Titus Ray Thrillers feature CIA intelligence officer, Titus Ray, who was brought to faith in Christ by a group of Iranian Christians during a botched mission in Tehran. Following his conversion, he questions whether or not he will be able to live out his faith and follow the teachings of Christ while still being employed at the CIA.  

These thrillers follow Titus as he carries out operations against America’s enemies, while trying to live the Christian life. In his journey of faith, he meets a beautiful Christian woman, deals with a myriad of family issues, and fights his own personal demons. Sometimes, he fails miserably at doing the right thing. At other times, he achieves victory over his sinful nature. In reality, Titus isn’t much different than most believers, except he’s a covert operative in the world of espionage.

You can learn more about each book in the series by clicking on the tabs in the menu above. If you’d like to receive updates and insider news on the series, you can sign up for the Titus Ray Thriller Series Newsletter here. When you sign up, you’ll receive a FREE COPY of Titus Ray Recipes and Short Stories.

The last book in the five-book series is entitled Five Years in Yemen. It will be released in 2018.

As a way of introducing you to One Night in Tehran, Two Days in Caracas, and Three Weeks in Washington, there are excerpts to each chapter in the Chapter Comments, following this post. You may also click on the Categories menu on the left under Chapter Comments.

Three Weeks in Washington was the winner of the 2017 Oklahoma Book Award for fiction. All books in the series are available on Amazon here.

 

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The Prequel: ONE STEP BACK

Posted: February 3, 2018 in One Step Back

One Step Back is the prequel to One Night in Tehran, Book I in the Titus Ray Thriller Series. To view the Book Trailer and read a synopsis, click here. An excerpt from Chapter One is reprinted below.

OSB promos 1

Purchase your copy of One Step Back on Amazon here.

ONE STEP BACK: An Excerpt

Posted: February 3, 2018 in One Step Back

Chapter 1

Tehran, Iran
October 6, 2014

I was ahead of schedule. Even though I was supposed to meet my asset, Farid Kazim, near Zafaranieh Plaza at eleven o’clock, I was at the designated location an hour early.

Some Agency operatives might consider my early arrival a little excessive. They could be right.

On the other hand, those operatives hadn’t been living in Tehran for the past two years.

I’d arrived in Iran two years ago as Hammid Salimi, the son of an Iranian watchmaker and a Swiss businesswoman. According to my legend—the false identity prepared for me by Support Services at the CIA—I was in Tehran to open up a market for my parents’ line of luxury watches and jewelry.

In reality, I was in Tehran to identify potential assets who might be willing to help fund the opposition and topple the government.

To that end, I’d spent the last two years rubbing shoulders with some of the upper-class members of Iranian society, making friends with businessmen, as well as bankers, and cultivating ties with wealthy entrepreneurs.

During that time, I’d recruited six individuals who were now the core of my Iranian network. Three of them were bankers, two of them were businessmen, and one was a rich playboy.

Farid was the rich playboy.

His father, Asadi Kazim, owned three hotels in Iran; two in Tehran and one in Mashhad. All three of them had been built during the Shah’s regime, and, when the Shah was ousted from power in 1979, Asadi had been allowed to keep the hotels.

According to Farid, his father had always been an ardent Islamist and had publically supported the revolution from the beginning. Allowing him to keep his hotels was the Supreme Leader’s way of rewarding him.

Now, the Parisian Asadi Hotels were the only hotels in Iran with a five-star rating. However, the rooms were under constant surveillance by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), and foreign dignitaries were warned to use caution when staying there.

Despite that, diplomats, as well as international investors, used the Asadi Hotels almost exclusively, and, in return, the IRGC supplemented Asadi Kazim’s income for catering to them.

Outwardly, Farid appeared to be an Islamist like his father, but a few months after I’d recruited him, Farid had confessed to being an atheist.

I had my doubts about that.

While I believed Farid despised his father and blamed him for his mother’s death, it was hard for me to believe a man who had been praying, fasting, and memorizing the Quran all his life didn’t believe in a god of some sort.

Granted, I had no real belief system of my own, so I might not be the best person to judge someone else’s faith.

Farid had chosen a passive aggressive method for exacting revenge on his father. His means of retribution included spending his father’s fortune on expensive toys, associating with members of the Iranian opposition, and becoming a CIA asset.

As recruits go, Farid had been an easy target.

A member of one of the Iranian opposition groups, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, had given me Farid’s name, and I’d taken it from there.

After introducing myself to Farid at the wedding of a high-ranking IRGC official, I’d handed him my business card, and, in the midst of a discussion about the groom’s father, I’d told Farid a less than flattering story about my father’s treatment of my mother.

My anecdote was part of Hammid Salimi’s fictional background and totally fabricated, but I could tell it resonated with him.

He’d called me a few days later.

Although he said he was calling because he wanted to purchase a watch for his girlfriend, when he showed up at my apartment, he seemed more interested in hearing about the hatred I had for my father than in buying my baubles and beads.

The two of us met often after that, and it wasn’t long before I realized I’d become a kind of surrogate father to him. Since I was only in my late forties, I had a hard time identifying with this role, but it appeared to be working, so I went with it.

Within six months of meeting Farid, I’d recruited him as my asset. Now, not only was he feeding me intel from his contacts inside the IRGC, he was also supplying me with information about some of the guests at the Asadi hotels.

Douglas Carlton, the head of the Middle East desk at the CIA and my operations officer, had congratulated me on my recruitment of Farid during one of my rare video conferences with the Ops Center. I’d even seen him smile when I’d delivered Farid’s first product—a recording of a conversation between a Russian general and a member of the Iranian President’s security council.

Discerning how Carlton felt—even when I knew I’d exceeded his expectations—was never an easy task. On the other hand, he was sure to let me know exactly how he felt if I messed up—which I occasionally did.

With my own assets, I took the opposite approach. If the intel they delivered was an outstanding product, yielding measurable results, I showered them with praise—along with gifts or a bundle of cash. However, I seldom said anything about the superfluous stuff they dropped on me.

Today, I planned to commend Farid for the information he’d given me on the Syrian President’s recent visit to Tehran. As a token of how useful Farid’s information had been to the rebels trying to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria, I was planning to slip him an envelope full of American dollars.

When I glanced down at my watch, I realized I still had ten minutes left until Farid’s scheduled arrival, and I decided there was enough time for me to do a third recon of the plaza.

Was I yielding to my compulsive tendencies by doing the extra recon?

Probably.

However, two years ago, when Carlton had briefed me on Operation Torchlight, he’d warned me about becoming complacent during my long-term assignment.

Although I didn’t always listen to my boss, this time I did.

Purchase your copy of One Step Back on Amazon here. 

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Book IV in the Titus Ray Thriller Series is now available on Amazon here.  Read an excerpt from Chapter One below.

Chapter 1

Monday, July 13
My flight from Port‑au‑Prince, Haiti to Maceo International Airport in Santiago de Cuba lasted less than an hour.

It felt like an eternity.

For some reason, the passenger seated next to me thought I might enjoy hearing how he’d spent the previous evening sampling the nightlife of Port‑au‑Prince.

He was wrong about that.

When we’d boarded the aircraft, Antonio Guillermo had introduced himself as a travel agent from Havana, with a branch office in Santiago de Cuba, and I’d politely recited the legend I’d been given in my operational briefing at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia two days ago.

“I’m pleased to meet you. I’m Nacio Bandera.”

He pointed at my briefcase.

“I’m guessing your trip to Santiago is business.”

I nodded. “I’m an archivist at the Haitian National Museum. The assistant curator and I are touring Cuban museums to evaluate their collections and discuss exchanging artifacts.”

The man’s eyes glazed over as soon as I mentioned museums, and his reaction led me to believe my dull job description would cut off any further communication between the two of us.

Not so.

He asked, “Male or female?”

“Pardon?”

“Is the assistant curator male or female?”

“Juliana De Santos is definitely a female.”

“Nice. Is she on this flight?” he asked, looking around the cabin.

“No, she arrived in Santiago a few days ago.”

“I hope the two of you plan to have a little fun together while you’re in the city, take in some of the hot spots around the harbor, that sort of thing.”

“We’ll check everything out. You can be sure of that.”

After making some additional suggestions about what to see in Santiago, he spent the next forty‑five minutes telling me all about the nightclubs he’d visited, the company he’d entertained, and the women he’d met on his visit to Port‑au‑Prince.

Now, as our plane taxied into the terminal, Guillermo once again recommended the nightlife of Santiago de Cuba, and I decided there was a possibility the man could actually provide me with some much‑needed intel about one location.

“What do you know about Club Nocturno?” I asked.

He looked surprised.

“That place? It’s mainly a neighborhood bar; local talent on the weekend. When you go clubbing, you’d do better to stick to the downtown area or the harbor district. There aren’t many people in Santiago who’ve ever heard of Club Nocturno. How’d you hear about it?”

I wasn’t about to tell Guillermo the first time I’d heard about Club Nocturno had been eleven days ago during an operational briefing in Damascus, Syria. The briefing had taken place during a video conference call with the Ops Center back at Langley. That was the moment I’d learned my partner, Ben Mitchell, had disappeared after visiting the club.

Mitchell had been in Santiago de Cuba running a surveillance op on a shipment of chemical weapons the Syrian government had recently handed over to Hezbollah, a terrorist organization run by Iran. Mitchell had been working Component Two of Operation Citadel Protection, a mission tasked with preventing a sarin gas attack on Washington, D.C., and I’d been in Damascus working Component One, trying to ascertain the date of the scheduled attack.

Mitchell’s last communication with his operations officer, C. J. Salazar, had been a text message, along with a photograph. After sending the message, his Agency sat phone had flatlined, and his signal had disappeared off the Grid, leaving the Ops Center with only his GPS coordinates.

Those coordinates had pinpointed Club Nocturno as his last known location.

I repeated Guillermo’s question. “How did I hear about Club Nocturno?” I scratched my head. “I must have seen some pictures of the nightclub when I was looking up information about Santiago on the internet. I always do a little research on a city before I visit it.”

“Like I said before, you and your lady friend should probably stick to the downtown area for your entertainment. Nocturno doesn’t attract the best clientele.”

“Rough crowd?”

He nodded. “The Los Zetas drug cartel owns most of the businesses in that area, including Club Nocturno. If there’s trouble, la policía are paid to look the other way.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Guillermo opened up his wallet and removed a business card. “Call me if you and Señorita De Santos would like to see some of the Cuban countryside. We have several daylong excursions into the backcountry, including a sugar mill tour. If you’d be interested in an overnight train ride to one of the region’s oldest coffee plantation, I could arrange that as well.”

I pocketed his card. “I might give you a call.”

When our plane arrived at the gate, Guillermo stood to his feet and said, “Let me be the first to welcome you to Santiago de Cuba, home of poets and revolutionaries. As the saying goes, ‘Ignore them both.’”

I always ignored poets.

Revolutionaries—not so much.

END of First Scene in Chapter One of Four Months in Cuba. Download from Amazon here.

Three Weeks in Washington, Book III in the Titus Ray Thriller Series is also available as an AudioBook. You can download it on Audible through Amazon. If you aren’t an Audible subscriber, when you join, you can download it for free. Download here.

Front Cover

(Read an excerpt from Chapter 1: Purchase here on Amazon.)

Monday, June 22
The shooter was just around the corner from me. To get to him, I would need to cross N Street.

If I crossed N Street, he would have a clear shot at me. 

I decided to wait him out.

He had already eluded several SWAT teams in the Washington Navy Yard, the home of U.S. Naval Operations, and now he was hunkered down inside the entryway of Building 175. I suspected he was trying to find an exit out of the former shipyard.

If I remained at my present location, at the corner of Building 172, he would walk right into my waiting arms when he crossed N Street. I stayed put.

I wasn’t exactly sure how the shooter had end up at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. on a summer morning in June, but I’d arrived at the location after driving non-stop from Norman, Oklahoma.


Douglas Carlton, my operations officer, and the head of the Middle East desk at the CIA, had called me the day before and given me the surprising news I’d been restored to active duty status by the stroke of a pen from Robert Ira, the Deputy Director of Operations at the CIA.

Three months earlier, the DDO had placed me on medical leave after the two of us had engaged in a very public spat regarding his competency. I’d questioned him about his ability to run Operations, because I’d discovered his political games at the Agency had brought down my network in Tehran.

Needless to say, things had not gone smoothly for me after that, and, except for a brief run into Caracas to capture a Hezbollah assassin, I’d spent the last two months in Norman, Oklahoma on medical leave.

Ostensibly, I’d been there trying to recuperate from shattering my leg while trying to escape the clutches of VEVAK, the Iranian secret police. But, in reality, everyone at the Agency knew my medical leave was simply Ira’s way of punishing me for berating him in front of two division heads during a debriefing.

Immediately after Carlton had called to tell me I’d been reinstated, I’d gotten in touch with my property manager in Norman. After that, I’d reluctantly said goodbye to Nikki Saxon, a detective in the Norman Police Department, and I’d made my way across the southern states to the east coast.

An hour before arriving at Building 172, I’d been cruising along the interstate outside of Fairfax, Virginia. That’s when I’d called Carlton to let him know I’d be in his office at Langley within the hour.

My boss didn’t sound happy.

“Don’t bother,” he said. “There’s been a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard and all federal agencies within a fifty-mile radius of Washington D.C. are on lockdown.”

“Are you telling me you’re not allowed to leave the grounds?”

“Not just the grounds. We’re being told to stay inside the buildings.”

“Doesn’t that strike you as a little strange? You’re supposed to be providing intel for any threats to the homeland. How can you assess threats when you’re not allowed to leave your own backyard?”

“We’re being told it’s for our own safety. The feds believe the shooters could be part of a coordinated attack against all government agencies in the area. The CIA is an obvious target.”

He was quiet for several seconds, and I imagined him aligning the corners of the pile of papers in front of him—a compulsive habit and one of his many idiosyncrasies.

“One of the shooters at the Navy Yard has already been taken out, but the feds believe the other one is still somewhere in the compound.”

“What nationality is the dead guy?”

“He wasn’t from the Middle East, if that’s what you’re thinking. He’s been identified as Reyes Valario, and he’s been here on a student visa from Venezuela for at least a year. The FBI is sifting through the intel on him as we speak, and our own analysts are scanning the data banks as well.”

“Did they call Salazar for his input?”

Carlton made some kind of strange noise at the back of his throat.

I didn’t think the timing of his guttural utterance was coincidental with the mention of Salazar’s name.

C.J. Salazar was the head of the Latin American desk at the Agency. He wasn’t known for his astute grasp of the region. Instead, his focus was on the drug cartels operating in his territory, and, for that reason, everyone around the Agency called him Cartel Carlos.

Not to his face, though.

I’d experienced his ineptitude firsthand on my recent run into Caracas during Operation Clear Signal. Both Salazar and Carlton had been part of the Clear Signal team directing Ben Mitchell and me as we tried to stop a Hezbollah assassin from murdering a high-profile government official in Caracas, Venezuela.

Carlton said, “The Department of Homeland Security called C.J., but he didn’t give them anything.”

“Nothing at all?”

“Well, he did have our analysts run down Valario’s prints and the origins of his visa. He also called Ben Mitchell, who was in D.C. at the time, and sent him over to the DHS Command Center in the Navy Yard. He said since Ben had recently been in Venezuela, it made sense for him to serve as the Agency’s liaison with DHS.”

“Ben’s over at the Command Center? I might head over there myself. I’m not that far away.”

“You haven’t been reinstated yet, Titus. Officially, you’re still on medical leave.”

“I’ll keep my head down. It won’t be a big deal.”

It wasn’t.

But then, it was.


Download your copy of Three Weeks in Washington on Amazon.

Chapter 16

I began writing Titus Ray Thrillers when I heard about the persecution of Iranian Christians in Tehran. My first book, ONE NIGHT IN TEHRAN, describes how Titus Ray, the main protagonist, was brought to faith in Christ after living with some Iranian Christians for three months following a botched operation in Tehran.

Once he returns to the States, while being pursued by an assassin, he tries to figure out what it means to be a follower of Christ. As difficult as it is, since he has no spiritual background and no one to mentor him, he gradually begins to grow in his faith. While he gets excited about his new relationship with the Lord, he’s not sure how to integrate the teachings of Christ into his career, and if he can even do so.

In the second book, TWO DAYS IN CARACAS, he has an opportunity to share his faith with his sister, Carla, when he returns to Flint, Michigan to bury his mother. Chapter 16 describes his attempts to witness to her of God’s love.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Why is this so important to you? You’ve never cared about religion before.”

“You’re right, I’ve never cared about religion before and I still don’t. But what I do care about is my relationship to Jesus Christ.”

Carla giggled. “Are you kidding me?”

“I’ve never been more serious about anything in my life.”

For the next several minutes, I attempted to share with Carla how I’d become a believer.

Since the circumstances and identities of the people who had led me to the Lord were classified, I simply told her I’d met some believers who, despite a difficult situation, were joyously happy. I also explained how committed they had been to studying the Bible and having regular times of prayer.

“That’s incredible, Titus,” Carla said, reaching out and squeezing my hand. “You sound very sincere about this.”

“I want you to know God’s love for yourself, Carla.”

She withdrew her hand. “Are you trying to convert me?”

“I’m just asking you to think about it. That’s all.”