Police Officer Sam Basro pits his skills and training against a home grown drug producing ring in rural Northern Kentucky. His perseverance and insight into people allows him to chase the kidnappers of his wife as the story unfolds.
Reviewed by S. Loper-Herzog
“Retreat” is Ronald M. Schunk’s first published mystery. It features Sam Basro as deputy constable in the small town of Retreat, Kentucky. The small town borders the Ohio River, minutes from both Ohio and Indiana.
That Mr. Schunk is a retired police officer becomes obvious as he leads you through correct police procedure, as well as insights into the mind of law enforcement officers during official duty. Retreat has been invaded by drugs. Sam has been targeted by unknown pursuers. A local power plant employee is investigating “missing” electricity. Then there is a kidnapping, of Sam’s wife. Sam must use all of his years of experience to put the pieces together to stop the drug trade, and to save his wife.
“Retreat” takes the reader on an exciting ride into small town crime, providing real life obstacles and issues. You can picture Retreat, with its cast of small town people, and their roles.
This is a great debut. We hope to see more of Deputy Constable Sam Basro from Ronald Schunk.
Dennis Latham (dlatham at seidata.com), freelance writer and editor, November 25, 2002
An Excellent First Novel. When most people think of cops in small towns, they still might think of Barney Fife from Mayberry. Retreat dispels that myth. I love novels that start with action. From page one the action is fast and furious after someone tries to kill police officer Sam Basro during an ambush.
The characters, both good and bad, seem like real people. That’s what impressed me most about the novel. I thought of them as real people. This is rare anymore in fiction. Retreat is great escape fiction. What I call an airport novel because you get caught up in the story and can read it in one sitting.
An excellent first novel.
A Kentucky Game Warden:
IT WAS A GREAT BOOK……….I love the twist you put in with the kidnapping… Very well written.
It could really happen, “down here”
One night, while on routine patrol, Sam attempts to pull over a white Camaro that runs a stop sign. The out-of-state driver leads Sam on a harrowing car chase that ends on a dead end road near the Ohio River. When Sam prepares to issue a ticket to the law-breaking violator, he is met with gunfire from two attackers – one wielding a handgun, the other, a shotgun. Sam protects himself with a fifteen-round Smith & Wesson, and calls for back-up.
By the time three squad cars arrive, the two men have disappeared, only to begin another chase in a getaway car. The two perpetrators are not apprehended and Sam is faced with the knowledge that he had been set-up to be murdered.
Months before, Sam and another officer arrested twenty-six drug abusers. Two snitched on distributors, but the main drug supplier was not revealed. Sam feels his life and maybe his wife’s may be in danger from retribution for the arrests. >From evidence found at the scene and a tip from a local power company supervisor, Sam begins an intensive investigation that leads to his wife, Carolyn, being kidnapped. Sam concentrates all his efforts to identify and locate a local marijuana manufacturer, and to find Carolyn… alive or dead.
Author, Ronald M. Schunk, a retired police officer, uses his police background to write an action-packed tale filled with investigative intrigue. Police procedures are descriptive and characters real-to-life in situations that could be occurring right now, today.
Much dialogue is police oriented, while some is like that of numbskull felons. Impressive use of police skills and techniques makes RETREAT an excellent first novel for Mr. Schunk.
The only drawbacks are minor author intrusion and POV switching, which to a reader only, would probably not be obtrusive. On occasion, characters are not expressly identified, causing a tad bit of confusion when using pro nouns instead of character names. To me, for a first novel, these are minor nuances that do not overly distract from the overall quality of the fiction story.
I highly recommend RETREAT to those persons looking for police action, intriguing suspense and great investigative work condensed in an interesting novel.
Patricia Spork, Reviewer
eBook Reviews Weekly
Here is the first chapter of “Retreat”
Sam squeezed tighter to the driver’s side , kneeling behind the open door and trying to keep the engine block and tire between the source of the bullets.
He reached down to his belt and slipped the velcro holding his walkie talkie in its nylon sheath and brought it up to his lips while squeezing the transmit button.
“District 20, I’m under fire, I need backup, NOW!”
Another round punched through the passenger door to glance off the dashboard after plowing a furrow six inches long.
“Unit calling District 20, I can’t read you, you are broken, please 10-9 your traffic.” The voice of the dispatcher sounded tinny and too far away.
“Shit” yelled Sam, dropping the WT to the ground. He swore again and this time directed it to the useless radio. “I should have bought a better radio!” Reserves in the County provided their own equipment, and as Sam did, occasionally their patrol cars. The WT had been fine where he worked before coming to Retreat, but now, he was so damn far from the repeater tower the dispatcher couldn’t pick him up.
He backed up and made a grab for the mike hooked onto the car console. The mike that was attached to the twenty-watt county radio in the trunk. The radio that always worked no matter what damn hollow he was in or hill he was behind.
He plastered himself to the seat, reached under the wheel and jerked the mike off the hook. The radio immediately stopped scanning all the county frequencies and locked onto the main dispatch channel for District 20.
“District 20, unit 20-303, I’m taking fire, need backup immediately” he shouted..
The radio worked this time and the emergency tones hit his ears like a blessing from Church as the dispatcher called out any available help. She already knew his location since he had made a traffic stop only moments before.
“Attention all cars all departments, attention all cars all departments. Unit 20-303 is being fired on one half-mile north of State Route Ninety on Locust Pike. I repeat unit 20-303 is being fired on one half-mile north of State Route Ninety on Locust Pike. All responding units identify”.
“20-16 responding from Madden.”
“Unit 20-12 responding from Key Truck Stop, e.t.a. five minutes.”
“This is KSP 20-433 responding from the I”.
Sam was never happier than when the three units working in the County gave their positions and estimated times of arrival. He knew they weren’t holding back on the cars, and he knew the Chevy Caprice LT1 engines were screaming their horsepower cries as tires spun and concrete caught hell. Hopefully he could hold out until backup arrived. He also figured they were so close because they had automatically started towards his last known location when the chase first started. It was something that he would do being in their place. Cover your buddies butt.
Two more rounds impacted the passenger door and their arrival was echoed by a shotgun blast that tore out one of the headlights. Pellets bounced off the hood and pinged off the lightbar while the strobes lit the scene with evenly timed red and blue flashes. It was like a dance floor in a Newport bar, but he sure wasn’t dancing. The front take down and the manual spot formed a cone of high intensity Arctic white light that bathed the stopped Camaro which had been the focus of his attention until the gunfire started.
Sam immediately held his hand and arm up, angled the semi-automatic toward the source of the fire and squeezed off five fast rounds, the first three taking out what was left of the window, the other two speeding out into the brush at the edge of Locust Pike.
He forced himself to grab a quick breath and popped his hand up again to fire three more rounds. One of the hot brass casings hit the prisoner cage mesh and bounced back onto his hand causing him to flinch.
Pulling his hand down, he backed up and put his body behind the rear wheel well and stopped again. Don’t let him know where you are he thought. Keep them guessing.
The shotgun boomed, this time aimed at the lightbar. The shot went high and the pellets whined off into the misty night air, trailing small vapor trails behind them. It was strange how your field of view narrowed and picked up things like that. I’d heard of it happening, but never saw it before.
Once again, only this time deliberately, Sam rose from behind the trunk lid with the pistol out in front of him. He took a quick look toward the tree line and dropped back down.
Something white was partially visible behind the thin trees.
Its position told him it had to be the shooter with the handgun. He quickly thrust himself up once again this time firing the last four rounds in his fifteen round magazine. The white spot which was a shirt partially covered by a leather jacket disappeared as the rounds impacted the sparse trees.
With only one round left in the weapon, Sam ducked back down at the same time reaching for a spare magazine in the pouch on his gun belt. In one smooth motion as he spun left and started to squat, his thumb hit the eject button and the spent magazine slid out of the gun and started to fall. He brought his left hand up and fed the new magazine into the weapon. He slammed the heel of his left hand into the base of the magazine to make sure it was seated firmly in position.
Damn, he thought, I’m sure glad I practiced that move so much at the range.
He was ready again and grabbed another quick breath. This time he slid right and took a quick peek around the bumper to see if the white spot was still there.
It was gone! That meant the shooter had moved and he didn’t know where, but the other guy knew where he was. He could swing and sprint for the other side of the road and although there was concealment there was no cover. And he knew the difference thanks again to training. He had to stay behind the car. It was the only safe place.
The Smith and Wesson in his hand was a comforting weight as he squatted on his heels and listened to the darkness.
He heard nothing. Not a whisper of cloth on brush, a footstep, or even the sound of a shotgun being recharged. Nothing at all. The bulletproof vest pinched a fold in his stomach between itself and his gun belt, but this was one time he appreciated it, which he normally didn’t. A vest was a cumbersome thing to wear, hot in summer, heavy all the time and uncomfortable. A lot of cops didn’t wear them because of that, but he really appreciated it now. He was glad his wife made him promise to wear it whenever he worked the road. The next generation of vests were a lot lighter, but made your pocket a lot lighter at around eight hundred dollars a pop.
Maybe they had given up. Maybe one of my shots had hit one of them. Maybe, mabye. That wasn’t good enough, he thought.
Suddenly, he heard approaching sirens. The mist on the road and in the trees muffled the sound, but he knew backup was almost here.
Sam duck-walked toward the front of the car, shutting his door in the process. He still had the bulk of the engine and front tires to shield him, and his sixth sense had kicked in and he was sure the shooters were gone.
Sixth sense or not he didn’t jump up, but peered around the front bumper, expecting to see the fatal black hole that was the barrel of the shotgun. He raised his weapon out in front and took shuffling little steps, one at a time, as he eased around the corner of the car. He was prepared to go one on one.
His caution, although correct, was wasted. There was no one to be seen.
Still he waited. His flashlight was within easy reach where it lay on the gravel road and he quickly picked it up. The spots illuminated the Camaro and he gave it a closer look.
Both doors were wide open and inviting, but it was an invitation he wasn’t prepared to take. Either one of the shooters could be lying in the front or back seat just waiting to take him out, or there could be a third person hiding there that he hadn’t seen.
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