As my old pal, Yosemite Sam, would say, “Great Horny Toads!”
Not only did Serpents Underfoot get a great review from Literary Titan, it also earned the Gold Book Award for May 2021! How about that! I was not expecting that and I am honored by the award.
And also, a bit humbled. It sets the bar even higher for the third book in this series, titled Reciprocity. But, I am hard at work, making sure that each book I publish is just a little bit better than the previous book. I am not sure I will always achieve that goal, but I can promise my readers that I will always try.
While I served in the US Army Infantry, I never had the opportunity to work my way up and into the spec ops community. However, I have had the honor of being good friends with several men who did, several of whom I met through the martial arts. So writing the stories I love to write involves relying on stories from those friends, research, and my wandering imagination.
Check out this author’s interview published on Titan Literary after Serpents Underfoot received another amazing 5-Star review.
Serpents Underfoot finds JD Cordell facing a terrorist group that plans to detonate nukes on US soil. What were some sources that informed this novel’s development?
This story grew out of thoughts I have had about what it would be like to be a Spec Ops warrior. I served in the military and spent most of my time overseas. I served in the Army infantry, and when I enlisted, I scored high enough on the ASVAB test to get Ranger School in my contract. Unfortunately, when they discovered I had a slight speech impediment, they would not send me to Ranger School. They were going to let me out because they couldn’t honor their end of the deal, but I asked to stay. Hell, I could still shoot pretty darn well. So, I guess it is, at least in part, a fantasy about what might have been.
Combine that with a lifetime study of martial arts, the political climate at the time, my interest in Asian culture, and you have the birth of this story.
The rest is simply a bunch of “what if” questions. For instance, what if a soldier in Vietnam married a Vietnamese girl who saved his life? What if their son became a Navy SEAL, and what if his team uncovered a major terrorist plot? What if it involved high-ranking US government officials? You get the idea …
JD Cordell is essentially a composite of several people I have known and respected. While I was a bit too young to serve in Vietnam, I was old enough to have several good friends who did. One friend, in particular, served as a medic on long-range reconnaissance patrols in the region the first few chapters of Serpents Underfoot is set in. I also know a couple of former Navy SEALS, one of which recently passed away. He was actually an Underwater Demolition Team member and served in the Mekong Delta region during the Vietnam War. The UDT teams were essentially forerunners of the Navy SEALs.
I received a copy of this novel from the author in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence and mature language. The story picks up a short time after the first novel “Serpents Underfoot” ends.
The primary character continues to be Former SEAL JD Cordell. After many years of service, Cordell retires taking his K9 Ajax with him. On his last active duty mission, Cordell rescues the very pretty young Doctor Ellen Chang. She was being held by terrorists in Niger. After his retirement, he finds she has come back to the States and has settled hear him. Romance is in full swing between the two.
Shortly after the death of her husband, Mai Cordell makes a trip back to Vietnam. She is trying to find her adopted brother, the Montagnard called Dish. Dish is a rebel wanted by the communist government. When a drug lord hears about her search, he kidnaps her and uses her for bait to draw out Dish.
Cordell heads to Vietnam as soon as he hears about his mother. While the US government can’t take direct action, they do assist Cordell. Two of his former SEAL Team members ‘volunteer’ to go with him. Will he be in time to save his mother and the uncle he has never met?
I thoroughly enjoyed the 8.5 hours I spent reading this 309-page thriller. I had enjoyed Mr. Gilbert’s prior novel in the series and this one was just as good! I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.
I have read a lot of Mr. Purvis’ reviews and other posts over the last few years, so this review means a lot to me because I know Mr. Purvis does give very fair reviews and calls things as he sees them. Therefore, I would just like to say thank you, John, for this review, and I am so glad you enjoyed the book.
And if you haven’t visited his blog, you should. Mr. Purvis covers a lot of interesting topics.
You can purchase a copy of Montagnard or any of my other books by clicking the button below.
Serpents Underfoot is live on Amazon with its new cover.
Serpents Underfoot is out with its awesome new cover! 1106 Design did a great job, and they were a pleasure to work with. If you are ever in the market for a book cover, check them out. They will shortly be redoing the cover for Montagnard as well.
Resonant characters propel this consistently gripping terrorist tale. All of the characters are well developed, producing genuine shock when certain individuals die. The author writes in an unadorned prose that keeps the plot moving at a steady beat … the finale is … exhilarating.
Serpents Underfoot is the first book in the JD Cordell action thriller series! Full of Navy Seal action, the book will enthrall fans of action thrillers … The book has it all—authentic detail, breathless action, vividly drawn settings, and an exhilarating plot.
The Prairies Book Review
Check out all my books on my Amazon Author’s Page.
There are several to choose from, all with great reviews.
I am hard at work on the third installment in the JD Cordell Action series, called Reciprocity, which will take on human trafficking. And in this story, some of the action occurs in the Philippine Islands. While still in the development stages, JD Cordell will travel to the Philippines, where he and a few associates will mete out some well-deserved justice to a gangland cartel trafficking girls between Asia, Mexico, and the US. But enough of that, I don’t want to give too much away.
My new Filipino fan base …
The interesting thing is that I just received a 5-Star review for Montagnard from a writer, blogger, and editor, based, you guessed it … in the Philippines. I think that is pretty cool!
Herzie Santos, a.k.a. SheySaints, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting and has worked for Coca Cola Bottlers, Goldprint Publishing House, AXA Financial, and Sutherland Global Services. Her professional experiences in several different work industries have provided her with a great deal of expertise, including professional writing skills. She has written and published poems, short stories, book and movie reviews, essays, and several articles. She’s also a content writer, book reviewer, proofreader, and fiction writer.
Here are a few comments from her review …
I miss stories like this. It gives me this unexplainable nostalgic feeling. I rarely read anything like this anymore and I’m glad I stumbled upon this great book.
It was a well-written action-packed thriller … I highly recommend this book to readers who love heroic military and dog stories.
It makes me smile! I may not yet be a renowned author, but I am definitely international. Montagnard has been read and/or reviewed in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, and now … the Philippines!
Click the button below to order your copy of this award-wing action-thriller.
“You feel as if you are one of the action-thriller characters …”
Authors love 5-Star reviews, and I am no exception. Montagnard recently received a very nice 5-star review from a lady named Vicki Goforth. Thank you, Vickie, for taking the time to leave a thoughtful review. I am so glad you enjoyed the book!
Timely Information With Explosive Action
I also received a very thoughtful 4-star review from another author named Schuyler T Wallace. While all reviews matter, getting a 4 or 5-star review from a fellow author means a great deal to me. It is like being accepted or validated by your professional peers.
Here are a few of Schuyler’s comments that stuck out to me.
I really liked this book. D.C. Gilbert is a talented writer with a lot to say, and he says it well.
It’s not a new plot but done in Gilbert’s refreshing manner that’s heavy on local detail, essential to the story.
The author uses appropriate dialogue that is timely and closely mirrors the life and times he is writing about.
Schuyler T Wallace, Author of Tin Lizard Tales
Also from this author …
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According to Ret. U.S.M.C. MSgt. Arcenio J Advincula, the Flesheater is the ultimate combat fighting knife, a masterful blend of design and craftsmanship that is a cut above, straight, and to the point. Jim Hammond, a world-class custom knifemaker, worked with AJ Advincula to develop this unique bladed weapon.
I first encountered the Flesheater after attending an Isshin-ryu Karate Seminar given by Sensei Advincula in Raleigh, NC, a few years ago. I have attended several seminars given by Sensei Advincula over the years, and like Sensei Sherman Harrill, he is the real deal.
At the seminar, I met Richard Rosenthal. an Isshin-ryu Karate practitioner like myself, who also trained in Sensei Advincula’s Mano Y Lago Escrima. I began attending Sensei Rosenthal’s escrima classes and thoroughly enjoyed its practicality and compatibility with Isshin-ryu Karate.
The origins of the Flesheater
The Flesheater originated when Master Chief Petty Officer Don Griffiths, who spearheaded the design development research for the SEALTAC™ Series with USN Special Warfare (SEAL) personnel in 1981, asked his martial arts instructor, “What would you look for in a fighting knife, not a combat knife, but a pure fighting knife?”
During a later visit to the shop where the first two prototypes were being developed, Don accidentally experiencing the edge of the first prototype. Griffiths proclaimed, “That knife’s a real flesh-eater!” The name stuck.
The Flesheater design is based primarily upon Largo-Mano Escrima and Isshin-Ryu Karate. Advincula is a first-generation student of the founder of Isshin-Ryu Karate, Tatsuo Shimabuku. He began studying escrima and knife fighting in 1946 at age 8 with two Filipino Scouts and close combat instructors, Pete Rado and Tony Navarro.
The Flesheater’s role in Montagnard.
In Montagnard, Carlos Vivas, a US Navy SEAL and teammate of the main character, JD Cordell, is a skilled practitioner of escrima. In the fictional story, Vivas’ father served with AJ Advincula in the US Marines as a drill instructor and trained in Mano Y Lago Escrima. Carlos, who left Puerto Rico to enlist in the US Navy, carries on the tradition.
As the friendship between Carlos and JD grows, Carlos presents JD with a Jim Hammond-made Flesheater at JD’s retirement party. The knife appears throughout the story and plays a key role in the climatic ending.
For more information about the Flesheater’s design, characteristics, and versatility, click the link or image above to visit Jim Hammond’s website.
My Flesheater – a reliable and valuable companion!
I have to admit, I did have a new custom leather sheath made. I ordered my Flesheater from Columbia River Knife and Tool and found the thermoplastic sheath they included quite impractical for my purposes.
Also, CRKT no longer carries these knives. You have to order them directly from Jim Hammond now. I suspect it is because there are designed specifically for combat and are probably not something the typical outdoor person might carry. It is also not very practical for cleaning your fingernails.
Be sure to check out my books by clicking here! They do get great reviews!
Uriah Heep is an English rock band formed in London in 1969. The group’s origins go back to 1967 when 19-year-old guitarist Mick Box formed a band in Brentwood called Hogwash and began playing in local clubs and pubs. A few lineup changes and the band changed its name to Spice. From the very beginning, Mick Box avoided playing covers, preferring to do something original.
A second name change came shortly after that. The group chose the name, Uriah Heep, after the well-known Charles Dickens character from David Copperfield. At this time, Dickens was everywhere because people were observing the 100th anniversary of his death, and to the members of the band, it seemed a fitting tribute.
Easy Livin’ (1972)
Uriah Heep’s 1970 debut album, …Very ‘Eavy …Very ‘Umble, was released in the United States as Uriah Heep.
The band suffered through some difficult times and more line-up changes, but by 1973 had fleshed out a fairly stable and productive line-up producing a fairly unique sound. This line-up consisted of Mick Box, Ken Hensley, Gary Thain, David Byron, and Lee Kerslake.
Uriah Heep now show-cased Hensley’s driving organ background overlaid with a heavy guitar sound, complemented by David Byron’s theatrical, dynamic vocals that soared above the band’s thunderous backdrop.
July Morning (1972)
The last four minutes or so of July Morning feature of a virtuosic organ solo. And as a historical note, the odd sounding calliope riffs are played by Manfred Mann who, according to the album credits, is appearing for the first time with his Moog synthesizer.
Sunrise (1973, Live at the Budokan in Tokyo)
The line-up with David Bryon on vocals in perhaps the most memorable and loved by loyal Uriah Heep’s fans.
And yes, some acoustic and jazz elements also found their way into the Uriah Heep mix.
The Wizard (remastered 2017)
One of my favorites, Lady in Black, is a song from their 1971 album, Salisbury, and is credited to Ken Hensley. It tells the tale of a man wandering through war-torn darkness and encountering a goddess-like entity who consoles him. It is often praised, by fans and critics alike, as Hensley’s most poetic work.
Lady in Black (1971)
I could not find a live video of Sweet Lorraine with good audio quality, but it is another in my “Heep” of favorites by this 1970s band.
Sweet Lorraine (remastered 2017)
Uriah Heep, a unique band with a unique sound that paved the way for many musical talents of the future. Definitely still one of my favorites.
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I have had a long-held interest in the martial arts. One Christmas, I received a book called Best Karate, written by Mas Oyama, when I was 13 or 14 years old. I spent hours in my bedroom trying to learn from the book.
When I began attending the Charles H McCann Technical School in North Adams, Massachusetts, I was invited by a friend to a Uechi-ryu Karate (a very traditional Okinawan system) class in nearby Adams and started attending. But once I discovered cars and girls, that pretty much ended that … as well as my interest in scouting.
When I was stationed in Korea (12/81 to 12/82), I studied Tae Kwon Do with the battalion instructor. He was excellent. I earned a red belt, which, in that system, was the equivalent of a brown belt in the ranking system used by many styles. When I got back to the U.S., I started competing in tournaments and did okay. However, I discovered these Isshin-ryu guys who had a wicked reverse punch. They would slide up your extended kicking leg and nail you with it. I decided I needed to see what they were doing and so sought out an Isshin-ryu dojo.
Years later, I was running my own dojo and hosting tournaments. But I was very disappointed in the way things were evolving. I was never that wild about sport karate. I just did that to keep students. I saw limited techniques being used in sport karate; it was more like a game of tag. The rules seemed to violate the karate “maxims” I was trying to adhere to.
For example, in Okinawan Karate, all kicks are targeted below the waist. Step into the ring, and now all kicks must be above the waist. That seemed odd!
And kata, especially with the advent of musical kata, quickly devolved into breakdancing with some kicks thrown in.
Note: Let me just say that full-contact karate and MMA fighters of today are great athletes and some damn tough individuals. They are very good at what they do and deserve respect. It is just not “karate” as I had come to understand it.
The problem was that I do read a great deal, and I had read a lot of history about Okinawa, the birthplace of Karate, and the early pioneers of Tang Hand, which later become known as Empty Hand … or Karate. I was simply not seeing the Karate I’d read so much about. Either the stories were all lies, or there was nobody around who could do that stuff anymore. I was actually ready to throw in the towel. Then I met Sensei Sherman Harrill.
Sensei Harrill was from a cross-roads in the cornfields called Carson, Iowa (near Council Bluffs). He was an ex-Marine who trained with the Isshin-ryu system’s founder, Tatsuo Shimabuku, while stationed in Okinawa in the late 50s. And he was the real deal.
Everything I had ever seen paled when stacked up against what he did. No matter who you were, how big, how strong, or what you knew … he would effortlessly show you the error of your ways. Organizations, rank, who you knew did not matter. It was what you could demonstrate on the mat that counted.
So, I started over. I traveled all around the country to seminars for years to train with this guy. It was a humbling and memorable moment when I asked him how I could become his student. He laughed and replied. “well, most folks just ask.” So, I asked. And he replied, “Darren, I have seen the changes you are making in your Karate and how you train … so welcome aboard.”
That was the beginning of the journey of a lifetime.
The origins of JD’s Nguyen-ryu
Nguyen-ryu is an indigenous martial art found in Vietnam. Mai’s father, Ang, was a village elder, and in the book Serpents Underfoot, a well-respected practitioner of this art. Ang taught this art to both his daughter, Mai, and the son of his old Montagnard friend, Dish. Dish and Mai both taught the art to Curtis Cordell, Mai’s American husband, and JD’s father.
Curtis tried to teach Nguyen-ryu to his son, but that old father-son thing interfered. Eventually, Curtis took his son to a dojo run by a friend of his. That Sensei taught a very traditional version of Isshin-ryu. JD did learn a great deal of Nguyen-ryu from his mother, which blended well with the Isshin-ryu.
It has been my experience that most “real” martial arts have more in common than differences. That is because when you get past all the marketing hype, it is body mechanics that determine what works … and the human body only moves powerfully so many ways.
My exposure to Nguyen-ryu
Enter Charlie Taylor, a good friend, a Vietnam veteran, and a damn good martial artist. He just showed up at my dojo one day and started helping out.
Charlie had served several tours in Vietnam as a medic on Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols in the region of Vietnam my books focus on. He was a quiet guy, but when the mood struck, he had some fantastic stories to tell about his experiences in Vietnam. I am sure he embellished them a bit to make them more fun to listen too, but there was something in the stories and his eyes when he told them that led you to understand that there was an element of truth to each one.
Charlie was also a highly-skilled martial artist, and there was nothing “superfluous” in what he did. I remember spending time training what was essentially a “silent sentry removal” technique with him and being shocked and a bit disturbed at the ease with which it worked. I still remember asking him, rhetorically,
“And, you’ve used this before.”
He just looked at me kind of funny and replied, “On a few occasions.”
While he knew a few of the kata, Charlie didn’t practice Isshin -ryu. In fact, many of our workouts consisted of me teaching him more Isshin-ryu kata. He practiced what he called Nguyen-ryu. Charlie claimed he’d learned it from his grandfather, who’d married a Vietnamese girl while stationed in Japan after WWII. This girl’s father was a skilled practitioner of the style, and after a suitable period of denials, consented to teach it to his daughter’s round-eyed husband.
I know it sounds like a movie plot. And maybe it is. I can neither prove nor disprove Charlie’s claims. However, I can definitely vouch for his abilities. Charlie could be damn scary when he was “in the zone,” much like my former instructor, Sensei Harrill. Those who have trained with Sensei Harrill will understand what I am referring to. We called it “shark eyes.”
Charlie did have an honorary 5th-degree black belt in Isshin-ryu Karate signed by Harold Long. However, he always claimed it was not worth the paper it was written on. It seems Charlie had impressed Harold Long with his abilities while training for a period at Long’s school in Knoxville, Tennessee, but, as mentioned earlier, had only learned a few of the kata. He held no official rank in Nguyen-ryu, so he always wore a white belt.
I will say that the kid’s classes loved it when Charlie regaled them with stories of his early training days. He always referred to them as “Papaw Days.”
Unfortunately, Charlie passed away a few years ago from a combination of medical conditions, several of which I am sure originated with his tours of duty in Vietnam. Some of the threads in Serpents Underfoot and Montagnard are based on past discussions with Charlie. And I think Charlie may be resurrected from the dead for a character in the next book in the series titled Reciprocity. I think he would like that.
Martial Arts scenes in the two books …
I have seen a large man knocked unconscious with a punch to the shoulder. I do not know too many people who could do that. Sensei Harrill certainly could. And, his “fence post punch” was something to behold. You did not want to get hit with it.
On more than one occasion, MMA fighters or cage fighters from the casinos in Council Bluff would make their way to his dojo after hearing about this karate guy who had a reputation for being a badass. Every one of them left with a new appreciation for karate … well, at least Sherman Harrill’s version.
The technique JD uses to take out the drug smuggler on the trail from Laos into Vietnam is simply one of my variations on Charlie Taylor’s sentry removal technique.
Putting it all together
I like to think my stories are written to entertain, but there is so much more to them, at least for me. They are ways to remember, record, and share the people I have known, places I have been, things I have seen, and the stories I have heard, as well as the possibilities those things can combine to create.
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