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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Terminal Departure by Joe Crubaugh

When agent Cleo Matts boards an airliner to defuse a false flag operation, things don't go as planned. He didn't count on the CIA planting a pound of C-4 in the cargo bay. He didn't count on being seated next to a gorgeous runaway Hollywood superstar. He didn't count on the ancient Watchers intruding in the flight path. And he didn't count on a U.S. President gone rogue who can't bowl worth a crap.
Instead of business as usual, Matts embarks on a balls-to-the-wall adventure that takes him from 35,000 feet in the sky to the back streets of the Big Easy, from the halls of NASA to the corridors of Washington, DC, to a final bloody showdown with the Ministry of Streunberg in a raging ice storm.
This espionage action thriller is a plunging, twisting roller coaster ride that serves up a heaping helping of political satire, aliens, secret agents, scientists, beautiful women, a genetically-modified super virus, a CIA false flag operation, men in black, a jetliner that isn't going to make it to the ground in one piece, and many eccentric characters driving the plot.

Crubaugh has written a page-turning gigglefest involving competing secret and pseudo-secret government agencies, germ warfare conspiracies and alien abduction. This is one of those indie books that overcomes the stigma of poor editing, amateurish prose, etc. It's quirky and laugh-out-loud funny as Crubaugh weaves his eclectic tale, with a political outlook in synch with the entertainment industry as a whole.  Were the publishing industry not in such a crisis now, I can easily imagine this being published conventionally and placed beside the latest from Hiassen or Coben.

Cleo Matts is sometimes on the loopy side of eccentric, which makes him all the more appealing as a hero. Movie star Julia is unique for Hollywood in that she's pretty down-to-earth; but typical in that her Hollywood marriage is going down in flames when we meet her. Perhaps my favorite character was Stormi--a girl with a great attitude even when she's verbally tearing somebody a new hole. Airline pilot Dallas is the lucky guy who fate throws together with Stormi, and though complete with human weaknesses, he's still a guy you want to root for.

Terminal Departure is certainly entertaining. I would have liked just a bit more exposition about the CIA-vs.-Trapdoor conflict, and maybe how Roman knew about Cleo but not vice-versa. I felt a little off-balance, too, that the aliens play such a major role during the first act, but aside from some telepathic advice, go MIA for the rest of the novel.

Depending on your sense of humor, this book is well worth your time for the laughs alone.


  1. Thanks so much for taking time to review my book, Hank! I really appreciate the very kind words, and also appreciate the constructive criticism--the comment about needing more exposition with regards to the CIA-vs.-Trapdoor conflict just filled a huge blind spot and practically wrote a chapter for me in the sequel, which is in the works. Thanks again!

  2. My pleasure Joe. You're a good writer with an appealing sense of humor, and you've introduced some charming characters. Best of luck!

  3. It's great to read such an insightful, balanced and honest book review.


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