JET II - Betrayal

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Twenty-eight year old Jet, the former Mossad operative from the eponymous novel JET, must battle insurmountable odds to protect those she loves in a deadly race that stretches from the heartland of Nebraska to the corridors of power in Washington, D.C., from the lurid streets of Bangkok to the deadly jungles of Laos and Myanmar. Fans of Kill Bill, the Bourne trilogy, and 24 will be delighted by this roller-coaster of action, intrigue and suspense.


Q&A with Russell Blake

Q: How does JET II differ from JET?

RB: I think it's got more depth. Same pace, a ton of action, but it goes deeper, is more atmospheric and textural in the descriptions, and a hair grittier. And we learn more about Jet's character as the book develops.

Q: Where is this character going?

RB: I grew up on TV shows like Kung Fu, where David Carradine played a character who was searching for peace, always trying to glide through the world without friction, and yet was forced by circumstance into situations that turned deadly. I sort of have that same vision for Jet. A woman in search of her tranquil spot in the sun, who is constantly driven to revisit the ugly side of herself she tried to leave behind. It's not so much about the destination, as the process.

Q: You've been accused of writing these novels in too cartoonish a manner. How would you respond?

RB: The JET books aren't intended to be deep explorations of the human condition, and are intentionally overblown and bombastic. I'm not going for nuance here. I wanted to write a kick-ass female protagonist who took names and brought the hurt when she had to. This isn't Sophie's Choice. If you want more realism, go buy a Nicholas Sparks book and wait for everyone to die. This is a female Bond. A female Bourne. It's Kill Bill. It's La Femme Nikita. Deal with it.

Q: That's not a very sympathetic response.

RB: That's not a question. 

Q: How do you envision the series developing from here?

RB: I wish I knew. I tend to just go with the flow, the ideas, and follow them wherever they lead. So far, Jet's journey is one of the most fascinating I've written. I'll stop when it stops being so. Until then, I stand in awe of her. If there's ever any reason to hope for big success it's so that you can see your book as a film. I'd give my eye teeth to see JET as a movie. Beyond that? I'll write her as long as I have a compulsion to do so. So far, so good.

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About the author

Featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, and The Times (UK), Russell Blake is the bestselling author of twenty-six books, including the thriller novels Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, Zero Sum, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, Blood of the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, The Voynich Cypher, Silver Justice, JET, JET II - Betrayal, JET III - Vengeance, JET IV - Reckoning, JET V - Legacy, JET VI - Justice, Upon A Pale Horse, BLACK, BLACK Is Back, BLACK Is The New Black, and BLACK To Reality.

Non-fiction include the international bestseller An Angel With Fur (animal biography) and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated), a parody of all things writing-related.

Blake co-authored an action/adventure novel, The Eye of Heaven, with legendary adventure author Clive Cussler, to be released by Penguin in September, 2014.

Blake lives in Mexico and enjoys his dogs, fishing, boating, tequila and writing, while battling world domination by clowns. His blog can be found at where he publishes his periodic thoughts, such as they are.

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Janda Management
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Published on
Mar 10, 2014
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Fiction / Thrillers / Espionage
Fiction / Thrillers / General
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Jet III - Vengeance finds Jet settled down, trying to return to a somewhat normal life of stability and safety. But fate has other plans for her when she becomes embroiled in a terrifying terrorism plot involving figures from her past, whose thirst for revenge forces her back into the kill-or-be-killed world she'd hoped to have put behind her forever.


Q&A with Russell Blake

Q: JET has been a remarkably successful series. How many more books do you see with her?

RB: I originally envisioned it as a trilogy, but after finishing JET III, it was obvious to me that there would be at least one to two more. I really like her character, so I'm reluctant to see her story end. That's my long-winded way of saying I'll probably keep writing about her as long as readers want me to.

Q: How is JET III different than the first two books?

RB: I focused more on some of her non-traditional skills, like parkour. Plus I wanted to flesh out her emotional life a little, and give a sense of the person, not just the person involved in the action. I also tried to give her a sense of normalcy in her domestic situation, so she could bond with her loved ones and forge relationships and friendships. And of course, the ending. I wanted to keep readers on the edge of their seats, wanting to know what happens next - which is what JET IV resolves. I could have tied everything up in a neat package at the end of JET III,but it felt a little too pat, and the ultimate story will take at least another volume to conclude in anything approaching a satisfactory manner, for me, at least. And I felt the suspense and uncertainty it ends on creates a sort of intriguing set of questions for readers to speculate about.

Sort of how the Lizbeth Salander books demand reading all of them to discover how the story plays out.

Q: Some might think that the character of Jet is too over-blown, not realistic enough. What say you?

RB: I deliberately went overblown - unapologetically so. I wanted a protagonist the likes of a James Bond or a Lizbeth Salander - and let's face it, those are overblown characters. I think that as long as you're willing to go, "hell yeah she can do that...she's Jet!" you'll enjoy the books. Think Raiders of the Lost Ark - does anyone care if Indiana Jones is overblown? Not me. Goes with the territory. If you're looking for The English Patient, or Sophie's Choice, you'll be disappointed. I've written very realistic, gritty protags - Fatal Exchange's Tess, Geronimo Breach's Al, the Assassin series' Capt Cruz and El Rey, Silver Justice's Silver Cassidy...I didn't want to do a repeat, so I thought I'd go more over-the-top, kick-ass with Jet. I mean, just the name. Jet. Come on. She's got to be a bad-ass with a name like that.

Q: Let's go back to the parkour. Some of the scenes seem to have her defying the laws of physics.

RB: I provide some links at the back of the book to videos of some of the better parkour practitioners. I'd say anyone who thinks I'm exaggerating what these traceurs can do would be well-advised to watch those, in their entirety, and then we can talk.

Code name: Jet

Twenty-eight-year-old Jet was once the Mossad's most lethal operative before faking her own death and burying that identity forever. But the past doesn't give up on its secrets easily.

When her new life on a tranquil island is shattered by a brutal attack, Jet must return to a clandestine existence of savagery and deception to save herself and those she loves. A gritty, unflinching roller-coaster of high-stakes twists and shocking turns, JET features a new breed of protagonist that breaks the mold.

Fans of Lisbeth Salander, SALT, and the Bourne trilogy will find themselves carried along at Lamborghini speed to a conclusion as surprising as the story's heroine is unconventional.

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Q & A w/ Russell Blake

Q: How would you describe JET?

Russell: The elevator pitch? Kill Bill meets Bourne. The longer version would be: JET follows the saga of a young woman who thought she had left a brutal covert life behind her, but finds herself having to go back into that world when she is attacked by enemies from her past. It's totally over-the-top, escapist fun, and not intended to be particularly realistic, any more than the Bond books were. More a non-stop action thrill ride where the heroine can totally kick serious ass.

Q: How does JET differ from your other novels?

R: I've never written anything as lightning-paced. It's completely and joyously overblown in the way a Tarantino film is. I wanted this to read like being in a scarab, slamming through the waves at ninety miles per hour - a rush that just doesn't stop. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. But having said that, what's weird about JET is that even though it's brimming with action, the use of language and artful description was a priority for me, and I think I struck a balance that's unusual and evocative. Whatever it is, it seems to work.

Q: JET's character is different than the other female protagonists you've written. What inspired her?

R: I got this idea when I was writing Silver Justice for a total take-no-prisoners female operative - sort of a female Jack Bauer crossed with James Bond, but way more deadly. From that idea came the seeds of an incredible story with more twists and surprises than I've ever tried for. But it also has a different sensibility. If there's such a thing as literary fiction action thrillers, I guess this might be it.

Q: Why the Mossad?

R: I wanted something that was exotic and had the reputation as highly effective, but wanted to avoid the usual CIA or KGB operative. And she's way too no-nonsense for MI6. That didn't leave a lot of choices. So the Mossad it was. I'd written an ex-Mossad operative once before in The Voynich Cypher & I think I sort of automatically leaned in that direction, and before I knew it the book was written.

Q: Your work has been described as cinematic. Why?

R: That's how I think. I see each episode or scene in my head, & then I write what I see. I try to provide enough depth so the reader is with me, but not so much that page flipping to get to the next good part is required. But I see each chapter as a scene - it's just how my brain works. I'm a creation of a modern world, raised on images & films, so I think that naturally affects my storytelling. Certainly the JET books are. Mission Impossible comes to mind.

Q: You mention Kill Bill and Bourne. How is this similar?

R: I loved Tarantino's take because it was so overblown in every way. Deliberately so. I wanted JET to read like that film played, but with a story more like Bourne. The idea of a female operative grappling with her past just captivated my imagination. You'll see why.
Night of the Assassin charts the early years of El Rey - known as the King of Swords - the super-assassin responsible for some of the world's most spectacular executions.

Framed against the backdrop of present-day Mexico's brutal narco-trafficking violence, Night of the Assassin chronicles the making of a monster - a cold-blooded killing machine. Gritty and unflinching, this breakneck-pace saga defies convention to create a roller-coaster of intrigue, suspense and thrills that will leave even the most jaded thriller aficionados gasping for breath.

Night of the Assassin is the prequel to King
of Swords - the first book in the bestselling Assassin series.

Q & A for Night of the Assassin

Question: Night of the Assassin uses bloody, shocking imagery. Why write the novel that way?

Russell Blake: I wanted to write a no-holds-barred Maserati of a book, with unexpected twists & turns that left you afraid to turn off the lights, with your stomach in knots. Mexico's drug war leaves over 8 thousand people dead every year from cartel violence. I wanted to capture that lurid, blood-soaked reality & make it visceral, make it real for the reader, & also leave them feeling like they'd been through a  tangible experience. I used a variety of techniques to achieve that, & the evocative scenes are one of them. There are a few images that will have readers gasping & will cause nightmares, so this isn't for the faint of heart.

Q: Night of the Assassin is the prequel to King of Swords. Why write this after that novel was released?

RB: The villain of KOS is El Rey, the assassin who uses the tarot card, the King of Swords, as his signature. He has no redeeming qualities and yet he's a fascinating character. After I finished writing KOS I couldn't get him out of my head, so I immediately started writing Night. It was like a compulsion. I couldn't shake it. I got it onto paper as immediately as I could, so I wouldn't lose the essence of his character. The result, I've been told, does KOS justice. It's the second book in the series, but timing-wise, is the prequel in that it is all about El Rey's background. Well worth reading first, if you understand it's the background of one character, albeit a fascinating one, IMO.

Q: Night of the Assassin is set in Mexico, as well as Australia. The descriptions are extremely vivid. Have you ever been there?

RB: I live in Mexico, so the descriptions better jump off the page. And I spent a lot of time knocking around Australia. I'm more than passingly familiar with all the locations in the book.

Q: Some of the scenes are so graphic they make you wince. Have you gotten flack for that?

RB: I had a few readers say they were reading between their fingers as they hid their eyes. That tells me I did my job as a storyteller. I think good fiction should take you out of reality, & some of the scenes in Night stay with you long after the book's done. The scenes are paced for specific effect, & I like how they wound up working. I also get occasional complaints that the book is "too" amoral. Guess what? This ain't a morality lesson. It's entertainment.

Q: You start the book with a series of flashbacks. Why?

RB: Night is a prequel, so the novel's purpose is to impart important information about El Rey's history. You either do that by alluding to the past in a scene set in the present, or as a flashback. I chose flashbacks because these are seminal moments deserving of their own sections. If they're disorienting at first, trust me that they will make sense by the end of the book. It's written that way for deliberate effect.
Book 1 of the Assassin series, King of Swords is an epic assassination thriller framed against a gritty backdrop of brutal drug cartel violence in modern Mexico.

The G-20 Financial Summit is planned for San Jose Del Cabo. The world's pre-eminent finance ministers will attend, along with the presidents of the U.S. and Mexico. Captain Romero Cruz of the Mexican Federal Police uncovers an assassination plot against the attendees. In a roller-coaster race against the clock, Cruz must track and stop El Rey, the "King of Swords" - a faceless super-assassin responsible for a string of the world's most spectacular killings, before he turns the G-20 into a slaughterhouse.

King of Swords is a rule-breaking rush that shatters convention to create a richly-drawn story that's sure to shock and delight even the most jaded intrigue/adventure thriller fans.

Q & A for King of Swords with author Russell Blake

Question: King of Swords is a no-holds-barred suspense thriller set in present-day Mexico. What books influenced you in creating it & how did you come up with the idea?

Russell Blake: Day of the Jackal, The Bourne trilogy and Shibumi. I wanted to create something that would give a nod to those works, but kick it up a notch - modernize them; crank them on steroids, leave readers gasping & cringing, revitalize the genre. I saw the G-20 in Cabo San Lucas, and thought it would be an ideal event in which to frame the quintessential assassination thriller, but with a "24" style storytelling sensibility & an unflinching description of the cartel violence pervading Mexico.

Q: King of Swords blends fact & fiction. What was the inspiration for using the drug cartels as the framework for the story, & where does truth end & invention begin?

RB: Mexico is fighting a civil war; the government against the narco-trafficking cartels. Around 8,000 people die every year as a result of cartel violence, including cops, military, cartel members, family, and innocent bystanders. It's a brutal industry that throws over $50 billion a year into cartel hands - more than the GDP of many nations. I want readers to see the very real cost in human terms, so the truth/fiction line is deliberately fuzzy. Everything I write is based loosely in fact, & it's up to the reader to determine where it leaves off.

Q: King of Swords is not for the meek, & is controversial in its graphic depiction of cartel violence and government complicity. Aren't you afraid you'll offend with it?

RB: The trafficking business is a bloody, vicious industry perpetrating horrific crimes against humanity. I wanted to capture the casual savagery that typifies it, the willingness of ordinary men to engage in extraordinary brutality. I wanted to highlight the psychological making of the monster. Readers' sensibilities should be offended. I want them squirming, pulled out of their comfort zone. If they aren't, if they sleep peacefully after reading it, or can put it down, I didn't do my job.

Q: King of Swords is much faster-moving than many thrillers. How did you achieve that effect, & are your other books anything like that?

RB: It's a pacing thing. I wanted to create an experience, not a book - to hurtle the reader along and leave them shaking from the adrenaline rush. There are tricks I developed to create, sustain, & amplify that pace that I played with in some of my earlier work. King of Swords for me is the ultimate expression of that "high-velocity read" approach to fiction.

Q: What made you want to write?

RB: I grew up on a steady diet of Ludlum and Forsyth and Le Carre and Trevanian. That evolved into an interest in telling those sorts of stories.
Book 2 in the Assassin series, Revenge of the Assassin is the breakneck-paced sequel to the bestselling international thriller King of Swords. When El Rey, the super assassin responsible for Latin America's most spectacular hits, returns to Mexico for one final sanction, the race is on for Captain Romero Cruz of the Federales to stop him before he can fulfill his contract to kill the president. Revenge will delight fans of King of Swords, and offers the same gritty, unpredictable ride of thrills, twists and surprises before arriving at a conclusion that is sure to leave readers gasping.


Question and Answer with Russell Blake

Q: Revenge of the Assassin chronicles another El Rey adventure. Why the fixation with this contract killer?

RB: El Rey is one of those characters you hate, but you are fascinated by. Rather like Hannibal Lector. He's a cold blooded sociopath who kills without remorse, but he's really, really interesting. The more I wrote about him in King of Swords, and then the prequel to that book, Night of the Assassin, the more the character grew on me, and the more I wanted to see him in action. That, and the natural adversarial tension that had developed in King between Captain Cruz and El Rey seemed like it wasn't over yet. Revenge is the answer to the question, "What happens next?"

Q: Your portrayal of cartel violence in Mexico is disturbing. Is it really that bad?

RB: My depiction is accurate, and if anything, is the tame version. Something like 15,000 people died in 2011 alone due to cartel violence. Those kinds of numbers are usually associated with civil wars or armed insurgency. The cartels are de facto governors of some regions of Mexico, and the government, like that of Colombia, simply shrugs its shoulders and won't go into those areas - or if it does, it goes in like the U.S. does in Iraq, cocked and loaded in an invasion mode. That's alarming when it's within its own borders. The situation is out of control in many areas, and is a direct function of the money being made trafficking drugs to the largest market in the world: the U.S. I wish I could see it getting better anytime soon, because I love living here in Mexico, but I'd be lying.

Q: I saw recently that your sales have gone parabolic since 2012 began. What do you attribute that to?

RB: I saw over 100K downloads Jan-March, many of which were King and Night of the Assassin, which continues to see tens of thousands of downloads every month. Also, I released The Voynich Cypher, a Dan Brown style thriller, and it launched with tremendous strength. But oddly, popularity of the titles ebbs and flows, and what was popular in January isn't what was most popular in March, and I can predict that whatever is big in June won't be my top seller in November. It seems like more fans are discovering the whole catalog of thrillers I've released, and word of mouth is building and creating greater visibility. I've been very fortunate so far, and I pray that continues.

Q: What's next for El Rey? Is this it for him?

RB: No. There are more adventures coming. I'm currently working on the next installment, Return of the Assassin, which will be out by summer, 2012. And I expect at least two more in the series by year's end. These are just really interesting characters to me, so I feel compelled to write about them. While my head is in that place, I want to get the stories out, before the muse goes dark or moves to something else.

Q: What books would you advise readers who have never read your work to check out?

RB: If they are into Raiders of the Lost Ark/Da Vinci Code adventure thrillers, The Voynich Cypher. If they like Day of the Jackal, get King of Swords. And if they want something altogether different, I'd say try The Geronimo Breach, Fatal Exchange. Can't go wrong with any of those, and they are all very different approaches to the suspense thriller genre.
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