BLOOD RED SQUARE Who Killed Hammarskjold?

Pat Mullan

Book Cover

GENRE

ACTION ADVENTURE CRIME SUSPENSE/THRILLER POLITICAL

    Core Theme

    GOOD VS EVIL

    TIME PERIOD

    20th Century (multiple decades),Contemporary

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    JACK RYAN, THE REPORT, THE NOVEMBER MAN, MICHAEL CLAYTON

    CHARACTER LIST

    OWEN MACDARA: 40S. LEAD. DETERMINED, HIGHLY SKILLED, AND HONORABLE.

    CONOR BRADY/EDUARDO KELLY HERRERA: 40S. HIRED ASSASSIN WHO SAVES OWEN’S LIFE AND ENDS UP SWITCHING SIDES.

    MISHA KEDROV: 50S. ANTAGONIST WHO SEEKS TO TAKE DOWN RUSSIA AND HAVE OWEN KILLED.

    BART SHIELDS: 50-60S. NSC ADVISOR TO THE US PRESIDENT, DEPLOYS OWEN ON SENSITIVE MISSIONS.

    LESLIE SCOTT: 30S. WORKS WITH SHIELDS AT THE NSC, PARTNER TO OWEN AS THEY TAKE DOWN KEDROV.

    ANNA YACHMI: 20-30S. WORKS FOR OWEN’S COMPANY IN RUSSIA, OWEN’S LOVE INTEREST.

    Logline

    In 1997 as part of President Yelstin opening up Russia to new freedoms, secret documents of the KGB Communist reign are being revealed. Russian businessman Misha Kedrov finds some damming evidence implicating the Soviet Union and the U.S. in the death of Hammarskjöld.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    New York, Moscow, Buenos Aires, Siberia, Leningrad, London, Libya, Antwerp, Cairo,Galway, Connecticut, Florida,Washington, Texas

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Athry House Books

    Year Published: 2014

    Starting Description

    In 1961 in Leopoldville, the Congo, the American Kearns and the Russian Zhukov ask the mercenary major with the Anglo-Irish accent if all is ready. He tells them that the VIP will meet with Mobutu before flying on to see Tshombe in Ndola; he will not make it there. They give him 50% of his fee.

    Ending Description

    Mullan weaves a masterful tale around a real event--the accidental death of Dag Hammarskjold, the secretary general of the United Nations in 1961. Or was it an accident? That's the question MacDara has to answer, some thirty years later, as he zips to and from London, Moscow, Washington and .......i

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    ISBN-10: 0615453201

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Other

    Plot - Premise

    Other,Rebellion Against 'The One'

    Main Character Details

    Name: Owen Macdare

    Age: 38

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Masculine,Charming,Complex,Confident,Sexy,Patriotic,Skillful,Educated,Heroic,Faithful,Honorable,Leader

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Eduardo Kelly Herrera

    Age: 27

    Gender: Male

    Role: Antagonist

    Key Traits: Aggressive,Charming,Complex,Criminal,Masculine,Villainous,Lone Wolf

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Misha Kedrov

    Age: 43

    Gender: Male

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Complex,Confident,Criminal,Decisive,Educated,Leader,Masculine,Villainous,Narcisstic,Patriotic,Power Hungry,Skillful

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    In 1961 in Leopoldville, the Congo, the American Kearns and the Russian Zhukov ask the mercenary major with the Anglo-Irish accent if all is ready. He tells them that the VIP will meet with Mobutu before flying on to see Tshombe in Ndola; he will not make it there. They give him 50% of his fee. Three days later UN Secretariat Dag Hammarskjöld and his retinue die in a place crash on his way from seeing Mobutu to meet with Tshombe. Rumors fly that his death was no accident, but no proof surfaces to prove otherwise and within two years an assassination in Dallas became the centerfold of conspiracy buffs. In 1997 as part of President Yelstin opening up Russia to new freedoms, secret documents of the KGB Communist reign are being revealed. Russian businessman Misha Kedrov finds some damming evidence implicating the Soviet Union and the U.S. in the death of Hammarskjöld. Knowing who else was murdered as part of the Hammarskjöld contingent, an outraged Misha takes his find to terrorist "Eduardo Kelly Herrera" with hopes and prayers to cause a new rift between the tentative allies the Americans and the Russians.

    Genre

    SUSPENSE, THRILLER, DRAMA, POLITICS

    Brief

    An Irish-American agent is called upon to protect US interests when a Russian mobster threatens the stability of his own government in 1997. The agent must prevent damning information about an assassination from over 30 years getting out as it implicates both the CIA and the KGB, while also trying to stay alive as his enemies kill those around him. He and his team manage to take down the mobster and secure both countries’ future, but the victory doesn’t come without loss.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    THIRD PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: GOOD

    Pace: GOOD

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    For the most part, yes. However there are some typos and other mistakes, and some sections that appear not quite finished (such as the short summary). It also sells itself as a true story, which is inaccurate. Though the 1961 death did occur and there are whispers of a conspiracy involving both the US and Russia, as far as this writer can tell nearly everything else in the book is fabricated.

    Draw of Story

    Owen being called in to track down the sources to a conspiracy theory is really interesting, and the twists and turns that he must muddle his way through to find the truth is, too. The globetrotting secret agent aspects are also fun, as is the fact that he’s being traced by Conor Brady. Conor Brady is also a compelling villain, because he’s not simply a cold-blooded monster. It’s nice that he’s driven by greed not by revenge or a greater purpose. His turnabout at the end to a good guy is unique.

    Possible Drawbacks

    The plot itself and Misha’s grand plan both feel convoluted, as does the Congo mystery. It’s difficult to track a clean through line in the novel, which makes it hard to feel invested in the story itself. Investment in Owen and his companions must carry the weight instead, which is difficult as their only personal interests are tied directly to the plot. There are no real subplots, just many moving pieces of the same central story. This is further complicated by the fact that the audience knows both the truth about Congo and Misha’s grand plan almost the entire time, so there’s no mystery for the reader.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The true political implications and real world issues woven in are a great hook that help this story to come to life. Conspiracy theories are inherently interesting to people, and that’s a solid draw as well. Owen is forced to root out an unsavory truth, and he has to protect the country that did something terrible without asking any questions. This duality is great, and it could be pushed even further if Owen were to doubt the US more.

    Fanbase Potential

    It’s easy to see an adapted version of this story being moderately successful as political thrillers often do well for themselves.

    Awards Potential

    The potential for awards would lie in the casting and portrayal of the story, as sometimes stand-out performances or directing can garner attention. However due to the genre, awards likely aren’t on the table.

    Envisioned Budget

    MEDIUM BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    JACK RYAN; THE REPORT; THE NOVEMBER MAN; MICHAEL CLAYTON

    What’s New About the Story

    The somewhat true conspiracy theory at the heart of the story makes it unique, and anything that can be done to tie that more to the present day of the script will only help it along. The 1997 assassination was carried out on Misha’s orders simply to point the finger at Russia, but it’s unnecessary when compared with his damning DVD. Finding a way to make Ridge’s death more important would help a great deal, especially as right now it’s what helps bring Misha down. If Misha hadn’t ordered Ridge’s death, it seems like he wouldn’t have been caught before the G8 summit. Ridge can be better tied into the conspiracy as a whole to better weave everything together.

    Lead Characters

    Owen is a fun man to follow around the globe to be sure, and his grief is startling and heartbreaking in the beginning of the book. However, this quickly falls to the wayside and he’s thinking of bedding other women. While this may be human, it does make him less empathetic. He could carry his grief more obviously for longer, or he could wall it away and let it harden him more. Instead, Kate and his son’s death don’t seem to have much of an impact once he’s working on the case.

    Uniqueness of Story

    There are spots of rareness throughout the book, unique sparks that hint to something greater. However, the book never quite achieves that promise, and it’s not as compelling as the one proceeding it in the series: The Circle of Sodom. Providing a cleaner narrative would be a big step in the right direction. Owen MacDara is a strong protagonist, and he slots in nicely alongside other male heroes in the action genre without feeling too reminiscent of any of them.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Studio, Film - Streaming

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    The narrative is muddied by convoluted plots and unclear character motivations, as well as just a great deal of important, named characters. It’s difficult to follow the storyline, and thus difficult to have a vested interest in it. Simplifying things will make for a punchier plot that allows the characters to shine, rather than confusing the audience. The repeated deaths of female characters is also troubling, as is the violence against women in general.

    Tips for Improvement

    Owen more or less skates by unharmed in the book, while the women around him suffer greatly. Kate’s death seems extreme, especially given that it’s followed by the death of the other two main female characters later in the book. There’s a trope known as “fridging” female love interests for the growth of the male protagonist and/or for a plot point. That’s how all these women (Kate, Anna, and Leslie) are treated in the book. Nothing is really gained from their deaths, it’s just a vehicle to move Owen along to the next thing. This means the reverse is true as well, that they don’t need to die as it wouldn’t greatly impact the story either way. Owen could potentially be more powerful if he had something left to fight for, rather than having nothing left to lose.The tiny bit that we can see him work alongside Leslie, they make a great team! Their platonic partnership could easily continue in the series, and it would make both Owen and the story more nuanced. Having a tighter POV so that less is given away to the audience would also help.

    Brief

    When a Russian mobster threatens the stability of the new, post-Soviet government, the US employs their secret weapon: an agent who moves seamlessly as a businessman from country to country. Saddled with his own grief, the agent must put everything aside to track down those responsible for the assassination of the acting UN Secretary-General while also unraveling a conspiracy that killed another Secretary-General over thirty years ago.

    What We Liked

    Owen MacDara is a character that any audience will love, want to be, or both. It’s easy to relate to him, even though he’s essentially a highly-skilled spy. He’s truly achieved the American dream by being an immigrant who built a million dollar business, plus he has the trust of the president and then some. He’s the man anyone can rely on, and that makes this story endlessly interesting. It’s easy to imagine Owen in a variety of difficult circumstances, and the fun is knowing he’ll always make it out.

    Film: This story is a great fit for a political thriller. There’s a conspiracy and a mystery all wrapped up together, and it’s inspired by true events to boot. It would make a nice and tight thriller flick, the type which never hurts for an audience. What’s more, the book is part of a series, and Owen MacDara is the kind of protagonist people would follow for an entire franchise of films. He’s just as likable as he is competent, and audiences will jump at the chance to put themselves in his globetrotting shoes.

    TV: A TV series of this book, or the entire Owen MacDara series, is a great idea because it allows for the myriad of interesting supporting characters to all have their due. There’s no shortage of people — both in Owen’s camp and his enemies — to populate several episodes, if not seasons. Subplots could easily be developed to run alongside Owen’s main goals, and a diversity of characters could be showcased easily in this world. A show would also allow for the political themes to be delved into even deeper.

    Key points: Strong protagonist; Settings; Inspired by a true story; Exciting action sequences; Easy to see as a franchise

    Synopsis

    In 1961 in the Congo, American KEARNS and Russian ZHUKOV pay MAJOR LACEY for the safe transport of UN Secretary-General DAG HAMMARSKJOLD. Hammarskjold is killed in a plane crash three days later. In 1997, KATE WHITESIDE has a miscarriage that kills both her and her unborn SON. She was carrying the baby of OWEN MACDARA, whom she met when he investigated the disappearance of her FATHER and uncovered a far right coup to take over the United States. He mourns Kate and his son, going abroad to hide away in alcohol and grief. Owen is called back by NSC adviser BART SHIELDS following the death of acting UN Secretary-General ALEXANDER RIDGE.

    Ridge is shot by CONOR BRADY, a gun for hire, under order of MISHA KEDROV. Misha runs a number of legitimate businesses, but he also runs the Russian mob. Though Misha’s involvement is of course a secret, Ridge was shot in Moscow, so Russia is now taking heat. Misha hopes to destabilize the new post-Soviet government. Misha and his sister NADIA’s parents were killed by Soviet forces, and they both harbor a grudge. Shields worries about any US involvement in Ridge’s death, as the CIA is known for secret assassinations. He questions the current CIA DIRECTOR about the death of Hammarskjold in ‘61, as KGB documents given to PRESIDENT CLINTON from Russian PRESIDENT YELTSIN show a conspiracy between the US and KGB to kill the secretary-general.

    Misha is tipped off that Owen is in Moscow asking questions about Ridge, and he learns Owen is secretly a US agent. Misha knows him only as the head of GMA, a consultancy group. GMA is currently undertaking a project for Misha, a communications software. GMA is suspicious of Misha’s motives, including systems analyst ANNA YACHMI. Shields tells Owen about the possible connection with the Congo and tells him to find the Russian involved: Zhukov. Zhukov gives Owen the name of Kearns and Lacey. Owen learns a Russian woman named Nadia is also asking questions. Conor is on Owen’s flight and introduces himself despite the fact that he’s been contracted to kill Owen. The plane crashes, and Conor saves Owen’s life.

    Back in the US, Owen learns Conor’s an assassin. Shields assigns his assistant LESLIE SCOTT to help Owen, as she has a past in the FBI. Shields tasks them to find out who Nadia really is, and why she was asking about the Congo. Leslie finds out that Nadia is Misha’s sister. Kearns is killed by Misha’s, first giving them the name JACK WAINWRIGHT. Wainwright knows who gave the order to kill Hammarskjold, and he may still be alive. Owen and Leslie try to find him, but the mercenaries get to him first. They record his confession and then kill him. Anna learns that Misha is having a system created that will allow for the high-speed transfer of video over a telephone line. It will work alongside what GMA is developing, and he wants it all set for the G8 where he plans to broadcast a DVD across the world simultaneously.

    The DVD is proof that the US and Russia conspired together to kill Hammarskjold in the Congo, and it includes Wainwright’s confession. Owen, Shields, and Leslie create their own DVD to swap out with Misha’s that will ruin him instead of Russia. All set with their decoy in London, Owen asks old friend CHARLIE MAGEE to help protect Leslie. He goes to Moscow and meets with Anna, and an attempt on his life after they sleep together kills Anna. Because he wants to retire anyway, Conor switches sides in London and joins forces with Magee to help protect Leslie instead of killing her or Owen. At the G8 summit, the DVD switch is successful, leading to a firefight between Misha and his goons and Magee’s men. Leslie is killed in the crossfire, as is Conor while protecting President Clinton. Misha runs, and Owen races after him, shooting down his private jet and killing him. With the video confession gone, only a handful of people know the real truth behind Hammarskjold’s assassination. The official story is still that it was a tragic accident.

    About The Author

    Pat Mullan is a member of International Thriller Writers. His thriller novels, poetry, and short stories are published in the US, Ireland, and the UK. He was one of fifty Irish writers chosen by Oxygen Books in the UK for inclusion in 'City-Pick DUBLIN', published to mark Dublin being chosen as UNESCO'S City of Culture for 2010. His short story, Galway Girl, was short-listed for Galway’s WOW Awards. He has published five thriller novels: The Circle of Sodom, Blood Red Square, Last Days of the Tiger, Creatures of Habit, and A Deadly Gamble. The Circle of Sodom, his first novel, received two nominations, one for Best First Novel and one for Best Suspense Thriller, at the Love Is Murder conference in Chicago.