Force No one, a debut thriller by Daniel Charles Ross, a former Army undercover MP as well as a senior enlisted Navy Journalist. With a career that spans the globe, including tours in Germany, and deployments to Manila and the Philippines.
Force No one is a character rich thriller that moves at a decent pace setting up a plot that comes together and creates page turning intensity. Introducing to the world Xavier Cloud, a mysterious character that initially seems to be all about the money he is eagerly after, but then proves his true nature. Which is one of a hero, who does the right thing for the right reasons. Cloud dines at a ‘favorite’ Chinese restaurant regularly, while there, he speaks with his friend about the ‘money’ they are after almost carelessly until he is approached by Xing Jianjun. A semi-retired Chinese General and owner of the restaurant who had bugged Cloud’s table and was in need of an operative to lead a rescue of his recently kidnapped daughter. Later we learn that was Cloud’s goal all along. Cloud initially had a long and successful career as a U.S. Army Ranger but was charged with war crimes he did not commit, sent to prison, and ultimately escaped in an effort to go underground as an operative whose desirable skills were up for grabs to the highest bidder. All to gain intelligence and stop terrorist attacks.
Other characters include Amber “Corvette” Watson, a Corvette driving, attractive blonde and a FBI Special Agent. Working alongside, in a joint taskforce Sergeant Tracey Lexcellent, a Detroit Police Homicide Detective. These two are working a local homicide which later turns into something relevant to the story. A well-dressed man is found to have fallen off a building, only to discover later a bullet hiding in his brain. This well-dressed man turns out to have been a homeland security undercover agent working to identify a threat, to which he obviously got too close to.
This threat proves to be on the scale as deadly as 9/11 and the characters figure out they have been working the same case from different angles and ultimately come together to put the pieces together and combine their intel to gain enough understanding just what is at stake. The technology utilized in this book, the NSA phone intercept capabilities which may or may not have been an exaggeration are simply impressive. With certain words, phrases, and language spoken raising red flags by computer monitoring software and then getting kicked up to a human to view proves that even being careful and avoiding common phrases like ‘infidel,’ ‘bomb,’ and using ‘product’ when referring to explosives just isn’t enough. Because they still picked up enough information to flag the conversation when mentioning something like “kill themselves” in a sentence when referring to the technicians putting together the weapon they plan on using, since Jihadist often kill themselves, or as they call it, ‘martyr’ themselves in their quest for the seventy-two heavenly virgins they’re promised. From my perspective as a reader, with many moving parts within Force No One, I was mostly impressed with this method of detection the good guys utilized to help stop the big attack from happening.
I know an amount of exaggeration is required for all thrillers to up the ante from the one that came before them. However, being in the Military for eight years on active duty and utilizing what we call “countersign” while in a combat zone, “sign, word, phrase, or any other signal previously agreed upon & required to be exchanged between a sentry or guard and anybody approaching their post.” It authenticates the person approaching as a friend and not an enemy combatant about to do them harm. In the case with Force No One, they are on a Lockheed C-130 Hercules four-engine turboprop military transport plane flying low in order to evade radar through Afghanistan and due to unforeseen circumstances, they were running out of fuel, literally running on fumes. That’s when Cloud gets on the radio and contacts Air Force air traffic control in Kabul, Afghanistan. He identifies himself with a call sign he knew was a special one used for CIA black missions. It is explained that the air traffic controller has at his workstation a folder which lists all current active call signs used by different branches of the military, the coalition forces, and the intelligence community worldwide. The air traffic controller found the call sign this particular radio caller was using and from there followed protocol, which is to identify the caller by using a predetermined ‘countersign.’ Basically, the air traffic controller says a word or phrase and Cloud had to come back with a correct challenge phrase or he would more than likely be shot down by a fighter jet if the plane didn’t crash from running out of fuel. Cloud had come up from thin air the correct challenge phrase. He utilized his perfect memory and counted on whoever initially came up with these codes was a Shakespeare fan, since the challenge code was something from Hamlet, what he described as a “classic call-and-response.” As I mentioned, with my military history and my experience utilizing this method of authentication, the two words or phrases will never, or should never be related. If you challenge word is “Salt” the response should NOT be “Pepper.” The two should be as far apart as possible and completely random.
As I mentioned, the threat the jihadists came up with is on par with 9/11. The amount of chaos, death, and true terror they planned to inflict on the American people in the city of Detroit would have inflicted a massive blow to our country and I can imagine the economy. Pair that with a protagonist like Xavier Cloud and you have yourself a thriller worth reading. Considering this is Daniel Charles Ross’ debut thriller, I hope to read more from him in the future where Cloud gets to see more action that I know he is capable of and delivers some vicious death to the bad guys Daniel comes up with in his next thriller Force Majeure.
Author: Daniel Charles Ross
Series: Xavier Cloud / Storm Cell # 1
publisher: Force Poseidon
Release Date: September 28, 2018
Follow Daniel on Twitter: @GenuineDCR
Follow Xavier Cloud on Twitter: @XavierCloud1
Lima Charlie Rating: A BLAST RADIUS OF AN ARTILLERY PROJECTILE (7/10 Rating). With a BLAST RADIUS of 50 meters, often reffered as “STEEL RAIN” and Artillery Men are called “KING OF BATTLE!!”
About the Author
Dan was born in Detroit and grew up in and around Detroit, attending the former East Detroit High School (Go ☘️ Shamrocks); Wayne State University downtown; and later completing his undergrad at Southern New Hampshire University. He finished half of a two-year MFA in creative writing before his VA education benefits finally winked out.
He has worked as a color timer and processor in an automated photo lab; as a stock chaser in a Chrysler stamping plant; and as a warehouse rat on 100-degree summer days. He spent seven years on active U.S. Army duty, mostly as a long-duration undercover Military Police Investigator, serving five years in Germany in two trips.
Most of his civilian work life was spent on staff at and for magazines. He was an Associate Editor at AutoWeek; the Detroit Editor at Popular Mechanics; and the National Editor at both Motor Trend and Car and Driver.
Dan has been a senior enlisted Navy Journalist since October 1986, with annual deployments to places such as Manila, the Philippines; Germany; and New Orleans covering Mardi Gras. He was the only Navy photographer on the only U.S. warship to attend the 300th Anniversary of the Russian Navy, in St. Petersburg. Not the Florida one.
After his magazine career, Dan served in a series of executive public relations roles at Tier 1 automakers and agencies before the events of September 11, 2001. By March 2002, he had accepted a 37-month by-name recall to active U.S. Navy duty as the senior enlisted public affairs manager at Naval Facilities Engineering Command and as the chief journalist of the Seabees. He retired from the Navy Reserve in July 2010 as a Chief Petty Officer.
A Detroit ex-pat, he lives in Lima, Ohio with a yellow MINI Cooper R60, where he is finishing the second storm cell novel, Force Majeure.