Robert Blake Whitehill takes Espionage to a Unique Level in Political Thriller
As a Maryland native, Robert Blake Whitehill grew up sailing the Chesapeake Bay and one of her most beautiful tributaries, the Chester River. As far as Maryland’s Eastern Shore goes, he is a From-Here, not a Come-Here. His intimate knowledge of the Chesapeake region empowers his bold statements about the resilience of the local culture and its importance on the international stage. Whitehill is a master storyteller, grabbing his audience by the collar and dragging them through the looking-glass into the dark, exciting world of his breakout thriller, Deadrise.
“The Chesapeake Bay, and Smith Island in particular, are crucial protagonists in their own right in Deadrise. I wanted to pit the traditional, solid independence of the Chesapeake’s people and landscape against the modern chaos of terrorism and international intrigue,” says Robert Blake Whitehill. “I also wanted to take the thriller/espionage genre to a unique new level by introducing a protagonist whose cultural background is more important than his military experience. That’s how I create relatable, memorable and irreverent characters like these maverick Smith Islanders, or my uber-heavy, Maynard Chalk, and an especially strong cast of women – both good and evil. Then I welded all of those elements together with an age-old theme: the dreadful and mortal burden of sudden wealth.”
Diving the Chesapeake Bay for oysters after a late season hurricane, former S.E.A.L. Ben Blackshaw discovers the recent wreck of a speedboat mired on the bottom. It’s jammed with millions in gold bullion, and one other box that turns out to be a suitcase dirty bomb…its time counting down to zero just 24 hours away. But the real shock is yet to come. At the helm of the wreck bobs a corpse; a man Ben has not seen in 15 years: his father.
Deadrise keeps readers on a ripsaw edge as details emerge of Ben’s father’s involvement with an Iran-Contra style government black-ops deal. Then dawns the stark realization that covert mercs – led by the savage yet charming operator, Maynard Chalk – will do anything to retrieve their loot no matter the cost in innocent blood.
That’s when Chalk and his jackals descend upon the god-fearing people of Smith Island. To repel Chalk’s invasion, Ben and his Smith Island irregulars must set aside a corrosive mistrust of each other brought on by the influx of untold wealth. After a rocky start, Ben finally persuades a small cadre– including his smart, no-nonsense Natural Resources Police officer fiancé LuAnna, and his impassive oyster culler Knocker Ellis – that their recent hardscrabble times could be set right if they manage to keep this orphaned gold for themselves, and somehow stop that nuclear bomb before it blows them all out of the Chesapeake.
Not for the faint of heart, Deadrise enthralls the full spectrum of readers, holding them spellbound, or perhaps fiendishly possessed, from page one until long after the book is finished.
Robert Blake Whitehill is a Maryland Eastern Shore native currently living in Montclair. He is an award-winning screenwriter at the Hamptons International Film Festival, and the Hudson Valley Film Festival. He is also an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation award winner for his feature script U.X.O. (Unexploded Ordnance). His feature script Blue Rinse, co-written with Andrea Shane, is currently under option with producer Bill Jarblum (Charley Bartlett, The Little Traitor, Cloudburst), with Olympia Dukakis to star.
While writing many highly rated episodes of Discovery/Times Channel’s The New Detectives, Daring Capers and The Bureau, he served as the Vice President of Independent Film Acquisitions for the groundbreaking Internet startup Centerseat, developing and managing their Independent Film Channel. Robert Blake Whitehill is also an EMT, and a private pilot. Deadrise is Robert Blake Whitehill’s first novel in The Ben Blackshaw Series.