My readers send me emails asking what parts of my fiction novels are based on reality. To answer that for everyone, I put together a list pertaining to each novel and add it at the end.
My Dear Reader fact sheet for Deadly Weapon was far too in-depth to include at the end of my book, so I’ve published it here on my website for those who are curious and wish to read more.
Many aspects of Deadly Weapon are alarmingly realistic. Read on if you dare.
Note: The following list contains spoilers, so I advise everyone to please read the book before reading this list.
First, what is not real:
There is no evil mastermind of crime named Erik Belken. I invented an imaginary criminal who doesn’t exist, except in my imagination. And there is no angry dog catcher with a grudge against a Golden Retriever who bit him on the thigh. Most animal control employees are good-hearted people doing a very difficult job and I thank them for their efforts to help pets get adopted.
As in every book, names, characters, places, events, incidents, and dialogue are all products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, businesses, organizations, events, or locales is entirely unintended and coincidental.
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Second, what is real:
The following things really do exist but are used fictitiously in this novel:
Scientists from the Center for Disease Control exhumed an Inuit body from the permafrost in Alaska to take a sample of diseased lung tissue infected with the 1918 Flu virus strain. The scientists put their sample into a thermos and carried it aboard a commercial airline flight to Atlanta.
In the early 1900’s the indigenous people had no immunity to a powerful flu strain that was more virulent and killed faster than any other in world history. Entire villages of Inuits were quickly wiped out, leaving no survivors.
The CDC has used the tissue sample to successfully reconstruct the influenza virus strain responsible for the 1918 pandemic. The project greatly advances preparedness efforts for the next flu pandemic which is inevitable.
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There really was a group named the Secret Society. British multimillionaire Cecil Rhodes set up the secret group with the goal of establishing a new world order that would reclaim the United States for England and bring the entire planet under British colonial rule.
Rhodes founded the De Beers diamond-mining conglomerate which held a global monopoly over 90% of diamond production, helped develop the British South Africa Company, and secretly bought cheap land near Johannesburg which held the richest mother lode of gold on the planet.
Rhodes became one of the wealthiest men in the world and used his vast diamond and gold fortune to build the Secret Society into a global network. He was assisted by British newspaper magnate W.T. Stead, colonial administrator Lord Alfred Milner, and banker Nathan Mayer Rothschild. The Society was so influential it wrote the terms that ended the First World War, and later made attempts at appeasement with Hitler during the Second World War. After Rhodes died, his will established the famous Rhodes scholarships at Oxford.
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In the past, the governments of the US and UK sprayed clouds of bacteria and chemicals onto their unsuspecting populations. The incidents I noted were real, and there are many more examples. In San Francisco, the Army and Navy placed monitoring equipment at 43 locations and found the city had received enough of a dose for nearly all residents to inhale millions of particles every day during the week of spraying.
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Russian scientists developed bioweapons of mass destruction in their germ warfare departments. The Soviet biological weapons program designed warheads so deadly that one missile hitting one major US city could result in the deaths of up to 3 million civilians. A single SS-18 missile could wipe out the population of New York City. The Soviets produced a stockpile of missiles, along with hundreds of tons of anthrax, smallpox, encephalitis and many more toxic agents including a plague more virulent than the bubonic plague which killed one quarter of the population of Europe in the Middle Ages.
The Soviets had a contingency plan to use the bioweapons against civilians in the United States and its Western allies. One scientist who worked on the secret project and then defected to the US testified that many of the other scientists who worked with him have been lured away from low-paying Russian labs to earn big money working for rogue regimes around the world.
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In World War II, the Japanese military used biological warfare to create pandemics in China. This included poisoning wells with typhus, and dropping thousands of plague-infested fleas onto the civilian population.
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It’s true that some bats in China have been found to carry 400+ new strains of coronaviruses with the potential to spark further outbreaks.
Communist China’s government scientists run a covert biological weapons program similar to those of Russia, the US and Great Britain. I’m sure you’ve heard of one infamous laboratory in Wuhan, where scientists allegedly conduct experiments on bats that were infected with novel viruses.
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A pilotless single engine Cessna plane crashed onto the shore of Lake Superior, leaving no trace anyone had landed with the plane, and no footprints in the snow. The only way in and out of the aircraft was through the two main cabin doors, and those doors were both closed. The plane was not equipped with a roof hatch, nor did it possess flight recording equipment.
The four-seater Skyhawk was presumably flying on autopilot and crashed after it ran out of fuel. Nobody knows what happened, but one theory is the pilot exited the aircraft in flight and managed to hang on and close the door before jumping with a parachute. The unanswered question is: Why?
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Canada’s Hyperstealth Corporation invented a Patent Pending Invisibility Cloak. There is no power source. It is paper-thin and inexpensive. It can hide a person, a vehicle, a ship, spacecraft and buildings. The patent discusses 13 versions of the material and the patent allows for many more configurations. One piece of Quantum Stealth can work in any environment, in any season at any time of the day or night, something no other camouflage is capable of. The demonstration videos on YouTube are mind-boggling.
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Near the end of WWII, Germany sent U-boat number U-234 on a secret mission to aid Japan’s war effort. The submarine carried several high-ranking Nazi officers including General Ulrich Kessler, assigned as the Luftwaffe liaison in Tokyo. Also on board were several weapons technicians, 1,232 pounds of uranium oxide produced by the German atomic weapons program, two Japanese scientists, two disassembled Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighters, 10 jet engines, plus sufficient diesel fuel and provisions for a six to nine month voyage.
The uranium was meant to help Japan build atomic bombs, which would be dropped on targets in the United States using the replicated Messerschmitts, the world’s first jet-powered fighters.
In a remarkable reversal of fortune, Hitler committed suicide, Germany surrendered, and Admiral Karl Dönitz radioed every U-boat to surface and hoist a white flag. General Kessler surrendered U-234 to US Navy destroyer escort USS Sutton as it passed the east coast of the United States. Both Japanese scientists on board committed suicide rather than be taken prisoner. US scientists secretly used the Nazi uranium in the Manhattan Project for the atomic bombs which were dropped on Japan and ended the war.
For this novel, I asked “what if” the Germans sent two U-boats, instead of betting on only one? What if the other submarine didn’t receive the radio message to surrender, or the captain ignored the order and kept on going toward Imperial Japan?
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The Russian ADS amphibious assault rifle is designed for underwater combat. The weapon fires specially designed 5.45×39mm PSP cartridges. Range depends upon depth. The weapon’s effective underwater firing range is approximately 25 meters at a depth of 5 meters and 18 meters at a depth of 20 meters. When used above the surface it fires standard 5.45×39mm cartridges, and is also equipped with a 40 mm grenade launcher.
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People do use commercial drones in attempted murders. For example, on August 4, 2018 an assassination attempt was made on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas using commercial drones that were bought online.
Meanwhile, the Skyborne Cerberus revolving grenade launcher drone is an actual weapon that is armed with three 40mm grenades. In this novel I had someone custom modify it to fire six rounds.
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The Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft changes from a helicopter into a plane and back again. My son flew in Ospreys several times when he served in the Marines. On his first flight, the pilot deliberately gave the Marines a thrill ride none of them will ever forget. I wondered what a war dog like Cody might have felt on that kind of wild ride, and how the dog might always remember it.
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U.S. Marine Corps Recapture Tactics Teams (RTT) specialize in police-like SWAT procedures and are tasked with guarding nuclear weapons aboard US naval installations. They are also trained to violently recapture and take back by force, United States personnel and property that has been stolen or otherwise compromised. After going through Close Quarters Battle School, they earn the nickname “Cowboys.”
George Orwell once wrote, “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” Keep up the good work, Marines. We thank you and salute you. Semper Fi.
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The Black Plague of 1347 swept across nations and killed over half of Europe’s population. Two female biologists analyzed ancient DNA and proteins from plague pits, the mass burial grounds across Europe. Their findings, published in the journal PLoS Pathogens, proved once and for all that the Black Death of Europe was caused by Yersinia pestis bacterium from Yunnan, China, which is only about 800 miles from Wuhan. This news was also reported in a New York Times article titled, “Europe’s Plagues Came From China, Study Finds.”
In a frightening coincidence, Yunnan, China is also the location where scientists have found a cave inhabited by wild bats that carry over 500 viruses, including one strain that is 96 per cent similar to the novel coronavirus that spread from Wuhan to other nations. One scientist from an international team visiting the cave site in Yunnan reported that people were “hunting bats in the wild and selling them directly to restaurants.” This risk of bat viruses in China spreading to humans was warned about in the article “Bat Coronaviruses in China” published online Mar 2, 2019 by PubMed, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, PMID: 30832341.
With all due respect to the people in Communist China, the CDC found that in addition to the Black Plague, two of the most devastating flu pandemics of the 20th century – the Asian flu of 1957 and the Hong Kong flu of 1968 – both originated in China and killed three million people worldwide. Also, in the winter of 2003 a coronavirus appeared in a wildlife wet market in southern China and caused a massive outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, that spread to 32 countries.
It is not unfair to ask why so many different pandemics have begun in that one particular geographic location and spread around the world to kill millions of people. In fact, it would be irresponsible not to investigate this unique phenomenon that keeps repeating itself. One possible answer according to scientists is that it might be due to virus-filled live bats that are butchered at wildlife wet markets in that specific country but in no other. Bats carry viruses that have the potential to “spillover,” which is when an animal virus jumps into a human and causes a global outbreak. At wet markets, sellers will kill and butcher a live bat while you stand there and wait. The potential for spread of disease from the animal’s virus-carrying blood droplets is uniquely dangerous.
According to Ian Lipkin, director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, whose lab worked with Chinese officials to develop early diagnostic tests for SARS, “If we were to shut down the wildlife wet markets, a lot of these zoonotic outbreaks would be a thing of the past.” Another expert who agrees with this opinion is Kevin Olival, a disease ecologist at the EcoHealth Alliance, “The simple first step is reducing the wildlife trade and cleaning up the wet markets, if not closing them down for good.”
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Lastly, a scientific debate:
Many scientists around the world believe we have no choice but to study bat viruses in self-defense. Many others disagree, and believe it is too risky and dangerous.
A University of California, Berkeley study reported that some of the worst viral disease outbreaks in recent years — SARS, MERS, Ebola, Marburg and likely the COVID-19 coronavirus — all originated in bats. Some virus-filled bats can live 40 years, whereas a rodent of the same size may only live two years. Bats also travel long distances. They are arguably the most dangerous animals in the world.
For this reason, 77 Nobel prize-winning American scientists insisted the world needs to study bat viruses in order to, “Gather highly regarded science that could help control one of the greatest health crises in modern history and those that may arise in the future.”
Toward that goal, PREDICT is a $200 million project sponsored by the US government and led by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. The goal is to find out what viruses are lurking inside animals around the world, and be ready when a new virus jumps from animals into people and causes an outbreak. In my fiction novels, Sarah is a graduate of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
But would we really be ready?
Another group of scientists don’t believe so. For example, Michael Osterholm is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis. He said that in 2012 scientists predicted the H5N1 flu would soon jump from birds to humans. Nobody did anything to prepare for it, even though H5N1 avian flu has a 60% mortality rate among infected humans, and the CDC considers it to have “pandemic potential.” Knowing about it in advance did not cause anyone to be prepared. Better luck next time?
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What if, due to human error, a single one of these hundreds of bat viruses being gathered and studied is accidentally released? What if the CDC scientist’s thermos had leaked the 1918 influenza inside the commercial airline flight? There may be an ongoing debate over whether we need to study viruses, but most people would agree it must be conducted very carefully.
The UN Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) appears to favor caution. The BWC attempts governance of controversial creation of “monster germs” and debates over governance of gain-of-function (GOF) research in life sciences. GOF research involves altering a natural pathogen to make it more deadly and infectious, and is classified as dual-use research (DUR) with both military and civilian applications.
What are the risks of these biological experiments being conducted in nations around the world? The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security calls it a “global catastrophic biological risk” (GCBR). The center conducted a study to explain the characteristics of microorganisms that constitute this risk.
GCBRs are defined as “Those events in which biological agents—whether naturally emerging or reemerging, deliberately created and released, or laboratory engineered and escaped—could lead to sudden, extraordinary, widespread disaster beyond the collective capability of national and international governments and the private sector to control.
If unchecked, GCBRs would lead to great suffering, loss of life, and sustained damage to national governments, international relationships, economies, societal stability, or global security.”
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“Humanity has but three great enemies: fever, famine and war. Of these by far the greatest, by far the most terrible, is fever.” —Sir William Osler, MD
“A paranoid is someone who knows a little of what’s going on.” —William S. Burroughs
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