“Courier” by Terry Irving – Update: #AudioBook

Here’s a book I’d buy for the cover: a motorcycle-riding Vietnam vet!

It felt like the motorcycle had become a part of his body–a part that made him whole.

Get pulled back into 1972, a time before cellphones and the Internet, where news stations relied on couriers to brave the busy streets and the hazardous weather to pick up rolls of film so the news had something to show, and driving a motorcycle at top speed was part of the job requirement.

Vietnam veteran and courier Rick Putnam is being hunted by some serious hit men after he accidentally gets his hands on some mind-blowing information connected to the President. The book is being read by the incomparable Will Powers–a man who truly sounds like a biker.. Re-experience this epic thriller full of unexpected surprises and unforgettable characters.

The audio book will be available on Amazon and Audible in November 2015.

The Plot:
Courier (Freelancer Book 1) by Terry Irving first published in 2010; now Ronin Robots Publishing (November 19, 2014)

Rick Putnam is a recent Vietnam vet in the early 1970s who works as a courier for a Washington, DC television station while trying to put his life back together after being injured in the war….
“Courier” is a tense story set in the days before social media, when news professionals still need to develop film in a dark room and splice footage together. Author Terry Irving clearly knows the inside of the news business in a different time, and the suspense never lets up from the first page to the last.
—Kathleen Heady,  for Suspense Magazine

THE COVER: I can hardly account for my level of enthusiasm for this cover. It kinda concerns me. Just a little. In real life, Harley riders never stop me on the sidewalk to ask if I want a ride. Terry lives in DC. Neither of us still resembles our awesome 1970s selves, so it’s okay if I continue to send explosions of adrenalin about the Vietnam Vet on the cover of this thriller. Hey. They call ’em thrillers for a reason. I’m thrilled, and I’m not backing down from that. (Unless my husband starts reading my blogs.)

I haven’t read a single page of this novel yet. I was so excited about the cover, and VIETNAM, I immediately raced to blog the exciting news. (Did I mention how much I love this book cover?)  I wondered why BMW vs Harley. Terry tweeted the answer: “Trust me, NOT having a Harley back in 1972 was not a sin. They truly sucked back then. Now… another matter.” 

More to come! (He looks positively Hemingway-esque with a cat, no?)

Terry Irving moved to Washington DC in 1973 and ended up riding a classic BMW R50/2 for ABC News during Watergate. Carrying that news film was the beginning of a 40-year career that has included producing Emmy Award-winning television news, writing everything from magazine articles to standup comedy and developing many of the earliest forms of online media. After producing stories in Beirut, Hong Kong, El Salvador and all 50 states, Irving still lives right outside Washington, DC “because my wife and my dog simply refuse to live anywhere else” (amazon bio).


The cover did not deceive. The prose did not disappoint. Terry Irving can write about riding a motorcycle as poetically as Pablo Neruda writes about love, and that is the highest tribute I can think of. No poet ranks higher than Neruda in my book.

The prose is so beautiful, I found Irving on Twitter and told him he could probably make instruction manuals sound fascinating. He tweeted in reply, “Actually, I have written both instruction manuals and computer User’s Guides. Work better than Ambien.” Hmm. Would I buy a computer user guide just because Terry Irving wrote it? Maybe it’s the motorcycle, not *just* the beautiful, poetic prose, that had me so riveted.

This novel is riveting, all right. If you’re a fan of the thriller genre, this is a 5-star novel. If you hate certain tropes of that genre, you’ll be shaking your fist, cursing the author who made you witness blood spattering graphically, explicitly, and unforgettably. Especially when the blood is shed from a character you love. (You know I can’t tell you which ones.) Call me literary. Or stubborn. Or too demanding. I can’t even talk about my frustrations except to others who’ve read and loved the book due to that spoiler business.

{{ Lamentations of Frustration on top of Cries of Anger }}

I love Vietnam Vets and motorcycles but I intensely dislike the thriller genre, so I’ll play it safe and say no more than that. For now.

Okay. BUY THE BOOK, even if you hate the thriller genre.

About that cover: the model is a young Nicholas Cage. I had no idea he knew how to look that cool.

The minor characters in this novel are just as awesome as the guy on the cover. Gotta love the gay (in-the-closet, sad to say, except to friends) professionals, and those computer-nerds! More, please, in a sequel! While I was surprised to see characters play Dungeons and Dragons in 1972,  it turns out the author did his research and this video game really did exist way back then. The average reader isn’t likely to know that. Irving also has computer hackers in 1972. Real life is full of surprises. Like those claims about Nixon, South Vietnam, campaign financing, and the real reason our troops were sent over to die in the jungle (secret documents were declassified in 2008, and it’s so bad, the world seems to be sticking fingers in ears saying “I didn’t hear that!”).

Irving also advances the conspiracy theory that Oswald was not the only shooter, and Ruby did not act alone (someone else put him up to killing Oswald).

The thriller genre is full of innocent people who “know” something or have evidence of some scandal in their possession (whether or not they’re aware of it) and murder apparently is the only way to silence them (or prevent the spread of information). Frankly, I’d rather read about space colonization or watch cat videos or even listen to polka music than think about how many innocents have died needlessly for politics, power and religion. Did I mention that I rarely read thrillers? Yeah. So why did this one keep me going to the end?

“It was all very simple. His friends had died. He had lived. That was what had happened. There wasn’t any reason for it. He couldn’t deny it, and he couldn’t accept it.”

I love that. Rick Putnam has no choice but to accept what happened and move on. Trouble is, his nightmares keep him from forgetting or moving on. Alcohol didn’t do it for him. Driving incredibly fast on his motorcycle does: “It all gets blown away in the wind and the speed and seeing how close you can come to the edge without going over.”

Many great lines about the “dance” and the physics of biking kept me riveted. E.g., “Only the dance could fill up his mind–speed and real danger frightening him enough to keep the phantom terrors away, if only for a few precious moments.”

I’ve never driven a motorcycle or flown a plane, but the way Irving writes, he lets me experience “the delicate ballet of shifting weight, tire grip, and wide-open throttle, rejoicing in each deep dip into a turn and the swooping acceleration coming out.”

When violence affects our Vietnam vet’s civilian life, Rick thinks it was “enough to live through his tour in Vietnam once. Reliving it was just unfair. He felt a dull ache spread through his right arm and down his side–the places that had been ripped apart, the places that still had bits of steel, lead, and other people’s bones buried deep inside.” Beautiful.

Even the assassin (Mr. Silence and the intriguing girl from his past who shows up in his present) gets some great lines: “… shadows would only deepen as the short December day waned. Then he sat and waited. Waited to do his work. To stop the voices. To restore silence. To kill.”

I love it when an author shows us the humanity of the killers. I hate it, too. (Unless they do that Darth Vader thing and turn from the dark side.)

The tropes of the thriller genre just set my teeth on edge. Halfway into the novel, I couldn’t believe Rick was still getting on his cycle, *knowing* he was being shadowed by would-be assassins, and the stupid assassins (the ones hired by Mr. Silence), having been outwitted by this cyclist before, would keep pursuing him in a car. Are people really that stupid? Uh… unfortunately, I think the answer is yes, they are, and that’s why the idiotic heroine of scary movies always goes *alone* to the empty house where the killer awaits her.

Pacifism, or reluctance to kill, is also part of a certain trope that goes like this: “I hate killing. I will never kill a person (or never again kill) no matter how much this killer deserves to be killed.” So you temporarily disable the person who’s trying to kill you. Later, that person comes back to repeat the attempts on your life. Without fail, someone else near and dear to you will end up dead because you passed up that chance to kill the killer. (Dexter: you know which serial killer I’m talking about, and which character bled out in a bath tub.) Meh!

If you follow me on Twitter, you know my tirades about Lying Authors (it’s a given). Murderous, Homicidal Authors who make us love certain characters, then show these characters dying? Never forgive! Never Forget!

All right, I concede: This novel is a must-read even if you find it maddening at times.

DISCLAIMER #1: Terry Irving is not a Vietnam vet. If you see me saying that somewhere, I was wrong.

DISCLAIMER #2: The author did NOT ask me to review this book and didn’t even know I exist until after I got the book and raved about the cover all over Facebook and Twitter.

Everyone should read this book, even Harley worshippers who believe no other cycle deserves to exist. That motorcycle Hector built? Oh, if not for “plot spoilers,” I’d blog another thousand words on that bike alone.

 ALSO NOTE: There’s a great story behind the story here, Indie Authors and Indie fans.  The original publisher, Exhibit A (April 29, 2014), abandoned the ebook without telling the author, so he scrambled to reclaim it, and last I heard, he was still fighting for the right to sell his own novel. From Irving’s blog:

I don’t believe this “perfect storm” of good luck is happening but it could be my chance to breakout as an author. Last week, I found out that the electronic edition of “Courier” had been abandoned by my former publisher  (I say “found out” because there was no notice, it just wasn’t for sale on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.). I had to do it fast because otherwise I would have lost all the excellent reviews that people have posted.

I taught myself how to create a .mobi file and got a series of versions up on Amazon–finally getting all the bugs out by Saturday. This meant that there is a “new” book online named “Courier” published by “Ronin Robots Publishing.”

Nick Wale … gained control over the way the book appears on Amazon. He immediately planned a 5-day FREE GIVEAWAY of the Kindle version of Courier.

Yes, it’s completely counter-intuitive, but I’ve read several studies that say it works.

Burke Allen (of Allen Media Strategies) finished reading Courier on Sunday night and immediately put out a press release which sparked a number of articles in industry magazines and online services. Now this “abandoned” e-book is nearing #1 on Amazon’s Top #100 list.

About carolkean

novelist, reviewer, editor, book critic for Liberty Island and Perihelion Science Fiction; native prairie/guerilla gardener; champion of liberty, indie authors & underdogs; one of the top two reviewers in Editors &Preditors Poll 2015; Amazon Vine, NetGalley Top Reviewer
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4 Responses to “Courier” by Terry Irving – Update: #AudioBook

  1. Terry Irving says:

    Carol, I can tell we are destined for each other but I have to tell you that I am NOT a Vietnam Vet. As a matter of fact, I was an anti-war protester. However, I’ve spent a lot of time with Vets over the years and covered Marines, Rangers, and Navy SEALS and become thoroughly impressed with their strength of will and integrity.

    However, I don’t need to be a veteran to feel a great rage when I see soldiers’ lives being wasted and that’s what happened in Vietnam. Brave and honorable troops–22,000 of them–died because of the (now revealed) treason of Richard Nixon when he made a deal with the South Vietnamese to win the election of 1968.

    Hopefully, I got it right enough in Courier so that Rick Putnam thinks and sounds like the Vets I knew back in 72 but I try to be sure never to make that claim.

    Terry Irving

    (and that guy on the cover is cute, isn’t he? too bad I never looked that good back in the day. Couldn’t ride that well either.)


    • carolkean says:

      Terry, you do indeed convey the integrity and strength of will of our military veterans, even if you protested the war rather than going over to spill blood in Vietnam. I hate war. Hate, hate, hate it. And this new “evidence” that Nixon would use a war to get re-elected is so far beyond my own personal capacity for evil, I can hardly believe it. Then again, who can believe Hitler? Millions and millions of ordinary citizens fell for his rhetoric.
      (–Whaddaya mean, I underestimate my capacity for evil??)


  2. Terry Irving says:

    Darn it. I can’t seem to Like this twice. No that guy ain’t me. I decided after the first 15 minutes of writing that I couldn’t be the star–the picture in my head was always a young Nic Cage on a Harley.
    I was way too boring and nowhere near as cute


    • carolkean says:

      Hey wait. Are you saying the stock photo for the cover may not be Nicolas Cage? Just the picture in your head was “a young Nic Cage on a Harley”–? I’d love to know it’s a vintage photo. 🙂


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