Best-selling thriller writers, some gifted, often spend a lifetime producing mountains of books, all on identical subjects. In many cases they actually produce the same book, with only decorative changes. Some of these assembly-line authors have vast, loyal readerships. The best known fast-food chains also have millions of devoted repeat customers, customers who know exactly how they want their burger to taste before they step up to the counter. If you only want to read about angels, lawyers, detectives or sunken ships, you can stick with one prolific author and enjoy a repeat taste of what you know you like. Associating a name with a guarantee of “no surprises” sells books as well as burgers. What’s between the buns is less important.
Yet it’s the “between” that inspires my writing. In the Eighties, I joined forces with a Norwegian author to create a political thriller based on realities of the time. The Svalbard Passage, after all these years, is now in its third edition, especially popular among those who take the steamer up the western coast of Norway. Later that decade, relying on my own adolescent experiences in East Germany, I wrote a novel presaging the end of the Berlin Wall. The Quiet Assassin became an international bestseller, is still available in a physical edition, and is currently experiencing a rebirth as an eBook. The novel deals with popular resistance to a police state and the citizen assassination of political leaders guilty of crimes against humanity.
Long before 9/11, I became aware of security issues in the airline industry. This awareness sprang from my discovery of a criminal practice in Italy and the United States whereby counterfeit aircraft parts were being smuggled into the replacement parts stream.
Eleven documented airplane crashes resulted; so did my novel, Lacking Virtues, which is a book any pilot, flight attendant, aircraft mechanic or aviation buff will enjoy. It deals with sabotage on a monumental scale, presenting a scenario of espionage that outlives the Cold War. The threat to national security presented in Lacking Virtues is greater than any Al Qaeda has or could have fielded. Pilots for United, Delta and American Airlines worked anonymously on every detail of the story, as did managers of Boeing and Airbus – sometimes unwittingly. As with all of my novels, the research was extensive. It was conducted on location at Boeing in Seattle, Airbus in Toulouse, Washington D.C., Paris and North America’s major airports. Involved in the story, as well as a former East German spy turned capitalist, are the director of the NTSB and the Paris bureau chief of the New York Times.
The war in Afghanistan and our futile attempts to eradicate the opium poppy provided the idea for the novel, The Poppy Broker. As a long-time resident of Italy, I was familiar with the Sicilian Mafia and the extent to which its tentacles reached deep into the halls of government. The book tells of a diabolical alliance between the Mafia, the Italian Police and a kidnapped genetic engineer to restore the Mafia’s former monopoly over heroin. The plan, if successful, will deprive terrorist organizations of their lucrative crop, but it will do nothing to slow the growth of the international drug trade. The kidnapped geneticist is a professor at the University of Paris. His daughter, who was also kidnapped because she happened to at her father’s home, is the beautiful and wildly popular French actress, Chantal Armand. Unbeknownst to all is her secret affair with a Bordeaux aristocrat, a prominent art collector, a man who initially believes that she is dead but later suspects otherwise. Thus begins his desperate search to find and free her, a search that leads him into the heart of the Sicilian Mafia and to its brutal leader – now in love with Chantal. In a strange turn of events, an old war buddy of the art dealer, a man involved in the international arms trade, plays a central role in the outcome of the story.
The Trade, meaning the sex trade, takes the reader into the heart of what is now the world’s third largest criminal activity after drug smuggling and the illicit trade in arms. More specifically, the novel deals with human trafficking in East European teenage girls who are sold into prostitution in the West. The girls are chosen for their “marketable commodities,” lured into servitude by promises of jobs in affluent lands, then sold naked at auction to the highest bidder. One of the first of these so-called “Natasha girls,” Kristýna, ends up as the concubine of a founder of the trade. She escapes, disappears into anonymity, marries and has a daughter, Teresa. Years later she is found by Obruchev, the man from whom she fled. Her husband is shot, Kristýna is set up to look like the murderer, Teresa is spared, taken with the promise that she will lead a normal life if her mother confesses to the crime she did not commit. Kristýna eventually escapes from Sing Sing and begins a search for her girl that leads her from the US to Italy and on to Slovenia. It is there than she spots Teresa, who is with a wandering tribe of gypsies. But she has not been alone in her quest. The FBI and Interpol are close on the fugitive’s heels; Obruchev, aware of her escape, knows he must find and eliminate Teresa, the only credible witness to his crime. And in a chess game of genius, Rasputin, the auctioneer for Obruchev’s business, manipulates all three, hoping to bring them together simultaneously on a desolate Slovenian farm. The suspense for readers becomes intense as they are swept toward an unforgettable conclusion.
Because I am not an assembly-line author frenetically reproducing books on the same subject, I use two pseudonyms so that I may write in other genres without confusing my readers. Tommy Vilar is at work on an “entertainment” that introduces an Italian counterpart to James Bond. The novels in the series are meant to be fun, frivolous and fast-paced. Volume one is now available under the title SAVE ITALY! Forget the Rest. The reader is taken at dizzying speeds through Florence, Rome, Milan and Venice. Danger of every conceivable sort is ubiquitous.
Chub Yublinsky writes literary novels. His first, FAITH A Secret Life, deals with teenage love and loss. It captures the exuberance of youth but also explores the tragic impact of undetected bipolar disorder in late adolescence. What appears to be a brutal rape and murder take place. The young protagonist, his grief still an open wounds, is charged with the crime. The novel is captivating and informative, filling a void in our understanding of manic-depression.