BEYOND THESE WOODS | Mark Roger Bailey

It is a pleasure to announce the release of my new novel and an exciting new character: Beyond These Woods -- featuring epidemiologist and rogue scientific gadfly, Dr. Lotte Keene.

Beyond These Woods

Lotte has fought and won many virus battles, yet after witnessing the death of her closest friend, Charley, in a horrific Brazilian disease outbreak, she has put the Centers for Disease Control and her high stakes war against pathogens in dangerous hot zones behind her.

Her skeptical relationship with authority and inconvenient habit of being right have stunted her career and undermined her professional reputation. Now, as she struggles to come to terms with life without Charley, she glimpses a telltale repetition of the symptomology of Charley’s sudden death … this time in California’s High Sierra Thunder Peak Wilderness. This clue to the cause of her greatest loss ignites an obsessive need to eradicate the killer. She breaks protocol and goes to Longwood, CA on a mission to confront her darkest fear.

To the CDC, Lotte’s breach of protocol is insubordination. To the environmental activist, Gabriel Fox, she is a complication of his master plan. For America’s elite intelligence apparatus, she is a threat to the nation’s security. For Longwood doctor Ben McCandle, Lotte challenges everything he thinks he knows about medical science.

Lotte Keene must identify the killer in the Sierra old-growth forest, determine if the ‘Ahwahnee Stroke’, as locals call it, is a corruption of Natural Law or a criminal act, and she must stop it before it spreads beyond the Thunder Peak Wilderness. Local suspicions of her motives mount, calculating corporate interests grow more sinister, dark operatives from Washington move against her work… and time is running out.

Dr. Lotte Keene is about to rewrite the rules of biogenetic science and cross the thin red, white and blue line between American principle and power.

BEYOND THESE WOODS is currently available for the Amazon Kindle and desktops, laptops, tablets, iPhone, Android and all handheld devices with the Kindle App available free from your favorite App Store.


gadfly -- a person who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions.

The term 'gadfly' was used by Plato in the Apology[2] to describe Socrates' relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse. (source: Wikipedia)




Journalist Mikael Blomkvist, co-founder and editor of Millennium Magazine, receives a guilty verdict for aggravated libel of the businessman and market speculator, Hans-Erik Wennerström. He is sentenced to prison for his attack on Wennerström's otherwise well-protected reputation. Mikael knows that he is innocent, yet he is resigned to the fact that the corrupt and admittedly more powerful Wennerström has bested him. Lisbeth Salander is a twenty four-year old misfit with significant socialization deficits. Yet she is a savant, a prodigy at least, in the ways of obtaining information even the most sophisticated private investigators are unable to access.

Henrik Vanger is the elderly former captain of the Vanger Corporation, obsessed with learning the fate of his niece, Harriet, who vanished in 1966.  He suspects she was murdered. Vanger hires Mikael to research and write a Vanger a family history as cover for his real assignment, which is to learn what happened to Harriet.

Blomkvist, seeing no better option for the next year of his currently difficult life, accepts Vanger’s offer. He steps down from his editorship at Millennium; leaves his best friend and occasional lover, Erika Berger; and moves to Hedestad.

Mikael hires Lisbeth Salander to be his researcher.  Soon, the two misfits are extraordinary partners.  Mikael learns that all is not as it appears with the petite, tattooed, anti-social Lisbeth.  For her part, Lisbeth learns that she is capable of trusting another person for the first time in her life. Over time, her feelings for Mikael deepen and she grows in new ways that are foreign, even startling to her. Together, they discover the facts of Harriet’s disappearance forty-plus years earlier and an ugly, depraved, sadistic vein in the Vanger family.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo merits the excitement that preceded its arrival in America from Europe where it is an unprecedented publishing phenomenon. Larsson’s writing has a steady grasp on the pace and dynamics of mystery storytelling. Unfortunately for us, he died after finishing the third in this series.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Thriller Writers Burn It Down

A visit to the mystery/suspense and thriller aisles at Borders this afternoon inspired six observations:

  1. Deceased authors are publishing new novels (i.e., Robert Ludlum, Margaret Truman)
  2. The Cold War is over, the War on Terror has evolved into traditional war, and espionage and conspiracy are bigger than ever
  3. Protagonists in thrillers are best when they are deeply, irredeemably flawed
  4. Women are gaining market share in the pantheon of mystery, suspense and thriller authors (i.e., Lisa Unger, Lisa Scottoline, Kathryn Fox)
  5. The Mystery/Suspense market is growing
  6. Successful writers in these genres 'burn down the house' and create palpable peril

In these categories, my reading has yet to venture far beyond Silva, Ludlum, Anthony Hyde, Clancy, Forsythe, and Cruz Smith, so forgive me if my categorization of those other above-mentioned writers contains errors.  In this, I suspect I am like many of my fellow shoppers in the aisles, scanning titles, cover art, jacket copy and blurbs - drawn to personal favorites, interested in broadening my horizons, yet conflicted about the burden on my budget and the quality of my reading, reticent about dropping $7-$12 on an unproven author.  LeCarré is a personal favorite.  He set the standard long ago in the spy novel genre and continues to craft writing that seems transparent, the writer's holy grail.

Larry went officially missing from the world on the second Monday of October, at ten minutes past eleven, when he failed to deliver his opening lecture of the new academic year.

- OUR GAME (1995)

There is an entire novel in that single opening line.

In mystery, Martin Cruz Smith raises my expectations, not only for quality writing, but also for my own work.

Blair lit an oil lamp hanging on the wall. Its wan illumination reached to the glory of the room, an oil painting of Christ in a carpenter's shop.  Jesus appeared delicate and unaccustomed to hard work, and in Blair's opinion His expression was overly abstracted for a man handling a saw.

- ROSE (1996)

But I digress.  If there is a single thread that unites the work of all of the above, it has to be the last observation.  These writers burn the character's house down, usually early in the book, and often more than once.