Author: Gina Maria DiNicolo

Publisher: St. John's Press

ISBN: 978-0-9662986-0-4

Review of ARC Copy

Gina Maria DiNicolo's tension filled novel, Blood Stripe unfolds at the Marine Corps Base Quantico where marines are initially trained and where the U.S. Marine Corps' Combat Development Command is based. It is also the home of the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School. It is here where we find our principal character, Susanna Marcasi who has made quite a name for herself at the school. She has topped her class in academics as well as in the field, something her fiancé, Lieutenant Colonel Joe Earhardt, who was also an officer candidate at the base, could not stomach as he had been bested in every category by her. It is also at the base that Susanna experiences a brutal sadistic sexual assault that almost costs her life leaving her with physical and mental anguish for years to come, yet she remained resilient and courageous. Unfortunately, the perpetrator of this hideous crime remained at large and was never brought to justice.

Fast forward sixteen years later when we find Earhardt about to jump off the Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C. Prior to shooting himself, Earhardt makes a phone call to Chief Roscoe Russell of the Washington, D.C. Police Department who hears a gun shot and is convinced that Earhardt has killed himself. The police race to the scene, however, they don't find Earhardt's body nor any shell casing. To the surprise of Russell, he bumps into an old friend, Lori O'Reilly, the Junior U.S. Senator from Louisiana, whom he questions as to why she is at the scene of the supposed suicide.

As the saga moves ahead Lori contacts Susanna and informs her about Joe's improbable suicide. Apparently, Susanna was a very close friend of Lori as well as being her former chief of staff. Lori now asks her for help in determining what happened to Joe as she is aware that Susanna, who is now a journalist, is relentless and has the necessary savvy of getting answers. Notwithstanding the possible risks, Susanna agrees to help Lori in finding the truth as to what happened to Joe. Did he commit suicide or was he abducted? If the latter, why?

We subsequently learn that Joe had been watched by the Defence Intelligence Agency for more than two years, a fact that is disclosed by Rear Admiral Ken Batholomew to Navy Commander Michael Singleton, who had learned about Joe's attempted suicide from someone manning top-secret surveillance equipment. Incidentally, Singleton had known Joe for twenty years and even had been his roommate for four years. It seems that Joe's name came up in dealings with foreign governments of interest. Bartholomew is determined to find out what is this all about and suspects that Joe may still be alive and appoints Singleton to find him.

From here the author introduces her readers to the treacherous villain of the yarn, the former Senior Senator from Louisiana as well as a former Brigadier General, Manfred Stahl who has now taken up the most lucrative position in the President's cabinet as Defence Secretary, a post he has coveted for several years. Stahl is known to many as the most powerful and unstable man ever to serve in the U.S. Senate. None of his constituents questioned that he stood to gain in most of the bills he sponsored, but his on-the-line impropriety had become a matter of great debate in Washington. And as the plot thickens, we discover how devious and corrupt this man can be in his secret dealings that permitted him to wield huge power over his subordinates. He would now control unprecedented and what seemed limitless budgeting and contracting opportunities. His duties would entail the oversight of the nation's military, a fact that frightened most people. But here is the real news, all of these characters will have some kind of interconnection with each other and you will have to read the book to uncover what thunderbolts the author has in store for us.

DiNicolo leads her characters through horrid complex mazes with a speed that at times feels dizzying as the plot shifts from sexual misconduct in the military, betrayal, and exploitation to repulsive behavior on the part of powerful loathsome chauvinistic leaders who control the levers of power.

Trust me when I say that the real magic here is that the author knows how to cast a spell that makes us as eager as her narrator to uncover the truth as the tale erupts in unforeseen directions with surprising results.

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Gina DiNicolo