|Here are a few reviews of Designed to Kill:|
"Chester Campbell's Designed to Kill is a terrific achievement. Greg McKenzie is an affable hero, ably abetted by his wife, Jill. It's a cleverly plotted, tightly written book that should add lots of readers to his fan list."
Sallie Bissell, best-selling author of In the Forest of Harm and A Darker Justice
"Don't ever go up in a high rise condo with Chester Campbell. You may never come down. Designed to Kill is everything you could want in a mystery. Suspense, colorful characters and a great surprise ending. Read it, but read it on the ground floor.
Don Bruns, acclaimed author of Jamaica Blue and Barbados Heat
Here are reviews for Secret of the Scroll:
Cranky, Flawed, Clever and Likeable
by Brian Kaufman, Roundtable Reviews
Retired Air Force Colonel Greg McKenzie is in trouble. Thanks to his honest but untimely candor, he's made enemies in the Nashville Police Department. Worse, when he returns from a vacation in the Holy Land with a souvenir scroll, foisted on him by a street vendor, he finds himself caught in an international struggle for a secret buried for nearly two thousand years.
McKenzie has inadvertently acquired an authentic first-century Hebrew document containing a secret with politically volatile consequences. Someone wants the scroll, enough to kidnap McKenzie's wife, Jill. McKenzie is forced to deal with a suspicious Nashville Police detective investigating Jill's disappearance, Palestinian kidnappers, and a militant Israeli faction that will stop at nothing to learn the scroll's secret.
Author Chester Campbell's prose, like his protagonist, is quick, clean and brash. The story runs at a breakneck pace, never faltering. The Arab-Israeli conflict informs the plot, but the author handles the region's complexities with an even hand.
I particularly enjoyed the author's believable sixty year-old hero. Greg McKenzie is cranky and flawed, clever and likeable. The author's depiction of McKenzie's vital, loving marriage fuels the suspense, and is a refreshing change from the usual thriller love-interest.
by Louise Riveiro-Mitchell, Book Review Cafe
A fast-paced story of mystery, intrigue, and ancient prophecies are captured in this tale. The famed Dead Sea Scrolls hold the secrets to not only the past but an insight to the future, as well as a map to the treasured golden candlesticks of King Solomon's temple.
When Greg McKenzie, a former OSI agent, purchases in a market place in Jaffa what he believes to be just a souvenir, it sets off an international hunt for the so-called souvenir.
The artifact stolen from its origin years ago and smuggled out of Israel is sought after by the Israeli government as well as fortune hunters. They follow McKenzie and his wife back to the States and kidnap his wife. McKenzie must use all his training and expertise to get her back.
I found myself unable to put this book down till the end. Full of intrigue and suspense, it is a real page turner. Excellently written, a must read for all those who enjoy this type of genre. I highly recommend it. Well done, Mr. Campbell.
A Riveting, Edge of the Seat Book
by Janet Schmidt, Women on Writing Review
An enjoyable trip to the Middle East turns into a case of international intrigue for Greg and Jill McKenzie. Greg is a retired United States Air Force Colonel, formerly with the Office of Special Investigations. Greg and Jill become the unwitting couriers of an ancient scroll into the United States.
They don't realize this until Jill is kidnapped from their Nashville home upon their return. Greg, who had some problems with the local police during his tenure in the local prosecutor's office, decides to handle this on his own. This leads to more problems with the local police when they are tipped that Jill is missing. Aware this must be more than just an old piece of paper, Greg embarks on an investigation into the scroll while trying to get Jill returned safely. One slight problem is that the kidnappers are apparently watching him and one of the people he consults about the scroll is brutally murdered. After learning the contents of the scroll, and, the potentially horrific global harm that can be done by the scroll being in the possession of the wrong party, Greg is in a race against time to secure the return of his wife, and, prevent what could easily become World War III.
Secret of the Scroll is one of the finest books I have read in many years. Chester D Campbell has crafted a page-turner. Secret of the Scroll is the first book featuring Greg McKenzie who is a well-drawn character. Chester D Campbell reveals a plethora of details about the McKenzie's lives that this reader will appreciate. One is left with the feeling of meeting a new but yet familiar friend. Yet one who has more to reveal about himself.
Secret of the Scroll is a wholesome book, but far from boring. This is a riveting, edge of the seat book that is set against the backdrop of the modern Middle East. Every page rings true. This could happen.
Schmidt resides in the Midwest with her husband, daughter and assorted pets. She
is at work on her first novel. Janet enjoys gardening, cooking and reading. For
more information on Janet Schmidt go to the Women on Writing, meet the staff
page (see my Links page).
A Superbly Written Book
by Shirley Truax, Member of RIO, All About Murder Reviews
Rating: 5 daggers
(Rating Key: Outstanding and nearly perfect. Keeper. Couldn't put it down from page one. )
The locks on Greg and Jill McKenzie’s luggage were removed at some point on their way home from a vacation in the Middle East. The guided tour had gone quite well for the tour group; they enjoyed the Mediterranean and the ages old biblical sights. But tours must eventually end and the time arrives for the McKenzie’s to return home to Nashville, Tennessee, in the good ole USA. Although Greg did become a little suspicious when he was the only one in the group that was told to put his name on his luggage tag in huge, bold letters when boarding the plane for home. Greg is a retired Air Force officer who worked on the ground in the OSI – Office of Special Investigations, so he just sloughed off his suspicions as being an old habit and tried to dismiss it from his mind. But now at Kennedy International when the locks were discovered missing, his curiosity was again piqued.
First the large name on the luggage, now the missing locks. Maybe his suspicions are founded after all. Authorities were notified and a quick riffle through their bags showed nothing missing that they could tell. Greg advised Jill that they would do a more thorough job of checking for missing items when they got home.
Greg’s close friend, Sam Gannon, usually has a million and one war stories that he likes to relate over and over, time and again. On one of Greg’s visits to Sam’s all track of time was lost and resulted in Greg being over an hour late after the time he told Jill he would be home. Upon entering the back entrance to his home from the garage he was met with total chaos. His OSI training kicked in and he started adding things together: Annoying incidents in the Holy Land; being singled out at the border; the large, identifying name on the luggage tag; the missing locks from the luggage. After searching the entire house upstairs and down, he knew Jill had been kidnapped. He read several little clues that were left behind by Jill that told him she had been taken against her will. Little things that Jill knew only he could recognize, and therefore not alert the kidnappers.
He reported the kidnapping to the Metro Police, then sat by the phone waiting for the call he felt sure would come. It finally did. A strange voice demanded to know where the scroll was. The scroll? That cheap imitation that he paid four dollars for at a souvenir stand? Or was it an imitation? Obviously someone must not think so. Thus Greg has to pull himself out of retirement into one of the most emotional cases he has ever worked on. Using some of his old contacts, he tries to have the scroll deciphered, while at the same time trying to find Jill.
The conflict between deadly groups of Palestinians and deadly groups of Israelis who both claim ownership to the scroll have Greg caught in the middle with Jill’s life at stake. He has a long row to hoe with many dangers confronting him, Jill, and his friends that necessitate another trip to the Holy Land; something Greg hoped would not have to happen. Women were not the most respected people over there so his fear for Jill escalated into panic.
And how was one to begin searching in a strange land for a missing person?
This is a superbly written book with an excellent plot. The action is on going and riveting. The characters walk off the page to the reader, and one can see them as they act out the story. There is no clothes-line effect in this story. It moves along smoothly with plenty of excitement. This one is a keeper for sure.
Mr. Campbell has imparted a lot of interesting information without sounding like a history book. In fact if school history books were written like this every student would be a history buff.
(To see this review on the All About Murder site, click this link and scroll down.)
Excellent Thread of Tension
by Bob Spear, Heartland Reviews
Secret of the Scroll is a thriller mystery about a retired Air Force OSI agent, Colonel Greg McKenzie, who unknowingly is sold an ancient parchment scroll, which a Palestinian terrorist group wants smuggled into America. When he doesn’t give it back to them in the States, they kidnap his wife and hold her in ransom for the artifact, which reveals the location of very valuable temple lamps. Circumstances quickly escalate to an international incident level when an extreme right-wing Israeli group also becomes involved. Can he save his wife and abort World War III at the same time?
The author is a retired journalist and political speechwriter (which means he’s experienced at writing fantasy). His book is published by one of my favorite small publishers, Durban House. He develops a slightly flawed protagonist, teaches the reader about the roles of an OSI agent and the dangers of Air Force politics, and produces an excellent thread of tension, which could snap at any time. He uses the differences among Jews, Islamics, and Christians in the Holy Land to good effect. We rated this book four hearts.
(To see this review on the Heartland site, click this link and scroll down.)
by Joyce Holland, author of Beyond Gulf Breeze (a Sally Malone Mystery)
Spellbinding. Chester Campbell has crafted a real winner. Step into a forgotten cave and uncover a secret that can ignite a holy war. If you like a little history with your mystery, dig into this one and prepare to finish it in one sitting.
"A mystery thriller that will grab you and keep you turning the pages!"
by Judith Saul, The Best Reviews
Colonel Greg McKenzie and his wife are on a trip to the Holy Land, now that the Colonel is retired from the Air Force where he was an investigator; they are going all the places they never got to go. The Colonel is on edge, he just stopped smoking, and his language is colorful, due in part to the nerves that are on edge from nicotine withdrawal and the never-ending heat.
A young student of archaeology goes out one morning by himself and discovers a cave with a jar in it. When he opens the ancient jar, he finds a scroll. He knows this is an important find and he should turn it over to the head of the expedition he is with. Instead he decides to smuggle it to Palestine. There he will have a friend translate it and then he will present it to the world as his great discovery. Everything goes smoothly until the border, there his friend meets him and when he gets into the car, he promptly removes his shirt to retrieve the scroll, which he has secured to his body. What he doesn't know is that a guard sees him disrobing and becomes suspicious. The guard reports this, along with the car's plate number and description of both driver and smuggler.
This starts a chain of events that lead to the Colonel and his wife unknowingly smuggling the scroll out of the Middle East. When the Palestinians discover this, they kidnap Mrs. McKenzie and hold her for ransom of the scroll.
All of the Colonel's expertise will be needed to find and free his wife, while keeping the scroll safe.
This is a fast exciting read. It grabs you and won't let go, I couldn't put it down. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
(To see this review on The Best Reviews site, click this link.)
Secret of the Scroll is a thriller in every sense of the word.
by Shelley Glodowski, Midwest Book Review
Chester D. Campbell attended the University of Tennessee and edited a local magazine. he has written speeches, worked in advertising and public relations, and management. He served in the Army Air Corps in WWII, was an Air Force intelligence officer in Korea, and retired from the Air Force Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. He presently lives in Madison, Tennessee with his wife.
Retired Colonel Greg McKenzie and his wife, Jill, are enjoying a trip to the Holy Land, when an insistent vendor sells them a jar filled with what turns out to be an ancient papyrus which contains directions for items that could cause World War III in the region. When McKenzie's wife disappears, he decides his background in intelligence might be of more use than the local police who have an axe to grind with him, and that axe has a long reach.
"That's for sure. The reason for my call, I wondered if you know a patrol sergeant named Christie?' 'Gerald Christie?' 'Short guy, fortyish, short brown hair.' 'That's Gerald. You run into him?' 'Yes. Unfortunately.' 'I can imagine. He's Mark Tremaine's brother-in-law.' I winced. If that was the luck of the draw, my luck wasn't worth two cents."
McKenzie splits his time negotiating with two opposing groups, who want the artifact, and consulting experts to determine just what he has in his possession. When one of the experts is killed, McKenzie swings into high gear to get his wife back.
Secret of the Scroll is a thriller in every sense of the word. Written post 0/11, Campbell brings a wealth of information into play in the person of Greg McKenzie. he simplifies the age-old conflict for the reader, all the while setting up cliff-hanging situations designed to keep the reader glued to his book. I couldn't put it down! His writing style is as full of energy as his characters. Campbell makes McKenzie into a 65 year old rebel who is irresistible and appealing. Great!
(To see this review on the Midwest Book Review site, click this link.)