M-9

Marvin J Wolf

Book Cover

GENRE

ACTION/THRILLER

    Core Theme

    AVENGING.

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    THE MARKSMAN, CONTRACT TO KILL, SONS OF ANARCHY

    CHARACTER LIST

    WILL (30S-40S): LEAD. EX-COP WHO WAS FALSELY ACCUSED OF BEING CORRUPT.

    CHELMIN: (40S-50S): SPECIAL AGENT WHO WORKS WITH WILL TO SOLVE THE VIOLENT CRIME SPREE.

    ARTHUR: (50S-60S): WILL’S ADOPTED FATHER, AND THE POLICE CHIEF.

    SHAWCROSS: (40S-50S): SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, AT THE HELM OF THE INVESTIGATION.

    CYNTHIA: (30S-40S): YOUNG DA WHO RESCUES WILL FROM A VIOLENT SCENE AT THE COURTHOUSE.

    BAINBRIDGE: (50S-60S): ARTHUR’S PREDECESSOR WHO GOES MISSING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INVESTIGATION.

    Logline

    Mismatched Army CID partners battle a vicious, sophisticated international gang.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 13-17,18-34,35-54,55+

    Target Gender: Male Leaning

    Setting

    California: Barstow, San Bernardino, Santa Ana

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Rambam Press

    Year Published: 2019

    Starting Description

    SPAULDING, an Army recruit, finds the nude body of a woman while unloading a boxcar full of Army boots. Shorthanded, CHELMIN, a one-legged CID Agent, hangs a badge on him and they head to Barstow to find her killer.

    Ending Description

    Amid a shootout, SPAULDING rescues CHELMIN from a giant refrigerator. Later he finds a telling clue in a micro disc concealed between postage stamps. This leads to the arrest of dozens of M-9 and the recovery of millions from foreign accounts.

    Group Specific

    Action group

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978-1687742254

    Mature Audience Themes

    Nudity,Extreme Violence, Language/Profanity

    Plot - Other Elements

    Twist,Happy Ending

    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain,Quest,Voyage and Return

    Main Character Details

    Name: Chelmin

    Age: 54

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Badass,Masculine,Patriotic,Confident,Decisive,Skillful,Outspoken,Heroic,Honorable,Leader,Complex,Strong Moral Code

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Spaulding

    Age: 27

    Gender: Male

    Role: Sidekick

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Aspiring,Masculine,Complex,Faithful,Strong Moral Code,Engaging,Heroic,Honorable,Obedient,Educated,Patriotic,Skillful

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Tom Blair

    Age: 50

    Gender: Male

    Role: skeptic

    Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Educated,Honorable,Obedient,Skillful,Confident,Sophisticated,Strong Moral Code,Patriotic,Engaging,Faithful

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Rhonda

    Age: 52

    Gender: Female

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Villainous,Sexy,Skillful,Engaging,Criminal,Charming,Seductive,Secretive,Complex,Sophisticated

    Development Pitch

    Two unlikely partners find themselves in the crosshairs of a ruthless international gang in this thriller. Wily detective Rudy Chelmin joined the Army Criminal Investigation Division after losing his leg in Gulf War action in 1991. Rudy discovers a new partner in recruit Will Spaulding, who finds a woman’s naked body in a boxcar full of Army boots. Will enlisted in the Army after getting run out of Barstow, California, after daring to arrest the guilty but privileged scion of the family that owns the local TV station and the newspaper. The two pair up to solve the murder of Kendra Farrell, the naked woman who died from hypothermia. Their efforts attract the attention of M-9, a dangerous Salvadoran gang, which blows up Will’s car and a gas station with an RPG, then, while all the police are responding to the explosion, attempt to rob a bank. Later, still trying to kill the CID agents, they blow up the top floor of a courthouse. Kendra worked at a base that was the Marine equivalent of Amazon.com, handling orders for all sorts of military supplies. The investigators must determine whether Kendra was involved in or stumbled onto something shady. Next, they have to figure out which of the police or FBI with whom they have been working may be in league with M-9, and striving to block or divert their investigation. Finally, distracted by a new romance, Rudy lets his guard down and then disappears; Will must find him before he ends up exactly like Kendra.

    Genre

    ACTION, SUSPENSE, THRILLER

    Brief

    An ousted cop joins the Army and gets more than he bargained for when his detective skills are called upon to help solve a woman’s murder. But as he digs deeper into the case, he provokes a dangerous Salvadoran gang who is determined to stop him.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    It is accurate.

    Draw of Story

    The story begins in the heart of the action, which helps to engage the reader. We’re presented with a tension-riddled prologue that sets the scene, and then quickly move into the characterization of Will and Chelmin. The focus is clear from the beginning, which helps in a story of this genre because it directs the reader’s attention and thus, drives the story forward.

    Possible Drawbacks

    It’s possible that there are too many characters to keep track of, especially in the first half. We meet an array of people with different titles and it’s a bit tough to distinguish them and to accurately identify the hierarchy. Perhaps some of the more ancillary characters can be combined and/or eliminated so that the reader is presented with a more solid cast who has room to grow and develop on the page. On a similar note, the lingo and/or slang is sometimes distracting, especially for a more general audience. While this wouldn’t make or break a deal, it’s something that maybe could be dialed back a bit on the page.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    At its core, this is a story about an ousted cop looking to avenge his name and reputation. No matter what chaos ensues, this is Will’s overarching goal. It works well because it tempers a bit of the more unrelatable elements, like the heavy action scenes, and creates a well-rounded through line that is relatable and likely widely understood.

    Fanbase Potential

    A story like this might attract fans of Vince Flynn, Dan Brown, and/or Noah Hawley. It’s action-packed, heart-pumping, and likely intended for a cis-male audience. That said, it could have global appeal since parts of the core story feel so relatable. And in terms of rating, it’s likely R based on the violence alone.

    Awards Potential

    Based on the genre alone, a story like this isn’t likely to garner Above the Line Awards attention. But it’s possible that it could get some Below the Aline attention. An adaptation would likely require careful special effects, clever blocking and/or choreography, and a clever score to have the desired effect. All of these could be contenders, as well as things like makeup and costuming.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    THE MARKSMAN, CONTRACT TO KILL, SONS OF ANARCHY

    What’s New About the Story

    The story blends humanized characters with extraordinary, action-packed events quite well. In that way, it takes something otherwise unrelatable and makes it palatable to a general audience. That said, to make things more unique may mean streamlining the cast of characters a bit. For instance, the story might be more easily digestible if Will had a singular opposing force, with a strong vendetta and an even stronger personal goal. This could mean combining and/or eliminating some of the more ancillary characters or doing a deep dive into the antagonistic characters’ motivations and goals. Additionally, it could be beneficial to consider paring down some of the action. There is more than enough to spare, and there is certainly enough to fit the genre. But it’s possible that including so many violent, heart-pumping events could diminish the overall tension a bit and end up desensitizing the audience.

    Lead Characters

    Both Will and Chelmin are struggling with personal loss, and a level of grief that bonds them together. Will has lost his career and Nancy, and Chelmin has lost his beloved Noreen. Though it’s subtle, it does give the duo a strong reason to take to each other, and it gives them great chemistry on the page. There is also a sense of calm about them that reads almost comical. The world, quite literally, is exploding around them, and they’re both able to retain focus and deliver quips for the sake of the reader. It’s a clever way to deliver some emotional relief, and it works well.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Though it has potential, M-9 doesn’t feel like a rare gem quite yet. It’s possible that the character development needs to be enhanced a bit, and the story itself streamlined. There’s a lot going on at any given moment, and it’s sometimes tough to keep track of things. Combining and/or eliminating some of the ancillary cast members, and for that matter some of the ancillary scenes, feels like a great place to start. One such example is the Prinze trial. We don’t really need to see the lawyers in the chambers for more than a beat or two, and more than that run the risk of pulling the reader out of the story.

    Possible Formats

    Film: Studio, Streaming TV Series: Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    It feels like the skeleton of the story is most certainly here, but perhaps a bit more work needs to be done to prepare it for a potential adaptation. Generally, it feels like there is too much material, and that the primary storyline should be more forward than it is currently. Additionally, it’s hard to identify the most important cast of characters outside of the two leads, because there is such a vast number of secondary roles.

    Tips for Improvement

    Streamlining both the characters and the story itself feels like it’s key. Pulling out the primary storyline and dialing back the ancillary scenes could help narrow the story lens a bit and provide the best version of the material for a potential adaptation. And eliminating and/or combining some of the secondary cast should allow the space for us to engage with the most important players, which would give the story the best chance of resonating with audiences. But that’s not to say that this isn’t something worth continuing to pursue. It’s clear that there’s a solid understand of storytelling here, and an even clearer passion. A bit of massaging and finessing is likely just the thing to take M-9 to the next level.

    Brief

    An ousted cop joins the Army and gets more than he bargained for when his detective skills are called upon to help solve a woman’s murder. But as he digs deeper into the case, he provokes a dangerous Salvadoran gang who is determined to stop him.

    What We Liked

    M-9 is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that pits the authorities against a powerful Salvadoran gang. At its core is an ousted cop who has been wrongly accused of being corrupt and a grieving Special Agent who can’t quite get over the loss of his beloved wife. Together, they unravel twists and turns to reveal the truth about a violent crime spree that threatens their lives, and the lives of those they love.

    Film: The story has a definitive starting and end point, which should fit well in the feature format. It relies heavily on action-soaked sequences and tension-riddled situations, which could compel audiences throughout. And finally, the story does a great job of interweaving different storylines and character voices to create a well-rounded, multidimensional piece.

    TV: The story relies on many different subplots, which could fit the television format quite well. It also relies on multiple perspectives, which could translate nicely. The pacing could be slowed down just a bit to sustain multiple seasons or kept as is for a limited series. The action-packed scenes ensure that there’s always a healthy dose of tension throughout, and the humanization of each of the characters help ensure room for character growth from start to finish.

    Key points:
    Action-packed.
    Potential for diversity.
    Complex characters.
    Defined target audience.
    Satisfying conclusion.

    Synopsis

    Army soldiers are instructed to carry one box at a time into a warehouse. Inside, WILL SPAULDING finds a dead woman. SPECIAL AGENT RUDY CHELMIN arrives on scene.

    Chelmin finds Spaulding and learns that he was a detective before he joined the army.

    Chelmin arranges temporary duty for Will. But he’s done some digging into Spaulding and learned that he was ousted from the Barstow police department after arresting a child murderer, the son of two prominent figures within the community. Although the trial is beginning, Spaulding expects the murderer to walk thanks to the influence of the local media. Chelmin gives Spaulding a badge and decides to kill two birds with one stone: solve the murder and ensure that the murderer doesn’t walk. NCIS SPECIAL AGENT MALONE meets Spaulding and Chelmin in Barstow with his secretary, BRENDA. The dead woman is identified as KENDRA FARRELL. Will drives home with his adopted father, the police chief, ARTHUR SPALDING and his predecessor, BAINBRIDGE.

    Arthur and Will meet with Chelmin the next morning. He allows Arthur to put Will back on the police force for the duration of the investigation. Kendra’s autopsy report arrives, and we learn that she died of hypothermia. There were also fragments of rope oh her wrists and GBH, a sedative, in her system.
    Malone and Chelmin arrive at the local newspaper, and meet LINCOLN PRINZE, the murderer’s half-brother. Chelmin apologizes for the family’s troubles and Prinze tells them that his brother, TAYLOR, was framed by a dirty cop.

    The men are in Malone’s office when they get word that the Marine’s Museum has been broken into, and a gun stolen. Chelmin vows to get to the bottom of it. He interviews RHONDA HAWKINS, Kendra’s co-worker, but she is soon called away to a budget meeting.

    Meanwhile, Will arrives at Kendra’s apartment complex. In the leasing office, he meets HARRY GELBER. Together, they question Kendra’s son’s daycare. MRS. CHOI says that in the weeks leading up to Kendra’s death, she seemed tired and stressed. She also wasn’t driving her usual car. Soon, Harry is instructed to escort Will off the property. But he ‘accidentally’ leaves Will with access information for the complex. Will searches Kendra’s apartment and discovers that it has been ransacked. He suspects Harry. Soon after, he learns that Kendra’s rental car was returned with nearly 4,000 miles on it. He goes to inspect the vehicle and discovers that it, too, has been
    Ransacked.

    Will receives a call from Arthur and learns that Bainbridge is missing. Will and Chelmin go back to search Kendra’s apartment. This time, they find a security camera and a cell phone taped to the back cover of a book. A shot blasts through the window, and the men duck for cover. While Will keeps the gunman distracted, Chelmin goes up to the roof. At the last minute, two shots come from above and the shooter goes down. Will and Chelmin are instructed to work with the crime scene team at Kendra’s apartment. On the way, they stop for gas. Will hears the unmistakable sound of a grenade and pushes the cashier out of the way just as it strikes the pump. Chelmin identifies the weapon as one stolen from the Marine’s Museum. Just after escaping, the men notice a bank robbery in progress.

    Chaos ensues, but they are able to apprehend one of the bandits. They spend the rest of the afternoon explaining the incident to the authorities. But before they know it, the bandit has escaped. They find the cashier, who is able to give visuals on the grenade-throwers.
    Back at headquarters, Will and Chelmin are introduced to the US District Attorney of California,SHAWCROSS. He informs Will that he will serve as a witness in Taylor Prinze’s trial. During Will’s testimony, the opposing lawyers disagree on every point. Meanwhile, Chelmin stumbles upon the escaped bank bandit and calls for backup. A young DA, CYNTHIA BRENNAMEN invites Will for a coffee during the break. Taylor Prinze is offered a plea bargain. Chelmin approaches the bandit and gunfire ensues. A rocket grenade strikes the court building and vapors erupt, engulfing everyone inside.

    Cynthia is able to direct the paramedics to an unconscious Will, who is taken to the hospital. Chelmin arrives and learns that Will is unscathed. Shawcross arrives next with an update: all the crimes are connected and have been attributed to a group of Salvadorans linked to the M-9
    Gang.

    As Will is recovering, he learns that Bainbridge has been found dead. Chelmin heads to prison to meet with a member of M-9, WILBER ‘FLACO’ PORTILLA. He produces pictures of the fallen gang members, in hopes of getting more information. Portilla reveals that M-9 was contracted to kill Will. Further, he reveals that the person at the helm of the crime spree is a Marine.

    Chelmin stops at a gas station and accidentally flashes his gun to the cashier. She startles until he identifies himself as a federal agent. The cashier looks increasingly familiar to him, and she identifies herself as his long-lost sister-in-law, CHERYL.

    Bainbridge’s autopsy report shows that he died in the same manner as Kendra. Chelmin has dinner with Cheryl and is approached by DALTON GUERRERO, who thanks him for taking out the members of M-9. Chelmin hurries Cheryl and they leave. He knows that Guerrero is a dangerous man, undoubtedly up to something nefarious.

    Cheryl calls the next morning, and reveals that her boss, WELLINGTON MARADONA, gave her the restaurant recommendation. Chelmin reveals this to Will, who has just gotten a lead on M-9’s pickup truck. It was reported stolen from an Army base by DUNAHOO. Will hurries to question him. Will checks Kendra’s Facebook page and learns that she accused a man in her apartment complex of stalking her, EUGENE ALTER. He visits Alter and learns that he was dating Kendra. Alter swears that he didn’t hurt her, and that he believed that she moved to Texas in a hurry. Given Alter’s technical expertise, Will pitches hiring him to Chelmin.

    Chelmin visits Cheryl, and they make love. They have dinner at a Japanese restaurant and Chelmin hears a bomb go off in the distance. In the parking lot, he realizes that the bomb has come from his car. Meanwhile, Will hacks into Kendra’s Facebook page. He learns that a photo of Kendra had been uploaded after her death.

    Chelmin takes Cheryl to a safehouse. Somebody begins trailing them, and Chelmin tries to outrun them. Chelmin and Cheryl arrive at the safehouse, only to learn that it’s been compromised and that a man is dead. Chelmin takes Cheryl to a private army base for safekeeping. She tells him she loves him, and he returns the sentiment.

    Will revisits Alter and learns that his father offered Alter a stipend to work with the police department. Will questions Alter about a trip he took with Kendra to Costa Rica and begins to suspect that Kendra was there for more than just a vacation. He reaches out to the Costa Rican branch of the FBI to inquire about Kendra’s trip. He learns that she visited a building known for harboring dummy companies to aid in money laundering.

    Will discovers a small cosmetics company in the building in Costa Rica. He and Chelmin begin putting pieces together and realize that Malone may be involved. Will calls Kendra’s ex-husband, MATTHEW. He reveals that he and Kendra have always stayed on good terms, and that prior to her murder, she told him that she suspected one of her managers of hacking into the system and stealing things.

    The next morning, Chelmin and Will learn that Flaco Portilla has been murdered. Chelmin is contacted by a woman who has a picture of the criminal Marine. Chelmin is shocked at the photograph, and hurries to call Will and the others. Then, he heads to Malone’s office. When Will tries to call him back, Chelmin doesn’t answer.

    Chelmin awakens after being drugged, in a chilly space. He realizes, with horror, that this is where Kendra and Bainbridge were killed. Will boards a chopper in hopes of locating Chelmin’s car. They find it stashed behind trees near a row of abandoned homes. They land the chopper and find a dead, decomposed body. But it’s not Chelmin. The authorities search for Malone and the lead members of M-9, all of which are missing.

    Will finds a drive with photos of Kendra’s as well as a shipping log. He and Rhonda, her colleague, pour over them together. This leads Will to a construction site, where he discovers Chelmin. They are about to escape when Malone’s secretary, Brenda, appears with a gun. With some clever maneuvering, Chelmin is able to shoot her down.

    Will tries to alert Rhonda but doesn’t receive an answer. Worried, he goes to her office. The evidence and Rhonda are gone. Chelmin offers Will a permanent position, and then takes off with Cheryl. For now, all is well.

    About The Author

    In print and in person, Marvin J. Wolf is a renowned storyteller and photojournalist. He is a former Army combat correspondent, the seed of a career that grew into his newest biographical book. They Were Soldiers: The Sacrifices and Contributions of Our Vietnam Veterans, co-authored with the late legendary war correspondent Joseph Galloway). Wolf’s prior autobiographical books include Abandoned in Hell, co-authored by decorated Vietnam Green Beret Captain William Albracht.