We begin in the mountains to the north of Spain 32,000 years ago where a mortally wounded young Neanderthal male seeks refuge in cave after being savagely attacked by a Cro-Magnon hunting party.

The main story, however, is contemporary. When Oxford-trained American archeologist MICHAEL CORBETT is hired by the University of Salamanca to lead an expedition to explore a newly discovered cave in the Pyrenees, he is contacted by the CIA. For along with his impeccable credentials, Corbett is actually an exfiltrator” — a freelance operative who specializes in the location and extraction of high value targets under extreme danger and duress.

Several weeks earlier in the holy city of Najaf, a key Iraqi cleric was a victim of an ISIS terror attack. Should he die the prospect of peace and stability in the region dies with him. The only chance is to locate his son, Tariq, who has gone missing somewhere in the Basque mountains to the north and reunite him with his father. At Oxford, Corbett and Tariq had been close until a woman came between them. That woman, a doctor named Amaia Alesander, now runs a free clinic in a small village not far from the excavation site.

To complicate matters, Corbett becomes involved with another member of his team, an attractive young graduate intern named Ella Beckwith. Meanwhile, as Corbett goes in search of Tariq, an ISIS sleeper cell begins to track him believing he will lead them to him.

Racing against time and the terrorists, Corbett must find Tariq and exfiltrate him before ISIS takes his head.

Writing is a life sentence…

Today I begin…

Welcome to what hopefully over time will become a long running commentary on the journey of my life as a writer. First, a writer’s life is both a blessing and curse. A Sisyphean task. The unquenchable need to precisely capture life’s imperfections in words on a page so that whoever reads it recognizes the humanity we share. Thus writing worth reading demands a kind of unattainable perfection that can only be achieved through reflection and revision. We rewrite because we are driven to reach for something just beyond our grasp.

Becoming a writer is nothing an adult should do with his or her life. In fact, if you ever grow up, you will have to get a real job. The late John Cheever once said that he had spent his life like a kid with a lottery ticket in his pocket certain that the moment he got home he’d find a letter waiting informing him that he had won. Choosing to write is to place an irrational bet on yourself. Sure, the odds are stacked against you. But so what? The only proper response is: I’ve been thrown out of better bars than this.

The truth is, you don’t choose writing as a career, it chooses you. You write because you cannot imagine a life without it. Success depends on three things: talent, persistence and luck. Talent is subjective. Persistence is the willingness to, as Winston Churchill once noted, go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. As for luck, it says in Ecclesiastes, “The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong… but time and chance come to every man.” All you need is the the ability to recognize opportunity and the willingness to risk whatever it takes to make your dreams reality. You write because you feel you have something worth saying. If you’re lucky your writing will find others who feel the same. If you’re not, keep writing until someone does. That’s all for now. More later…