Today, we welcome Michael Niemann to the blog. Michael is answering questions about his latest release ILLICIT TRADE, a thriller that takes readers into the dark, underworld of illegal immigration……….
- Tell us the synopsis of your book.
Two poor Kenyan men visiting the United States are found dead, one in jail, one on the street. Both used forged United Nations documents to obtain their visas. Valentin Vermeulen’s superiors have no interest in the plight of undocumented immigrants, but they want him to stop the fraud. The clues take Vermeulen into the rarely seen world of private detention centers and deportation. Following the clues to Newark, he encounters a woman known as the “Broker.” When a family emergency interrupts his investigation with a trip to Vienna, Austria, the Broker’s gang isn’t far behind.
Earle Jackson, a small-time hustler and the last person to speak with one of the dead Kenyans, has taken the man’s passport and money. He also finds a note listing an address in Newark. The address is a doctor’s office in Newark. Sensing an opportunity to make some extra cash, Jackson contacts the doctor with a proposition. A bad decision. He too has to face the “Broker.” Fleeing for his life, Jackson flies to Nairobi, Kenya using the dead man’s passport and ticket.
Vermeulen and Jackson have chanced upon a criminal network more extensive and vicious than either could have imagined. To survive, Vermeulen must do more than sever a few links. He must find the mastermind at the top.
- What do you feel is the most unique aspect of your story?
The story weaves together the fate of undocumented persons in the U.S., the extensive illicit trade that characterizes our global economy, and the criminal groups that profit from it. It shines a light on aspects of globalization not often in the public’s eye.
- Tell us about your main character(s).
Valentin Vermeulen is an investigator for an office inside the United Nations headquarters, the Office of Internal Oversight Services. His job is to make sure that the organization’s budget is spent properly and to ferret out fraud. He is originally from Belgium where he studied law and worked in the Crown Prosecutor’s office on financial crimes. A difficult divorce was the primary reason behind his desire to leave his small country and the job at the UN was opportunity to do that. However, he never quite adapted to the bureaucratic habits of the organization and therefore rankles his superiors.
He’s middle aged. He likes his beer, is working on giving up smoking, and he’s no Jack Reacher. But he gets the job done, even if his methods often get him into trouble.
- What genre(s) is this and who do you think will enjoy reading it? (type of audience)
Illicit Trade is a thriller. It is fast paced and traverses the globe. Readers of international suspense fiction and spy thrillers would enjoy the story. So would readers interested in locales around the world.
- Have you received any feedback on it yet, and if so, what was it?
Publishers Weekly called the novel “Intriguing…the unexpected resourcefulness that Vermeulen and Jackson each display in dealing with dangerous foes in their respective quests is highly entertaining.”
Amazon reviewers said, “Do yourself a favor and read this series, you will not be disappointed.” “It’s smart, fast, and all too relevant.”
- Tell us something about yourself that most of your readers may not know.
I came to writing fiction after an academic career teaching International Studies. I even wrote a non-fiction book in regional integration. My favorite course, however, is a course on “Cocoa and Chocolate from a Global Perspective.” It lets me combine my love of chocolate with serious academic investigation.
- What’s next for you?
The third Vermeulen thriller, tentatively entitled “Illegal Holdings,” is currently at my publisher. It is set in the southern African country of Mozambique. No expected publication date yet. I’ve just started the fourth novel, no title yet, set in southern Turkey.
- Where can people interact with you and find out more about you and your books?
My website (michael-niemann.com) is always a good place to find out what’s happening. My books are at all the usual places,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Niemann grew up in a small town in Germany, ten kilometers from the Dutch border. Crossing that border often at a young age sparked in him a curiosity about the larger world. He studied political science at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Universität in Bonn and international studies at the University of Denver. During his academic career he focused his work on southern Africa and frequently spent time in the region. After taking a fiction writing course from his friend, the late Fred Pfeil, he embarked on a different way to write about the world. For more information, go to: www.michael-niemann.com and www.facebook.com/MichaelNiemannAuthor/