"This is a great book for those who like suspense, great detail and unforgettable writing!
Highly recommended." Lea, Goodreads
Published: November 5th, 2019
Jack Kirby is a former Army Ranger and an elite sniper for the US Marshals. Until one foggy morning while on a mission in Nebraska the unthinkable happens, he suddenly can’t pull the trigger. Due to his inability to do his job, one of the most wanted men in the country is able to get off two last shots.
Now plagued by active PTSD and nightmares of all the men he has killed, he is guilt ridden and unsure of himself. On administrative leave to clear his head and work through his mental health, he returns to his hometown, only to find it isn't the same small town he left years ago.
The rural town is full of drugs and the problems that come with it. Reuniting with old friends, he wants to believe the modern problems haven't changed them but he can’t ignore it.
The question becomes how much have they changed?
Catherine Elizabeth Greene is a small town detective determined to stop an unknown killer; a man of skill, who kills from ambush using a long ranged rifle.
Desperate for help she asks Jack, a man she barely knows for help.
Together, can they find they discover the killer?
Jack explained the name originated from his days in sniper school. He told her how one night at 2100 hours he and his classmates were informed that the following day they would be participating in an exercise. The objective of the exercise was to move across a small wooded area and then across an open field to an objective, a large open sided tent, without being detected. For the next hour the class was then briefed on the specific criteria of what was expected of them. They were shown a map and overhead photographs of the area to be negotiated. To get to their goal the men would have to navigate approximately 800 to 900 meters of ground covered in woods and open field. The map showed the wooded area was roughly 250-300 meters across depending on any particular entrance point and from the photographs it looked to be rather dense with growth, making movement within it pretty safe for the participants. The field, on the other hand appeared to be long and open for about 450 to 600 meters. The only concealment available appeared to be waist high grasses and some gently rolling hills that could be used to the advantage of the candidates.
The catch was there would a group of sentries monitoring the forest and field on foot and with trucks. Making it more difficult is the men acting as sentries were both expecting them and had been trained to spot the participants, a real world worst case scenario the instructors emphasized.
The candidates would be taken to the point of entry in the early morning hours before dark.
Once on site, the instructors told the participants they would be given approximately one hour to prepare and ensure they were fully camouflaged. Because it would be dark they were also reminded light discipline was to be exercised and anyone caught using a white light or other unauthorized light source would automatically be disqualified and sent to the commandant for an integrity violation, which would result in an immediate expulsion. After the command to move out was given they would be have 8 hours to make the objective.
Jack recalled some of his classmates essentially gave up before the task even began, believing that it couldn't be done based on the information provided. The more confident members of the class scoffed at the notion it would take 8 hours to cover the total distance of less than a half mile.
At 0300 the next morning the candidates were awoken and told movement would occur 30 minutes later. At 0330 the men were loaded into the back of a 5-ton troop carrier. In the back of the truck the guys got as comfortable as possible on the wooden slat benches and metal floor, unsure of how long the drive would take them; as it was not a part of their briefing and they had all failed to ask. Turns out they drove for nearly an hour. Some of the candidates used the time to go over their gear one last time, some studied the maps they had each been issued while others simply slept. Upon arrival at their destination, the men in the back of the truck were dropped off one-by-one at separate points, ranging between 200 and 250 meters apart.
During the preparation period using only his red lensed flashlight and feel of hand, Jack took painstaking care to prepare his ghillie suit and his weapon. Given the operation’s brief he was more concerned about remaining concealed crossing the field than while amongst the trees and covered his suit with as much long straw colored grasses as he could find near the prep area.
He wasn't quite finished when the command to go was given,15 minutes early. He debated remaining in his prep area to finish the suit but reconsidered, thinking the early start was a ploy to catch them flat footed. He deduced the soldiers tasked with searching for them would likely be canvassing the area shortly. Mind made up, Jack shot an azimuth on his compass to ensure his line of march, took a deep breath and moved into the woods towards the objective.
As he and his classmates had practiced again and again in the weeks leading up to the exercise, Jack moved through the small wooded area without a sound. Nonetheless, he moved quickly through the wooded area wanting to utilize the lack of light for as long as possible.
Despite the swiftness of his movements, he left nary a trace of his existence, remaining conscious of leaving a trail that could be followed by one of the hunters if he were careless.
Just as the sun was beginning to rise, Jack found himself near the edge of the field. Remaining back in the shadows of the trees he reshot his azimuth to confirming he was still on course.
Satisfied he was still aligned with the objective, he studied the general line of travel he must take; understanding that while maps and overhead photographs are great tools, there is nothing like getting a view of an area with one’s own eye. He looked the field over thoroughly for a line of travel across the expanse providing the optimum concealment for his movements.
As he studied, Jack recalled deer hunting as a child with his grandfather, who told him the key to hunting was watching for movement. His grandfather explained that the deer’s coloring allow them to blend in with their background almost perfectly and even the most practiced eye has difficulty differentiating the deer from the surroundings because of their god given camouflage.
However, the best hunters are successful because their eyes have been conditioned to be very good at picking up movements. Ultimately it is the deer running, walking or even the less obvious bob of the head or flick of a tail the hunter will detect. With that in mind he picked the line that offered the greatest concealment for covering his movements, though it wasn't the easiest or most direct path to his targeted destination.
Satisfied with his planned line of travel, he moved nearer the edge of the field, bellied down into the grass and began the pain staking journey across the expanse. He crawled on his belly measuring his progress in inches. He was cognizant of the wind and the bent grasses around him and moved with them, trying to ensure he left no sign of his presence an observer could follow.
As he moved he periodically detected his classmates moving far ahead of him. He also observed the sentries moving directly towards his overzealous classmates, tapping them on the shoulder, confirming they had been identified and thus eliminated. Most of the class were spotted with in the first two hours, captured within 150 meters of the objective by the roving guards. The guards had set a perimeter around the tent at approximately 100 meters and simply walked back and forth, waiting for the men they knew were coming. Along with the perimeter of men there was also a Humvee driving in a circle around the area, checking on the sentries and carrying those “captured” back to the gathering point.
It took Jack nearly 5 hours to cover the distance to the perimeter, moving painstakingly slow to ensure he wasn't spotted. As he moved he continued to study his approach to the finish line, looking for a hole in the watcher’s perimeter to allow him to make it through. Finally, he detected a pattern of weakness with one particular sentry. While covering his area the sentry would take the time to smoke and talk with the pair of soldiers in the Humvee as it came by every other time. With that in mind Jack continued his crawl forward getting as close as he dared before settling in to await the truck’s return.
As he waited, “the smoker,” as Jack had labeled the man in his head, had walked within 20 feet of Jack twice without detection. Both times Jack forced himself to look away afraid the man would feel Jack’s stare. After having laid in the same spot for what seemed an eternity Jack heard the Humvee approach and then stop. Jack watched the smoker walk to the big vehicle and saw the driver and passenger step out. Each man lit a cigarette and began talking idly to one another. Jack took the opportunity to do something he hadn't done in the six hours since the test began. Arising from the ground, he made a quick rush across the inner perimeter marked by the rough line in the grass the truck made in its circuitous rounds that morning. Once across, he bellied down once again and silently proceeded forward.
Inside the perimeter Jack kept low, focusing on his objective. He continued to refuse to look at any of the sentries for to long for fear one would sense his gaze upon them. Before making the tent he avoided 3 more soldiers walking around, one who came within 12 feet of Jack as the man took the time to relieve himself on a nearby bush Jack had just left. Finally, he traversed the remaining distance and stopped just short of the tent where he remained hidden in a patch of tall grass.
From his spot in the grass, Jack was able to get a good look inside the tent where the other 11 candidates were all seated at tables in the shade. He watched as they played cards and joked around with one another. Jack was also able to see and hear most of the range cadre in the other corner of the tent discussing amongst themselves whether Jack could have possibly gotten lost somehow. The idea made Jack smile and he was forced to stifled a laugh.
From his hiding spot Jack also couldn't help but notice Instructor Bates remained isolated from the others, sitting in a chair at the other side of the canopy, a cup of coffee in his hand and a slightly bemused look on his face. After what seemed to have been forever laying there unmoving, Jack saw the cadre in charge of the exercise look at his watch and say time. He directed a young E-4, assigned to the group, to blow the air horn signifying it was time to muster at the tent. Jack further heard the man in charge say to the other cadre “I hope we don't have to go looking for that kid”.
In response to the statement, Bates laughed aloud announcing “You wont. He has been 20 feet from here watching us for the last 40 minutes. Get in here Kirby”.
At the word Jack stood. To the others he seemed to materialize out of nowhere, candidates and cadre alike. As he revealed himself, Jack heard a few of those present speak. Amongst the phrases uttered were “Bullshit,” “I’ll be damned,” and “Are you fucking kidding me.”
After the shock of his presence was revealed the class was debriefed on the exercise.
Following the debriefing, as they were awaiting the arrival of the transport truck, Jack overheard some of the instructors talking again.
“Have you ever seen that?” one asked.
“Hell no, I cant even remember the last time anyone got to the inside of the perimeter, let alone right next to the tent” said another.
Then Bates said as understated as ever “I told y'all the kid is good, he’s a god damned ghost”.
Jack then told CB as they arrived at the scene of the 4th victim, “From there forward I was called the ghost for the rest of sniper school. Then when I was given the outstanding soldier award at course graduation, the commandant announced the award to Specialist Jack Kirby, AKA The Ghost. The name then followed me back to the unit and stuck.”
About the author:
Born and raised in West Virginia, RB Carr is an attorney and well traveled veteran of the military. Having lived and worked all over the country, the experiences and people he has met provide a basis for the settings and characters for whom he writes about; both the good and the bad. While the characters of this book are fictional, they have all been inspired by the people he has met over the years, be it from his time in the service or in the halls of the court houses and prisons. Having recently returned to his home state, he and his wife are the parents of 4 children.
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