The Momentum Blog

Give a TV lover a book!

Posted January 14, 2016 by Sophie Overett

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Do you have someone in your life who is difficult to buy gifts for? Is it your dad? Regardless, all you need to know is their favourite TV show, and we’ve got the rest covered. Here’s some book tips for the TV lover!


Watching: The Walking Dead
Give them: A Town Called Dust by Justin Woolley

The Walking Dead is basically a cultural phenomenon at this point. The series about a man waking up from a coma to find himself in the throes of the zombie apocalypse captured imaginations around the world. Odds are someone in your life is a diehard fan of the series – whether it’s your teenage sister or straight laced hubby. This holiday season, grab them A Town Called Dust by Justin Woolley, a terrific dystopian series set in the outskirts of Alice Springs with a small community left to fight off hoards of the undead.


Watching: Grey’s Anatomy
Give them: Life Support by Nicki Edwards

Medical dramas are a dime a dozen, but few have had the longevity of Shonda Rhimes’ Grey’s Anatomy, a series that really taps into the heart (pun!) of the genre. Stop wondering about the difference between McDreamy and McSteamy and instead settle your giftee with Nicki Edwards’ Life Support, a story about a small town nurse who finds herself balancing her career, the death of her husband and a mysterious new beau.


Watching: Homeland
Give them: Standoff by David Rollins

The combination of crime, character study and national security proved the trifecta for multi-award-winning drama, Homeland. Standoff by David Rollins takes a different approach, but is similarly thrilling as the story of an OSI Special Agent investigating an airport massacre only to find a survivor left crawling out of the Texan desert.


Watching: Reign
Give them: The Young Royals Series by S.A. Gordon

Who doesn’t like to see hot young royals caught between lovers and station? Reign might take you back to the days of Mary, Queen of Scots, but that doesn’t mean the monarch drama needs to stay in the 1500s. S.A. Gordon’s Young Royals Series takes an All-American girl and drops her into the life of luxury after she captures the eye of Prince David. Fraught relationships and torn commitments ensue!


Watching: The Jinx: the life and deaths of Robert Durst
Give them: Chopper Unchopped

Thanks to the Serial Podcast, true crime seems to be a hot water-cooler topic these days. Everyone listened with eager ears as Sarah Koenig opened up the long closed case of Adnan Syed and scrambled to answer the question of whether he really did kill his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. With the podcast between seasons, a lot of listeners turned their attention to HBO’s The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, a six-part miniseries exploring the strange connection between a string of unsolved crime and a real estate tycoon. Give your criminally-curious pal the insidelook at one of Australia’s most notorious criminals, Mark ‘Chopper’ Brandon, in Chopper Unchopped.

Is the show you have in mind not featured here? Tell us in the comments and we’ll let you know what to get!

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Excerpt: Standoff by David Rollins

Posted December 4, 2013 by Mark

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I was earning an honest day’s pay as a special agent in the Office of Special Investigations, doing my best to apprehend Senior Airman Angus Whelt, officially AWOL from Lackland Air Force Base roughly three hundred miles to the east. Whelt wasn’t inclined to make it easy for me and my current partner, Hector Gomez – not the Hector Gomez who plays shortstop for the Colorado Rockies but the carsick Texas Ranger Hector Gomez who was throwing up onto the floorboards in the passenger seat beside me, making the cabin reek of regurgitated spicy ground beef, corn chips and refried beans as we bashed along a dirt trail close to the US–Mexico border.

Whelt wasn’t making it easy for us because if we caught up with him he’d soon thereafter be doing a big slice of federal time. He was on the run because OSI had closed in on his narcotics operation. “Doctor” Whelt and his partner, Airman First Class William Sponson, also AWOL, were, according to various sources, the dealers of choice at Lackland until someone tipped them off about OSI closing in on their asses. So they fled. The Air Force grinds its heel on drug dealers and neither man was too keen about becoming something sticky on the bottom of the Air Force’s boot. We knew where Whelt was – playing hard to get on a dirt bike at our eleven o’clock. Sponson’s whereabouts were presently a mystery.

Ahead, an overhang in the bend jutted out suspiciously – a root ball maybe. I yanked the wheel hard over to clear it. Our rental – a Jeep Patriot from Thrifty – hit it anyway. Or maybe the damn root ball hit us. The impact jarred like an uppercut and pitched the vehicle on its side, up on two wheels. We teetered there like a stunt car, on the verge of rolling over while I wrestled with the wheel. Gomez was thrown sideways against the window. He left behind a smear of something on it: either bile or banana smoothie, I was too busy to make a positive ID either way. Fortunately, nudging the opposite berm jolted us back down onto the relative security of all four wheels.

“Je … sus!” Gomez said, bouncing around beside me, one hand braced hard against the ceiling.

Whelt was on what looked like a Honda motocross bike. He’d chosen to make his escape on it with good reason: the asshole rode like a Crusty Demon. His record said that he’d been some amateur national motocross champion before joining the service. Any moment I fully expected him to loop his bike in midair and flip us the middle finger.

He suddenly speared off the trail and took to the virgin bush, the bike’s rear wheel spewing a rooster tail of rock and sand as he rode a divergent course from ours, away from the trail. Shit, I’d known he was gonna do that eventually. I glanced across at my partner, the Ranger, fighting the heaves. He was a mess. And, yeah, re window smear: banana smoothie.

If we were going to catch Whelt, we had to follow the guy into the rough. Gomez looked over at me, read the play instantly and shook his head, his eyeballs large. Like we had a choice.

I turned into the low dirt wall that bordered the trail we were on. The jeep’s front wheels hit it with a sickening graunch and the hood reared up as the front wheels clawed at the sky. The rear wheels punched into the berm next and the vehicle reacted, bucking viciously fore and aft. When everything settled a little I stood on the gas pedal and steered for the crest, the tires scrabbling for traction while the front air dam smashed into rocks and low bushes.

My hope was that Whelt would make a mistake and put his bike down so that we could catch him, cuff him and take him in, but that hope was fast disappearing over the hill in front of us, standing up on the footpegs, the bike leaping and bounding over the terrain as it was designed to do. Behind Whelt meanwhile, the Patriot, designed for Walmart parking lots, didn’t at all appreciate the treatment we were giving it.

“Hey!” Gomez said, pointing.

He was indicating the US–Mexico barrier fence in a depression below us, an eighteen-foot-high, rust-colored steel mesh barricade that looked about as solid as a parked freight train, one that snaked across the land as far as I could see.

“What’s he … up to?” Gomez wondered aloud.

The Great … Escape.”

The pounding, crazy ride was making talking difficult.

“What’s . . . that?”

The GreatEscape … with Steve McQueen. Movie.”


“McQueen’s running from the N … Nazis. Steals a bike, makes a break for Switzerland …” I swerved to avoid a boulder and ran the jeep nose first into a ditch. A thick wave of dirt spewed up and over the hood and windshield. “Only the border’s … fenced – like we got here,” I continued.

“Lemme guess, he jumps the fence,” said Gomez. Whelt had stretched his lead, almost gone. “You think that’s what this guy’s gonna do?”

I doubted tunneling was on his mind.

Ahead, another hill. Whelt was already beyond the crest, only his dust visible.

Gomez shouted: “It’s a movie, so … he makes it, right?”

“No, he gets … hung up on the fence.”

I wasn’t ready to give up. And anyway, it was this or paperwork. I steered toward the crest, foot to the floorboards. We came over the rise, the jeep’s motor racing, tires spitting gravel, the dust thick inside the cabin.

“Whoa!” Gomez yelled, bracing for impact as we shot over the crest.

My left boot beat him to it, standing on the brake pedal. The jeep slid sideways one way and then the other as we ploughed down the hill, coming to rest while a rolling ball of our own dust overtook us. Below, in the crook between the hill we were on and the one beyond it, was a crowd of people and vehicles. A crowd of illegals – Mexicans. Significant numbers of Border Patrol Agents were marshaling them together. There were well over fifty people and a dozen off roaders down there, out in the middle of nowhere. The attraction that brought everyone to this particular point appeared to be a break in the fence, a five-by-ten-foot section of the steel mesh simply cut out by an oxyacetylene torch. On the other side of the fence, the Mexican side, were chewed-up tracks of numerous vehicles that, presumably, had brought the illegals to this point. A departing dust ball on the southern horizon confirmed it.

Several of the BPAs were looking up at us, presumably wondering who we were and what the hell we were doing. One of them was starting to move in our direction, hand on the butt of the pistol on his hip, coming to investigate. I scanned the area for Whelt and found him on the crest of the hill opposite. He’d stopped and was looking back at us. Okay, so the guy wasn’t upside down in midair but he was still flipping us the bird. No way were we gonna negotiate our way through this parking lot and catch him.

Gomez wiped his mouth clean with a wad of Kleenex. “Shit.”

“You were saying about real life?” I asked him.

My cell was buzzing in my pants pocket. Taking it out and looking at the screen, I saw I had half a dozen messages from a familiar Maryland number: Andrews AFB, home of the people keeping me in the style to which I ought to have left far behind by now at age 34 – the OSI. Gomez wandered down to talk with the BP Agent coming up the hill, his ID and badge held above his head, while I checked in. My supervisor and buddy, Lieutenant Colonel Arlen Wayne, picked up after a ring and a half.

“Vin …” Arlen said, the signal sketchy. “Where are y …”

“Where am I?”


“I can’t hear you,” I said. “I’ll call you back later.”

“… NO …”

There was a bar and a half of signal strength registering on the display. I walked around, trying to find another bar or two. “That better?”

“Yeah. Where … you?”

“On the border with Gomez letting Doctor Whelt slip through our fingers.”

I noticed a major dent in the Patriot. The panel just below the front fender had been stove in. I bent down to have a closer look and saw a pool of hot engine oil spreading on the gravel between the front tires, ants running from the steaming black tsunami. I hoped I’d checked the insurance box on the rental agreement and, if not, that Thrifty were a bunch of understanding folks.

“For … bout him,” Arlen said.

“Did you just say forget him?”

“They . . . his buddy, Spon …”

“They found Sponson?”

The rest was even more garbled though I gathered he wanted to know how far away from El Paso we were. “Thirty miles, give or take,” I told him.

Arlen sounded like he was in a dentist chair, a drawer full of cutlery in his mouth. But I caught the key message: Get to Horizon Airport at El Paso and monitor the El Paso Sheriff’s Office radio in the meantime. “We’ll hurry. Call you when we get there,” I confirmed.

Just before the line went dead I heard him say, “Vin … slaughter. Jesus, some real bad shit.”

Our other runaway, Whelt’s pal Airman First Class William Sponson, had turned up in less than ideal circumstances. Arlen didn’t often swear. It had to be some extra fucked-up ass-burger to move him into four-letter-word territory. Unlike me. A wisp of steam escaped through the jeep’s grille. Fuck, shit and urination. This pile of spot-welded horse flop was going nowhere in a hurry. “Do you remember checking the insurance box on the rental agreement?” I asked Gomez as he walked back up the hill toward me.



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Will the real Vin Cooper please stand up?

Posted November 29, 2013 by Mark

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This post first appeared on

I know some of you will find this hard to believe, but there is a real Vin Cooper. Okay, so there are several billion people on the planet and there’s bound to be a few of them kicking around. But this Vin Cooper is also Special Agent in the OSI.

Yeah, utterly freakish, right? In fact, my entire universe tipped on its side and a couple of galaxies rolled off the edge when I found out.

The real Vin Cooper contacted me over Facebook. He told me that a buddy had given him one of the books. He reckons he read it mostly with his jaw hanging open on account of, he says, well, that I’ve basically written about him.

So I thought it might be interesting to compare the two. See if you can guess which one’s the genuine article.


 The Real Vin Cooper?  The Real Vin Cooper?
Hair color? Brown Sandy
Eye color? Green Green
Height? 5’ 9” 6’1”
Weight? 175 lbs 215lbs
Married? Married. No, thanks.
Favorite drink? Crown Royal, Jack Daniels, and Johnnie Walker. Single malt when available (Glen Keith), or bourbon whisky (JD or Maker’s) when it’s not.
How do you take your coffee? Strong with two lumps. Strong, black.
Favorite people? Amy (my wife), Devin (my daughter), and a select few. Ones that wear (short) skirts.
Least favorite people? Most reality TV stars. Divorce lawyers (my ex’s).
Religion? Not religious. Anything that serves wine and bread can’t be all bad. Though some cheese would be a welcome addition.
Your idea of a great first date? One my wife approves of. I prefer the old dinner and a movie date. I don’t like to have many distractions when I’m trying to get to know someone. She survives.
Are you funny? I think the character Vin is funny. We both crack jokes at the worst possible moments and we are both sharp witted, though I’m quicker-witted than Vin is. I’m into fast one liners, whereas Vin’s is more of a joke approach. My humor’s probably more offensive than Vin’s. Are you kidding?


Standoff, the new Vin Cooper thriller is released on December 1. Preorder your copy here



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