Matthew Scott Baker
At the risk of sounding like a movie review, Trident’s Fury is an enjoyable romp. Suspend your disbelief for 335 pages and just go with the flow and you’re in for a riveting ride complete with pirates, explosions, and ancient runes to unravel. Reading the book, you’ll think you’re at the movies, watching Harrison Ford escaping time and again from avenging Nazis, bent on world domination. Only this time his name is Ethan Darringer.
The plot doesn’t take long to reveal itself, hundreds of years ago pirates had stashed an other-worldly stone deep beneath the New Hampshire coastline and booby-trapped the system of caves that served as an entrance. An earthquake reveals the stone, alerting a squad of modern day Nazis and the US government. The government calls in the Trident Squad, a secret special-forces squad headed by a man named Killian, to secure the stone and keep it from falling into Nazi hands.
A race to the finish ensues as the Nazi commander, Ademaro hunts down Ethan, his girlfriend Kathy and the Trident Squad as they try to solve the puzzle left by the mad pirate Captain. In much of the action, you can picture yourself playing Trident’s Fury in its video game incarnation such as in this description:
The walls of the large cavern were lined with hundreds of rectangular alcoves, each about six feet in length and three feet high. And, each contained a human skeleton. Scattered on the floor throughout the middle of the room were several skeletal remains that appeared as though they had been discarded, tossed aside like they were not important. It was not immediately clear if they were human remains or something else.
For me, the best part of the book was unraveling the puzzles using elements of a poem to decipher clues. The puzzles are increasingly harder. I went from being able to figure out the obvious solution in the first couple to having to let the characters puzzle them out for the last two. This is typical of the characters as they struggle with the clues:
“Each stanza of the poem has given us clues as to how we should navigate these traps. I’m pretty sure this one is doing the same thing, however it’s a little more complex than the previous ones. Let’s start with what the poem says. ‘The hunter rules over all again.’ Now, what does that insinuate to you?”
Killian looked thoughtful.
Trident’s Fury also does Indiana Jones proud in the action scenes which are frequent and not for the faint of heart. Our heroes are constantly captured, disarmed, at wits end, and then miraculously pulling victory from the jaws of certain defeat as in this description:
His men were all still alive, he noted with relief, and were putting up a hell of a fight against the Nazis. Jensen and Wes had somehow obtained assault rifles and had retreated back to the stairwell in the cliff wall. They had then made their way up to the windowed chamber above. The German soldiers had been forced to take cover among the boulders and rocky crags above the pier. Although Jensen and Wes were only a force of two, the strategic advantage of having the high-ground gave the American soldiers the edge they needed to stay alive and to wreak havoc among the German ranks.
Trident’s Fury may be self published, but it’s certainly not for lack of a compelling story to tell and quality writing. I found myself going back and reading this book even when I didn’t really have time. That this is Mathew Scott Baker’s third book isn’t a surprise to me, it reads like a polished and well conceptualized work. The price ($26 with hardcover the only option) almost guarantees you will buy this book as a download ($6.25) which may explain why the cover is a little bland. My recommendation is not to ask yourself too many questions and just let the book be what it is, part puzzle, part treasure hunt, and all action.
Have you published anything else?
It’s been an odd journey for me. My first book was Crime of the Century: The Lindbergh Kidnapping Hoax, a non-fiction, true crime analyses of the so-called Lindbergh kidnapping case. It got written more by accident. In 1990 I had stumbled across an old article about the case. Of course, reading about the child’s disappearance, and the subsequent investigation and trial, some fifty plus years after the fact, gave me the advantage as a modern criminal defense lawyer of being privy to forensics, motivations and knowledge of intra-familial crimes that law enforcement officials did not have in 1932. Over the years the case had been looked at by journalists or others who had never tried a criminal case to verdict, and therefore lacked that perspective.
What started out as a hobby ended up evolving into the book, which I co-authored with a police criminal investigator. And I’ve been rewarded with the number of contemporary investigators, victims rights advocates, etc., who have contacted me since its publication and said how obvious the solution to this perplexing crime had been. Obvious today, perhaps, but unthinkable in 1932. I had an agent, and Crime was published traditionally. It had a bit of literary and commercial success, and I started thinking hey, maybe I could write after all.
Any advice for other writers/indie authors out there?
Don’t have an ego! If there is a criticism that you receive, don’t become defensive. Think about it and try to figure out how you can improve, or at least address the criticism. And for God’s sake, get an editor or persons to teach you how to write essay. Don’t assume that your agent or publisher will help you – or for that matter be especially good at it. It does not have to be a professional editor (they can be expensive and I really don’t know how good they are anyway) but with the advent of Kindle and e-publishing I am seeing a lot of books with awful and multiple mistakes – missing grammar, missing quotation marks, missing words, misspelled words that spell check often won’t catch (“than” for “that,” etc) so get someone else to comb through it, again and again and again.
And then again. Every book, no matter where published, has two or three typographical errors per book – but I am seeing strong e-book sellers with one or two per page!
Tell us a little about your book.
The novel opens in June 2026, in an alternate future in which the Soviet Union has won the Cold War and occupies most of the former United States, now known as the Soviet States of America. Two MIT professors have discovered a subatomic particle that can accelerate matter to speeds faster than light, thereby opening wormholes in time. Working with fellow resistance leaders, they try to figure out where it all went wrong, and devise a plan to go back to the early 1960s to change decisions made in what the reader is told was JFK’s first term. But, of course, as in all thrillers, the plan goes kaplooey, not everyone is who they claim to be, several characters’ loyalties lie elsewhere, and the time-traveling revolutionaries have to make up their Plan B, and then C and D, on the fly. It all comes to a head in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
What are you doing to market your book?
For the first year not much at all. Now I’ve started to circulate the book to potential reviewers and websites like this one, but most of the readership so far seems to be coming from ebook readers who just stumble upon my book in the Kindle store.
How have sales been? Where have you had the most success?
Slow. Based upon e-mail feedback I’ve received, its niche so far is among readers who like historical novels and alternative history novels, and to some degree among older readers who remember the assassination.
How are readers/reviewers reacting to your book?
[Laughing] For the most part by remaining silent. I love personal feedback, either positive or negative about my own writing. I wish more readers would write. I often contact authors after reading their book, and I think that in every case they have personally responded. I certainly am never overly critical of anyone else, but I will sometimes mention issues that occurred to me as I read their work. I think most writers appreciate that.
What was the biggest challenge you faced writing this book and how did you overcome it?
First and foremost is that despite the premise of my book, I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am probably one of seven people in the United States who actually believes the Warren Commission version of the Kennedy assassination, or at least believes that they got it mostly right. So, writing this version was kind of fun, but also a bit of a personal challenge.