Gray Ghost By C. L. Swinney: Review/Guest Post/Giveaway

Oct 5, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Sandra Murphy

by Sandra Murphy
& C.L. Swinney

This week we have a review of Oak Tree mystery author C.L. Swinney’s book Gray Ghost. We also have a guest post from Swinney about his background as a narcotics agent, and there are details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book.

Gray Ghost By C. L. Swinney
Review by Sandra Murphy

Two guys on a fishing trip to the Bahamas sounds like a nice, relaxing holiday. Once Detectives Dix and Peterson find out their guides are missing, presumed dead, things are not so relaxing any more. It seems the guides may have had a little sideline business–running cocaine. Gunshots blew their boat, the Gray Ghost, out of the water and it’s now sitting on the ocean’s bottom with a hundred million dollar’s worth of cocaine still hidden in the hull. Who will get to it first and will they live to tell about it?

The detectives offer their expertise to the Bahaman police department and soon find out this is no ordinary drug operation; the man behind it is only known as The Caller. The Coast Guard is called in, a combined investigation from Miami PD and the Bahaman police launched, and fishing is forgotten. Who can be trusted? Pretty much no one–at least not enough to bet your life on it.

Jim Calhoun is brought in as the Coast Guard’s expert. He’s got an uncanny record for finding drug runners and commands respect from not only his crew but law enforcement from the Bahamas to Florida. With a few trusted locals, Calhoun and backup in Miami, Dix and Peterson are confident the murders will be solved, the drugs recovered and the drug ring broken, at least for now. But as the book cover warns, be careful who you ask for help….it may turn out to haunt you. Can the locals really be trusted? Most are poor people who use the drug trade to supplement tourist based income. The police department has its share of corrupt officers. Even old friends begin to look iffy as the case goes on.

An action filled read and keep an eye on the characters. There are a lot of them when the Coast Guard, Miami and Bahaman police, locals and guests at the hotel are all involved. Dix and Peterson have their hands full to solve this case–fishing will have to wait.

Sandra Murphy lives in the shadow of the arch, in the land of blues, booze and shoes—St Louis, Missouri. While writing magazine articles to support her mystery book habit, she secretly polishes two mystery books of her own, hoping, someday, they will see the light of Barnes and Noble. You can also find several of Sandra’s short stories on UnTreed Reads including her new one Bananas Foster.

The Life of a Narcotics Agent

By Chris Sweeney

I admired the beer I poured, the New York steaks I marinated, and the garlic mushroom potatoes I prepared for barbecuing, while it donned on me I truly live a blessed life. Then I got a phone call about a narcotics case and snapped out of my daydream. It’s Saturday for God’s sake! Nevertheless, when you hunt large scale narcotic traffickers like my partners and I do, you learn to give up almost everything…and sometimes, the ultimate sacrifice of an officer’s life is given in the line of duty while fighting the ‘war on drugs.’ This last line got me really thinking.

The life of a narcotics agent can be fast-paced, exhilarating and rewarding. The mission is simple: make society a better place by ridding it of narcotics. Although the battle against the cartels and gangs has been going for decades, it’s entirely frustrating to see law enforcement ending up with the short stick the majority of the time. It is an important role we play and battle we wage, but I have thought of a few ways to be more effective and help more people. For the record, this didn’t all just come to me today. No, I have spent hundreds of hours on surveillance and used my time to figure out ways we should attack the narcotics problem within the United States.

I’ve been involved in very large scale seizures of narcotics (hundreds of pounds of crystal methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana, and heroin), I’ve taken hundreds of people to jail, worked undercover and worked some secret squirrel stuff I can’t even talk about (as you read this I’m probably being followed by NSA). It’s all a game to the cartels. The only thing that hits them right in the breadbasket is seizing money obtained from the sales of narcotics.

So, here are my thoughts. If it was up to me, I’d flood the United States border with K9 (police dogs) trained in detecting currency and narcotics. I’d have them posted on the US side sniffing away at any and everything going into Mexico. I’d be willing to bet almost overnight the amount of money seizures at the border would skyrocket. What does this mean? It means instead of the close to one billion (total assets which includes money, property, vehicles) the United States seizes annually from the war on drugs, it would be closer to 8 to 10 billion.

C.L. Swinney

Do you know that currently “Chapo” Guzman, a notorious Mexican cartel boss, is listed as one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in the world annually by Forbes? He’s achieved that status because it is estimated cartels in Mexico roughly net 37 billion a year. How’d he earn one of the most powerful men title? Well, his men cut off the heads of rival cartel members and publicly display them on the streets as a sign to other people to “back off.” The only reason cartels are in the narcotics business is to make money. That’s it. So, if we did a better job of seizing their drug profits, we’d put a serious dent into their pocket books.

Next, I’d take the money from these seizures and put it into programs to help people get off drugs. Mexico leaders and even cartel leaders have consistently pointed at the United States as being the root problem of narcotics. Their position, which I think is brilliant and spot-on:

If the United States didn’t have so many users of narcotics, we wouldn’t make so many narcotics.

Hate to say it, but they are completely right. Jails and prisons in the United States contain roughly 70% of people who are addicted to narcotics. Therefore, I’d re-invest the billions of dollars seized at the border into programs to rehabilitate people addicted to narcotics. I’ll be honest–if we clean up our culture, I’m not sure what Mexico or the cartels will do to make money, but it’s a risk we should take.

Getting people off drugs is a massive long process requiring intensive programs. These programs do exist, but they cost a lot of money. No one wants to pay more taxes for these programs and I’m okay with that, so we just use drug money to get people off drugs. I also believe getting more people help and clean will drastically lower the amount of property crimes and other crimes we see on a daily basis. I don’t expect to create a euphoric society in which we skip down the street and hold hands with pure strangers, but we need to clean up America. Why not use cartel money to do it? I know the process would be slow going in the beginning, but I think these concepts would turn the war on drugs into something law enforcement can win.

Have a great and blessed day!

To enter to win a copy of Gray Ghost, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Gray,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen October 12, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.

C. L. Swinney is a narcotics investigator currently residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has investigated hundreds of narcotics, homicide, gang, and Mexico cartel cases along the west coast of the United States, Mexico, and Canada. C. L. Swinney has been invited to speak at law enforcement conferences throughout the United States and is recognized as an expert in narcotics, homicides, and cell phone forensics. He developed the concept for the first book in his Bill Dix series, Gray Ghost, while fly fishing in the Bahamas. His passion for the outdoors and law enforcement is intertwined throughout his writing. The world of narcotics is dark and mysterious. C. L. Swinney pulls the reader immediately into this fascinating world from the first word in his debut novel and doesn’t let you out until you finish the book. He supports teachers, Parents, Law Enforcement, Doctors, Nurses, Firemen, American Troops, Juvenile Diabetes Research, and any other group that strives to do right. Plain and simple.


  1. Thank you for this terrific opportunity today. I was happy to share some thoughts about my profession and writing. Have a great day everyone!

    Chris Swinney

  2. Nice book setting

    • Thanks bn100! Grab a copy, I bet you like the book. I spent a lot of time making the reader feel they were in the Bahamas.

  3. I love exotic locales for mysteries!

  4. We have a winner
    Lorie Ham, KRL Publisher


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