Jonathan Grave Book 15
August 22nd, 2023
One of the best qualities of a John Gilstrap book is his ability to draw readers into the plot and characters. Just like the early Vince Flynn books his plots are intense, his bad guys horrifically violent, and his team heroes hardly politically correct with a determination for justice to be served.
Harm’s Way by John Gilstrap takes place in Venezuela where a vicious drug cartel has kidnapped ten missionaries and are holding them for ransom. FBI Director Irene Rivers has asked the independent contractor, Jonathan Grave, and his team to rescue one hostage. But Jonathan being Jonathan, tells her he will rescue all or none. He plans on doing what he and his team always do, save hostages. The rest of the gang are back that includes Jonathan Grave (Digger), Brian Vande Boxers (Big Guy), Venice Alexander (Mother Hen) and Gail Bonneville (Gunslinger) as well as Jesse Montgomery (Torpedo), a thief and boat driver, and Davey Montgomery (Chief), a former Navy SEAL.
As with most of his books the theme always questions the commitment of Washington, especially the bureaucrats, to put the welfare of the country ahead of personal gain.
Word of warning to readers, the rescue mission is not the only plotline and this book ends with a slight cliffhanger. Anyone who has not read the Grave books should because they have drama, intrigue, and great characters.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for Harm’s Way?
John Gilstrap: It came from a real news story. There was a news item where twelve missionaries were kidnapped in South America. Each were held for different levels of ransom by the bad guys. I thought it was an interesting premise.
Elise Cooper: Throughout the books, one of the team members, Gail Bonnerville aka Gunslinger has come to grips with her role?
John Gilstrap: Gail can be passive-aggressive, logical, thoughtful, sarcastic, and very analytical. She is often the only adult in the room when the men team members start to act as boys. She as well as everyone has a strong moral compass. She sometimes has trouble drawing the lines that Jonathan has no trouble drawing since she was a Sherriff and is a lawyer. In Scorpion Strike she realized there was nuisance and balance versus violence and fortitude. She started accepting her role and in the current book Harm’s Wayshe has reached that threshold. Jonathan is very mission oriented where he wants to have the hostages returned to their family. Gail cannot close down after a mission like Jonathan does. It angers her that she cannot and also angers her that Jonathan can. She will do what she must do but afterwards might not like it, while Jonathan will do what he must do and move on.
EC: You like to have Gail get injured a lot?
JG: In Damage Control she was injured very seriously and two books after that she was gone for a while as she recovered. I almost killed her off, but when I brought her back, I found the handle for her character. Then in Lethal Game, the book before Harm’s Way she had to be rescued after her house was set on fire and she was injured.
EC: The relationship between Gail and Jonathan?
JG: She considers him a crusader and is accepting of him. Just as with Jonathan she now realizes that by fighting, she can have a say in her future, going home alive. Gail realizes that Jonathan’s way of thinking is not as outlandish as she originally thought. She has come to see that the rule of law sometimes comes to slowly for true justice to happen. Because they accept each other they can now have an intimate relationship.
EC: Was President Tony Darmond based on anyone in any political party or is he an equal opportunity politician?
JG: The plot line of this book involving the President’s stepson selling access started in 2014 with the book High Treason. It is pure coincidence that the plot line is still alive. The Darmond administration has been corrupt since 2009. In the Grave books time pretty much stands still and travels very slowly. I do not write politics I write fiction. President Darmond does not have a party affiliation. People read the books and I have received angry letters about Darmond’s corruption from supporters of President Bush 43, President Obama, President Trump, and now President Biden. I get equal levels of hate mail. The Grave books do not work unless Washington is horribly corrupt.
EC: There is a quote that is anti-Washington in Harm’s Way. Please explain.
JG: You are referring to this quote, “In light of recent weaknesses and stumbles from the government of the United States, it was often too easy to lose respect in the effectiveness of American operators. The Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration had both been thoroughly neutered by President Darmond’s political henchmen, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has neutered itself with political infighting.” This is from a Russian who perceives the weakness of power. The Darmond administration is owned by the Cartels who can do whatever they want on the Southern Border. I believe in the fictional world, Washington’s senior elected leadership can search for Directors to do their will.
EC: Are the Russians really behind bringing drugs into this country?
JG: I do not have a firsthand knowledge but people who do, this is what they tell me. From what I heard the Russians have tried to gain a foothold in Venezuela and pre-Ukraine have provided a lot of aid. In my fiction world it just makes sense the Russians are doing it.
EC: Why Venezuela?
JG: Venezuela is in this hemisphere. Because I must get Jonathan and the gang in and out there is only so much of the world where I can do it. In my various previous books, I have used Mexico and wanted a change. Part of the reason for Venezuela, I wanted to criticize socialism, and it is the poster child for where socialism never worked in the practical world. The economic system here has collapsed so it has become a playground for bad guys.
EC: Next book-did you leave this one with a cliffhanger?
JG: Yes, although each book can survive as a stand-alone. In the next book, the Darmond Administration will have a very bad time. It will be titled Heat Seeker, a Jonathan Grave book.