Harley Stein’s debut novel, Brainwend Kill, reveals how heavily the dead burdens of the past weigh on the living.
Rydal Keene could peel back layers of sound. He could distinguish cars simply by the roar of their engines. On an early spring day, Rydal heard some classmates playing Marco Polo at the ravine just off the school campus. Less than an hour later, Dr. Nell Walker found a 13-year-old Grainger student floating face down in the ravine, a hideous gash in the back of his head. But a blind boy is not the best witness, especially when the evidence points to his best friend.
Dr. Walker returned to Grainger as the school psychologist. Anxiety, stress, loss, suffering — these are familiar to her. Now the horror of the murder sends Nell spiraling into her own past, reliving the nightmare killings by the man she’d loved. Was she blacking out again? Where had she been when the boy was killed?
Detective Jason Sheffield follows a more traditional approach: he questions teachers and students, hunting for opportunity and motivation. The longer Jason delves into the case, the more he suspects that Nell’s past has jolted her over the edge.
The surprise ending reveals how heavily the dead burdens of the past weigh on the living.
"A riveting read. This is a great criminal mystery with twists and turns that keep the reader in suspense up to the very end. The author carefully winds us through the twists and turns of a crime involving Delaware's elite and keeps you guessing as to the real identity of the true killer." - Annette Sandberg, former Chief, Washington State Patrol
Mike Lamke’s debut novel, The Unsanctioned, explores the conflict between national security and freedom of speech.
Anyone who follows current events will connect with the main character, Lane Evans, as he uncovers and exposes a U.S. intelligence program gone awry. Evans is the aide to the U.S. ambassador to Thailand. When he is called upon to use his experience with a secret U.S. intelligence database to uncover the identity of an anonymous anti-American blogger in Thailand, he is thrust into a world of secret government programs. Lane’s success pulls him into a journey of shocking discoveries and has him questioning his beliefs and his country. Anonymous bloggers are being killed, and Lane’s tenacity sets him on a quest to uncover the truth, save those closest to him, and end an unsanctioned program. The events that follow will test his courage, challenge his faith in longtime confidants, and force him to finally choose between the only two women he’s ever loved. Lane’s decisions in the final hours will determine who lives, who dies, and most importantly, how he will balance his own deep feelings for both security and freedom.
"A satisfying, impressive first novel." Kirkus Reviews
"Mike Lamke has brilliantly created a world of intrigue and suspense that grabbed me from the very first pages. His characters and situations rang so true, in fact, that I had to remind myself that I was reading a novel and not operational files. No one to my knowledge has written a more accurate or timely fictionalization of the blogosphere as a national security threat. This is real stuff by an author who knows what he’s talking about." James M. Olson, former Chief of CIA Counterintelligence and author of Fair Play: The Moral Dilemmas of Spying.
"Mike Lamke shows his inventiveness by building his plot around the concern that governments everywhere have about the power of the internet and the part it can play in political uprisings." BookReview.com
"Mike Lamke has a unique way of turning a highly technical military subject into an exciting, understandable thriller that explains just how pervasive and effective the government's surveillance technology and control of the internet can become. This is stuff that's way beyond "1984" and it's with us today. His story adds the human elements of ethics and the difficult decisions career electronic security people must make. It begs the question, how far must we and should we go to balance security and freedom?” Heartland Reviews.
Excerpts from Amazon
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All in all this is a good read. Don't be put off by the slow beginning. Stick with the book and you will find that you enjoy it very much, as I did.
The Unsanctioned is a timely thoughtful piece of good writing. I look forward to seeing much from Mike Lamke in the future. The plot was compelling and well crafted.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great First Novel - ChuckH
I work for the Federal government but had no idea that this type of operation existed. The detail was obviously well researched and certainly gave an authentic feel to the characters and plot.
4.0 out of 5 stars Thinking Person's Thriller - Harley
The main character, Lane Evans, is no Jason Bourne - thank goodness! He is more of an Everyman who struggles to do what is right in a world where the answers are no longer black and white.
Overall, The Unsanctioned was a page-turner. The concept of a black-ops tracking program isn't a stretch, and the method used to track people is a nice technology feature that makes the plot work.
Lamke kept the book moving at a good pace and tugged the reader back and forth with plenty of suspense and plot twists. Character development was solid. My only real complaint was that the whole idea of a conspiracy to stop anti-American bloggers seemed a bit implausible, at least for me. That said, I was able to accept the underlying premise that drove the story and simply enjoy the book. All-in-all, the Unsanctioned was worth the time invested. I will be back for more.
Lamke has talent and a story to tell, but could have benefited greatly from a hard-nosed editor willing to slash, cut and tighten, as well as hitting the Thesaurus for character expressive alternatives beyond "sneered" and "smirked." But take the good with the bad and you'll likely find "The Unsanctioned" a good first effort for an author with promise that I suspect will improve in his next time out.
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling and entertaining. . . - Jeff (Austin, TX)
This is a must-read book! The plot is compelling, and the characters are well-developed. I could not put this book down. This novel is an amazing accomplishment for a first-time author.
Very few novels are 'can't put down' for me, but just pick it up and see for yourself! I thoroughly enjoyed this author and predict he will go far in the literary world.
I rate this as a "can't put down" book! It was a great read and the plot engaging. The twists and turns weren't predictable nor did they felt contrived.
5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive read - TMac
The timing of this book is dead on...todays net-based world of cyber crime and social networking has had a profound influence in our society.