Dark Ambitions (Code of Honor Book 3)

Irene Hannon

Revell Pub

October 1st, 2019

Dark Ambitions by Irene Hannon has action, mystery, suspense, and some romance.  Politics, money, and greed come together to show how power can corrupt. This finale in the series brings back a secondary character from the previous books and introduces a new one.

The book begins with former army captain Rick Jordan finding at his camp for foster children, in rural Missouri, some blood in the snow.  Investigating further he recognizes a good luck charm of his army buddy Jackson “Boomer” Dunn. Believing Dunn is in trouble he hires the private investigation firm Phoenix Inc. to help find his buddy. Assigned to the case is former police detective, Heather Shields, the latest partner of the firm. After finding Boomer dead and those who knew him dying under suspicious circumstances Shields believes the investigation has turned from finding a missing person to finding who murdered Dunn. With the violence increasing Shields and Jordan must find the killer before they themselves are harmed.

Known for writing great romantic suspense novels Hannon does not disappoint in this novel. What drives this character driven story is the connection and chemistry between the hero and heroine. As the pages are turned so is the tension that ratchets up.

Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?

Irene Hannon:  I usually cannot tell where most of my stories started. The story ideas come to me from either a snippet of conversations I overhear, an article I have read, or a situation I have observed.  Often times I cannot go back after a book is finished and pinpoint exactly where it comes from.  One of my author friends compared it to a spider web that starts with one strand and then weaves the strands into the story.  Yet, when finished the first strand is hard to spot.  In fact, there have been only two books in my career where I can point to that I knew what influenced the story.

EC: What two novels?

IH: Vanished is the main one. I was driving home one night in the dark on a
road without a shoulder, and a bicyclist suddenly appeared in my
headlights. After I swerved to avoid him, I started “what-iffing.” What
if a woman was driving alone late at night on a country road in a
rainstorm? What if a figure appeared in front of her, waving? What if she
swerved…slid…but felt a thump, indicting she’d hit the person? What if
she lost control of the car, went off the road, hit her head, and blacked
out? That quick incident with the bicyclist on my drive home led not only to Vanished, but to the PI premise for my entire Private Justice series.

The other book was Hidden Peril. While I already had a vague premise, the whole plot became based on an article I read in the Wall Street Journal about a prominent antique collector’s favorite find, cufflinks with a secret compartment; although the cufflinks never appeared in the story!

EC:  How would you describe Rick?

IH:  He was an ex-Army Night Stalker who learned to fly helicopters while in the military.  He is smart, brave, and puts others welfare above his own.  Now in his mid-thirties he runs a camp for foster children.  Rick has a strong sense of giving back. He is conscientious, gracious, courteous, and modest.

EC:  Why the foster children angle?

IH:  He grew up in a tough environment.  Having been in the foster system he was not set up to achieve.  He rose above it and became a high achiever.  He knows how some foster environments are not conclusive to building self-esteem.

EC:  Why the “Code of Honor” series name?

IH: It fits the series books, storylines, and characters. In each book the main characters had come from a dysfunctional background. All of those three became friends and are called the Treehouse Gang. As they bonded together, they formed their own little family.  When they were young, they all agreed to do something to make the world a better place as they grew older.  Rick fulfilled that vow by serving in the military and helping young children in foster care to get a better start in life.

EC:  Why the Justice First motto?

IH:  Along with Heather, a former detective, is another detective, a Secret Service Agent, and a DEA agent.  This four-person firm has a desire to make sure justice is served.  They do not take on clients that are underhanded.  The jobs they do take are above board and they make sure the clients are not trying to serve their own purpose.

EC:  How would you describe Heather Shields?

IH:  She left police work after a traumatic experience.  She is committed, persistent, intelligent, brave, caring, and courageous.

EC:  How would you describe the relationship?

IH: There is an immediate attraction between Rick and Heather.  Even though there was an attraction from the very beginning they are keeping some distance because of the professional aspect, not to mix work and play.  They get to know each other well before romance.  I think it is healthier where people get to know each other well before taking the plunge into romance.

EC:  Why the name Phoenix Inc since the firm is located in Missouri?

IH: It is based on the mythological sign ‘Phoenix is rising from the ashes.’ All of the partners of the firm had some professional difficulties yet found a way to channel their talents to another avenue with this firm. 

EC:  Please explain the quote in the book, “Police and the military have only a split second to decide to shoot.”

IH:  I live in St. Louis and remember the incident a few years ago that made headline news.  I also went to the Citizen Police Academy where they set up scenarios where I was asked to decide if I would shoot in a certain situation.  There was literally only a split second to decide, is this person actually going to shoot or am I overreacting? I have great admiration for police officers and those in the military because there is so much pressure.  If they hesitate, they can get killed or a peer can get killed.  The heroine in this story has an incident in her own history related to this.

EC:  Do you drink tea or coffee?

IH:  Tea like Heather.

EC:  Did you ever bang pots and throw confetti like Heather’s family does on New Year’s Eve?

IH: It is something I used to do, a personal tradition. When I was growing up as a child, we made our own confetti for hours. It is a sweet and pleasant memory for me.  I still bang a pot sometimes.

EC:  Can you give a heads up about your next book?

IH: It is a new series about three sisters that will come out this time next year. The first sister’s job is a radio talk show host, the second sister is a police detective, and the third sister is a forensic pathologist. I also write contemporary romance novels.