​​A wolf runs wild in Manhattan

On page seven of R.H. Johnson’s fourth novel, The Kirov Wolf, we're told things will get much worse before they get better.  And, indeed, what follows is a riveting, all-too-plausible portrait of New York City in the crosshairs.  The menu for mayhem includes a string of political assassinations, evil doings inside the Russian embassy, and a terrorist nuclear device bound for Midtown.  If that’s not enough to ruin your day, there’s also a highly placed sleeper agent who represents the greatest threat the U.S. government has ever faced.

   It’s customary, of course, for the NYPD to rely on detectives Pete Nazareth and Tara Gimble -- stars of Johnson’s first three novels in the series -- to defend the city from madmen, but this first encounter with international intrigue carries their high-risk behavior to an entirely new level. With their careers and their very lives in constant danger, they tackle the most complex case they’ve ever been handed.

   The Kirov Wolf is a compelling read in which fiction often seems tantalizingly, and frighteningly, real.  Did the Soviet-era Russians actually attempt to tunnel under Central Park? Can terrorists hide a nuclear weapon in a Port Newark shipping container?  Has a sleeper agent risen to power inside the U.S.?  The jury is out.  All of the details surrounding these and other questions are presented in such convincing fashion it’s tempting to believe we have a case of fact masquerading as fiction.  
Especially in light of current geopolitical events, this carefully researched novel offers a measure of authenticity that sets it apart from the crime-thriller pack.  

   The story may not be true, but it could be.


HWP:  Readers are asking to what extent The Kirov Wolf is rooted in fact.  For example, did Russia actually attempt to tunnel under Central Park during the Cold War?


RHJ:  The general answer is that all of the major events described in the novel are either highly or reasonably plausible, while any plot elements based on fact are in compliance with

appropriate statutes.  Certain details simply represent public information that basically managed to fly under the radar.  If you dig, you often find.

HWP:  Is the same true of the main characters?

RHJ: The characters are fictional.

HWP:  What got you interested in writing about the NYPD in the first place?

RHJ:  Family.  My father and brother were both in NYC law enforcement, so I've always had an interest.  I also like seeing bad guys brought to justice, and that often happens in my stories. Of course, we live in a highly imperfect world, so things don't always go well for the good guys.  

HWP:  The New York City police get pretty sympathetic treatment in your books, don't they?

RHJ:  They do, and they should.  When they leave home in the morning -- and I mean every morning of every week -- they don't know whether they'll return.  It disgusts me that there's more press attention given to the rare "rogue cop" than to the police officers who die in the line of duty each year.  And please don't get me started on those who second-guess police on decisions they routinely need to make under fire.  In a football game the refs get to watch an instant replay before making a final call.  Police don't have that luxury.

HWP:  Each book in the series is a "Detective Pete Nazareth novel," so I'm guessing you have a special connection with that character.

RHJ:  He's the organizing device, so he gets more attention than most of the other characters. But he's never made out to be a superhero of some sort.  He makes mistakes, harbors a great deal of self-doubt, and always wishes he could do a better job.  I want him to be believable.

HWP:  How much of yourself do you put in him? 

RHJ:  I was once a decent runner, and more recently I've been a Taekwondo champion, but Pete Nazareth is a whole lot better than me on both counts.  My background helps me understand something about his competitiveness and capabilities, so I enjoy putting him under pressure.  On the whole, though, there's something of me in every character.  If there wasn't, I couldn't write about them.

HWP:  Another key character, of course, is Nazareth's partner, Tara Gimble.

RHJ:  Yes, Detective Gimble is a complex individual who's critical to the story.   She's unimpressed by her good looks, can more than hold her own in combat, and gives 100% all the time.  Very often she's the voice of reason in the duo, providing an important balance to her partner's frequent impetuousness.

HWP:  Last question on The Kirov Wolf.  Its conclusion seems to open the door to a follow-up book.  Is that a safe assumption?

RHJ:  Quite safe, yes.  Up next is Eyes in the Cave, which will be released toward the middle of 2017.  This one begins where The Kirov Wolf ends.  But, as usual, you can read the books in any order.  I want each of them to stand on its own.

HWP: And is it fair to assume Detectives Nazareth and Gimble will be along for the ride?

RHJ:  Never forget that they live and work in a dangerous world where bad things often happen.  I hope they have bright futures ahead of them.  







Hampton, Westbrook Publishing

-- Keira Whitby 

Reviewed By Edith Wairimu for Readers’ Favorite

Sailing the Gates of Hell by R.H. Johnson is a riveting story that explores major issues similar to those that surround modern day America. In the book, Roland Armstrong is the current president of the United States. A formidable, strong-headed, and sly figure who will stop at nothing to drive his agenda, Armstrong is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. Still, he is faced by constant security threats posed by North Korea, organized terrorist groups, and spies within his own government. Armstrong is forced to make life-changing decisions that will change the face of a whole nation and the world. Then there is the human trafficking menace which has seen more than thirty-five million people enslaved. Sailing the Gates of Hell follows Elissa Bancroft’s struggle for freedom as she becomes a victim of this ordeal.

In an enthralling plot, R.H. Johnson presents paramount themes in today’s world in a vivid and fascinating manner. He does not hold anything back as he creates a thrilling and relevant story line. Following different sub-plots that add to the overall story line, R.H. Johnson brings characters alive through intelligent merging and harmonizing of different aspects of the narrative. His characters are well-developed and combine beautifully with the themes of the book. I especially loved how he developed particular characters in the story, an example being President Roland Armstrong. R.H. Johnson is creative, gifted, knows his content and, above all, maintains a grip on the reader through compelling action. Like other R.H. Johnson’s books, Sailing the Gates of Hell will prove engaging to any lover of mystery and suspense novels.