Last year, two new potential stars of the thriller genre emerged in Jack Carr (The Terminal List) and David Ricciardi, whose acclaimed debut, Warning Light, introduced readers to CIA analyst Zac Miller. Now, after cutting his teeth as a field operative through baptism by fire in book one, Zac—who’s now going by Jake Keller—is back for more action.
Nobody embodies Bob Marley’s famous saying, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have,” more than Jake, who quickly found himself in a world of trouble in Warning Light. More than anything, that book takes readers along for the ride, giving them a front row seat as Jake grows into a formidable operative, which is how we see him when we meet back up with him in Rogue Strike.
This time around, Jake is working with a new partner, and the two are sent to Yemen to take out the most wanted terrorist in the world. Instead, the mission goes to hell when the drone they’re operating is hijacked. Under someone else’s control, the drone flies to neighboring Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where the yearly hajj is in full swing. With millions gathered around their holy site, Jake watches in horror as the drone dumps its payload—killing more than 3,000 Muslims.
In the aftermath of the attack, all eyes turn to America, as other countries demand answers. And it doesn’t take long for Jake to be thrown under the proverbial bus. Worse, as tension heats up, the world threatens to break out into WWIII. To clear his name and stop an all-out war, Jake Keller must once again race around the globe with umpteen bad guys on his trail and find those responsible for the mayhem before it’s too late.
Just before heading out for his book tour, author David Ricciardi agreed to go back on the record for our Five Questions segment, and I asked him about everything from how he came up with the plot details for this one to what’s next for Jake. See the full Q&A below, then make sure to order your copy of Rogue Strike, in stores Tuesday, June 4th.
TRBS: First and foremost, what a book! I loved Rogue Strike and cannot wait for readers to get their hands on this one. How did you come up with the plot details?
Ricciardi: “Thanks, Ryan! Every year there is a massive number of intrusions into U.S. computer systems by foreign powers. Combined with technology’s ever-increasing role in combat, it’s not hard to imagine that things won’t always go as planned. A false flag attack was the most sinister outcome I could think of.”
TRBS: What sort of research did you have to do for this book before actually sitting down to write it?
Ricciardi: “A staggering amount, but I’m fortunate to have a lot of friends, and friends of friends, who could help with key aspects of military, intelligence, diplomatic, and law-enforcement topics. Of course, the internet played a key role too. I used all the details to add authenticity to the characters and the plot and help the reader learn and feel something at the same time.”
TRBS: After penning such an acclaimed, fan-favorite thriller with your first book, Warning Light, did you feel a lot of pressure to try and top yourself with this one?
Ricciardi: “Absolutely. I hope that each one of my books is better than the one before it, but I also understand that different people are moved and entertained by different stories and characters, so I won’t be offended if someone tells me they liked Warning Light better…”
TRBS: Who are some of your favorite authors, and what books are on your TBR list?
Ricciardi: “I just finished Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo, and I loved his biography of Albert Einstein as well. He’s truly top shelf. I’m generally not a big crime-fiction reader (more of a thriller man, myself), but I make exceptions for Michael Connelly and Meg Gardiner. My TBR list is what I call my Steck Stack, and I mean that literally. I go onto RBS, read a few reviews and summaries, and buy whatever sounds appealing to me. Summer is my heaviest reading season and I can’t wait to get started.”
TRBS: Lastly, what’s next for Jake Keller?
Ricciardi: “Now a fully seasoned operative, Jake is going on offense for a change. He’s been sent to identify and eliminate an African warlord, but the warlord has other ideas. It gets messy…”
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.