Sunday, January 26, 2014

Demons of Gadara by John Cassara


Why I wrote the book:


After writing my first non-fiction books, Hide & Seek: Intelligence, Law Enforcement and the Stalled War on Terror Finance (Potomac Books, 2006) and On the Trail of Terror Finance: What Law Enforcement and Intelligence Officers Need to Know (Red Cell IG, 2010), I continue to be concerned about the intertwined threats of what the U.S. military calls “asymmetric warfare’ and “threat finance.” 

I do a lot of consulting and training and understand that many relate better to stories rather than power points and “white papers.”  So in searching for a new teaching medium, I decided to write a novel.
Demons of Gadara takes place in various locations in the Middle East, South Asia and Europe. I have traveled, lived, and worked in most the locations described.  

Although the book is fiction, many of the incidents in the book are based on fact, personal knowledge and experience. The story and characters are not James Bond fantasy.  The heroes, villains and cultures, including cultures of the bureaucracies involved, are all too real. This unique novel can be best categorized as narrative fiction based on fact.

The story takes place in the very near future. The protagonist, Joe Costa, is an investigative Special Agent working for the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Investigations.  He is based in the U.S. Embassy in Rome. Investigative jurisdiction frequently sends him on travels to the Middle East, an area undergoing turmoil in-part by events unleashed by the 2011 Arab Spring.  

His work intersects a terrorist plot. The Pakistani Taliban has obtained sufficient radioactive material to construct a “dirty bomb.” The explosive material is secreted in a 40 foot shipping container and sent to Rome. The terrorists plan to detonate the bomb at a G-20 conference in Rome attended by heads-of-state, including the U.S. President.  By following the “value trail,” Costa and other officials race to intercept the terrorist plot.

While telling the story, I concurrently try to explain some of the history, complexities and interconnectivity of international events, diverse beliefs and terror finance. Moreover, much of the narrative describes the terrorists' cultures and perspectives. Terror is not always good guys versus bad guys.  There are diverse motivations and subtle nuances.  The story explores topics that have not yet broken into the mainstream. I also wanted to present real world bureaucratic challenges.  I am confident that we will be facing many of the issues surfaced in Demons of Gadara in the not too distant future.

Many ask if the book was difficult to write.  I knew the subject matter and I had a good idea for the story line.  The aspect of writing that was initially difficult was writing dialog.  This is my first book of fiction and my previous writing and career in intelligence and law enforcement didn’t involve character development and discussion.  So I decided to write from the perspective of the protagonist.  As soon as I put myself “in character,” the writing flowed.



About the Author:

John Cassara began his 26 year government career as a covert intelligence officer during the Cold War.  He later served as a Treasury Special Agent in both the U.S. Secret Service and US Customs Service where he investigated money laundering, trade fraud and international smuggling.  He was an undercover arms dealer for two years.  Assigned overseas, he developed expertise in Middle East money laundering, value transfer and underground financial systems.  He also worked six years within Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).  Mr. Cassara's final assignment was with Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI). 

Since his retirement, he has lectured in the United States and around the world on a variety transnational crime issues.  Mr. Cassara has authored or co-authored several non-fiction articles and books, including Hide and Seek, Intelligence, Law Enforcement and the Stalled War on Terrorist Finance (2006 Potomac Books) and On the Trail of Terror Finance – What Intelligence and Law Enforcement Officers Need to Know (2010 Red Cell IG).  Hide & Seek won the Public Safety Writers Association 2006 award for non-fiction.  More information can be found at his website: www.JohnCassara.com

Demons of Gadara - book “blurb”:

Demons of Gadara is a haunting and realistic suspense thriller. Set against a backdrop of the next intertwined Middle East crisis, a U.S. Special Agent assigned overseas happens upon a terrorist plot.  Two terrorists are sent to Europe with plans to detonate a “dirty bomb” at an international economic summit that will be attended by the President of the United States.  The Agent battles the bureaucracy as he races to intercept the plot.  His only clue is to follow an underground “value trail.” 

The first novel to focus on terrorist finance, Demons of Gadara is written with passion and authenticity. The book is best categorized as narrative fiction based on fact.  By telling a compelling story, important issues are surfaced that must be confronted in our on-going War on Terror.

Snippets of Reviews Posted on Amazon:

“Told with authenticity that can only be achieved by one that has actually done the job.”

“Former federal agent John Cassara both entertains and educates, masterfully, annoyingly so. Why annoying? Because Demons caused me to lose sleep. This book--packed with critical information about how terror cells are funded and how they can be dismantled--is a page-turner.”

“As in many great pieces of writing, it may be difficult for the discerning reader to know precisely where in Demons the fiction ends and the non-fiction begins.”

“What makes this novel so realistic and gives it great credibility is that the author actually "lived" the very life portrayed in his book.”

“The author is no doubt an expert on terrorism finance, but to explain such complicated subject matter in the form of a suspenseful thriller is a brilliant approach - an approach that is executed to perfection in Demons of Gadara.”

“The reader definitely gets the feeling that if a plot like this were to happen in "real life," this is EXACTLY how it would happen.”

“This book is an act of sheer courage.”

“As for the story itself, I found it to be exciting, compelling, and well-written.”

“You will put down this book knowing a lot more how the world works - much more than your average book in this genre.”

“This is a really good book to read. Kept me guessing what was going to happen. I do not read many books but this is a must”

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