GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
The Zombie Game
(Dr. Scott James Thriller Book 2)
(Dr. Scott James Thriller Book 2)
by Glenn Shepard
The Zombie Game is the second book in the Dr. Scott James Thriller series by Glenn Shepard. Also available: The Missile Game (ON SALE for $0.99) and The Ebola Game (NEW RELEASE).
The Zombie Game is currently on tour with Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
ISIS terrorists are plotting to kill the Pope during his visit to America.
The plan: Hijack a hospital ship in Haiti, convert it to a missile launcher, and cruise into Miami Harbor, unnoticed.
Their only obstacle: Dr. Scott James is a volunteer on the ship, and he’s recruited a squad of Haitian zombies to stop the attack. But nothing adds up … until the last seven minutes.
MEET JAKJAK, DEAD MAN
Jacques Jacobo, "Jakjak", is the Haitian Finance Minister’s personal bodyguard. He’s just taken two bullets in the chest trying to stop an assassination attempt on his boss.
DR. SCOTT JAMES, TARGET
Dr. Scott James is a volunteer surgeon on a hospital ship anchored off the coast of earthquake-ravaged Haiti. He’s got his share of personal demons.
OMAR FAROK, MASTERMIND
Omar Farok wants to rule ISIS, and the world. He’s just taken over the hospital ship and converted it into a launch platform for a nuclear strike on Miami.
SANFIA, VODOUN BOKOR
Sanfia is the most powerful Vodoun priestess in Haiti. Omar Farok will pay her big money to turn Dr. James into a zombie.
ELIZABETH, THE WILDCARD
Beautiful Elizabeth is one of the most notorious freelance operatives in the world. She’s come to Haiti to defuse the bomb.
They’re all about to play The Zombie Game.
The Streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti
JAKJAK, THE CHAUFFEUR, PEERED through the windshield of the black Mercedes sedan, looking for danger. Haiti could be a bad place after dark. Killings, kidnappings, and armed robbery were common. Police protection was almost nonexistent in Port-au-Prince. Not only was Jakjak a driver, but he was also his employer’s bodyguard.
It had been more than four years since the terrible earthquake had destroyed the country, but massive piles of rubble remained. Jakjak dodged broken stones that had spilled onto the road from the high rows of demolished cement blocks lining the streets, and then suddenly a black cat jumped out in front of the Mercedes.
Jakjak stomped on the brakes but heard the thump of the animal striking the bottom of the car. Slamming to a halt, he looked back to see the dead cat lying in the middle of the road. His heart beat faster and he began to sweat. His mother had warned him of this. She was a Mambo, a Vodoun priestess with strong powers. According to Jakjak’s religion—Petro Vodou—the spirit embodied in black cats, Iwa, grew angry and vindictive to those who brought him harm.
Jakjak felt through his black suit coat to reassure himself that his .45 was in the holster strapped to his chest. He was a young thirty-eight, muscular from his daily workouts with heavy weights, and imposing at six-foot-two and 220 pounds.
But killing the cat had made his large hands shake.
Jakjak turned to the three men in the back seat. “Mal se nan lé a. Evil is in the air. We must turn back.”
Julien Duran answered, “No, Jakjak. Drive on.”
“Please, sir. Listen to me. No good will come of tonight’s meeting. I feel the spirit of the cat on me. We have angered him.”
Duran cleared his throat. At forty-eight, Duran was tall and thin, with prematurely gray hair. He wore a white suit, white tie with a diamond stickpin, and a heavily starched white shirt with gold cuff links and mother-of-pearl inlays. Jakjak had worked for him for twenty years, since Duran had returned from his economics studies at Yale, and law school at the University of Virginia. After only two years in a prestigious law firm in Port-au-Prince, Duran had been offered a government job as Assistant Minister of Finance, where his work gained him frequent promotions. In 2010, after the quake, he reached the top. He was made Minister of Finance.
Duran, sitting in the back of the Mercedes between his two assistant ministers, leaned toward his driver and said, “Jakjak, I respect your beliefs, but regardless of what your intuition tells you, I must go to this meeting. Charles Roche is a billionaire. I can’t keep him waiting.”
“Men lé a. But the hour … Hooligans now rule the streets at night. The spirits say we are in danger.”
Duran folded his arms as he sat back. “Tonight, Roche is choosing between giving financial aid to Haiti or Chile for earthquake damages. I don’t want Chile to be the one to take his money.”
A few minutes later, the Mercedes cruised past the once opulent building of the Ministry of Finance. The white columns and mahogany doors had all been bulldozed after the great building had stood for months as an uninhabited ghost structure. The marble and white cement that was once a palace now lay in ruins.
Jakjak continued a short way and then parked in front of the temporary housing units that were still used from time to time as offices for the Ministry. Piles of debris covered most of the parking spaces, so Jakjak was forced to park the Mercedes a good distance away. In the aftermath of the quake, the Minister and his two assistants were used to this kind of thing. Jakjak got out, briskly opened the car doors for his passengers, and then he escorted Duran and his two assistants to the office.
The visiting group consisted of three officials and two bodyguards. They were waiting at the door of the main temporary building. Jakjak unlocked it and ushered them in.
One of the bodyguards saw Jakjak’s .45 bulging against his coat and stopped him at the door. “No guns.”
Jakjak placed his hand over his gun. “Non, Mesye. I won’t give up my gun.”
“Then no meeting.”
Duran went to Jakjak’s side. “Check these men for weapons and then wait outside.”
The five visitors raised their hands as Jakjak patted them down.
Jakjak turned to Duran. “I cannot leave you.”
“I’ll be fine. Stay in the car. I’ll be out shortly.”
As the other men made their way to the conference room, Jakjak returned to the Mercedes. But his hands began to shake. He closed his eyes. He saw the cat’s eyes; they were in the face of the devil.
The introductions were brief. The central figure was a lawyer Duran had known for years, Virgil Baccus. Baccus was the attorney for billionaire Charles Roche. He was a portly man who practiced law in St. John and often worked with foreign clients. After shaking Duran’s hand, Baccus took his seat. Duran’s heart beat fast as he thought about Baccus. He had a reputation for representing men who created their wealth by embezzling corporate funds.
To Baccus’ right was a six-foot, muscular man dressed in black; to his left was another tall, muscular man, also dressed in a black suit. The two bodyguards stood by the door. Duran recognized all the men as being from St. John and St. Croix.
Baccus spoke up immediately. “Well, I have good news. Mr. Roche has already decided to give his money to your country. I bring a check from him for five hundred million dollars.”
Baccus removed a check from an envelope and handed it to Duran.
Duran looked at the check and smiled. At the conference table were his assistants, Antoine Gabriel and Hugon Cheval. Both were small and thin. Gabriel wore wire-rimmed eyeglasses. Both men were dressed in black suits and black ties.
Duran showed the check to Gabriel and Cheval. Both smiled and nodded their heads in appreciation.
Duran turned to Baccus. “Please extend my sincere thanks to Mr. Roche. This will be incredibly helpful in rebuilding Haiti.”
“Indeed.” As they stood and shook hands, Baccus said, “Mr. Roche would appreciate the check being deposited right away so we can begin to allot money for building projects here on your island.”
Duran withdrew his hand. “We?”
“Yes. My client of course expects to have a say in the distribution of his generous gift.”
Baccus handed a ten-page contract to Duran.
Duran put on reading glasses and spread the papers in front of his men. His smile turned to a frown. Cheval pointed to an item on page one and shook his head. Gabriel pointed to two lines and then a third. Duran put his finger on a paragraph on another page. The three men raised their heads and locked eyes with Baccus.
Duran, looking over his glasses, asked, “Is this some sort of joke? You’re proposing we have your client serve on the board, my board, and have veto powers over everything, including my authority?”
“That seems only fair. My client has good insights into the needs of your country. He pledges to restore Haiti to an even better state than it was before the quake. But he must be in charge of the relief effort.”
“We’ll gladly accept his money, but I’ll never agree to turning over control of the funds to outsiders,” Duran said.
“You have twenty-four hours to sign these papers, or else we will withdraw all our funds.”
“We don’t need more time. My associates and I are in agreement. The answer is no. This meeting is over.”
The two bodyguards moved quickly from the door, just as Baccus broke open his briefcase. Passing by, single file, the guards reached in and removed two, tiny, .22-caliber pistols, each fitted with a silencer as hefty as a beer can.
Baccus spoke. “That is unfortunate. However, there is still time to change your vote to our favor.” He looked coldly at Duran’s assistants. “Mr. Gabriel?”
Gabriel trembled as one of the guards raised his custom-fitted gun to the terrified man’s head.
But Gabriel’s answer was firm. “No.”
Praise for the Book
"A lot of action and unexpected twists and turns. It was easy to read and I finished it in 2 days. [...] Great thriller and very detailed medical scenes. I need to pick up a copy of the first book in this series!" ~ Terrence Evans
"I was drawn like a moth to a flame. Didn't want to put the book down, but didn't want to go to sleep either. I was mesmerized from the first glimpse of the book and holding my breath as I read. The problem I have with Dr. Shepard's books is that I have to wait too darn long for the next one. When you read it you will know full well why I didn't want to go to sleep." ~ Lucille D. Powell
"Don't start reading this book, unless you have time to finish it right away, it will "suck" you in! And don't read it late at night in a big ole house by yourself. The Zombies might get you!!!! You did it again Glenn Shepard. Good job!" ~ Patricia A. Myers
"From the first chapter, this was an action-packed adventure. Along with great character development, Shepard illustrates the ongoing struggles of post-earthquake Haiti in a way that is both informative and entertaining. I can’t wait to get my hands on Shepard’s first Dr. Scott James thriller, The Missile Game, to catch up with his adventurous protagonist." ~ An Amazon Customer
"The characters and scenes become so vividly real in the reader's mind that you feel as if you are actually there. I could literally feel my heart rapidly beating at times! Great read! Looking forward to reading more thrillers in this series!" ~ Sasha Anderson
Guest Post by the Author
My Inspiration for this Book
In many ways, my new book, The Zombie Game, is based on fact. The novel takes place in post-earthquake Haiti, and the landscape that my protagonist finds himself in is a place that I’ve spent a good deal of time in myself.
After the quake hit Haiti in 2010, I volunteered to join the Notre Dame Medical Group at their hospital in Leogane. Upon arriving there, I was astounded by the damage. I never imagined the extent of the destruction, despite watching the intense coverage on TV. Half of the capital, Port au Prince, was wrecked. Deep furrows plowed through the landscape. Thousands of people lived in makeshift cardboard, sheet metal, and cloth tents. Water trucks were everywhere, doling out allowances to people waiting in long lines. Few electrical lights were evident, even at night. Buildings of all types, even the Presidential Palace and the other major government buildings, were in rubble.
The American news media reported that 5.5 billion dollars in aid had been donated within the first few weeks of the tragedy, but despite the fact that three months had lapsed since the quake, there was little evidence of that money being spent on the people. This fact led to the fictitious premise of The Zombie Game. In the book, the 5.5 billion dollars has vanished, stolen by a terrorist group that is trying to buy a nuclear bomb.
In Haiti, despite the extreme misery created by the disaster, the people weren’t all sad-faced. Throughout our medical group’s travels, we frequently stopped and talked to them. They always smiled and laughed and spoke of a full recovery, soon. Their optimism and courage under these dire circumstances inspired me. I fell in love with those heroic people and I wanted to do all I could for them during my stay there. And, I wanted to tell the world about them.
Their country was incredibly beautiful. The blue Caribbean waters and the white sand were the stuff of idyllic post cards. For the setting of the book, I chose a fictitious hospital ship, the Ana Brigette, because of the extraordinary beauty of the shoreline, and to pay honor to all the volunteers who went to help the people of Haiti. For those interested in trivia, the actual hospital ship that went to Haiti was the Comfort.
But the point that iced my decision to base my next novel on Haiti was the reaction of the Haitians to my queries about zombies. Earlier, I’d read Wade Davis' books about the Vodoun Societies in Haiti, and the practice of using mind-altering drugs and physical conditioning to make people into zombies.
Davis, in his books, describes the extreme difficulties he faced in penetrating the societies to learn of their zombie rituals. The Vodoun culture demands secrecy, and the people I met throughout my travels were always talkative, friendly, and helpful … until I asked about zombies. Then … nothing. Perpetual smiles - gone. Clammed up. Move away from me. I wasn't their friend anymore. Clearly, I had stoked a fire somewhere.
It made sense. These people have a reputation of being afraid to talk about the subject. But I left there convinced that there still existed a zombie culture in Haiti.
In The Zombie Game I present ideas that I developed through my research as a medical doctor and scientist. The subservience that zombie-fied people are known to show comes mainly from the drug scopolamine. Once this agent enters the bloodstream, the victim becomes exceedingly compliant and will do virtually anything an authority figure tells them to do.
I've seen this phenomenon in mental facilities in America, and in writing the book I equated zombies to mentally impaired individuals, low in IQ but high in their desire to please their caregivers. In some people, this state creates hostility and anger, but most that I've seen are cooperative, want to please, will do all you ask of them, and are friendly. This, combined with what I know about the effects of the drugs that are used, is the image I've conveyed in The Zombie Game. In an effort to be scientifically accurate, I’ve even given the recipe for making your own zombie.
About the Author
Glenn Shepard’s first novel, Surge, was written while he was still a surgical resident at Vanderbilt. In the following years he wrote The Hart Virus, a one-thousand-page epic about the AIDS crisis, as well as three other novels. In 2012, he created Dr. Scott James, his Fugitive-like action-hero, and began publishing a series. The first volume of the Dr. Scott James Thriller series was The Missile Game, followed shortly afterward by The Zombie Game. The third of the series, The Ebola Game, was released December 2015. Though the books contain many of the same characters, they don’t have to be read in order. Each can be read as a stand-alone.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win one of five paperback copies of The Zombie Game by Glenn Sheppard (US only).