REAPER: THREAT ZERO: Five Questions with A.J. Tata

After introducing readers to Vinck “The Reaper” Harwood in last year’s action-packed novel, Reaper: Ghost Target, Nicholas Irving and A.J. Tata return with another full-throttle thriller featuring one of the most lethal new characters in the genre.

When a caravan carrying members of the president’s cabinet and their families is ambushed while traveling to Camp David, Vick Harwood is asked to join a task force assembled to get to the bottom of what happened—and kill whoever is behind it. For Harwood, though, things become personal when it’s revealed that his friend and former spotter is the number one suspect.

Worse, after receiving controversial orders, Vick begins to question the president’s motives and goes looking for his own answers, which leads to him uncovering a massive conspiracy . . .

Just ahead of the release of Reaper: Threat Zero, Anthony Tata agreed to go back on the record for our Five Questions segment, and I asked him about everything from how he and Nicholas Irving came up with the plot idea for this book to when readers can expect to see his hero Jake Mahegan, again.

Read the full Q&A below, then make sure to get the latest Vick Harwood thriller from Nicholas Irving and Anthony Tata, in stores everywhere on May 21st, 2019.


Reaper Threat Zero

TRBS: First and foremost, congrats on finishing up another great, action-packed thriller. I was a big fan of the first Vick Harwood book, but you guys took it to another level with this one. How did you come up with the plot idea? 

Tata: Thanks. Nick and I worked hard on this storyline. We always start by riffing on ideas, basic brainstorming, and Nick really wanted to see the Reaper presented with true moral dilemmas to deepen his character. Being ordered to kill the overseas family members of terrorists provided the tension we were seeking.

TRBS: With both your background and Nick’s lending itself so nicely to the story, is there any research you have to do for these books, or do you pretty much know everything you’re writing about?

Tata: We do tons of research. Of course Nick is the expert on all weapons and people call him for research! We research every aspect of our stories to ensure authenticity and accuracy. However, we weren’t able to travel to the Crimea or Iran for this story. Regarding Azerbaijan, I spoke at length with a former attache of the US Embassy in Baku, for example.

TRBS:  As a writer, do you ever feel pressure to top yourself each year or with each new book? I mean, not every story can feature a nuclear threat or World War III. How do you manage that both with this series, and your Jake Mahegan franchise? 

Tata: Nick is super creative and has great plot ideas. For my Jake series I’m always interested in presenting a unique threat, perhaps something that hasn’t been tried before, like with the swarming autonomous vehicles or the fracking near a nuclear site. There’s enough interesting material out there to get Jake or Vick in trouble and make them find a way out while saving the day.

TRBS: Is this it for Vick Harwood, or is there a planned third book in the series?

Tata: We’re writing book three as we speak. Vick will continue to kick ass and take names.

TRBS: Lastly, when can readers expect to see your character, Jake Mahegan, back in bookstores? 

Tata: Double Crossfire, #6 in the Jake series, is out October 2019. It’s probably my most daring plot yet. Jake and Cassie get aligned on opposing sides of a plot to overthrow the government. Nothing like a coup to test a relationship!


Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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