A shootout with terrorists at Orlando International Airport, killing one police officer and wounding two others, thrusts US Coast Guard Lieutenant Joe Traynor and his team of highly skilled experts into the middle of another dangerous investigation. Once the terrorist leader is identified, Joe suspects that he not only had something to do with the Boston Marathon bombing, but that he came to Orlando with the intent of executing another 9/11. In an area rich with prime targets, both military and civilian, Joe’s team has to both find the suspect and identify where he will strike—and they’re running out of time.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Never Say Never by Daniel J. Barrett, we are reunited with Joe Traynor and his elite team of US Coast Guard investigators. This time, they are chasing terrorists in Orlando, Florida, after a shooting at the Orlando International Airport. Joe is called in because the suspect who shot and one cop and wounded two others appears to be Russian. Joe determines that he is not Russian but Chechen, and calls in his team to investigate. Joe has to juggle this investigation with his other work, as well as his impending marriage to Julie Chapman, who has a busy schedule of her own, including finishing her second book in her A Girl’s Life Trilogy. As Joe closes in on the terrorists, Julie is concerned that he live long enough to make her a bride, especially since the danger to Joe and his team seems to be escalating.
This is the fourth book in the Joe Traynor and Julie Chapman series for this talented author. And like the others, this one will keep you perched on the edge of your seat, turning pages as fast as you can.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Never Say Never by Daniel Barrett is the fourth book in Barrett’s Conch Town Girl series. Our hero, Joe Traynor, is a US Coast Guard lieutenant who is in charge of special investigation in southern Florida and The Keys. He mainly works with Russian and Spanish speaking suspects as Joe is fluent in both languages and few in the Coast Guard are. When a suspected terrorist shoots up the airport in Orlando, the local authorities, who have worked with Joe in the past, call him in again because they think the suspect is Russian. Turns out that he is Chechen instead, but Joe speaks that too, so he finds himself heading up this investigation as well. However, this time there is a problem. Joe is set to marry his long-time sweetheart, Julie Chapman, and she wants him to stay alive and out of danger—at least as much as possible. And, in fact, Joe is planning to leave the Coast Guard once his term is up, so this will probably be his last investigation, or so he hopes. So all he has to do is survive a little longer. Good luck with that, especially since the bad guys play for keeps.
Never Say Never, like the books before it, has the author’s unique and informative voice, taking us deep inside Coast Guard investigations and the high-tech equipment used to combat terrorists these days. It’s a hard way to make a living, but someone has to do it. Never Say Never will hold your interest from beginning to end.
“Hi, Jane. Thanks for coming down for the closing,” Julie said to her attorney.
Julie Chapman and Joe Traynor had purchased a house in Tavernier. It was the house that Julie had her heart set on but it was $20,000.00 more than she wanted to spend. The owners compromised, brought it down $10,000.00, and offered to pay all the closing costs.
They jumped on it. Cash out of pocket, right now before the wedding, was at a premium. The mortgage could be paid off over thirty years.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, Julie. When is Joe getting here?” Jane asked.
“Soon, I hope. He’s out at sea on another investigation but absolutely promised to be here for the closing, or there won’t be one.”
Both Joe and Julie would own the house equally and both would be on the deed and on the mortgage as well. Julie wanted to make sure that she paid her fair monthly share. She was putting down the majority of the down payment since Joe bought her engagement ring, and he was taking care of both wedding receptions–in New York City and back in Key Largo, the following month. The closing was taking place at the Keys Federal Credit Union on North Roosevelt Avenue in Key West.
Julie looked out the window. “As we speak, Joe is parking his car right in front of the building. Talk about cutting it close.”
“Nervous?” asked Jane.
“A little. This is a big deal to me. You know?”
“I know and that’s why I’m here. Are we going out afterward to celebrate the closing?”
Julie smiled. “I could use a drink right now.”
“Joe walked into the conference room. “Sorry I’m late. I wasn’t steering the ship or I’d have been here earlier.”
Julie hugged him. “Real funny. How’d everything go, Joe?”
“Fine. There was a little action but it ended quickly. I can’t wait for my time to be up,” he said.
Joe was thinking about leaving the Coast Guard in the fall when his two years were up. He promised Rear Admiral Jake Barnes that if he were to leave, it wouldn’t be until Jake retired. They needed to clean up the Seventh District after the huge scandal that had just happened. Washington was allowing Jake to take care of all the problems and then retire on a positive note.
Julie grimaced. “Keep it down, Joe. We want them to think you’ll still be gainfully employed or we won’t get the mortgage.”
Jane smiled at both of them. She’d been married a while and had to go through the exact same thing in Miami. The only difference was that in Miami, it was a rollercoaster ride of property values. One day a condo sold for $400,000.00 and the next it was being auctioned off for under $200,000.00. Jane and Nick, her husband, bought their house in Coral Gables, only a few blocks from the University of Miami, during the down cycle, and it held its value. Being a commercial real estate attorney for one of the largest firms in Miami didn’t hurt at all, and Jane did their own closing and title transfers, saving a bundle.
The mortgage officer, Susan Jacoby, walked into the room, greeted everyone, and took her seat. The former owners weren’t there but were represented by their own attorney who’d smile, pick up the check, and be out of there in a half an hour. Julie was sure he’d charge enough to pick up the check. Jane had all the cashier’s checks ready for the closing. The final price for the house was $385,000.00 and Jane had the check for the $30,000.00 down payment. Their new house, at 107 High Street in Tavernier, only four blocks from Coral Shoes High School and one block to the ocean, was in a federal-government-designated area with a minimal risk of flood. This house, fortunately, was an “X Zone” and the FEMA flood insurance, although expensive, was the cheapest of all flood insurance at less than $1,500.00 a year. Property taxes in the Florida Keys weren’t prohibitive, due to a large commercial property tax base paying the bulk of county and school taxes.
Altogether, their payments came in right at the $1,400.00 per month mark, and both Joe and Julie were ecstatic. The mortgage interest and taxes were tax deductible and made the payment even more affordable. They’d furnish the house over the next year, as they could afford it, especially with two weddings coming up. Julie was also asked to be in Maddy Malone’s wedding in Reading, Massachusetts, near the end of the summer, creating another burden with flight costs, hotels, bridesmaid dress, and gifts. Julie was grateful that they had two steady incomes, and her new book would be handed in right before their own wedding.
Jane reviewed all the documents and handed each of them, one at a time, to Julie and Joe to sign. Within the hour, the paperwork was completed. The previous owners’ attorney handed them the keys to their new home. They smiled and gave each other a hug and a kiss.
“Julie, are you happy?”
“Very happy. How about you?”
“I’m thrilled for you and, yes, I’m happy, too. I know this was a big deal for you and you deserve it.”
“Thank you. That means a lot,” she said.
Jane cleared her throat. “If you’re through congratulating each other, I’ve made arrangements for dinner at your favorite restaurant in Islamorada, where I believe all this began many years ago.”
They both knew what Jane had meant, Bentley’s Restaurant. After Joe had given Julie and her grandmother, Tillie, the tour of his Coast Guard Station at 4:00 p.m. that day, many years ago, Joe asked them if they were hungry. They said yes. So they all hopped into Tillie’s Escort and drove the short distance to Bentley’s Restaurant, right on Overseas Highway. At ten years old and in fifth grade, at that time, Julie had only eaten at the Waffle House, where Tillie worked, or from the children’s menu, when they went someplace else on a special occasion. Bentley’s had a children’s menu for kids under twelve but Joe said they were all ordering from the main menu. Having only met Joe that day, and knowing how little he was paid as a first year seaman, Tillie glanced at the prices and looked at Joe. He simply nodded “my treat.” It was about half of what he was paid every two weeks. He couldn’t think of a better way to spend his money or his time. Now they’d bought a house together and they’d be married in a few months.
Jane followed Julie and Joe from Key West and, as they pulled into the restaurant parking lot, they saw Tillie, Jeff, Joan, and Lucy Talbot, and Mark and Louise and the kids. Julie and Joe got out of the car and smiled at Jane. “Surprise?”
Jane chuckled. “ I don’t get to share a lot of joy being an attorney so bear with me, okay?”
“We love you, Jane. You know that? Right?” Julie said. Joe nodded.
“Yes, I do. Nick was coming to the party but had emergency surgery this afternoon.” Jane’s husband, Dr. Nick Snyder, was a neurologist at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and was constantly on call for emergency brain surgery due to accidents and crimes. Jackson Memorial Hospital was noted for its emergency surgeries, so Nick was practically living there. Once his full time residency was over, he could live a normal life. A normal life for a doctor was still over seventy hours a week and Jane had known that going in.
All three walked up the steps to the front door of Bentley’s and everyone gave all three a hug. As they walked in, Julie had a tear in her eye. “This is so special, everyone. I don’t know how to thank you for coming. Joe, did you have anything to do with this?”
“Honestly, no. I didn’t have a clue. Thank you, Jane, for everything. You’re a great friend,” he said. They were seated on the deck, exactly where they ate those many years ago. Joe, Tillie, and Julie ate the same meals they did back then. The waitress brought out a cake for dessert that spelled out their new address with a bride and a groom on the cake. Jane had thought of everything.
Tillie started to cry but Julie turned and hugged her. “Did you ever think everything would turn out like this, Tillie?”
“No, but I certainly hoped it would.”
With that, everyone, including the kids, raised their glasses and gave Julie and Joe a toast for their future happiness.
“Does this qualify as a third wedding reception,” Julie asked everyone gathered.
Jane laughed. “Only if you want it to, Julie.”
Julie and Joe spent the next month moving their limited furniture and clothes into the new house. Joe was still caught between cleaning up the mess in Miami with the Seventh District and working investigations at Islamorada. At least Joan Talbot was now in charge, and Joe didn’t have to walk on pins and needles around Jacob Cramer, the Chief Warrant Officer, formerly in charge of the Islamorada Station.
He was transferred, as a promotion, at Joe’s request to Rear Admiral Jake Barnes, to the Port Canaveral Station, reporting to command up in Jacksonville.
Having Joan in command at Islamorada, at least until she retired, was a blessing.
Julie still had a busy schedule. She was just about finished with her second book, The Middle Years, as part of A Girl’s Story, the trilogy she started with Conch Town Girl while at Brown University. Conch Town Girl was doing extremely well, which generated the second book advance of $30,000.00. At least now, when she hopped into her car, it was a two-minute drive to the high school. She still had to drive because she’d still leave at noon for her grant funded duties at the elementary school in Key Largo and back to the high school for her coaching duties. At least school got out early in May in the Keys so the wedding, now being planned for both places, should go off without a hitch–hopefully.
© 2016 by Daniel J. Barrett