Historical Alaskan mystery with non-stop suspense.
In Don Neal’s fourth installment of the Ben Hunnicutt series, The Last Kill, we find Ben having left “Operation Washtub” in Alaska to fight on the Korean battlefields in 1953. After a brief interlude in Japan, Ben sustains a battle wound that sends him back to the states near the end of the Korean war, where he serves the remainder of his military years never making it back to Alaska until his retirement in 1967 when he keeps his promise to himself and moves to Anchorage. In the midst of his retirement, and the middle of the Vietnam War, Ben is mysteriously contacted by an intelligence operative he met while in Japan. The South Vietnamese treasury has been sacked and the gold is allegedly being smuggled to mining operations in Alaska where it can be converted into cash. If Ben can find out who the rogue miners are, he can help to re-stabilize the South Vietnamese government. But nothing is as simple as it seems.
History, mystery, and thrills are at the heart of the latest addition to the intriguing Ben Hunnicutt series. The novel is broken into two parts: Korea and Alaska. Both parts to this book are extremely realistic and insightful, providing detail that can only come from an author who has first-hand experience in war and a knowledge of Alaska as both a territory and a newly inducted state. The author’s notes section at the end of the book is a helpful addition as well, providing background information for readers who may not be familiar with some of the military terminology, Japanese/Korean culture, and Alaskan geography throughout the book. In addition to the murder mystery and historical aspects of this novel, Neal incorporates adventure, stunning scenery, and a slight dusting of romance for a story that will keep any reader captivated to the surprise ending.
The Last Kill is a historically rich and realistic narrative that will leave readers ready to book a trip to Alaska.
About the author: Don Neal, His hobbies include military history and the research and study of antique and historical firearms—with an occasional foray into drag racing. His four novels reflect Alaska as a Territory, then as a raw new state before it was transformed and modernized by the discovery of oil and the building of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline.
The book has been reviewed over 10x. Cover art has been awarded a 5 star rating by Mobius. Goodreads rating avg. of 4.5, Amazon rating 5 stars. Comparative title: The Frozen Hours, by Jeff Shaara.
Abstract terms: Historic, Korea, Alaska, Vietnamese, Japan, Military, Action, Geography, Smuggle, Gold, Warhead, CrossKill, Washtub Gold, The Last Kill
Published by First Edition Design Publishing, in paperback and eBook formats. The book contains approximately 220 pages. Genre: Historical Fiction Military, ISBN PBK, 9781506907970, ISBN EBK, 9781506908250.
Comes the time when an author feels the urge to start a new book. The urge may be powerful if he or she writes for a living. For those of us who write for the love of it, or because there's something that needs to be said, the urge is just a nagging something that demands attention. Perhaps, like a chicken that knows an egg must be laid but isn't sure why.
So number 5, tentatively titled "Red Star Down", is 14,000 or so words into Ben Hunnicutt's next adventure-- or disaster, as the case may be. Ben stumbles on the wreck of a WW2 C-47 aircraft which has been lying undisturbed for 30 years. Turns out it was a lend-lease cargo plane given to the Russians, who sent it toward Siberia with a cargo they would just as soon U.S. authorities never knew about. And, since they still feel that way, Ben and friends are likely to encounter serious opposition in their attempt to salvage the plane and its cargo. I'll attempt to show the prologue below.
A long time between blog posts, I know, but this summer has been hard and busy for Alaskans living in South-Central. We've had to re-adapt to that "Fake News" climate change that, of course, doesn't really exist.
First, after an unusually warm, nearly snow-free winter, we get a heat wave that, to us un-airconditioned folks, was decidedly uncomfortable. Anchorage actually reached 90 degrees around the fourth of July-- other areas in the interior were hotter.
When the heat finally broke (after stores ran out of cooling fans and had more shipped in on an emergency basis), we looked forward to the usual cooling weather and rains that come with August. Only, they didn't. Now we are blessed with eternal sunshine and no rain-- and Alaska is on fire. 50 miles north and 50 miles south of Anchorage, scores of people are getting burned out of homes and homesteads.
Dog mushers are having to rescue and care for their many dogs as well as other farm animals as fires sweep in over the super-dry black spruce forests that dominate the land.
Never thought I would long for gray days and cold rains, but I do!
I'm about 22,000 words into my next book, a continuation of the Ben Hunnicutt series with the working title, "Red Star Down". Centers around the discovery of the wreck of a C-47 transport airplane that was turned over to Russia during the WW2 Lend-Lease program.
Untouched for 30 years, the plane entombs the bodies of its crew, including that of a courier carrying a briefcase containing information which is still of enormous value to whichever side in the Cold War can retrieve it. Naturally, Ben gets caught up in the struggle to recover the briefcase from its grave deep in Alaska's wilderness before Russian agents can beat him to it. We'll just have to see who wins and how.