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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
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Books for Adults - Fiction

Blood Brothers                    The Most Bold and Daring Act of the Age

Cover Art: Blood Brothers
Blood Brothers
By E. Thomas Behr

CreateSpace, 2011, ISBN 9781456527303, US $15.99


Although he begins life as a Mohawk, Henry Doyle leaves his homeland to become a mercenary and eventually becomes El Habibka, war leader of the Tuaregs in North Africa. His service as a spy for the British makes him the ideal contact for William Eaton, who intends to locate Hamet Karamanli and reinstate him as the Pasha of Tripoli. They face many obstacles, not the least of which is Tobias Lear, the U.S. General Consul for North Africa, who is vehemently opposed to the mission and its success.
Peter Kirkpatrick, captain of the USS Eagle, is one of the officers chosen to accompany Eaton. If they succeed in capturing Derna, the Tripolitans will abandon their allegiance to Hamet’s brother and follow him. Patrick is assigned the task of intercepting a consignment of jewels that will provide sufficient funds to finance the mission. But French spies intend to force him to relinquish the treasure, then kill Patrick and his men. An unknown group, however, intervenes and steals the jewels first. The loss presents problems, but Eaton is determined to carry out his mission. First they must cross 500 miles of desert, with limited access to water, under a blazing sun, accompanied by an army that consists of seven Marines, European mercenaries, and Arabs, who know that when they reach their destination, they will face an enemy ten times their number.
Several years ago, I read Richard Zacks’ The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805. It is a factual account of Eaton’s undertaking and the first time that U.S Marines fought on foreign soil, an event immortalized in the “Marines’ Hymn.” Behr’s fictional account captivates the reader and brings to life this remarkable undertaking, providing a gripping tale as intricately woven as a spider’s web. The depth and breadth of his research shines through, yet is never presented as a history lesson. The characters are diverse and well drawn, while ably demonstrating the machinations of various governments that work with and against each other. To further enhance your reading experience, Behr sets the stage with an introduction and who’s who of characters. The book ends with a historical epilogue, an interesting set of acknowledgements, an appendix detailing his source material, short biographies of the historical people who appear in the novel, and a brief explanation of the Sufism which Doyle practices. Behr also includes an excerpt from the next book in the series, which promises to be just as exciting an adventure as Blood Brothers.  
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Review Copyrighted ©2011 Cindy Vallar

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Cover Art: Most Bold and Daring Act of the Age
The Most Bold and Daring Act of the Age: A Henry Doyle Novel
By E. Thomas Behr
Kindle e-book, $2.99
CreateSpace, 2017, ISBN 978-1539539544, $16.95
Napoleon escapes from exile and returns to Paris, where he proclaims himself emperor. If a shipment of gold, destined for his Shiite collaborators, succeeds in reaching its destination, the leaders of Russia and Prussia will be assassinated and the disruption of supplies to their armies will pave the way for his Grand Armée to defeat the British.

Ten years have passed since Henry Doyle left America and joined the Tuaregs, a nomadic desert people of North Africa. He’s now fifty-one years old, married to Dihya, the leader of his adopted tribe, and together they have a son. A Mohawk and former British spy, he knows England cannot succeed without her allies. The best way to thwart Napoleon is to snatch the gold as it passes through the desert, but to do that he must once again become El Habibka the spy. After successfully infiltrating an enemy tribe, he takes the information to his friend, the Dey of Algiers. But the Dey has his own enemies, and instead of achieving the desired outcome to their plans, the Dey dies and Henry is imprisoned in a dungeon where excruciating tortures are inflicted.

Once a feared manipulator of people and money during the Reign of Terror and later as one of Napoleon’s trusted secret agents, Chameau now lives in a crime-ridden section of Paris. He enjoys his reclusive retirement until he learns that his most despised nemesis is once again afoot. Finally having a chance to kill Henry Doyle entices Chameau to once again assist the emperor in his new bid for power. He must go to Algiers, but first he requires bait to tempt Doyle into a trap.

Patrick Kirkpatrick, a former captain in the American Navy and now a successful privateer, operates out of Nantes, France. He intervenes one night in a vicious assault on an American woman and her brother. Only later does he discover the truth about her and the attack and, realizing the danger Henry is in, he and his men head for the Mediterranean to warn his half-brother. On the way he encounters his old friend, Steven Decatur, now commodore of a squadron of vessels bound for Algiers to force an end to the raids on American ships and the payment of tribute in return for peace. Steven is only too happy to assist, but for Patrick to succeed in rescuing Henry they must find a way to get past the Algerine fortress and into the harbor without their true identity being discovered.

Intrigue, greed, betrayal, and love are intricately interwoven into this sweeping historical novel. Faith and philosophy also play important roles in Henry’s singular life, and Behr ably shows how different beliefs can respectfully intersect and peacefully co-exist. This long-awaited sequel to Blood Brothers takes readers from Algiers and France to the woodlands of the Iroquois Confederacy and the rebuilding of Washington, DC. There are also several sea battles, including an astounding confrontation with a legendary Barbary corsair. While the majority of the action occurs in 1815, brief interludes journey back to 1779 when Henry was a young Mohawk warrior.

This story may not appeal to all readers. At times the language is explicit and leaves little to the imagination. Peter’s union with Lavinia aboard the privateer seems somewhat contrived. The exploration of Henry’s morality and evolving beliefs are at times lengthy, but they are essential elements to the story and his character.

The intricacy of the web Behr spins, the profound depth of his characters, and his ability to meld people from history with imaginary ones are the hallmark of this book and the series. For those who would like to learn more about Henry’s earlier life, he includes a sample chapter from Blood Brothers. For fans who eagerly await the next title in the series, he entices with a preview of The Lion’s Son. Regardless of whether a reader likes or dislikes The Most Bold and Daring Act of the Age, this thought-provoking novel leaves an indelible mark that lasts long after the story concludes.

Review Copyrighted ©2017 Cindy Vallar
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