Author: A. R. Moore
Publisher: Mindbridge Press
Price: $15.00 (Paper)
The process is a familiar one.
A person retires from a profession many find intriguing. In conversation, others tell him he should write about his life, in a memoir or perhaps a novel.
Usually it stops there, but not always.
A.R. Moore went ahead and wrote his novel, “Boundary Hunter,” and found a publisher, Mindbridge, in Florence, Alabama.
A retired Special Agent with the U. S. State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, having served in Australia, Sri Lanka, Haiti and Lebanon, Moore’s job was to protect American embassies and the staff, especially the ambassador, in missions where there was no U. S. Marine guard.
(While in Beirut, Moore was with the “Nasty Boys,” the “embassy bodyguard force” with which he proudly served. There is a photo of the “Nasty Boys” in the front of the book.)
“Boundary Hunter” opens with the retirement, after 26 years of service, of Cameron “Cam” Coppenger, “a tall man with graying hair,” in Washington, D. C. You can tell he’s really serious about retirement because he gives all his suits, an armload—blue, black and gray—to the Salvation Army.
Each of the suits had “the inside lining torn just under the left armpit…. The burred hammer of the 357 magnum revolver had left its mark.”
Free at last, Coppenger buys a sailboat and berths it at Dog River in Mobile Bay, intending to live simply and quietly on his boat, hang out at Judge Bean’s Bar, eat raw oysters and drink Blue Moon beer. Of course this is not to be.
The Braves/Padres game on TV is interrupted and we learn a terrorist group, Liwa Tahrir, the self-styled “Liberation Brigade,” has attacked the San Diego airport with automatic weapons.
This group seems to have established an alliance with the Mexican Sinaloa cartel, a scary idea.
Coppenger’s politics are, as one might expect, pretty conservative. The border is a leaky sieve because “compliant politics in Washington” make the job of the U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) “practically impossible.”
Moore has an extravagant love of acronyms. We will be told of RSO, SDRO, and later of DCM, ECON, POL, CIA, COS, DATT, CONOFF, PDO, DOJ, USAID, all on one page.
Yes, people at embassies do speak in this shorthand, but it clogs up the flow of prose on the page.
The raid at the San Diego airport was only an opening salvo, and is followed by a bombing at the 4th of July celebration in D.C. In this case, the model seems to have been the Boston Marathon bombing, with scores of innocent victims. Liwa Tahrir is led by the nefarious Khalid Khalidi, known as Ismail, and the bombers on the ground are his sons, Yousef and Ramzi, a pair of committed, cold-blooded killers.
Within a short time Coppenger is on the move. He is briefly taken back into the government but, realizing “the systemic shackles that bureaucracies placed on good men trying to win against evil” could not be broken, he goes rogue.
The action moves from Yuma, Arizona, to Mexico, and then to Lebanon, perhaps the most troubled and violent spot on the planet. Over a period of seven months, there are a train wreck, car chases, shoot-outs, kidnappings, escape by helicopter, and explosions enough to satisfy any reader.
Moore’s description of the way embassies and security abroad works seems authoritative, but the language leaves something to be desired. Ismail, the terrorist chief, has become “financially wealthy” and is guilty of “killing his fellow Muslim brothers.” Surely “his fellow Muslims” or “his Muslim brothers” would have sufficed. At the D.C. bombing a man collapsed, “then slowly fell forward in death, his body drained of life.”
There is, of course, a love interest, the “long, tall and stunningly beautiful” Kate Allison, who “had been a runway model in college before embarking on a career as a Deputy U.S. Marshall.” Kate “specialized in finding and apprehending the most dangerous criminals in the country.”
As attractive as Kate may be, Cam has little time for romance.
“Boundary Hunter” is a little rough, but has vitality. It is surely meant to be the first in a series of Cam Coppenger novels.
As they say, we’ll see.
Don Noble is host of the Alabama Public Television literary interview show “Bookmark with Don Noble.” His most recent book is Belles’ Letters 2, a collection of short fiction by Alabama women.