Monday, May 8, 2017


New book by Straitwell Books, hopefully coming out by the end of 2017:

     Here's what author Jane Stillwater has to say about her new book: "Being a sort-of-former war correspondent myself (the Saudis won't let me into Yemen), I have decided to write a murder mystery based on my experiences instead.  Here's one chapter of my upcoming book, Road Trip to Damascus.  This chapter takes place in Iraq, which I am totally familiar with after having been embedded there four and a half times with the Marines between 2007 and 2008.  I am hoping that the book will be published in time for the LCC convention in Reno."

     The plot:  The book's reluctant heroine, Marcy, is just a suburban soccer mom, but she is also the only one who can identify a missing physicist -- and so a CIA agent who she nicknames "Gruffy" keeps kidnapping her and dragging her to various places across the globe.

CHAPTER NINE:

          The next time Gruffy kidnapped Marcy, their destination was his choice and his choice alone—no one in their right mind would chose to go there voluntarily.  Except of course for Gruffy.

          "This is gonna be just a tourist one-off for you," he told Marcy.  "I spent five years in Iraq.  I miss Iraq."

          I just bet you do, Marcy thought.  All that butchering and slaughter—what's not to like.

          They flew over Fallugah in a Blackhawk.  "Look, see there?  We bombed the shite out of that place.  It'll be radioactive for years!"  Then he actually giggled.

          Next they flew off to Al Anbar province where the U.S. Marines had made deals with the local sheiks to turn against AQI and thus brought peace to the region.  "What a waste.  We coulda bombed that entire province into dog meat if the Marines hadn't got in the way."  At Heet and Haditha, things were still looking grim.  ISIS had taken over and the slaughter had continued.  "ISIS are our guys, you know."

          Marcy didn't.

          "The CIA armed them to take out Assad in Syria.  And how do you think ISIS got to Iraq?  Crossed all that desert without being seen by our satellite cams?  Don't be naïve.  That was all us."

          "But isn't ISIS our enemy?"

          "Nah.  Assad is our enemy—keeps us from getting at Syrian oil.  Plus the jerk said no to our pipeline.  No one in their right mind says no to an American pipeline.  Did Assad learn nothing from Afghanistan?  From Iraq?  Libya?  Geez."  Marcy just nodded her head.

          Next they flew over the former Green Zone in Baghdad.  "You woulda loved it here when the Americans owned it," said Gruffy.  "Saddam's palace?  I stayed there for weeks.  Had a gold-plated commode.  And I was there when that suicide bomber tried to blow up the Parliament in 2008.  That was our guy."

          Why was Marcy not surprised.

          After that they flew over some ancient Babylonian architectural ruins just in case Professor Ayyad had wanted to be a tourist in a war zone.  After all, Babylon had been the cradle of civilization and still had many amazing archeological sites left even despite Shock and Awe.  The ziggurat of Ur had been built in approximately 4000 BC.  Parts of Babylon itself are still around, its hanging gardens having been one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.  And Hatra is another can't-miss UNESCO World Heritage site, with its ancient temples and other stuff to delight the eye.  Or one could always go to the Baghdad Museum.  What is left of it is still open.

          Then they flew over Mosul.  Marcy almost cried when she saw all the destruction below her but Gruffy just rubbed his hands together and laughed.  "First we invented ISIS.  Then we chopped off its head like a snake after it had served its purpose and flattened most of Syria and Iraq.  Now we'll just invent some other weird cult to take its place.  The Mujahideen, the Taliban, AQI, ISIS, whatever.  They're all our pawns."  And Gruffy was their proud papa.

          Iraq was turning out to be an educational experience for Marcy—but not in a good way.  In 2002, Mosul had a population of two million people.  Now Mosul's population was down to just 600,000.  No wonder Gruffy was happy.

          They then flew over a few famous mosques and pilgrimages sites in Iraq just because they could.  Najaf and Karbala of course but also a small pond in Al Anbar province located inside the former American airbase at Al Assad.  Very few people knew about it but this small pond is where the patriarch Abraham pitched his tent in approximately 2067 BC.

          Gruffy had been hoping to catch and snatch Professor Ayyad at one of these holy sites but no luck.  He returned Marcy to her suburban home in disgust.  Nobody in her family had noticed she was gone.