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Friday, May 2, 2014

Courier by Terry Irving (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with JKS Communications, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for Courier by Author Terry Irving!

Author Guest Post

OK, having looked at some of the other blogs and submissions on Jersey Girl, I’m wondering what I’m doing here. COURIER is about big, greasy motorcycles, big, greasy politics, and brainy geeks who can develop films in a garden hose. Most of the submissions here seem to be about romance, beautiful women, and guys with perfect hair.

So, I think I’ll talk about love.

I was quite surprised when love walked in to COURIER. (Well, to be truthful, I was fairly surprised by just about everything that ended up in the book. For a guy who spent most of his life in a business where you had to have a second, third, and fourth way of doing just about everything, it’s amazing how much I just wing it.) My protagonist, Rick Putnam, is a motorcycle courier back in the early 70’s and, as a Vietnam Vet, he drives his bike at top speed and maximum danger to drive the demons of war out of his head. He’s also the child of an alcoholic parent and left home to join the Army because it was preferable to the continuous abuse at home.

Here’s something that won’t come as a big surprise to any of you Adult Children of Alcoholics out there—an alcoholic mother uses “love” as a control mechanism to control those around her and an endless series of crises to give her an excuse to drink. In case you haven’t guessed, my Mom was a lush. At 17, I swore never to spend another 24 hours under her roof and at 19, my parents helped out by disowning me. This was one of the very few aspects of Rick’s personality that came from my personal life—by and large, he’s based on a young Nicholas Cage. The result of a lifetime having “love” used as a cudgel is that Rick ends up feeling that all emotions are only weaknesses and that anyone who says they love you is setting you up.

Add to this the extreme PTSD that Rick developed after his time in Vietnam, and you have a guy who’s locked his feelings inside a concrete shell. He’s afraid that he could explode and hurt anyone if he ever let them inside; that he’s so badly injured that no woman could want him. Here is a guy who can’t stand that he’s alive when his friends are dead, is deeply affected by the enemy he’s killed, and generally doesn’t see himself as fit to join the rest of the world. It is any wonder that the opening scene has him riding so fast that Death is only inches behind?

Or as Woody Allen once said, “I'd never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member.”

Only one person has ever smashed through this armor—college friend Dina Scholten—and she has to do all the work; talking to him, setting meetings, arranging lunches, and accepting without comment anything and everything he tells her of his life.

Unfortunately, she’s gay and not terribly interested in Rick as anything but a friend.

Then, at one of their weekly lunches up on Capitol Hill, Dina introduces Rick to a young Northern Cheyenne law student who’s been working to defend the American Indian Movement radicals who just finished a takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Her name is Eve Buffalo Calf—which is a very important name in Cheyenne culture (but you’ll have to wait until the sequel to find out why)—and everything changes.

Now, to be totally honest, Eve was originally brought in because I knew I was going to need a way to get Rick out of Washington at the end of the book and I knew that the FBI wasn’t terribly popular on the reservations in 1972. She was a completely two-dimensional character just meant as a plot device.

Except, like everyone else in the damn book, she wasn’t under my control and she kept growing more and more and becoming more important to the plot and the subplot. See, the plot is that Rick Putnam has picked up evidence that traces High Treason right back to the White House and so a kill squad is sent to kill him and dispose of the evidence. As you might imagine, there are all kinds of guns, explosions, and intense races with various sports cars attempting to wreck Rick’s bike.

It wasn’t until I wrote the screenplay for COURIER (just for the experience, no one from Hollywood has called yet,) that I realized that the real plot was whether Rick would (or could) open up enough to let anyone in—whether he would choose life or the living death of complete emotional isolation. Eve is the key person but there are also a group of housemates, the sort of people who normally would just leave for the next house without forming even the most fragile friendships. What can I say? These guys really stepped up. They’ re some of the very first computer geeks and total social outcasts. Together, this group house ends up as the sort of artificial family of the damaged that you see in Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

I promise that I didn’t intend any of this to happen when I wrote the book!

As I wrote the later scenes where Eve and Rick meet on early-morning walks on the Mall and then confront danger together, her character just kept growing on me. She was tough but not hardened, aware of Rick’s flaws but determined that he was worth the effort, and is easily as smart and funny as Rick on his best day. I came to like her and couldn’t let her go.

And, in the end, neither can Rick.

About The Author

Terry Irving, who swore he’d never stay in one city and would roam the world alone in a tramp steamer, has been living in or near Washington DC since the day after college graduation in 1973. Someone told him of a job where a company would pay him to ride a BMW motorcycle so he became a courier. When Metropolitan Messengers discovered he was the slowest courier in the history of the company, they sent him to ABC News where they paid for couriers by the hour. Six months of being everywhere in DC during the Watergate Scandal convinced him that working in TV News would be exciting.

This led to about a dozen years spent in dark rooms and watching pictures shot by someone else somewhere vastly more exciting. Eventually, he became a field producer for Nightline and covered stories ranging from the Berlin Wall to Tiananmen Square to Apartheid in South Africa. After 20 years at ABC, he took a buyout to try this “multimedia” stuff everyone was talking about. That led to 30 years of freelancing, senior positions at soon-to-die dotcoms, and various periods of employment at companies like Fox News (six weeks,) MSNBC (3 years,) and CNN (6 years.) Eventually, he was fired for about the fifth time and realized he was too old and, more importantly, too opinionated to get another job.

So, he took up writing.

He lives now in Bethesda, just outside Washington with a wonderful wife in a home built so she could have a dog. Along with all the other lies he told himself back in 1973, it turns out that he hates living alone. His two children and one grandson are doing great and he enjoys seeing them on the few times he emerges from his home office.

COURIER is his first novel (but he’s written 3 others in 2013 alone so don’t expect him to go away.)


Courier - Book Trailer

Book Review

Courier by Terry Irving
Publisher: Exhibit A
Publication Date: April 29, 2014
Format: Paperback - 336 pages
             Kindle - 1269 KB
             Nook - 2 MB
ISBN: 1909223794
Genre: Historical Political Thriller / Suspense


Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by JKS Communications.

Book Description:

“This is a goddamn big story. It’ll make those jerks at the Post look like idiots and Watergate look like a cop taking an apple off a fruit stand.”

It’s 1972. The Watergate scandal has Washington on edge and Putnam, a Vietnam veteran and courier for one of the capital’s leading television stations, is trying to get his life back together after his nightmarish ordeal in the war. Racing at breakneck speed through the streets of the capital, he not only intends to be the best courier in the business, he also intends to escape the demons that haunt him. But when Rick picks up film from a news crew interviewing a government worker with a hot story, his life begins to unravel as everyone involved in the story dies within hours of the interview and Rick realizes he is the next target.

Enlisting the aid of friends who have discovered a way to hack into the government’s computer databases, and a beautiful young Indian Rights activist, Eva Buffalo Calf, Rick races full throttle through the streets of the nation’s capital to stay ahead of his pursuers as he searches for answers. When he discovers the killings have been orchestrated by a rogue CIA agent and his team of assassins, Rick isn’t surprised when his road to the truth leads directly to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Book Excerpt:

Rick blinked as he came in from the bright sunshine. He scanned the dining room crowded with aides and interns making the most of their fifty minutes away from the halls of power. Dina waved from the back of the room, but he’d spotted her customary outrageous hat, and was already heading to the table. As he walked up, he caught a brief glimpse of the other woman seated across from Dina. She was much shorter, slim with an interesting body. A round face, with solemn dark eyes, was framed by long, straight black hair.

Dina introduced her as Eve Buffalo Calf, a Northern Cheyenne law school graduate working as a legal adviser with the American Indian Movement while studying for the bar exam. Rick didn’t know much about AIM except that their “warriors” had taken over the abandoned Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco for a while and then occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs down at the Interior Department a month ago and trashed the place on the way out. On the other hand, he had known and liked a number of soldiers who came off the reservations and certainly was open to the idea that the government had thoroughly screwed the tribes.

The waiter came for drink orders, and both the women ordered Irish coffee. Rick asked for just plain coffee as strong as they could make it. 

The dark-haired girl said, “You don’t drink?”

“I’d love to, but it’s never worked out for me.”

Eve gave him a quizzical look. “What’s that mean?”

Rick liked her directness. “Well, it’s how I ended up in Vietnam, for one thing.”

“You got drunk and enlisted? That’s a fairly popular way to spend a Saturday night back home.”

Rick laughed. “No, I wasn’t the one drinking. My mom was an alcoholic, and… well, a lot of children of alcoholics simply run away – usually emotionally. I ran away for real and ended up in the army. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“And now?”

“Well, I guess it still seems like it was a good idea, or at least better than living in a household with a drunk. I watched my mother try to escape into a bottle to get away from her problems, and all the problems just got worse, and eventually her liver blew, and she died. By that time, she’d driven away everyone who’d ever cared about her. They got in the way of her dedication to drinking. I didn’t wait to be driven away – I ran. When she was dying a couple of years ago, I visited, but there wasn’t any emotional scene. Didn’t like her when she was alive and don’t miss her now she is dead.”

Dina said, “Isn’t that a bit cold?”

Rick looked her straight in the eyes. “It’s the only advantage to being the child of an alcoholic. From what I’ve seen, healthy people feel terrible when a parent dies.” Dina just shook her head but Eve nodded. “Alcohol is a huge problem back home. Most Native Americans tend to have trouble with alcohol – apparently, it’s genetic. Plus, the stress of poverty and… hopelessness eats our people up inside and drinking is a cure or at least it dulls the pain for a little while. A lot of the guys coming back from the war seem to be drinking to forget.”

“Yeah, well, there are some things that happened in Vietnam that I would drink Drano to forget, but short of that, alcohol just doesn’t work. I end up hung over and still remember everything. The worst of both worlds.”

She looked at him seriously. “So what do you do to forget?”

“When I manage to forget a single second of my time over there, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

“But you can’t go on like that,” she said. “At home they’d say you were sick, poisoned. The elders know how to fight an illness like that, but you have to be willing to fight along with them.”

“Smoke and feathers?”

“My dad’s the only licensed psychiatrist on the Montana reservation.” There was a flash of anger in her eyes. “Sometimes he uses smoke and feathers, and sometimes he uses psychotherapy. Occasionally, he just knocks the patient upside the head once or twice.”

Rick grinned. “Sounds like my kind of guy.”

They might have continued to talk about each other, but Dina was fighting for a position on the Senate Special Committee that was about to start hearings on the Watergate scandal, and she was bursting with the latest chapter of the story that had been delighting – or infuriating – political Washington since the “third-rate burglary” had happened six months ago.

More cash had been discovered. Dina said that the wife of one of the arrested burglars had been in a plane crash and turned out to be carrying thousands of dollars in cash.

Rick said, “Everything about this Watergate thing seems to have something to do with cash.”

“This is the tip of the iceberg,” Dina responded. “Everyone knew that Nixon was calling in all his chips for this election. The money was just flooding in. Corporations, industry associations, old friends. You name it.”

Eve looked curious. “But don’t they know the names of everyone who gives money to a campaign? I thought they just passed a law on that.”

“They did, but it didn’t go into effect until last April, and under the old law – and I love this name, The Corrupt Practices Act – you didn’t have to identify any contributions to a candidate before he was nominated.”

Rick had watched the convention coverage like a soap opera since there wasn’t much else going on when all the politicians were out of town. “And Nixon didn’t officially get nominated until August.”

Dina smiled. “Bingo. My Republican friends say his money people started beating the bushes the day after the election in 1968. There must be millions of dollars sloshing around. Hell, he certainly didn’t have to spend much to beat McGovern.”

Eve smiled. “I could have beaten George McGovern.”

The women went on with their conversation. Rick said enough to not to be called on the carpet for inattention by Dina, but he was actually just enjoying watching the dark-haired woman talk. He felt that sitting next to her was like sitting under a warm sun and dropping off to sleep. When he was a kid, his favorite time at the beach had been late afternoon, when most of the people had left and the surf and sun merged into a golden haze, and he would doze off and wake up to find that he was alone in the twilight.

“Rick, Rick, Earth to Rick. Come in.”

He brought his attention back to Dina. “Hmm?”

“We were talking about the war, the peace talks breaking down, and now the carpet bombing of Hanoi.”

“And you almost let me miss that?” Rick snorted. “Thanks a lot. They’ve been having peace talks since they started this war and I don’t know which particular idiots are planning those air raids, but a lot of those B-52s are going down. More downed planes means more POWs – just what we need.”

Eve looked at him. “But I thought this war was over. Kissinger said ‘peace is at hand’ months ago.”

“Yeah, but South Vietnamese ‘President-for-Life’ Nguyen Van Thieu and his boys seem to have had other ideas and they blew up the talks.” Rick shook his head. “I’m just glad that most of the ground troops are out. That means fewer American grunts on the front lines and, as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing. I’m not saying that the war was right or wrong, but I do think we’ve had enough good men die over there. Let the Vietnamese work it out.”

Eve turned back to her salad. “Dina said I’d be surprised how different you were from my idea of a Vietnam vet.”

“Most of the vets I know are different from all the other vets I know. Except in one thing – given a choice, we’d rather talk about something else.” He smiled. “So what are you doing for the ‘noble red man’?”

She looked at him sharply and then realized he was being ironic – not insulting. “Well, as a ‘noble red woman’ and soon to be a ‘noble red lawyer,’ I’m working on getting charges dropped, people released, and things settled so that I can get back to winning back some of what was stolen from us.”

“Like Alcatraz?”

“Hey, it’s not like anyone else was using it. And there’s some good fishing off there.”

Rick laughed.

My Book Review:

In his debut novel, Courier, author Terry Irving weaves an exhilarating and fast paced political thriller with a historical twist.

Rick Putnam is a Vietnam Vet and motorcycle courier for one of Washington D.C.'s leading television stations. The Vietnam War has taken its toll on Rick, after recovering from his war wounds, he suffers from PTSD and his method of escaping his demons and the memories of the war that continue to haunt him is by riding his motorcycle at breakneck speeds down the streets and alleys of the capital. When Rick picks up a roll of news film from a correspondent and news crew, he later finds out that the film contains the potential of a very hot and damaging story, and that the correspondent and news crew have been killed. What he doesn't realize is that he's next on the killer's list. With one fast motorcycle and a little help from friends, Rick is determined to figure out who is after him and why ... a discovery that will lead him all the way to the White House!

Courier is a gritty and gripping political thriller that takes the reader on one hell of a roller coaster ride. From Vietnam to the White House, Nixon to Watergate, author Terry Irving transports the reader back to 1972 Washington D.C., an era of turmoil in US history.

The author utilizes his past media experience to weave an intriguing tale that is rich in vivid descriptions and historical information. One can only wonder if the author instilled a bit of himself into Rich, as he is also a motorcycle enthusiast who began his career as a media motorcycle courier. I loved following Rich story's, he is a realistic and flawed man who the reader can easily relate to, you can't help but feel for him as he struggles with the residue of his time in Vietnam while trying to put his life back together.

With a fascinating cast of characters; witty dialogue and gripping interactions; and a riveting action packed storyline with chase scenes, danger, political drama, exciting twists and turns, and even a romantic love story thrown into the mix; Courier is a captivating historical political thriller that will keep you on your toes and turning the pages. I could easily see this novel being made into a movie, it is a must read that won't leave you disappointed!


Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tour Schedule:

April 26 Author Interview at Literary Lunes
April 27 Review at Little Miss BookMark
April 28 Review at Manhattan Reader
April 29 Review at Book Reader’s Heaven
April 30 Review at For the Love of Books
May 1 Review at Books are Love 
May 2 Review, Guest Post and Excerpt at Jersey Girl Book Reviews 
May 3 Review at Like a Bump on Blog
May 4 Interview at Dab of Darkness
May 12 Guest Post at Obsessed with Progress

Also on the Tour
Feature Friday Spotlight at Literary Wonders


  1. OK, Just because of this review, I'm going to Cape May this summer., (Actually, I've been going to Cape May for 30 years, it was only the 3 years in Secaucus that soured me on New Jersey)

    1. Hi Terry! You're too funny dude. I hate that song "On the way to Cape May" - I cringe whenever some starts singing it. And anywhere in North Jersey is enough to sour people on the whole state. *sigh*

      See I don't just have sappy romance book reviews on this blog. lol :p

      Thank you for the opportunity to host your virtual book tour event. I really enjoyed reading Courier - badass biker and all. :)