern should be who on the inside was working both sides: Army, LAPD, FBI or national intelligence? As the informant explains what he knows, how the quake started and explains who might be behind it as to why it has yet to be revealed. But, the Chief is called the other superiors too and the end result was finding a geologist or someone who would understand the causes of the quakes and what might have happened. But, sometimes the one you trust is the one who will deceive you and the author shows us up front and center just how diabolical this person is but the person pulling the strings is more deadly.
Someone created a plan that blame would come to many different sources in order to accomplish what this person set out to do. Pitting two countries against each other, making sure the blame is passed around and retaliation will come hard and fast, author Bill Larkin takes us deep inside a conspiracy that goes all the way to the top of an organization and no one sees it coming. Like a storm brewing with heavy rains and damaging winds what is in the air is just as toxic as a nuclear explosion. At the mansion of a viable contact the truth about what is really happening comes out and the team has to decide whether to follow orders or do it their way. Join them as they prepare to take on the most difficult mission of their lives when Shaw and his team plus the Army and others quietly, methodically attempt to take down a small group that could destroy an entire state. But, will they succeed or will more lives be lost and will they realize just who is hiding in plain sight?
The link to a foreign country is astounding the reasoning behind the plot you just won’t believe as we listen to a man who cloned someone to infiltrate one of our organizations, carry out his words and then what he does to reward her will or should make anyone that thinks they can trust a terrorist do more than think twice. The end result is tragic in some respects and more lives will be lost as the Office of California Emergency Services, the FBI, the Army, The LAPD and the CIA ban together to try and stop something that if successful would just be the start of the downfall of the world as we know it. History might repeat itself as it did during the Cold War but this one will be much hotter. Author Bill Larkin gives readers much food for thought and has created a plot that is realistic, frightening and hopefully is not plain fiction.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine