America, the not-too-distant future. A dictator has toppled democracy and one country will not be enough to satiate his hunger for power. A clandestine organization known as the High Command has taken over the U.S. government, sowing the seeds of global war and overtaking every country in its path to world domination. Only a few still stand against the tide — Spain, the U.K., Australia. It’s the end of the world, or is it? 

Phantom of the High Command (Gatekeeper Press) by Timothy W. Smock is a dystopian alternate history tale for fans of Ian Fleming, Mission Impossible, and Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series. Readers are in for a globe-spinning ride as the action and characters hopscotch from the United States to Spain, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Scotland on a series of missions in service of the High Command’s master plans.

INTERNATIONAL SECRETS UNCOVERED

Our hero, the man with the code name “Phantom,” is a bit of an American James Bond, drinking wine instead of martinis, and complaining about the food everywhere. He’s a highly-trained assassin for the High Command, taking out world leaders with such style and ease even other assassins don’t realize those leaders have been assassinated. (“That was you? Everyone said that was a heart attack.”) 

On the other hand, Phantom’s private life is frequently a disaster, including blackmail and heartbreak that become intimately intertwined with his assassination work and cause him to begin to rethink who he is.

Phantom and his people use high-tech tools to infiltrate their enemies around the globe and learn their secrets as discreetly and cleanly as possible — and they have no problem torturing and killing said enemies when that doesn’t work. The team can and does work as a well-oiled machine when they are not bickering among themselves. 

The web of alliances and betrayals between this shifting group of assassins and operatives adds a layer of intrigue to the novel. Phantom is forced to kill targets other assassins have been hired to protect, and to go against people he has been sworn to save. 

AN EROTIC THRILLER

Romance flourishes and fades between various members, making these professionals vulnerable at the worst possible times. There’s an erotic component to these escapades as well — take that as a content warning or as a titillating bonus, depending on your preference.

There are moments of humorous dialogue, mostly courtesy of the hysterical and irreverent assassin Tara (codename “Phoenix”), who might be genuinely a wackjob or might be faking it — you never can tell.

Who can they trust? Who are the real bad guys? Phantom’s team works to shift loyalties toward the High Command at every level and by any means necessary. Nothing and no one is what it seems, and the surprise ending is not one that any reader would expect from this genre.

Phantom of the High Command is an entertaining read full of lusty sex, violent vengeance, shocking betrayals and the rare introspective moment that serves to remind us, amidst all the chaos, that redemption is indeed possible, even for those with assassins for bedfellows.

Buy this book!

About Timothy W. Smock:

For years, Tim Smock wrote short stories and literary snippets for fun and personal enjoyment. A fan of alternative history and hypothetical dystopian future novels, he is inspired by authors who dare to challenge societal norms and ask the question, “What if … ?” The works of authors Harry Turtledove and Joann Herley were major inspirations for him. Phantom of the High Command is his debut novel.

A New Jersey native, Tim retired to Nevada with his loving and devoted wife. He enjoys movies, reading, traveling, wine and spending quality time with great friends!