Graveyard of the Atlantic is the 2nd exciting adventure in the Mitchell Parker Crime Thriller series, and is as much a ‘grabber’ as the first one, Mastermind, which I reviewed recently. Returning with FBI Trans-National Crime Unit team leader Mitch are his boss, John Windsor, and team members Ellen Beetson (Ellie), Samantha Moore (Sam), and childhood friend and navy buddy Nick Everett. Nick is the newest member of the team, replacing J.J. from the original Mastermind team before that novel ended. Also along for the ride, is Mitch’s new girlfriend Charlotte, a psychologist who tends to like to work after hours, according to Mitch, and much to his chagrin.
While Mastermind had an international flavour to it, Graveyard of the Atlantic takes place in the Washington, D.C. area and in Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, which is an actual location. This is a real island which has many wrecks in the waters around it and a Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. Mix in two drowned men tangled in cable on the floor of the Cape, three dead witnesses to the last sighting of a missing Chinese ambassador, and one pair of binoculars found on the beach with the missing man’s fingerprints on it along with a set of prints belonging to a known Asian criminal who isn’t even supposed to be in the U.S., and you have all the ingredients of a page-turner! The counterpoint to the team’s investigation is the entry to the U.S. of 4 members of the Beijing Armed Police Force coming by invitation “to take part in a training course with the former G20 security command team” and to complete a course in professional English. Except they’re substitutes who have a completely different agenda.
Mitch takes his role as team leader very seriously, from allocating tasks, acknowledging strengths, setting goals for skills improvement, and looking out for his team members’ safety. Ellie is the team’s medic and Mitch’s second in command. Nick is able to joke around with Mitch in ways the girls can’t because of their long history together, and his sense of humour will often diffuse a tense situation. Sam is really good with computer forensics and is very smart; however, she’s a bit of a loose cannon, taking off on impulse and bringing other team members into danger. While tracking down the missing diplomat and watching the beach at the Cape for suspicious activity, the team finds a safe house with video surveillance, a room on camera that can’t be located, a mysterious container scheduled to be dropped in the ocean, and an opportunity to insert an eager rookie undercover agent into the language class.
I was truly intrigued by the setting used here and contacted Ms. Goltz to ask her how she came up with the location of Cape Hatteras for the covert Asian activities. I wondered if she had visited the area and whether the plot or the location came to her first. Here is her response:
I was fascinated by the disappearance of Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt which was before my time mind you 🙂 and the theories by Anthony Grey in his book The Prime Minister was a Spy. I wanted to create a story where a top level US politician ‘turns’ and exits the country in the way Grey theorised Harold Holt might have. Thus, the plot came first.
Secondly, I needed to base the story somewhere in the Washington, DC FBI jurisdiction area where Mitchell Parker and his team were based. I found Cape Hatteras and it was already known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. Here, international submarines might be able to enter the waters. It is out of the DC jurisdiction but I tied that in by finding the binoculars on the beach bearing fingerprints of a missing person from the FBI DC case files, hence it falls in their lap (in fiction).
I went to the USA after reading the book but technology is so wonderful that I sat at home in Brisbane and watch the beach live through the Cape Hatteras beach cameras. I also contacted a local writing group to clarify questions and several writers helped me out with details like driving routes, distances, places you would take a break, etc.
I just love finding out where authors get their ideas.
There are many twists to this plot. Every time you think you have it figured out, some-thing else happens or comes to light that changes the perspective. Many people are not who they seem to be, and there is treachery at the highest level. Great foreshadowing throughout and a big surprise at the end. A fast read because you can’t put it down. * * * *
Graveyard of the Atlantic and Mastermind are available from Amazonand other fine book sellers.