Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Red Hotel
BY Gary Grossman and Ed Fuller

Beaufort Books
March 19, 2019/ ISBN 9780825308901
Mystery / Thriller

Reviewed by Elise Cooper

Red Hotel by Gary Grossman and Ed Fuller bring to life, in a thrilling novel, the dangers of soft targets. Using his past experiences as an overseer of Marriott International's Global Security Strategy, and now President of the Irvine, California-based Laguna Strategic Advisors, a global consortium that provides business consulting services to corporations and governments, Fuller can help create a realistic plot with political thriller writer Grossman.

Fuller noted, “While I was still working with Marriott, I wrote a book, You Can’t Lead with your Feet on the Desk. It was a business book that reflected my experiences and philosophies. One of my friends in public relations suggested I make it into a movie. I sought the advice of another friend, Bruce Feirstein, who sat on a board with me and wrote three James Bond screenplays. He suggested I write a novel. Since I had trouble with pulling the characters together, I sought out a co-writer I was impressed with Gary Grossman, a political thriller writer. So, the way it works is I contribute stories and strategy, and Gary applies the glue, creativity, and through-line that binds our stories, characters.”

The book opens with Dan Reilly, the Vice President of the international division of a major hotel conglomerate called Kensington Royal, testifying before Congress stressing the necessity of shared information between the intelligence community and hotel chains for the safety of their customers. He understands the threat level through his travels to assess the hotel's properties. As he is testifying, a terrorist bombing attack occurs at the Kensington Tokyo Hotel. After viewing the devastation and the number of fatalities, Reilly submits a plan to the home office to deter future attacks. A panel of security experts, including a former CIA official, a former FBI official, a military strategist, and the owner of a company of mercenaries, is consulted. They outline security upgrades for the hotels based on threat levels. A "red" hotel label means an imminent attack: a bombing, a weather event, an assassination attempt, anything deemed dangerous.

The authors pointed out the term "RED" refers to "the highest threat level for a hotel regarding protection and defenses. It is a system Ed came up created. These are less attractive to the bad guys since there are measures in place, such as armed guards, bomb-sniffing dogs, reinforced glass, metal detectors as guests go in/out, and security blockers. A Red Hotel team looks inside and outside for people who do not seem to do what normal guests would do. For example, taking pictures of ballroom entrances, taking pictures of the front entrance, and/or measuring distances with their feet."

Through the investigation, Reilly discovers that the perpetrator is not who he expects. His sources in the CIA and State Department point not to random acts of terror, but calculated acts of war facilitated by a global power. The Tokyo attack is tied to Russia’s plan to return to its’ former greatness under the rule of President Nikolai Gorshkov. This story weaves the last days of the Cold War with present-day current events.

Grossman describes Reilly as “solution-oriented, smart, intuitive, and a businessman. He knows how to ask questions. He has military experience, state department experience, and private sector experience. While fighting in Afghanistan, he rescued a peer who now works for the CIA. This enabled him to have a bond between the intelligence and business communities.”

As a young KGB officer during the reunification of Germany, Gorshkov felt betrayed by his superiors and is now in a position to not only exact revenge but to also test NATO's ability to defend its' members borders. Now, Gorshkov plans to reassert Russian dominance by reclaiming former strategic territory that was part of the Soviet Union. To accomplish this, the President of Russia creates unrest and violence in unexpected places, placing the cause and responsibility for it elsewhere. The tension ratchets up as the Russians try to put their plan into motion.

The novel is a thriller within a hotel setting that has suspense and international intrigue. The plot involves a world adventure that is both realistic and believable, given the experiences of one of the authors, Ed Fuller. As the conflict intensifies, readers will be on the edge of their seats.

Reviewed 2019