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Guest Article: Historical Inspiration Peeked from Rough Riders to The Volunteers by John Nuckel

I welcome John Nuckel to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! to talk about the inspiration for his latest book, Drive, which he found after reading about the Rough Riders and The Volunteers. I’m always intrigued by secret societies and this time period in NYC. John uses his research as the basis for a modern day crime thriller. I hope you enjoy the article as much as I did. Enjoy!

How I Found Historical Inspiration in The Volunteers

by John Nuckel, author of Drive

My latest book, Drive, is the first novel in The Volunteers series.

The idea for The Volunteers came to me as I was reading the history of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. I found that many of the men in that troop came from my hometown, New York City. It was especially compelling to find that many of the officers in the Rough Riders were from prominent and wealthy families. I learned that William Tiffany of jewelry fame died as a result of a fever he developed during his time in the Cuban jungles with the Rough Riders. In that era people of a certain class were expected to serve and to make a contribution towards the greater good.

The creation of The Volunteers series came to me after my research led me to another wealthy New Yorker who served with the Rough Riders. Woodbury Kane was a relative of the John Jacob Astor family. It is Kane in the foreground in Remington’s painting of the storming of San Juan Hill, pistol in hand. When I sought out his bio and read that his profession was Yachtsman and Bon Vivant, I had to use him as a character.

The story starts when Kane returns home to New York and is no longer content to live the life of the gilded set. He forms the Volunteers to fight against the tyranny of Tammany Hall around the turn of the last century. Kane is joined by his friend, Jacob Riis, the trailblazing journalist, and Teddy Roosevelt himself. Together they work to do what is right: “Et Omnia Recta.” Their purpose is to lift the common man from the oppression of the corrupt Tammany government.

Like any great world city, New York has more interesting characters and events to count. In Drive, Kane and Riis deal with the forbearers of the American Mafia, Paul Kelly, and Monk Eastman, the enforcers for Tammany politicians and founders of the gangs that produced Myer Lansky, Lucky Luciano, and Al Capone, among many others.

The Volunteers have stayed active in the background to this day. They still meet in the saloons and mansions of the early years and remain steadfast in their calling, Et Omnia Recta.

The parallel story in Drive takes place in today’s New York, when Annie Falcone, a NYPD officer, is recruited to protect America’s greatest technological mind from a murderous Chinese hacker. Her assignment takes her to Martha’s Vineyard, where it will take all of her skills and her “drive” to survive the mission.

The Volunteers series will cover many of the scandals and news events in New York City over the last 120 years. The second book in the series, will be set during the Harlem Renaissance. The famous Cotton Club was owned by and Irish gangster, Owney Madden, and is the heart of the story.

Every crooked politician, mob king, showgirl, and jazz musician in New York spent time in the club. What could possibly go wrong? What fun to write and read.

I hope you enjoy Drive and that you will join me on my journey with The Volunteers series.


Drive, Synopsis –

Et Omnia Recta—to make things right.

n the late 1800s, a secret society is formed by a captain from Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders with the support of the nation’s leading industrialists and bankers. Over a century later, the tradition continues, in the same saloons and boardrooms of New York City where it all began.

In this crime thriller, where history and current events unite, Woodbury Kane, Jacob Riis, and Roosevelt himself fight the tyranny of Tammany Hall in the first mission of the Volunteers during the turn of the last century.

In today’s New York, the descendants of the Volunteers recruit Annie Falcone, a New York police officer, who takes the oath: Et Omnia Recta. She is to provide protection to one man, America’s top technological mind, from his longtime adversary, Sheng, China’s most brutal hacker.

Annie is unaware that she’s merely a decoy to draw Sheng out for the hit squad that was sent ahead of her. Her instincts alone will be the force behind the success or failure of the mission.

Like so many other Volunteers before her, Annie’s survival depends upon her courage, her skill, and her DRIVE.

John Nuckel, Biography – 


John Nuckel went from the welfare apartments of a middle-class town to a successful career in the financial world. Even in the midst of his accomplishments, he knew he needed to express himself creatively. He’s always said he met enough characters sitting on barstools on Wall Street to fill a dozen books, so now he’s embracing his creative spirit by writing. He encouraged others to do the same on his radio show, “Wake Up and Dream.”

He is a New York Times contributing writer and the author of three white-collar crime thrillers in The Rector Street Series (The Vig, Grit, and Blind Trust), as well as two short stories (The Victory Grill and The Garden). Drive is his latest work.

Find more about John –





Purchase Links – 


Thanks for a wonderful article, John!

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A Top Fave Book: Hell Hole, a Western Supernatural, Publishes Today from Hunter Shea

My very good friend Hunter Shea (www.huntershea.com), who has been launching his Kensington/Pinnacle book The Montauk Monster this summer (and I’ve had fun being publicist), has already published a new book with Samhain Horror today (July 1, 2014), called Hell Hole! I read Hell Hole about a year and a half ago as his first draft first reader, to lend any development editing suggestions or concerns. It certainly didn’t take me long to read through it, though nothing else got done that day.

I think he kicked up the sand with this book right from the start. His writing style reminds me of his whole personality, which is pretty high-octane. It isn’t a dull moment being Hunter’s friend and in helping him with his publicity and his books. He’s got mad skills, but he works awfully hard for it and at it, yet I never know what he’s going to say. I try to compete by making off the wall comments, but nothing stirs this guy! He’s a magnet for the creepy tales, so I suppose I should expect his writing to mirror things that will make my arm hair stand on end. He’s written a whole library set of books as of now and all are different, but all excellent.

Not knowing always what might come out of his head though, I wasn’t completely sure about the whole “western horror” books that a few of these guys were going to publish with Samhain (i.e. Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz came out in Feb. 2014–I ended up LOVING it). I certainly didn’t know what to expect when I dove into reading Hell Hole.

hell hole

I think this cover is so cool!! Right?

However, as with most Hunter Shea novels, and even though this one is completely different from anything else he’s ever written, I was completely immersed! He’s a GREAT writer, rarely needs copy editing, knows how to keep the action going, and he brings out the most in characters so that they really excel and are totally dimensional. I always immediately feel connected to his characters as if I know them personally. Not only that, they stay with me and are memorable–his stories never leave me, even with as many books as I read a year. He’s very visual and I can see the entire story running in my head, which normally is very hard for me.

With this one he also added the element of history (another fave of mine) by setting it during the time of Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, when New York City cop Nat  is given an assignment in the mysterious. This gritty, sandy, dusty feel came through in his novel as Nat heads out west to Wyoming, and to a basically different world in this turn of the century time period, in search of finding out what is happening to the people going missing. Nat seems like Matthew McConaughey, his sidekick for-hire Teta, like Johnny Depp, and the lovely lady who’ll make an appearance, like Selma Hayek. Together, they’ll take on mysterious creatures and black eyed children….YEP, I’ll never enter a mine again. Well, I probably wasn’t going to anyway, but still, you know what I mean.

Hell Hole is scary good fun and IT MADE THE LIST AS  ONE OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS OF ALL TIME in the horror genre, especially since it had a touch of history. I have a very hard time comparing his work to anyone else as I feel he is so original. But quite probably, I loved it as much and in the way I have loved Stephen’s King The Gunslinger since the first time I read it back in the early 90s.

Here’s the synopsis~

Deep in a Wyoming mine, hell awaits.  

Former cattle driver, Rough Rider and current New York City cop Nat Blackburn is given an offer he can’t refuse by President Teddy Roosevelt. Tales of gold in the abandoned mining town of Hecla, in the Deep Rock Hills, abound. The only problem–those who go seeking their fortune never return.

Along with his constant companion, Teta, a hired gun with a thirst for adventure, Nat travels to a barren land where even animals dare not tread. But the remnants of Hecla are far from empty. Black-eyed children, strange lights and ferocious wild men venture from the deep, dark mine…as well as a force so sinister Nat’s and Teta’s very souls are in jeopardy.

There’s a mystery in Hecla thousands of years old. Solving it could spell the end of the world.

Sounds pretty entertaining? It’s highly recommended for any reader who likes a good historical with a clever mystery, some supernatural altercations, and the use of haunting enemies that are original and unique to what most writers are using. If you like Ghost Mine or Tales of the Unknown mixed up with the movie “Desperado” and some Larry McMurtry writing, this one is for YOU! It’s spooky, but for my readers who say no to blood and gore, no worries. This one is for the mainstream reader who like thrills and chills. I hope you check it out!


Samhain Horror (and you get 30% off new titles for 30 days)


Barnes and Noble

Hunter Shea, Biography:

hunter shea photoHunter Shea is the author of paranormal and horror novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal, Sinister Entity, which are all published by Samhain Horror. The June 3, 2014 release of his horrifying thriller Montauk Monster is published by Kensington/Pinnacle.

He has also written a short story to be read prior to Sinister Entity, called The Graveyard Speaks (it’s free, go download!), and a book of stories called Asylum Scrawls. His next book from Samhain Horror, titled HellHole, came out July1, 2014 and is his first western horror.

His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists, and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

He is also half of the two men show, Monster Men, which is a video podcast that takes a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.


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