This novel holds tremendous personal importance for its telling of the stories I heard from and about my grandfather. If you wish to learn more, please visit my website and read My Journey with BLACK SUN. I truly believe you will find this article quite informative.
Thank you to all for your great comments, feedback, and readership of my novels. Knowing that I have touched so many people through my books is inspiring as well as gratifying.
In 1956 Morgan City, Texas, Cory Hunter Bramley has finally returned to learn the truth about his mother’s murder. The killer may be gone, leaving Cory to chase ghosts, yet he’s determined to know what happened that fateful day sixteen years ago. But truth comes in many forms.
The town is under the thumb of a man who considers himself a king and makes Cory’s search for truth more difficult. Five women have been brutally murdered since his mother and their killer remains at large as well.
Cory must walk a dangerous maze of corruption, revenge, bootlegging, brutality and murder as he uncovers a bloody trail leading to the killer. But in the pursuit of justice, Cory didn’t anticipate finding love with the forbidden Emily.
The Councilman is a heartbreaking tale of vengeance, deceit and the anguish of shattered souls wrapped in mystery and suspense.
Greg Valdez walked away from stolen antiquities and the dark side of the art world years ago. No longer for hire as a professional thief, Valdez was enjoying retirement in the Texas Hill Country until the day Japan’s National Police and the Agency for Cultural Affairs disrupted his life wanting a national treasure returned. The Honjo Masamune, an ancient, priceless sword is being held in the United States by the Tonsei-Kai, a notorious Yakuza clan. The Japanese government will make a trade with Valdez—the sword in exchange for information about Kyla, Valdez’s former daughter in law. Kyla believes she is leaving for Japan to become an international model, but she’s caught in a Tonsei-Kai human trafficking ring. If Valdez will retrieve the sword, he can have the information to find her. It’s an offer he can’t refuse. She may never be seen again. But Valdez will need his son’s help to save her and doesn’t realize it will take a miracle to retrieve the sword—and save his own life. The pulse pounding sequel to SOLOMON’S MEN brings Valdez out of retirement and in search of THE HONJO….
Yes, I’m a proud and happy author. My novel “Solomon’s Men” is to be published as a graphic novel in 2018, and—“The Honjo,” sequel to “Solomon’s Men,” will be released later in the year as well. This is fast becoming a stellar year for me. It’s been a long road with my writings, but the years of effort are finally proving worthwhile….
Last year was exhausting, though. Trying to finish a book; Hurricane Harvey destroying everything; the back and forth of contract negotiations, and a dozen other things—but life is good and getting better now!
Today I have permission to post some of the fantastic artwork from the graphic novel. Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to display names of the entertainment company, the artist, colorist, and writer but will do so once the graphic novel is published. They are a great team, truly talented, and my hat’s off to each for such professional work in visually bringing “Solomon’s Men” to life.
More information will be coming on “The Honjo” and the graphic novel. Be sure to check back for more news.
Readers kept asking for a sequel to “Solomon’s Men” and now it’s on the horizon. “The Honjo” blends the ancient history of a priceless samurai sword with the present underworld of the Yakuza, and a foreign government’s quest for its return. And caught up in the dark world is Greg Valdez, with more at stake than a sword. Packed with the emotions, action and mystery that everyone loved in the first book, “The Honjo” will leave readers wanting more. Coming in 2018!
January 1864. The Civil War has raged across the nation for years, touched everyone, and taken its bloody toll on the Union and Confederacy. The missing, wounded and killed number in the thousands and the count continues to rise. When John G. Slover enlisted as a Private in the 3rd Wisconsin Cavalry, he never expected to find himself on the Kansas plains fighting Indians as well as Confederate guerilla units. Through his daily entries in a saddlebag diary we can read what he endured and from his view better understand the misery of the time.
The Alvin Museum Society received the John G. Slover diary in a weathered, ragged state and has spent years transcribing it to share with the public.Through the Storms: The John G. Slover Diaryprovides a unique opportunity to follow him from birth in New York, through the Civil War, and onto his death in Alvin, Texas where he was a pioneer member of the community.
The Alvin Museum Societyof Alvin, Texas is a non-profit organization and appreciates your support by purchasing this non-fiction book. All proceeds go to the Society. Researchers, Civil War era historians, and lovers of history will enjoy this work for the insight it provides.
The first edition of Solomon’s Men went out of print but after so many requests from readers, I brought it back as a second edition in print and eBook—new cover design and a bit of polish throughout the story. Don’t worry, it is the same story but doing so allowed me to improve the text.
The second edition book cover is silver and red. That’s the one you want to purchase. The first edition has a black and red cover, and unfortunately, is still being listed as for sale even though it’s not. Booksellers, for whatever reason, continue to display the first as if it is available. This causes confusion with readers and although I’ve tried to get the first edition pulled, the booksellers will not.
Solomon’s Men, second edition, recently received a Five-Star Review from Readers Favorite. Its also won a Silver Medal from Military Writer’s of America; a great review from Midwest Review, and has a lengthy list of excellent reviews from readers on various websites.
I hope you will enjoy Solomon’s Menas much as others have. It’s available in print and eBook formats.
The Military Writers Society of America awarded Black Sun its 2016 GOLD Medal for excellence in Historical Fiction. This was a true honor considering the exacting standards of MWSA and the volume of great works Black Sun was in competition against. The accompanying MWSA review equaled the GOLD Medal:
MWSA Book Review
Reviewed by Lee Boyland
Historical fiction at its best—The Mexican Revolution of 1910
To understand a nation you must read its history. The author takes the reader on a journey beginning in 1900, told through the eyes of a fictional young man. Mexico is slowly sinking into chaos under the dictatorial rule of President for life Diaz. Foreign interests are raping Mexico’s resources and people while paying off the president and his cronies. Desperate people are capable of desperate action and the faint scent of revolution is in the air.
The story begins with fourteen-year-old Mexican peon, Arnulfo Triana, laboring in the Ojuela Mine near the village of Mapimí in the State of Durango, Mexico. Conditions are poor and the pay is minimal. Only the native Indians have worse working conditions. Garcia, the foreman, is sadistic and has chosen Arnulfo as his current target. Chamaco, an older miner with a varied background attempts to protect him from Garcia.
Arnulfo witnesses Garcia assaulting a Yaqui Indian woman and uses a shovel to end her rape, giving the reader their first indication of the man the young boy will become. In gratitude, the woman presents Arnulfo with a gift. Events become confused and Arnulfo flees. Chamaco follows on a “borrowed” mule and the two become lifelong friends. Along the way they meet Pancho Villa and join him. During the following years, Arnulfo grows into a man, takes the name Indio, and becomes Pancho’s trusted companion as Mexico continues its downward spiral. Villa is a natural leader and a powerful force for the people against its dictatorial president. Through Indio, the reader meets Emiliano Zapata, Abraham González, and many leaders of the coming revolution, including Francisco Madero, the man who would light the fuse.
The author’s descriptions of people, places and battles allows the reader to become part of unfolding events. Black Sun is a story of courage, despair, patriotism, deception, heroism, betrayal, loyalty, greed, honor, and leadership—both good and bad. It is the story of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and beyond.
* * * *
Along with receiving a wonderful “Readers Favorite 5 Star Review” written by Viga Boland, Black Sun has been quite honored with such recognition. But as noted in my blog article “My Journey with BLACK SUN,” this novel was far more than the simple writing of a historical fiction—it was the story of my grandfather’s life as he endured the onset and years of a brutal, bloody revolution that threw his country into violent turmoil. The research seemed never ending and the lead characters of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 were of such madness that I wondered at times if anyone would believe their true, odd idiosyncrasies.
And adding to the awards was the excellent cover design by Jake Starkey who artistically blended the famous mural work of Diego Rivera (used through permission from the Estate of Diego Rivera) with captivating colors and visual presence to further enhance Black Sun.
Black Sun is available in print and eBook from all major booksellers.
It’s not unusual for me to cry at the end of a movie. But it’s totally unlike me to cry at the end of a book. How did Glenn Starkey move me so much with his historical fiction novel, Black Sun? Was it the series of bloodcurdling events presented so clearly in this novel, based on the years leading up to and including the Mexican Revolution from 1910 – 1920?
Was it the characters Glenn Starkey brought to life in his protagonist Arnulfo (later known as Indio), his dearest friend and mentor, Chamaco, and the non-fictional, notorious Pancho Villa? Was it their love and loyalty to each other, along with their camaraderie and mescal-fuelled humor that touched me so deeply? Or was it perhaps their willingness to die for their country in the hopes of freeing its ravaged and poor inhabitants from a rotten dictatorship? Near the end of Black Sun, when Arnulfo’s heart broke as his faithful horse, Cha Cha, fell forward onto a rifle spear and died, my heart broke too as I reflected on the senseless and massive loss of lives Glenn Starkey depicted in Black Sun.
It was Glenn Starkey’s ability to capture humanity at its worst and at its very best that touched me so deeply. It was his incredible skill as a writer that moved me to tears. Where some authors write a great story you can’t put down, Glenn Starkey weaves a richly coloured tapestry and breathes life into every thread of the story. Every sentence, every paragraph, every description, and every character matters. Black Sun is near impossible to put down, but when you finally do, you know you’ll never forget the story and its characters.
Perhaps the explanation for that lies in the author’s own words. Glenn Starkey states in the afterword that for him, “writing this novel was a great exploration of thought.” It is that for the reader too. He states further that the writing reaffirmed his “belief in family bonds and the importance of not allowing foolishness and petty squabbles to drive wedges between family members.” You cannot come away from Black Sun without reflecting on how that theme was evident in all the relationships in this book: Arnulfo with his parents, with Myra, his first love, with Chamaco, Pancho, the Yaqui Indian leader, and even his horse, Cha Cha.
Black Sun provokes the reader to think about our perceptions of others: so many of the “baddies” in this book are really the “goodies” and vice versa. Pancho Villa was a devil to some, a hero to others. It is obvious that Glenn Starkey has thoroughly researched the history of all the key figures, along with times, dates and events in the Mexican Revolution. In fact, he states on his website that Black Sun took years to write because the more he dug into the history, the more he found to research. And he brings all of it together in one block-buster of a book. Book reviews are supposed to be objective, but I don’t apologize for the subjectivity of this review. You see, historical fiction is one of my last choices when it comes to reading a book. That’s why I still can’t believe how much I loved Black Sun. This is one to put at the top of your “must-read” list. You won’t be disappointed.
And a personal note to me was added to the review by Ms. Viga Boland:
Glenn, I’m in total awe of your writing skill, your attention to detail, your ability to capture and keep a reader interested, and your strength in creating such believable characters. As I’ve said in my review, you brought me to tears; no book has ever touched me that way. And even more astonishing to me is you got me to read a genre I would never have touched otherwise. In a word, you are amazing. Thank you for reminding me how a great author writes.
It is a review such as this that every author hopes for after enduring long hours of writing into so many late nights. To emotionally move a reader as I was moved while writing the novel, is truly a priceless reward.
I hope everyone will enjoy BLACK SUN. You may also enjoy my article on this site entitled “My Journey with Black Sun” …
The link to the Readers Favorite review page is: https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/black-sun
Through the years I’ve attended many a conference. Some were required training while others I requested due to their specialized subject matter. It wasn’t until my June 28th attendance at the weeklong Texas Gang Investigator’s Association (TGIA) Conference in San Antonio, Texas, that I came to fully appreciate the extent of intense effort it takes behind the scenes to produce an outstanding conference.
This year I was honored with another invitation to return and sign my novels for the 800+ law enforcement related attendees. Yes, it was great to talk “books” with everyone, but it afforded me the opportunity to again visit with many who have become close friends. And each year, new friendships are made. That’s one of the many wonders in law enforcement—once you’ve been a cop, you’re never out of the family.
I watched the TGIA board members and volunteers (I’d try to name all but am afraid I would miss one) constantly in motion. They registered hundreds of people, checked class schedules, ensured supplies were available, ferried people to and from the airport, verified evening events were all in order, and a thousand other matters. Behind the scenes was hectic, yet for the attendees, the conference was seamless. The speakers ranged from federal to local enforcement departments and provided useful, valuable information, not the type of “smoke-up-the-posterior” talks that many self-proclaimed speaking experts feed audiences to impress themselves.
One of the many excellent actions I observed was the security provided for each training session. Everyone’s badge was read and verified with a scanner before entering a class. This afforded the opportunity of a truthful exchange of critical data the officers could use upon their return home.
If TGIA members haven’t thanked their board for the great conference, then they should. Members definitely received their money’s worth in training, and the ability to network with fellow professionals was priceless.
But this wasn’t a light-hearted conference. It dealt with violent crimes and pathetic criminals who have little concern for humanity… and it underscored the dangers law enforcement daily confront such as the July 7th tragedy in Dallas where police officers were senselessly killed and wounded while protecting angry demonstrators who protested against law enforcement.
While our news media daily focuses on ratings and biased political reports, the underworld of organized gangs flows like a raging river—a river with little regard for whom it drowns. Organized gang crimes touch everyone everywhere, and yet it is ignored because most people still think of ‘gangs’ as those wannabe-bad-boys who spray graffiti on fences and buildings. Well, ‘gangs’ graduated long ago into the big-boy realm of crime and the public has failed to keep pace with the knowledge.
For security reasons I don’t use the full or real names of gang investigators I interview, and I certainly will not write about classified ops currently in progress by law enforcement. But, at the recent TGIA conference, I was fortunate to talk with several remarkable people in this investigative field. For all of their experience and involvements, you’d suppose they probably look like Rambo, Navy SEALS, or Marine Force Recon ready for battle… but they don’t. Instead, they are calm, quiet individuals you might walk past everyday in a store, never giving thought to their involvement in the gang world. Yet they are fully aware of you, your actions and analyzing you against their mental database of suspects.
“Johnny” is one of those men. When “Paul” recommended that I talk to his mentor about gangs, from all he had said, I expected to meet an almost larger than life man. He was known to be a virtual walking encyclopedia on gangs, and he had moved through the ranks of patrol, detective, special ops, multiple state and federal task forces, to his present position with a district attorney. So when this short, average built, soft-spoken, courteous man walked up and introduced himself, I was stunned. Not for long, though.
Once we sat and began to talk, my respect for Johnny grew… and kept growing throughout our entire discussion. He represented the thousands of men and women that work tirelessly behind the scenes, without public notice or want of gratitude, in a filthy world that most citizens only see by watching action movies in a theater. Gang names, histories, rivalries, underworld criminal activities and statewide networks rolled out of him faster than I could take notes.
The Mexican Mafia “Mexikanemi” was always at the top of the list. A ruthless organized gang with its own rules and constitution, Mexikanemi’s creation follows just about everything Aztec. The gang rules are simple: a member may not be an informant, or rat; a member must not be a coward; the ‘Eme’ (M=13th letter of alphabet which represents the gang) comes first, even before your own family; membership is for life, and it’s mandatory to assault/kill all dropouts. There’s more, but I believe you understand the essence of the rules.
When it’s beneficial gangs form alliances for their activities: drugs, extortion, human trafficking, murder, etc. They cross state and international lines without regard, and their reach is from the streets to prisons to crooked lawyers, law enforcement personnel, and officials on their payrolls. Yes, it’s sickening to consider how many cops and federal agents have been apprehended in past years for “being on the take” and assisting the gangs and cartels—but the millions of dollars flowing like a waterfall before a thirsty man, is truly the devil’s temptation.
“Johnny, in your career, you’ve seen a lot of bad things. Is there anything specific that bothered you the most?” I asked, expecting him to sit back in his chair and think a while.
“Seeing children be brought into the prisons to visit their fathers,” he replied without hesitation. “When we were doing special ops in the prisons, I saw women bringing their children with them while they visited their husbands or boyfriends. Same thing when the men brought kids to visit their mothers.”
I was prepared for an answer about decapitated heads or battered women forced into sexual slavery, but children in prison visitation rooms wasn’t on my radar.
“Why that of all things?”
“Because the cycle is never broken. The kids grow up accepting violence, crime and prison as a way of life. It’s what their parents did so nothing is wrong. They’re indoctrinated into the criminal world as children and some will never break the way they think.”
“So the chain will never be broken. Gangs will always be around?” I understood his point.
“We can slow their activities, but never fully stop them. Street gangs are ruled from prisons across the nation. They live and die by violence. Street gangs, prison gangs, cartels… one keeps the other going. There are a few people that break out and turn good, but they’re the exception to the rule.”
“Did you ever worry about retaliation to your family?” I asked, thinking about the newer Italian mob members who followed none of the old rules.
“No. I never had a problem in what I’ll call ‘the old days.’ These guys live by respect and odd codes of honor even though it’s violent. I treated them with respect when I arrested them. Disrespect only created further problems. In the old days it was easy to have a professional sort of respect toward one another. They knew I was chasing them and I knew they were running. When I caught them, they knew the game was up. I arrested them in a professional manner and they never gave me problems… I still see a lot of the ‘old’ guys. But the new breed of gang members doesn’t necessarily conduct themselves like that. They will do anything. The more vicious they can be, the more they like it.”
And for the remainder of our discussion, I sat wondering how this quiet-natured, friendly guy had managed to retain his sanity after years of working in life’s sewer. Johnny will probably retire in a few more years. It’s a shame to think of the vast knowledge that will leave law enforcement with him.
“Rocky,” on the other hand, was friendly because he knew I had been a cop, but I don’t believe I’d want to know he was chasing me. He reminded me of an old wolf in a forest that knew all the tricks of the trade to hunt down his prey. Like Johnny, Rocky knew the gangs, their affiliations, tactics and crimes… seemingly everything. From conversations with others, I knew what he said was true. He wasn’t trying to blow smoke or pound his chest so to speak. While we talked, he casually kept watch on everyone around us. I liked that. It reminded me of an old veteran officer’s saying about remaining alert so you could remain alive. No cop’s ever been shot by a pair of empty hands.
“What’s the biggest drug problem?”
“Methamphetamines,” Rocky replied immediately.
“Meth is giving everyone problems. Heroin has always been around,” he said, and proceeded to break meth down by quantity, costs, stepping it, and its migration by gangs and cartels throughout the lands.
All I could do was sit and shake my head at the monumental logistics required to move drugs throughout Europe, bypass certain cartels, and move the drugs back into the US. And along with that operation came human trafficking, murders, and a score of other activities.
I liked Rocky. Hell, I liked everyone at the TGIA conference I came into contact with. These were the men and women who were putting their lives on the line. They stand on the beach, trying to hold back the ocean waves of crime even though it seems useless. But they are still trying because they want to protect people, even those who demonstrate against them and use high political offices to further bias against them.
TGIA membership consists of people from different levels of the judicial system; local, state and federal officers, prison officers, probation officers, judges, etc. They work hand in hand to investigate, prosecute, and control the gangs with all the related crimes. Most of the men and women will never be known for what they do. They do their jobs in a shadow world and try to go home safely at night to their families. What they see each day weighs heavily upon them, yet they try to maintain a semblance of sanity in the belief that there are still good people worth protecting in this infested world.
The “Blue Line” across this nation is made of thousands of outstanding people. Yes, there are a few bad apples but when the numbers are counted; the bad apples are a mere fraction of a percentage of all the good cops.
My thanks go out to the men and women of the Blue who protect us daily.