The Shadow Wolves: Shining a Bright Light Onto Humanity
By Carin Chea
There are some things that, if witnessed, could damage one's humanity, perhaps even irreparably.
But, Jake Kaminski (a retired police lieutenant and former senior advisor for the U.S. Department of Justice) has not allowed his decades-long experiences seeing crimes against humanity to jade his sense of ethos.
Mr. Kaminski's real-life adventures as a former law enforcement official is the stuff that summer blockbusters are made of. In this case, though, there was no screen of protection between him and the violence; it was real, it was present, and it left a mark.
It is our privilege to receive Mr. Kaminski's maiden novel into the world. The prolifically truthful and empathic author utilizes his raw, true-life experiences in the fictitious world known as The Shadow Wolves.
Mr. Kaminski is surely a burgeoning author who saw things no one ever should see in this lifetime, and he uses it to teach his readers life lessons gleaned over decades of covert operations.
Your roots are in law enforcement, and now you are an author. What drew you to writing?
Life has taken me in many different directions that I didn't plan. I started out as a policeman. I didn't go to college because I didn't have the resources.
I did my 25 years on the force, and when I retired when I was still quite young, so I went back to college at around 49 or 50.
I finished my bachelors in French and Spanish and ended up getting a job as a contractor for the embassy. I used my skills as a police office as an advisor for NATO.
While I was in college studying French, I had a young professor who was a brilliant guy. He encouraged me to re-write one of the stories I'd written, but in English.
I wrote a short story and he liked it. I guess when I finally slowed down from my overseas consulting about a year ago, there was a story I had been developing in my head over the years.
Tell us about The Shadow Wolves. Is this your first novel?
Yes. When I was overseas consulting, I came in contact with trainers that trained our allies in tracking techniques. The real Native American trackers are called Shadow Wolves. They have an unbelievable skill in tracking people. When I got to know them over the years, I thought, "There's a good fiction story here. What better time to write a story of the Mexican border than now?"
I decided to write a story about the powerful drug cartels in Mexico who were also trafficking women for sex across the border. I used the experience I had in the Balkans.
The book starts about 17 years ago in the Balkan War. There are three Native American trackers I have in the story, and they follow their father's footsteps in joining the military.
The war in the Balkans was a religious war. The Serbs were Orthodox Christians who did a lot of mass killings and rapes.
I tried to show the Native Americans' puzzlement as to why white men were killing each other for their God. We show them coming to grips with the terrible violence and the atrocities. Eventually they intervene in an atrocity.
We flash forward and the main character, Ethan Crow (who's Lakota Sioux) switches over to the DIA and he works a lifetime for the army, which is 20 years. In the meantime, on the Mexican border, we see a tribal officer murdered because the cartel leader is trying to send a signal that the trackers need to leave the cartel alone.
A general, who was a colonel in Bosnia, is faces with this issue: these traffickers moving across the border. He wants to form a team of Native American trackers who can fight them in the badlands of the border.
He finally finds Crow in Venice, and Crow forms an elite team. He puts together a team of former trial policemen or soldiers.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? Where did you draw your inspiration from for The Shadow Wolves?
A couple people have asked me that. When I was in Florida, I ran covert operations. I got to know how they thought, the Colombian cartel. They're sociopaths; they cared nothing about who they killed.
I met with them in restaurants and I made transactions. I got a sense of how they think and I felt like I had a really good understanding of how they function and do business. Because I was located in the Balkans, in terms of the prelude to the book, I saw the effects and the devastation of the people.
The stories were horrific. I felt like I could combine those 2 experiences in my life that would address the real issues and be suspenseful and entertaining at the same time.
There are Apache women who take over a good part of the book.
That's so great that some of your leads are women, by the way!
Thank you. Yeah, Crow is the main character in this book, but these women are extraordinary. They're fierce. They believe they're superior to the other tribes and they believe they can survive in that desert landscape better than any other tribe or any Mexican person.
The women are beautiful, striking, muscular. They're brave and also dealing with issues on the reservation. One of the girls, her mother struggles from "reservation sickness" (which is alcoholism.)
Is there a message you want to send across to your readers?
Right now, we're seeing so much about the border. I try to steer away from the political aspects of it. I try to get the readers to see what is really happening across the border, politics aside. The Mexican cartel is making so much money.
I try to show how tough it is to police those regions. I want the public to realize who we're talking about when we talk about drug cartels. It's not a nameless thing. In their own towns and villages, they're seen as Robin Hoods. They're seen as heroes. If we weren't buying all these drugs, they wouldn't have this power.
I also wanted to show the irony of religious people killing each other over individual religions. We always hear about Muslim extremism, but in Bosnia, it was Christian extremism.
Are there any future projects you'd like your readers to know about?
One of the Apache women - there's chemistry with Crow, but I don't address it in this book. I think I'll address it in the next book. I see a trilogy. I have the stories worked out.
The second book will be a chase, maybe even against government approval. It's a little bloody - there's no gratuitous violence because everything I portray is a representation of something that happened in real life.
You are also a producer. Any plans to take The Shadow Wolves to the big or small screen?
I would love for that opportunity. With the entertainment industry, it's a tough road to go. I wouldn't even try to tackle a screenplay. I'm lucky to just have this novel write.
For more information, including upcoming projects, please visit JakeKaminski.net
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