Clear by Fire

A Search and Destroy Thriller


About The Book

Inspired by the experiences of a decorated combat veteran and a former member of the 82nd Airborne division, Clear by Fire is a blistering new military thriller about an American hero who, in order to clear his name, must take down a highly classified band of soldiers that has gone murderously rogue.

Mason Kane was a loyal American soldier and a proud member of the elite, off-the-books Anvil Program—a group of black ops soldiers who wage war from the shadows. But all that changed when his commander, as a part of a twisted scheme to force America’s continued involvement in the Middle East, ordered an innocent Afghan family murdered.

Refusing the order, Mason finds himself on the run, hunted by his former comrades and labeled a terrorist by the country he served faithfully. Relying only on his survival skills and the help of female Special Operations operative Renee Hart, Kane must embark on his gravest mission yet: unraveling the conspiracy that reaches all way to the President’s inner circle and stopping the world’s most dangerous soldiers from completing their treacherous plan.

Set in the shadows of the War on Terror, this realistic, action-packed adventure puts a twist in the traditional military thriller and starts a brand-new series that fans of Brad Taylor will love.


Clear by Fire CHAPTER 1 Washington, DC
National Security Advisor Winfield “Duke” Cage nodded at the two Secret Service agents flanking the entrance to the White House situation room and adjusted the unfamiliar tie that was threatening to choke him.

The last time he’d stepped through this doorway, he’d quit as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, effectively throwing away a career that had spanned two decades.

He’d sworn never to return. But that was under a different president, and while only eight months had passed, Cage was a different man, and the newly appointed national security advisor.

The room was smaller than he remembered but utterly familiar. The burnished wood of the massive table gleamed in the rays of the overhead lighting and cast its reflection on the flat-screens mounted to the walls. The blue and taupe carpet lay pristine, perfectly balancing the neutral coloring of the walls and the black leather chairs arranged around the room’s perimeter.

His eyes drifted over the faces of the most powerful figures in Washington, men who were responsible for guiding their new president, and Cage wondered if he had enough in him for one last battle.

His aide, Jacob Simmons, made his way through the scrum of onlookers and as he handed Cage the daily intelligence brief said, “There is a problem. We need to talk.”

At six foot four, Cage was built like an all-pro tight end and towered over his short and stocky aide. The two men had been a team since their days at West Point, and their relationship had been tested in the cauldron of battle on more than one occasion. Simmons was the only man on earth whom Cage trusted, and during his brief exile, he was the only man who had his back. He was also one of the most capable intelligence operatives he’d ever known.

“Not now,” Cage replied, catching the secretary of defense slipping toward him out of the corner of his eye.

“Duke, we have a serious problem,” he hissed.

“Handle it . . .”

“Cage,” Secretary of Defense Collins exclaimed, dragging his attention away from his aide.

“Mr. Secretary,” he replied formally.

“I was surprised when the president told me he appointed you,” he began condescendingly.

“Not as surprised as I was,” Cage replied, taking the secretary’s outstretched hand and shaking it firmly.

He knew that Collins had fought hard to keep him off the president’s cabinet, and while Collins didn’t have the balls to come out and say it, the secretary was already working on bouncing him off Capitol Hill. But this wasn’t the first time someone had been after his scalp, and Cage was already a step ahead.

His ace in the hole was that he didn’t have to be confirmed before Congress and therefore could only be fired by the president. As long as he kept the man happy, he was good to go. Cage felt the SecDef squeeze his hand as he looked searchingly into the ex-general’s eyes. He was challenging him already and the day hadn’t even started.

One lesson Cage had taken from his time in the Green Berets was that it was important to assert dominance among the pack as soon as possible, and he did this by slowly crushing his opponent’s clammy grip until he could feel the thin, birdlike bones of the man’s hand begin to compress against themselves. He pulled the man in close, as if to embrace him, and said, “Be careful, friend.”

Just then the president walked into the room, surrounded by his top aides and chief of staff. Cage released his iron grip and stepped back as the leader of the free world looked at him and smiled broadly.

President John Bradley was thin and fit, with a deep tan and more than a passing resemblance to Robert Redford. The American public had been infatuated with his youthful exuberance and trustworthy gaze and he’d been elected in a sweeping landslide. Moving among those assembled, the president began working the room. He drew men to his side like moths to a flame, and Secretary Collins, like everyone else, was unable to resist. With one final stare, Collins turned his back on Cage and made a beeline for the most powerful man in the world.

“What the hell was that?” Simmons whispered, moving closer. “I thought we were laying low.”

“Don’t worry about him. Stick to the plan and he won’t know what hit him.”

“Look, we really need to talk. Something’s come up in Konna.”

Cage saw the president moving his way and wordlessly stepped forward, signaling to his aide that they would have to finish the conversation later. Despite his outward calm, he wished nothing more than to have a moment to find out what the hell was going on. Unfortunately, now wasn’t the time.

“Duke,” the president said, offering his hand and the famous smile that had gotten him elected.

The president was one of the few people Cage allowed to call him Duke. While it was a small thing to most people, the nickname was something reserved for those who had bled beside him in combat, and he guarded it jealously. The fact that Cage had fought with Bradley’s father gave the president a free pass, but more than that, Cage knew it was bad form to correct the President of the United States.

“Mr. President,” he replied, taking his hand and shaking it warmly.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am that you agreed to help me out.”

“Well, Mr. President, I didn’t figure you’d take no for an answer.”

President Bradley had naively promised the American people that he would end the war in the Middle East while restoring the country’s honor. But he needed Cage’s help to make good on the promise.

“I’m just thrilled to have you on the team,” he said, staring Cage deep in the eyes. “We have a lot of work to do.”

Cage nodded as the president’s chief of staff leaned in and said, “Mr. President, we are on a tight schedule.”

President Bradley winked and, releasing Cage’s hand, turned and walked back to his place at the head of the table.

About The Author

Photograph by Kim Jay

Joshua Hood graduated from the University of Memphis before joining the military and spending five years in the 82nd Airborne Division, where he was team leader in the 3-504 Parachute Infantry Regiment. In 2005, he was sent to Iraq and conducted combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005–2006. From 2007 to 2008 he served as a squad leader in the 1-508th Parachute Infantry Regiment and was deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. Hood was decorated for valor in Operation Furious Pursuit. He is currently a member of a full time SWAT team in Memphis, Tennessee, and has conducted countless stateside operations with the FBI, ATF, DEA, Secret Service, and US Marshals.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (August 18, 2015)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501105715

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Raves and Reviews

Clear by Fire transports the reader to the front lines of the War on Terror with such vivid detail that it leaves you looking for cover.”

– Scott McEwen, coauthor of American Sniper and The Sniper and the Wolf

“Fast paced and with a sharp eye for detail, Clear by Fire reads like it was written by someone who carries a gun for a living. There is no substituting authenticity, and Hood has it in spades.”

– Kevin Maurer, coauthor of No Easy Day

“Joshua Hood nails it in this debut thriller about blacker than black ops! Step aside Scot Harvath, seasoned, in your face, and hard wired for the war on terror, spec ops hero Mason Kane is the new standard bearer. Written with a crisp voice, keen insider knowledge, and heart stopping friction points, with Clear By Fire Joshua Hood will leave a mark inside the elite military thriller genre.”

– Dalton Fury, bestselling author of KILL BIN LADEN

“Debut author, Joshua Hood, isn’t just a solid writer, he’s former 82nd Airborne and a full time SWAT team member. Enter his world of door kicking assault stacks and double tapping heavy rolling operator knowledge, and you experience a highly realistic narrative that puts you in the melee with Hood capturing the full effect of cordite detonation and the smells of vengeful death.”

– J.T. Patten, former intelligence professional, author of Safe Havens: Shadow Masters

“Hood has the foundation for an action-adventure series, with a shoot-first hero in the style of Child's Jack Reacher, Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger, or DeMille's John Corey.”

– Kirkus

"It’s impossible to take your eyes off Mason, who knows no bounds as he goes about achieving his mission."

– Publishers Weekly

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