When I read a novel, be it Historical Fiction, or modern thriller (the two sorts of novels I read, along with an occasional hard Science Fiction), I want to learn something at the same time that I'm being entertained.  Consequently, when I write a novel, whether in Historical Fiction, or a modern thriller, my goals are the same, i.e. to inform the reader about many aspects of history, religion, and/or international affairs that they did not previously know--even if it means upsetting people's applecarts, killing their sacred cows, puncturing political balloons, etc.  Therefore in THE ALEPPO FILE as in its predecessor THE JERICHO TABLET, the reader will be introduced to a little ancient Near Eastern History, Religion, Linguistics, and Semitics, as well as modern spycraft (to an extent) and political intrigue, while hopefully being entertained. 


A hundred years ago authors were expected to have an underlying "theme" to their novels, meaning that their story should have some sort of a "message" subliminal or otherwise, that underpinned the plot and/or story line.  In other words, if you didn't have anything to say, then don't bother writing anything at all.  Several decades ago the concept of "theme," or "message" became frowned up in literary culture (as well as in popular fiction).  Particularly in popular fiction the purpose of writing a novel was strictly to entertain, to compete with Hollywood.  If you could provide information on a "topic," while entertaining, then all to the good but no "preaching," or "messaging."

Recently, however, the line between "messaging," and "informing" has become blurred, and now reviewers in many quarters are giving extra points to authors whose works contain an underlying "message"--as long as that "message" fits the politically correct ideological leanings of the reviewers and/or the "literary" crowd.   In other words, its fine to "message" certain issues even to the point of being "preachy," but not so fine to "message" other issues.


It is popular in today's culture, as evidenced by the vast majority of writers today, to include a strong "message" in their novels about relationships, the environment, the evils of capitalism, the evils of big oil, the evils of big pharma, racism imagined and/or real, spousal abuse, child abuse, etc.  That's all well and good, however, there are other abuses that are equally worthy of being part of an underlying "message" in a novel, and this is the abuse of power, particularly political power.


The world we live in today is teetering on the edge of total chaos.  Events in the Middle East are far more significant, and far more dangerous than the American (or European) public realizes.  Much of this chaos, and the dangers stemming from it, have arisen at least in part due to the decisions and actions of our political leaders, and when these political leaders are thought to be "above the law," and are not held accountable for totally boneheaded moves it will incentivize them (and/or their successors) to do more of the same which endangers us all.  I believe that in writing a political/spy thriller it is a duty of the author to at the very least shed some light on what these dangers are and how they came to be dangers.

Also, to be honest, the boneheaded mistakes and outfight corruption and unlawful acts of our political leaders gives us Thriller writers an unending supply of material for our novels.

Thus, even though some readers might be allergic to new ideas, or ideas that they have not gleaned from the prevailing culture that surrounds them, all of us need to open our minds and recognize that true reality might not be the "reality" of the world view that we have constructed for ourselves by reading our local newspapers.


While most (historical) novels I write are devoid of "message," I have found it difficult to write "political" thrillers without being influenced by "politics," because the decisions and/or actions and/or the lack thereof, by our political leaders have an immense effect on world affairs (as mentioned above).  And, political/spy thrillers, by their very nature, deal with the results of these decisions and/or actions of our political leaders.  Thus, THE ALEPPO FILE goes against the grain of the usual offerings one might see in a bookstore, because by its very nature it must go against the "politically correct" grain of today's "literary" world.  It is in this regard that the underlying "themes" of the novel (if you must indeed strive to see such "themes"), have to do with the dangers of political leaders considering themselves to be above the law and allowing their decisions and policies be influenced by those who champion an ideology antagonistic and dangerous to the survival of our polity.


While boneheaded moves by our political leaders do provide fuel for Political/spy thrillers, international events provide another rich trove of ideas.  Many of the events taking place in the international arena today, particularly in the Middle East and on the peripheries of Russia are dictated by history, ancient, medieval, and recent.  Thus, writing the first rough draft of this novel in 2013, I was able to predict that Russian special forces would, in the near future, be aided the Kurds in Syria against the Turks.  In 2016 that has come true.  I also predicted, in this novel, that the Russians would form an anti-Turkish alliance with Armenia and mass conventional Russian land and air forces there in Armenia near Turkey's border.  That also has come true  in 2016.  And the fun is only beginning.


Another characteristic of my novels that some in the "literary" professions disapprove of are the numerous subplots and plethora of characters that zoom in and out of these interweaving plots and subplots.  Real life is never as simple as having a single protagonist and a single antagonist.  Especially the world of political plots and international espionage is just not that simple.  "Bad guys" in real life do not consider themselves to be "bad."  They usually believe that they have some justification for doing what they do, whether that be the assassination of a president, the selling of intelligence to a foreign entity, betrayal, starting a World War, or whatever.  They always have legitimate (to themselves) motivations for their actions.  These motivations are almost never one dimensional, but usually involve a smorgasbord of elements. 

Likewise, both the protagonist and the antagonist must have allies, other major characters whose rolls might be nearly as important.  The result is multi-layered motivations and multi-layered "good guys" and "bad guys."

Thus, when someone betrays the government agency they work for, or the country that they grew up in, it's usually out of a belief that that agency and/or that government has screwed them over in a number of ways.  Therefore they are justified in going rogue.  Often, there can be other personal factors that dove-tail into this, as illustrated in this novel.  When a young Muslim male decides to become a terrorist, it is because he believes he is doing his duty for Allah, but often there can also be some personal reasons as illustrated in this novel.   

is 286 pages long in its Trade Paperback edition published in March 2016.  It is available through www.Amazon.com   For $15.00, in the trade paperback version, and the kindle version for $2.99.  The Nook version is also available on www.barnesandnoble.com  for $2.99