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Mystery-thriller “Al-Quebeca” anticipated this week’s headlines

22 Oct

Ebook Al Quebeca v4darker charcoal thumbFor years nothing happens. Then everything happens at once. This applies to publishing novels as well as launching terror strikes.

For the record, I’m a writer, not a fighter, but I admit to a fascination with terrorism. As a Canadian, I’ve watched terrorist acts unfold across the world with frightening speed and consequences. These usually occur at a distance, allowing Canadians to be mere spectators rather than forced participants. But now, things are happening right in our backyard.

On Monday October 20th, a Quebec man named Martin Rouleau ran down two uniformed Canadian Forces soldiers in a Montreal area parking lot. Rouleau, who had embraced Islam, changing his name to Ahmad LeConverti (Ahmad the Converted), had become radicalized a year ago. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), fearing he might join other western jihadists fighting in support of ISIS, had recently seized his passport to prevent his leaving the country.

After the hit-and-run incident, Rouleau was pursued by provincial police officers in a high-speed car chase until his vehicle left the road and overturned. When he emerged from his car brandishing a knife, he was shot by officers at the scene and later died of his wounds. The incident sent ripples of concerns through CSIS, the RCMP, and Canadian Forces bases throughout Canada, raising security levels and instigating a lockdown at certain facilities.

p-hill-1Today, Wednesday October 22nd, one or more gunmen made an attempt to storm the legislative buildings on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. One uniformed soldier was shot and killed at the National War Memorial. One gunmen was shot and killed by a Sergeant-at-Arms within the Parliament building. Office buildings in downtown Ottawa went into lockdown as local police, RCMP tactical squads and military personnel conduct a search for an unknown number of assailants, whose attack is presumed to have been encouraged by the “lone wolf” action of Martin Rouleau two days earlier.

This isn’t the first time radical Islamists have made their presence known in Canada. In 2006, CSIS arrested a group of jihadists, the Toronto 18, as they took delivery of three tonnes of ammonium nitrate intended for massive bombs in U-Haul trailers. Their targets: the Toronto Stock Exchange, CSIS offices in downtown Toronto, and a military base. After the bombs, they would storm Parliament, seize the Cabinet and behead the Prime Minister, all in time for the evening news and instant fame via al-Jazeera. But the Toronto 18 had been infiltrated and monitored for over a year before security officers swooped in.

skull-bomb@50%In April 2013, hard on the heels of the Boston Marathon bombings, two men with alleged al-Qaeda connections were arrested in Canada for plotting to derail a Canadian train traveling from Toronto to New York. Turns out there may have been an Iranian connection, wherein financial or technical aid was provided on behalf of al-Qaeda.

Although these Canadian plots admittedly pale in comparison to 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings, the reality is, Canada is as much on the front lines of the international war on terror as any other coalition nation. And not for lack of warning. For years the Mackenzie Institute, a Toronto-based think tank on terrorism, has been warning us that jihadists would necessarily change their program.

Large-scale operations like 9/11 would probably become a thing of the past. Instead, jihadists would adopt that popular line from environmentalists: “Think globally, act locally.” The terrorist equivalent would be a guerrilla war of “lone wolf” or “autonomous teamwork” missions designed to attack infrastructure and terrorize civilian populations and destabilize governments.

I published my novel Al-Quebeca less than a year ago. With every passing month, the central circumstances and events seem all the more inevitable. The plot involves an al-Qaeda sleeper cell in Montreal summoned to life by order of a Paris-based mullah. Although Osama bin Laden is long dead and gone, he’d issued a fatwa several years ago, vowing revenge against any country, Canada included, that had sided with America in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

guns_in_the_sky(Since then, ISIS has echoed equally violent sentiments, encouraging independent acts of terrorism in every western country that participates in the US-led coalition against their brutal insurrection in Iraq and Syria.)

In Al-Quebeca, the Montreal terrorist plot involves a simultaneous three-pronged strike: to sabotage the Hydro-Quebec electrical grid that supplies power to Boston and New York, behead the visiting Governor of New York and, for body-count bonus points, kill thousands of hockey fans with nerve gas.

Preposterous? Not really. For years the CIA has warned CSIS that Montreal, where almost one in four residents is Muslim or has ties to Arabic-speaking homelands, is a hot-bed of al-Qaeda sleeper cells awaiting the call to jihad. We all think it could never happen here. Until it does.

In Al-Quebeca, the heroine Sophie Gillette is a Montreal homicide detective dispatched in the middle of a snowstorm to investigate the suspicious hit-and-run death of an Iranian engineer who worked for Hydro-Quebec. Defying easy resolution, the case launches her on a collision course with biker wars, arms smuggling and, unexpectedly, a terrorist plot.

In the course of her investigation, Gillette uncovers militant students at Concordia University, drug financiers and a rogue professor with a PhD in chemical toxicology. All are linked to a shadowy figure called al-Quebeca whom Gillette must track to a brutal confrontation.

I just hate to be prescient, but as Aldous Huxley once said, The trouble with fiction is that it makes too much sense.

But don’t take my word for it. Read Al-Quebeca and judge for yourself.

You can purchase it at Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, Kobo or Smashwords.

 

My novel “Al-Quebeca” ripped from tomorrow’s headlines

10 Oct

Ebook Al Quebeca v4darker charcoal thumbFor years nothing happens. Then everything happens at once. This applies both to writing novels and launching terror strikes.

For the record, I’m a writer, not a terrorist, although I admit to a fascination with the latter. As a Canadian, I’ve watched terror events unfold across the world with frightening speed and consequences. These events usually occur at a distance, allowing Canadians to be mere spectators rather than forced participants. But sometimes, things happen right in our backyard.

In 1999 the LAX bomber, Ahmed Ressam, was intercepted in Port Angeles, WA, with a carload of explosives destined for the LA airport. He’d entered Canada in 1994 with a forged French passport and lived in Montreal for almost five years, surviving by stealing airport luggage. After a trip to Afghanistan where he learned how to build bombs, the RCMP began following him, and alerted US authorities when he crossed the border from Vancouver en route to Los Angeles.

In 2006, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) arrested a group of jihadists, the Toronto 18, as they took delivery of three tonnes of ammonium nitrate with which they’d planned to build massive bombs in U-Haul trailers. Their targets: the Toronto Stock Exchange, the CSIS offices in downtown Toronto, and a military base. After the bombs, they would storm Parliament, seize the Cabinet and behead the Prime Minister, all in time for the evening news and instant fame via al-Jazeera. But the Toronto 18 had been infiltrated and monitored for over a year by 700 security officers gathering evidence via 80,000 electronic intercepts.

skull-bomb@50%In April 2013, following hard on the heels of the Boston Marathon bombings, two men with alleged al-Qaeda connections were arrested in Canada for plotting to derail a Canadian train travelling from Toronto to New York. Turns out there may have been an Iranian connection, wherein financial or technical aid was provided on behalf of al-Qaeda.

Apparently, news of that domestic terrorist plot raised only tepid interest from the US media, while the Twitter-verse responded with several jokes on the subject. Understandably, a neutralized threat in Canada pales in comparison to exploding bombs in Boston, but seriously, folks… Just because Canadians are liberal and polite doesn’t mean our society is any less liable than America’s in unwittingly harboring terrorists in our midst. Quite the contrary.

I wrote the first draft of my novel Al-Quebeca in 2009 and revised it several times over subsequent years. Each time it all seems even more inevitable. The plot involves an al-Qaeda sleeper cell in Montreal summoned to life by order of a Paris-based mullah. Although Osama bin Laden is dead and gone, he’d issued a fatwa several years ago, vowing revenge against any country, Canada included, that had sided with America in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

In Al-Quebeca, the Montreal terrorist plot involves a simultaneous three-pronged strike: to sabotage the Hydro-Quebec electrical grid that supplies power to Boston and New York, behead the visiting Governor of New York and, for body-count bonus points, kill thousands of hockey fans with nerve gas.

Preposterous? Not really. For years the CIA has warned CSIS that Montreal, where almost one in four residents is Muslim or has ties to Arabic-speaking homelands, is a hot-bed of al-Qaeda sleeper cells awaiting the call to jihad. We all think it could never happen here. Until it does.

guns_in_the_sky(Currently, in a case of life mirroring art, the radical jihadist group ISIS is encouraging independent acts of terrorism in every western country that participates in the US-led coalition against their brutal insurrection in Iraq and Syria.)

In Al-Quebeca, the heroine Sophie Gillette is a Montreal homicide detective dispatched in the middle of a snowstorm to investigate the suspicious hit-and-run death of an Iranian engineer who worked for Hydro-Quebec. Defying easy resolution, the case launches her on a collision course with biker wars, arms smuggling and, unexpectedly, a terrorist plot.

In the course of her investigation, Gillette uncovers militant students at Concordia University, drug financiers and a rogue professor with a PhD in chemical toxicology. All are linked to a shadowy figure called al-Quebeca whom Gillette must track to a brutal confrontation.

I just hate to be prescient, but as Aldous Huxley once said, The trouble with fiction is that it makes too much sense.

But don’t take my word for it. Read Al-Quebeca and judge for yourself.

You can purchase it at Amazon, Apple, Barnes&Noble, Kobo or Smashwords.

 

Al-Quebeca: fiction that could be tomorrow’s headlines

27 Sep

AQ ebook thumbMy police procedural AL-QUEBECA, in which a female Montreal homicide detective investigates a hit-and-run and discovers a terrorist cell, has received 30 Amazon reviews averaging 4.5 stars. The top 10:

“A police procedural with such atmospheric detail I was reminded of Inspector Renko of Martin Cruz Smith fame.”

“Fascinating novel with just the right amounts of procedural, mystery and suspense! Detective Sophie Gillette is a mix of tough and tender, trying to keep it together and do her job in spite of her own pain.”

“Annand’s hypothetical telling of an unfolding terrorist strike in Canada chills with its realism. Riveting story-telling on multiple levels.”

“Hard to believe the author’s a man, since his insight into the feelings of his female lead are so sensitive.” 

“It starts as a police procedural, shifts to suspense/thriller and winds up as an action joyride to a surprise ending. Right up there with Clancy and DeMille!”

skull-bomb@50%“What do you get when you weave renegade bikers and a terrorist cell with weapons of mass destruction into a police procedural? So many threads masterfully twisted, then unravelled to a satisfying ending.”

“Very entertaining and just enough truth to be scary. Fiction that could be tomorrow’s headlines.”

“Annand has a knack for quick, realistic, witty dialog. His lead police officer Gillette gives us everything we want in a female character. She’s smart, tough, vulnerable and real.”

“Intense and captivating, very hard to put down. Highly recommended for anyone who likes thrillers and complex police procedurals.”

“A timely subject and a plausible plot. Montreal’s atmosphere is rendered with a touch evocative of Graham Greene!”

ski_mask_crop2~~~~~~~~~

AL-QUEBECA is available at Amazon, AppleBarnes&Noble, Flipkart, Kobo and Smashwords.

One-man Canadian crime wave

19 Sep

AA & halloween handsThey call me Canada’s answer to Dan Brown and Michael Connelly. They are my parents. They’re biased, but also great fans of mystery, suspense and thrillers. They fed me a diet of Elmore Leonard, Michael Crichton and Nelson DeMille.

I write novels that offer a cocktail of action, mystery, suspense, thriller, humor and literary pretension. Think of me as Canada’s answer to Larsson, Mankell and Nesbo. Or Hemingway and Spillane mixed in the same highball. Beaten, not whipped.

One reviewer called Harm’s Way the closest thing yet to being the classic Canadian hard-boiled mystery. Set in Montreal, it showcases Lee Harms, a hardened man with a tender heart, in a case involving a local politician’s runaway daughter.

In Hide in Plain Sight, a mystery/suspense, a man impersonates his dead twin to conceal that his own bipolar wife killed him. But sharing a bed with his brother’s wife gives him a libidinous fever, and now someone else wants to kill him.

My New Age Noir series features Axel Crowe, an investigator who uses astrology, palmistry and other tricks learned from his guru. One reviewer called him Sherlock Holmes with a horoscope … who also knows martial arts and plays blues guitar.

Scorpio Rising presents Crowe a three-way murder whose wealthy victims across the USA all have beneficiaries with alibis. From New York to Frisco and the badlands of New Mexico, the trail ends where it began – in the heart of a frustrated writer.

In Felonious Monk Crowe investigates a reporter’s murder at an ashram. His search uncovers a series of Manhattan rape-murders going back 12 years, with connections to sex trafficking, drug smuggling and the theft of an ancient golden Buddha.

Al-Quebeca is a wintertime police procedural. Montreal detective Sophie Gillette investigates a fatal hit-and-run, only to discover a terrorist plot to assassinate a governor, disable the electrical grid, and kill 10,000 hockey fans.

And in a mash-up of genres, Antenna Syndrome dips Raymond Chandler into sci-fi to send up the hard-boiled genre. In a post-apocalyptic New York, an investigator searches for a kidnapped artist fascinated with insects. What a buzz!

www.amazon.com/Alan-Annand/e/B0052MM0PO

www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AlanAnnand

 

HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT: ebook giveaway

20 Jul

HIPS_free_thumbHIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT (psychological mystery thriller): A man assumes the identity of his dead twin brother in order to alibi his guilty wife.

Alex Carson is in mid-life freefall. He owes a quarter million in back taxes, his bipolar wife Connie keeps going off her meds, and his dog’s just died. When his estranged twin brother Dave, a multi-millionaire with a disease that’s reduced him to crutches, invites him for a weekend visit, Alex is so eager to escape his own reality that he accepts, even though his wife decides at the last minute to tag along.

Over drinks that evening, Dave tells them he suspects his wife Kristina of having an affair. Uninterested in Dave’s marital problems, Connie seeks sympathy for Alex’s tax debt and asks for a loan, which Dave refuses. In a fit of anger, Connie knocks Dave down a flight of stairs and accidentally kills him.

Given their motive and opportunity, Alex and Connie fear a murder charge if they inform the police, so he decides to take Dave’s place long enough for her to return home and establish an alibi. In a few days, he’ll engineer Dave’s “death” all over again, and escape to rejoin her. Although she suspects he just wants to sleep with Dave’s wife Kristina, she’s forced to go along with the plan.

It’s supposed to be simple but it gets very complicated. Kristina is drop-dead gorgeous, and lying next to her at night gives Alex a libidinous fever. Ironically, when it also comes to light that Dave appears to have been having an affair with their hot-blooded domestic, Alex finds himself trapped in a ménage-a-trois from hell.

And now someone is trying to kill him…

~~~~~~~~~

For a limited time, HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT is free in all ebook formats at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/59291.

If you take advantage of this offer, please consider writing a review on Smashwords and/or Goodreads.

~~~~~~~~~

Alan Annand is an astrologer and writer of crime fiction whose books are available at AmazonAppleBarnes&Noble, Kobo and Smashwords.

Alan Varanasi @ 50%

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SCORPIO RISING book review: “Speak to the stones and the stars answer.”

28 Jun

SR3 ebook thumb7th-star heaven! 

Every now and again, I get a book review that makes me feel guilty. First, it’s so good I don’t believe it, so I keep going back to re-read it. Make sure there’s no hidden sarcasm, some kind of back-handed compliment.

But no, it is true and well written, as Papa would say. I get a warm fuzzy feeling from re-reading it. Somewhere out on the west coast, a smart sensitive woman is stroking me, and I like it.

But it reminds me again of why I write for this niche – because I know my tribe is out there, and I write for them.

Here’s what Laura of Oregon posted on Amazon:

Seven stars (out of five) to Alan Annand!

As book one in a series named “New Age Noir,” Scorpio Rising lives up to its series name in every way. With spare, yet brilliant prose, multi-faceted character development and seamless dialogue, the complex stories within stories unfold, and suspense gathers momentum surrounding the many esoteric and intuitive profiling techniques of the humble and honest protagonist, Axel Crowe.

I will begin book two, Felonious Monk, immediately. Then I will set about reading everything Alan Annand has written to date. His intelligence, his mastery of his craft, his humor, and his keen insight into the precarious toe dance on the high-wire we humans are set upon to undertake is profound.

I have to say, without explanation, that there is a certain subtle balance inherent throughout this book. While in any murder mystery there are the inevitable terrible and dark elements, in Scorpio Rising the presence of the light and conscious elements are woven into the vast tapestry that comprises all life – not as opposites, not as existence being black or white, nor it being good or evil – but as necessary parts of a grand dance in which everything is connected in mysterious ways.

As poet Theodore Roethke wrote, “Speak to the stones and the stars answer.”

 ~~~~~~~

Alan Annand is an astrologer and writer of crime fiction, including his New Age Noir series featuring astrologer and palmist Axel Crowe, a criminal profiler with a horoscope.

AmazonAppleBarnes&NobleSmashwords

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SR for print spread v3 jan 2013 web

Book review: The Experiencers by Val Tobin

14 Jun

the experiencersFor anyone who’s ever lent credence to the notion that aliens visit Earth, The Experiencers by Val Tobin is frighteningly real. Michael Valiant is a black ops assassin for a government agency that shields alien presence from public knowledge by silencing UFO researchers who know they are here among us. Carolyn Fairchild is a psychic medium who functions as a sort of spotter for her local research group, and when they see something they shouldn’t, Valiant and his partner are dispatched to shut them up before they blog about it.

Just when Carolyn’s group starts having fatal accidents at the agency’s hands, Valiant has a crisis of faith. He’s discovered our government is in league with the alien “establishment”, with the joint goal of global subjugation. But Valiant learns there’s a rebel alien base in a wilderness park, whose mission is to work with the people, not against them. So instead of killing Carolyn, Valiant enlists her help to find the base. Now the agency wants them both dead before they reach the rebels.

The Experiencers is written with a deft hand, and well-paced between thoughtful character development and straight-on action scenes. Lurking in the background is some entirely plausible bleeding edge technology. The few psychic episodes are both real and out there. And for the tender-hearted, there are a couple of poignantly human sex scenes between two people thrown together by fate and accepting it. Meanwhile, pursued by government men with stones where their hearts should be…

Amazon, Apple, Barnes&NobleSmashwords

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