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Published by: Switchback Press
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Gregg Kaplan is not an ordinary man, but a man with special skills, courtesy of the United States Government.
His assignment is to stay off the grid when he innocently stumbles into a blown witness protection detail in Little Rock, Arkansas. He simply could not walk away from the impending mayhem.
After the dust settles, a mortally wounded Deputy U.S. Marshal makes him promise to personally deliver the witness to a U.S. Marshals Service safe site.
Not just a promise, an oath. A pledge between ex-Army Delta Force comrades.
A trust that could not be broken—Once in, never out.
Kaplan soon suspects the witness he vowed to protect has secrets of his own; secrets that go beyond his testimony for the U.S. government. When he discovers the witness is being tracked, Kaplan teams with a WitSec Deputy U.S. Marshal assigned to recover the witness, but soon realizes some merciless people are dead set on preventing the witness from reaching the safe site.
But the witness has a hidden agenda of his own—One that could cost Kaplan his life.
23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
Entry Title BLOWN
Author: Chuck Barrett
Judge Number: 17
Entry Category: Genre Fiction
Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”
Judge, 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot and Story Appeal: 5
Character Appeal and Development: 5
Voice and Writing Style: 5
Chuck Barrett's new book Blown has just blown me away with topnotch characterization, active scenes, true-to-life dialogue, and pacing that kept me turning pages from the first page to the last. Barrett skillfully uses varying sentence structure, simple but sophisticated language, and end-of-chapter hooks to his advantage. I would recommend this author to anyone who likes thriller or action stories.
There really isn't much negative to say about this book. The only people who wouldn't like it are those who don't enjoy their hair standing on end through the action or anyone who is offended by characters who will go to great lengths to always do the right thing, even if it's not in their personal best interest. Although the scenes aren't predictable, they still make sense. This is a difficult thing for some authors to accomplish. Great job!
The cover of this book is intriguing and stands out on a crowded bookshelf. Yes, I admit that I placed it on my shelf, walked across the room, and turned around to see how it fared. It's definitely one that I would head for in the bookstore.
Other self-published authors and publishers could take a lesson from Barrett on how to do back covers. There's just enough information about the story to whet a reader's desire to open the book without giving away too much of the story. The author bio shows a professional who takes his craft seriously.
Reviewed by Lee Scott, Florida Times Union
May 17, 2015
Popular local author Chuck Barrett has a new thriller hero that he promises will be the star of a series.
In “Blown,” which goes on sale Tuesday, [May 19, 2015] former Delta Force soldier Gregg Kaplan ends up protecting a man who is in the U.S. Marshals Service witness protection program after stumbling on a blown operation and promising a dying deputy marshal and former Delta Force comrade that he will get the witness to a safe site.
Kaplan runs up against some brutal assassins while protecting his man from all sides. As in previous Barrett thrillers, the action is fast and intense and will keep you guessing to the end.
Fans of the author’s Jake Pendleton series needn’t despair. Barrett says Jake will return in his next book.
May 5, 2015
In Barrett’s (Breach of Power, 2013, etc.) latest thriller, a CIA operative becomes the unwitting protector of a man in Witness Security who’s targeted by a myriad of groups.
Gregg Kaplan’s plan to stay off the grid in Little Rock, Arkansas, doesn’t last long. The CIA agent helps stop a trio of thugs gunning for an old man and a law enforcement officer at a restaurant. Mortally wounded, the U.S. marshal asks Kaplan to protect the old man: Tony Napoli (an alias) in WitSec. As Kaplan and Tony race to a safe site, they’re pursued by unknown but undoubtedly armed men; Valkyrie, a notorious assassin; and Senior Inspector Pete Moss, a marshal called back to Arkansas from his recent Chicago transfer. But no matter how many times the two men switch vehicles, someone, somehow, seems to find them. Kaplan is determined to keep Tony—and himself—alive long enough to get some answers. Barrett’s briskly paced novel dives into the action and tackles exposition only when Kaplan and Tony are on the run. Even then, the narrative retains a high level of suspense by initially obscuring a few details. Tony, for instance, has certainly mingled with unsavory types, but that doesn’t explain what incriminating info he may be hoarding, who specifically hired Valkyrie, or how baddies persistently manage to track the men in an interstate pursuit. The book’s first half is its best, as Kaplan and Tony face all types of obstacles, including the leery WitSec witness trying to run off on his own and rednecks foolish enough to harass Kaplan when he’s having breakfast. Moss eventually catches up and, knowing nothing beyond Kaplan’s name, has to decide whether or not he can trust him. A later scene that sees Kaplan traveling out of the country feels too much like an offshoot; it’s a Kaplan-centric subplot that’s most effective if readers have read one of Barrett’s preceding novels in which the CIA operative appears. The ending, however, rounds out the solid story with some reveals, a mole or two, and a nice twist.
A long, exhilarating chase gloriously riddled with bullets and intrigue.
Reviewed by Lynn Evarts, ForeWord Reviews
"Barrett simultaneously advances the plot and character development with fast action scenes and observant descriptions.
“Once in, never out.” In Chuck Barrett’s first-rate thriller, Blown, this oath between Army Delta Force comrades brings peril and violence into the life of Gregg Kaplan. From the opening scene to the final wrap-up, Barrett has written a winner.
Barrett is the author of several popular thrillers, and his experience shows. From the first page of Blown, the action doesn’t stop. The pacing propels the reader to keep turning pages to find out what’s around that next corner:
He fended off the snarling dog’s teeth with a forearm block,
knocking the large animal to the ground. He reached for another syringe, but the dog attacked again knocking it from his hand. Kaplan was toppled flat on his back as the dog pounced again clamping his sharp teeth into his forearm.
The first scene, which involves a firefight in a diner in Little Rock, deftly provides a great amount of insight into Kaplan. Barrett skillfully uses description and Kaplan’s own powers of observation to flesh out the scene and Kaplan’s character at the same time. “Within minutes after he set foot inside the restaurant and sat down, he recognized the impending threat. He’d seen similar situations before. Several times. And each time, somebody died. He should have listened to his gut.” This ability to size up situations and people is what makes Kaplan the man that he is, and Barrett wastes no time making that clear. Secondary characters are also well drawn, particularly Deputy Moss, a marshal who helped on a previous case. “Moss had become a good friend in a short time and he wanted to touch base with the deputy one last time before he rode out of town.”
Attention to detail adds dimension to Barrett’s story, fleshing out the scenes and characters even further. Barrett is clearly a disciple of the “show, don’t tell” writing style, and this makes his novel even more interesting.
Kaplan found a wooden support column beneath the midway point of the catwalk and shimmied up as far as he could without exposing his presence to the man above. He pulled out his knife and clenched it between his teeth. When he was in position he gave Moss a nod—there was no turning back now.
Thriller readers and those who like their books fast and furious will absolutely love this book."
"Imagine you are on your Harley Fat Boy headed across Arkansas for El Paso to see if an old flame still carries a torch for him. Imagine you are and ex-Delta who now works for one of those alphabet soup agencies devoted to national security. And imagine your job is wet work for that agency.
Hunger gets the better of you and you pull into this out of the way joint for some pub grub. Mostly local color. A young fit guy is putting up with this old guy running his mouth about what’s wrong with any and everything. Three grease balls sit at the counter dressed more for Jersey, not for southern heat and humidity. Gregg Kaplan’s radar signals an alert. The sudden turn of the guys at the counter and the resulting exchange of gunfire with the outnumbered young guy pushes Gregg’s ‘help’ button. A quick disarm, a shot or two, and some quick action by the young guy puts the three sleaze balls on the floor with the old guy scrambling for the door.
The young guy is a US Marshall who is delivering someone to Witness Security (not witness protection - no such service we are told). He’s be mortally wounded in the shootout. As Gregg tries to stem the blood loss, they both find that Delta is a common bond. The dying Marshall pleads on their Delta brotherhood for Gregg to deliver the guy to WitSec, to which Gregg agrees.
Gregg takes off after the witness beginning repeated chases and escapes from the mob, the Marshall’s service, the FBI, and local police. Across Arkansas, Tennessee, eventually ending up in Northern Virginia. At each close encounter, Gregg learns more about this witness and just what put him in line for WitSec.
One suggestion before starting this book. Find someplace quiet where you won’t be disturbed. Barrett starts the book off with a band and manages to set up blast after blast after blast and Kaplan becomes more suspect of the witness and the possibility of insider info within the Marshall’s service or the FBI. Author of the best selling Jake Pendleton series, one of which (Breach of Power) has been reviewed here. This one is far better. A 90+ mph mystery. Hope you don’t get carsick easily."
—Don Kirkendall, Book Reviewer, Men Reading Books
"I was literally blown away!
After an unexpected gunfight, Gregg Kaplan gets involved with a witness from the Witness Security Program and from there, the action never stopped.
Greg Kaplan ain't no ordinary guy. He's a bad@ss with a heart riding a Harley-Davidson Fat-Boy. The twist and turns will shock the readers in the most surprising way. Kaplan is the kind of man you would want to lead your security. Kaplan's character is hardcore, powerful and a force to reckon with.
From one great plot to another this thrilling story doesn't seem to end. Chuck Barrett never ceases to impress me with all the action-adventure-thriller facets of the book. I've read one of his other series, the Jake Pendleton political mysteries, and that kept me reading until the wee hours of the morning. With Gregg Kaplan series, I felt the same rush and adrenaline I experienced when perusing Jake Pendleton. Chuck Barrett is indeed someone to watch out for! Chuck Barrett proves again that he's one of the best thriller writers in this generation!"
—Claire Santos, Book Reviewer
"First, buy this book. But before you turn to the first page, find a comfortable spot. Settle in. Because once you start reading, you won't want to stop.
Blown is nonstop action. We're running, chasing, dodging bullets, throwing punches, dangling from cliffs, and burning from the heat of it all. We have twists that threaten to derail us. This book is pure adrenaline.
The important thing, for me, is we aren't given excess action at the expense of character development. Within all the chaos, we have people struggling. The emotional depth feels honest. I got to know the subtleties of the characters' personalities.
I loved Gregg Kaplan's character. He is a superhero with his own moral compass. He is the ultimate badass.
I also loved the way Barrett handled the content. Often, with thrillers of this nature, authors get caught up in their own research and feel the need to educate readers. Barrett gives his readers the important facts, then trusts that we'll be able to keep up. I have no doubt that Barrett spent countless hours getting these details just right, but I never once felt that weight within his writing.
If you love breathless action, thrillers with depth, plots with unexpected twists, memorable characters, and great writing, then you'll want to read this book."
—Darcia Helle, Book Reviewer
"Barrett takes us on a thrill ride as we follow the twists and turns of the plot. Kaplan is an intriguing, likeable character, and it will be interesting to see what happens to him and possibly Inspector Moss in upcoming books."
—Larissa Smith, Book Reviewer
"Once in never out this is the unspoken oath of every Delta Special Forces soldier and Gregg Kaplan is one. He stumbles into a blown WITSEC operation and gives his word to a dying deputy US marshal also a former delta and nothing could make him break his oath. A fast paced story involving organized crime, the CIA assassins and the Marshal's and of course the FBI .Crooked cops great action make this a non-stop thrill ride."
—Craig Davis, Book Reviewer
"Loved Blown! Intriguing, timely and big action which pleased me by beginning early. I plan to read more of this talented author."
—Liz Mitchell, Book Reviewer
"Gregg Kaplan stays under the radar, it's part of his job. When he goes into a restaurant he notices an old man with someone he identifies as a police officer. He also notices 3 men at the counter who immediately raise his suspicions. If he acts he will definitely not be under the radar, but he can't just sit there and do nothing. He is proven right when the men try to assassinate the old man. Kaplan steps in to help but the officer with the old man, a WitSec officer, is killed but not before extracting a promise from Kaplan to protect the witness. Kaplan and the witness go on the run. Kaplan soon begins to suspect his witness has secrets. Full of action and suspense, this book will keep your interest from beginning to end."
—Diane Saul, Bookseller
"Absolutely brilliant, could not put this book down.
The opening couple of pages grabbed my attention and that was it! We are introduced to Gregg Kaplan, a man on a mission which gets interrupted when he stops at a diner in Little Rock and so it starts.......
Great characters in Kaplan and also Moss, interesting descriptions of Witness Protection, well written, gripping, some twists along the way.
Highly recommended read and look forward to reading more by the same author."
—Lee Marriot-Dowding, Book Reviewer
"Once in, never out. - Delta Force mantra.
Gregg Kaplan - officially he wasn't there, wasn't even in the country. He should have listened to his intuition as he entered the restaurant in Little Rock, Arkansas and got got back on his Harley Fat Boy and drove away. Instead he gets caught in the middle of a gunfight and ends up promising a dying U.S. Marshall (who also happens to be ex-Delta Force) that he'll get his witness from the Witness Security Program, Tony Q, to a WITSEC safe house. He had NO idea what that was going to entail.
There are stories within stories within stories in this lightning-paced thriller. Just when I thought one tale was finishing up, another storyline popped up. And the thing is - all the story parts are fun to read and kept me guessing.
What do you get with BLOWN? Colorful characters including U.S. Marshall Pete Moss (yes, that's his name) and an assassin called Valkyrie. A storyline that stretches from Lebanon to Arkansas to New Jersey to Martinique and all kinds of dangerous points in between.
I liked the pacing, the descriptions of people and places, especially the CIA and WITSEC safe places, and the sleight of hand moments when the author caught me unaware.
What I'm trying to say - with too many words probably - is that I really liked this book. And I recommend it to anyone that likes imaginative thrillers."
—Cheryl Stout, Book Reviewer
"I'm not even finished with this one yet and I already know I want to give it 5 stars. In some ways it could be considered a typical fast-paced thriller, I suppose, but is very well-done, with characters that are developed enough, but with some mystery left. I'm close to the end, but imagine there are a few more twists coming up before the final showdown.... Pardon me while I get back to reading."
—Cydney McQueen, Educator
"Excellent plot and great surprises. I'll track down the rest of this author's books!"
—Doug Nordman, Book Reviewer
"This was an excellent read. Everyone that reads action books should read this book. It is fast paced and exciting. Hard to put down. Will be reading Chuck Barrett books from now on."
—Julie Slagle, Book Reviewer
"WOW! Even though I'm a mostly romance reader (romantic military suspense included)- I found this book captivating and held my interest all the way through. I didn't miss the romance at all. The twists are wonderful, and the covert military action is amazing. Gregg is amazing. I just have to say though- coming from my perspective there seemed to be a lot of characters and technical jargon in the beginning that was difficult to follow, but only in the beginning. Once the story evolves, it all makes sense. So stick with it- you'll be glad you did. So glad Amazon lists this as book 1 of a series. I'd definitely read more by this author. I hope to see more of Pete Moss in the future too. Another series????"
—Deborah Freehan, Book Reviewer