Lex Talonis: An Eye For an Eye
Kramer & Shadow Crime Series Book 3
by Greg Smith
Genre: Action Crime Thriller
When investigations into a huge diamond heist point to their nemesis, Shelley Harper, being involved, Kramer and his canine partner, Shadow, are forced to take on a new team member. As they chase down the diamonds they uncover the truth behind the theft. Harper has joined forces with an international terrorist organization and intends using them and the diamonds as part of her diabolical plan to exact retribution from America on a monumental scale for the deaths of her family.
This is a strong story with an intriguing premise; one that can easily become all too real in this day and age. Kramer must struggle with his own doubts and demons as he leads his team against a malevolent opponent. They are faced with an almost untenable situation; one that has their survival highly questionable.
Who will be left standing when the dust settles?
“Smith is the Hemmingway of crime fiction. Brutal, concise, and elegant.”
David Bailey, English Professor
Director and CEO at Bailey Education Professionals
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It was equally strange for the thought to come to mind as Kramer muscled the man into a sitting position against a garishly painted door. It wasn’t the first time he’d needed to handle the dead. He studied his handiwork. For all intents and purposes, the figure appeared to be asleep.
Kramer surveyed the alley and ancient balconies overhead checking for witnesses. No one. A last glance at the body, then he slipped away from the scene.
He had to catch up with his target. The man he was following had entered the medina--old walled city--of Tangier from the port and headed directly into the warren of alleyways. He was wearing white cotton slacks, a bluish grey lightweight jacket, and a white fedora--all of which made him somewhat of an easy figure for Kramer to tail.
Although his Global Security Corporation partners, Darci Tucker and his wife, Maria, hadn’t said as much when they pressured him gently into this assignment, Kramer was well aware it was done out of their concern for him.
The flight from Los Angeles to London to Amsterdam had provided the retired United States Marine captain more than enough time for circumspection, and for the ugly truth to reveal itself. Losing his parents and his fiancée, FBI Special Agent Sarah Hunter, thirty months ago, had decimated Kramer’s life and left him intolerable company for anyone, especially his close friends. Darci and Maria needed a break from him as much as he needed a new focus and a chance to reprioritize his life.
So here he was in Tangier, Morocco, three weeks after leaving LA, tailing a man they suspected had ties with Shelley Harper—a woman at the top of INTERPOL’s ‘most wanted’ list as well as those of most governments worldwide. For Kramer though, the reasons for hunting down the elusive Harper were by far more personal than anyone else’s.
Ahead a shaft of sunlight snapped off a bluish grey jacket and white fedora. Kramer quickened his pace. A minute later he stood at the junction of four alleyways.
As he scanned the crowds strolling the centuries old terraced alleys, Kramer was oblivious of the many things the Moroccan port of Tangier offered travellers—the sense of exotic mystery, interesting history, beautiful vistas, and unspoiled beaches.
One of his favorite movies, The Bourne Ultimatum, had used the medina for one of its glamorous backdrops but it hadn’t prepared Kramer for the spice-filled air with its intriguing aromas that permeated the ancient city.
He overheard a tourist enquire after the most comically named door in all of Morocco, Bab Haha, from a street stall owner who waved a dark olive skinned arm at one of the intersecting alleys. Kramer instinctively glanced in that direction and happened to catch sight of his target. He lit out after Fedora.
Kramer’s situational awareness was as keen as ever but he couldn’t be certain whether his unfortunate assailant had merely been a street thug or someone protecting Fedora. The assignment was supposed to be a simple task of arriving at an address in Cairo where GSC had been informed they would locate the fedora-wearing courier. From there all Kramer need do was shadow the man to his next meeting and capture everything on video, upload the file to Maria at GSC headquarters in California, and await further orders.
It all sounded simple enough—except for the joker who jumped Kramer in the medina alley flashing a dagger. The encounter surprised both of them.
A gap in the buildings afforded him a glimpse of the ancient walls of the Tangier Kasbah that loomed over the medina. Moments later Kramer found himself standing before Bab Haha. It proved to be one of the several doors or gates that lead into the Kasbah.
Kramer glanced at the map to the left of Bab Haha that highlighted the walk tourists could take around the Kasbah. Overall, the old fortified area looked surprisingly small.
He spotted Fedora weaving through the populace and followed him. Houses lavishly decorated with sculptures of cherubs, colorful shutters, and balconies flanked the alley that took him into the Place du Méchouar. He fended off the hordes that descended upon him begging for money or trying to sell something, dodged past the snake charmers and dancers, and skipped around gawking groups of tourists.
At first, he thought Fedora intended to enter the Kasbah Museum but then he ducked through an unassuming door off to its side. The sign over the entrance welcomed Kramer in several languages to enter Les Fils du Detroit, helpfully translated underneath as The Sons of the Strait. He stepped in and found himself transported back in time.
The ten by sixteen foot room proved to be a tiny café. Several people, mainly locals, occupied the two narrow rug-covered bench seats that ran the length of the room. The walls were covered in Moroccan tapestries and numerous old framed photographs hung precariously above the patrons’ heads. A couple of circular, hand beaten bronze tables took some valuable space from the narrow floor and carried several small glasses of mint tea.
The customers paid scant attention to Kramer as he joined them. They continued sipping their hot drinks while a group of four elderly Arab-Andalusian musicians held a jam session at the far end of the room. The authentic melodies and ambiance recreated Morocco’s rich, cultural past.
Kramer accepted a glass of tea and whipped out a tourist guide from his back pocket. He pretended to read it, glancing occasionally at the musicians when, in fact, his focus was really on his target seated opposite.
The man was in his mid-thirties, olive skin, lanky, sported a pencil-thin moustache, and wire-rimmed glasses that framed deep-set dark brown eyes. Thick black, wavy hair flowed from under the fedora and skimmed the collar of his jacket.
He leaned close to an older gentleman dressed in the traditional neutrally colored Moroccan djellaba--a long, loose, hooded garment with long sleeves. The craggy weather-beaten face was topped by a black bernousse, or Fez, and a silvery white beard completed the classical Arabic countenance. Both men were deep in conversation.
Kramer shifted slightly to align himself with his target. Once back in his hotel room he would upload the image and audio file from the second button on his shirt.
Darci Tucker, CEO of Global Security Corporation, had designed the ultra high-tech surveillance device. His wife, Maria, would work her digital wizardry to garner every bit of intelligence from it in order to create the next link in the chain that would hopefully lead them closer to Shelley Harper.
All three had a score to settle with the woman.
You Can Run
Kramer & Shadow Crime Series Book 2
HOLD ON FOLKS!!! YOU CAN RUN is not your average crime thriller. Full of crime, absolutely! A thrilling ride, most definitely! But Greg Smith takes it up a couple of notches, pulls you, the reader, into a dangerous, action-packed FBI operation. You enter the world of 2 U.S. Marines who offer their services to bring down a diabolical kingpin.
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Kramer & Shadow Crime Series Book 1
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Originally from Sydney, Australia, I moved to America in 1999 and now live with my wife, Trish, Sydney, our 12 year old Border Collie, and part-Bengal cat, The General (Bugsy), in our 36ft 5th wheel as we travel and explore the United States.
The advent of retirement opened a whole new world to me and now that it has come to pass, I am turning my artistic bent from graphic design and illustration to that of writing.
The Kramer and Shadow series is an action, adventure, crime thriller series that encompasses the world and has our two Marines fighting hard against organized crime at many levels - but always involving do-or-die confrontations.
My hope is to establish a fan base for my writing so that my readers can have an active role in helping me grow and develop as an author in the years to come. I invite you to join me in this adventure.
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We returned to Lae where my earliest memories of those years are few but I clearly recall a day being caught by my mother sharing weevil-ridden rice with our local native ‘house boy’; of the night when dad ran through a tropical deluge to check on my brother and myself left to sleep in the family Jeep while he and mum attended a Saturday night party; of the time we all flew in an iconic DC3 to Mt Hagen in the highlands to attend a ‘Sing Sing’ - a gathering of hundreds of tribal natives (very much like the native Americans’ Pow Wow); of the weekend our family and friends went swimming at a nearby river where the men folk stood waist deep in the water at either side of a bend to watch for crocs.
That was more than a half century ago.
My love of writing evolved during high school when I always achieved 10/10 for my english and history and art history assignments. However, it took a backseat to my love of drawing and even more so as I pursued a career in graphic design. It wasn’t until a few years prior to retiring that I dared put aside time enough to try my hand at writing once again. My imagination has always been extremely fertile and I have a host of stories I’d like to tell . . .. NOT TO MAKE MONEY but merely to share with anyone interested enough to read them.
My first published book, Killing Softly, was born from a dare and was pumped out in 6 months. It wasn’t my intention to involve myself in the erotica genre, but that was part of the dare. I decided to take it a step further and turned it into an erotic thriller. Those who have read it, and who know me, have been shocked by that ‘side’ of me but all have enjoyed the story for what it really is . . . a thriller.
With that book under my belt I began researching the background for an historical fiction story idea,The Archer’s Diary. It revolves round a medieval character, but my approach is from a completely unique premise and now, after 7 years, working on it periodically it has now evolved into a 2-book collection, the first of which is well into the 5th rewrite.
It was while working on this novel that I stepped away from it occasionally to develop an idea that came to me after reading an article on dogfighting by the ASPCA. That idea blossomed into The Pits that subsequently led to book 2, You Can Run. My latest book, the third in this series, has recently been released. Lex Talionis (an eye for an eye) continues to follow the exploits of US Marines, Capt. Kramer and his dog, Sgt. Shadow, who are now retired from the Corps and working as partners in a global security corporation headed by an Australian whom Kramer encounterd while deployed to Afghanistan. The premise is of a woman who ‘inherited’ her husband’s criminal empire upon his death at the hands of Kramer and the FBI and who vows to bring America to its knees in retribution.
To date, of all the books I’ve written, Lex Talionis is the one I can well imagine being adapted for the big screen. I assume this is a dream held by every writer and as much as it would positively send me over the moon to happen, I am certainly not holding my breath for it to become reality.
I certainly don’t consider myself exceptional in any way when compared to my peers whenever I claim I have literally dozens of story ideas whirling in my mind on any given day. It’s an assumption I have about every writer and I have even encountered several who are or have been working on numerous books simultaneously. So, having said that, now that Lex Talionis is published I am concentrating on my historical novel while entertaining other ideas, one of which could be regarded of the paranormal genre but is based in part on real life. And there is always the possibility of another book in my Kramer & Shadow action crime crossover series should Lex Talionis generate enough followers.
One of the aspects I really love about writing is reseaching my subject. I aim to include as much realism in my stories as I can without overloading the reader. While I have a high regard for authors like Tom Clancy I sometimes feel they incorporate too much technical jargon and detail. It’s my hope I achieve a good balance in my books.
As already mentioned, an article by the ASPCA on dogfighting inspired The Pits, book 1 of my series. It tells of a US Marine rescuing a pup off the streets of a Afghani village after a massive car bombing. The pup finds a home on base among Kramer’s troops, is named Shadow because he follows Kramer everywhere and is given the honorary rank of corporal. Kramer and Shadow become inseparable, training together every day, and the Anatollian shepherd quickly shows a very high degree of intelligence. Then comes the day the dog is allowed to accompany Kramer’s unit on patrol that turns into a savage ambush. It’s while recuperating from their injuries back in Oceanside, California that Kramer and Shadow get involved in an FBI operation to bring down an international crime boss who has dogfighting as one of his main revenue generators.
Kramer is a farmboy born and raised and has a deep love and regard for all animals. He cannot abide ANY kind of animal cruelty and despises anyone for metering out harm on animals whose sole reaction towards humans is unconditional love. And his empathy extends to anyone and everyone targeted by those operating outside the law. This led him to join the United States Marines.
Kramer is modeled after my son-in-law who is a major in the Corps with 23 years service. And during my research into dogfighting I discovered the misconception surrounding Pit Bulls which resulted in me coming up with the book’s title, The Pits. I am also one of those writers who quite often finds himself or herself surprised by decisions and directions taken by their book characters. I recall the day I announced to my wife my shock that a murder happened in one of my books I was working on at the time. Being the author she couldn’t understand why I, of all people, could be surprised. Well, on occasions the characters have a mind of their own, I answered.
Being retired has its pros and cons. It provides me with the time to devote to my writing (I’d like to write many more books) and for my own artwork (I’m a painter and illustrator), but it also provides far too many opportunities to go see new sights, travel, etc which threatens my writing and art time. It’s more of a time management / balancing act than I ever expected, and not so easy to control. There have been plenty of occasions when I’d rather have been writing but felt compelled to spend time going somewhere else. It can be extremely frustrating at times. Retirement can be very distracting. At least with 30+ years experience as a graphic designer in the printing and publishing industries I am able to design my own covers and promotional material.
I’ve been writing now for just on 10 years but feel very much a beginner in many respects. It makes it hard for me to dole out advice to others because I still regard myself a learner in this game and would hate to give bum advice. But if I feel capable of giving a reasonably sane answer to a question about writing I certainly will give it a try.
My ultimate goal is to have a decent following for my writing, enough to keep me encouraged to stick with it.
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