The Emerald Cross

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Book 1 of Jamie Morales
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Pub Date Jul 14 2024 | Archive Date Aug 15 2024

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Green Beret hero Jamie Morales returns to Southern California from the Middle East missing an eye and burdened by the horrors of war. After a difficult transition to civilian life with his wife, Brooklyn, he learns his mother is secretly harboring a fascinating antiquity once owned by Mexico's most notorious drug lord, Marco Delgado—the same man who murdered Jamie's father thirty years earlier. Quickly assessing the risks of his mother owning something a brutal cartel boss once cherished and wants back, Jamie acts to protect those he loves from a worst-case scenario. When his sister-in-law selfishly tries to sell The Emerald Cross to Delgado, her plan backfires in terrifying ways.

After the DEA, FBI, and two countries' special forces fail to hold Delgado accountable for horrific deeds, the physically and emotionally injured ex-Green Beret does something he promised Brooklyn he would never do again—pick up a weapon. Jamie Morales isn't sure if his pursuit is about justice or vengeance, and he quietly accepts he probably won't survive the personal crusade stirring in his head.

Delgado's compound in the Sinaloa Mountains of Mexico is about to be breached by a grieving warrior who has lost all he holds dear. Sylvia Sokolov, his ex-Army comrade and Black Hawk pilot, stubbornly inserts herself into her friend's pursuit. Together, they aim to achieve the impossible while reconciling their uniquely painful pasts. Amid the quest, Jamie discovers astonishing truths that rewrite his family's past and permanently alter his future. Then Sylvia risks everything for an unknown Mexican woman whose life lies in the balance, and Jamie's mission evolves in extraordinary ways.


Green Beret hero Jamie Morales returns to Southern California from the Middle East missing an eye and burdened by the...

Advance Praise


Readers who enjoy spirited thrillers replete with military background, experiences, and intrigue will find The Emerald Cross an appealing, notable draw. Drawn into a dangerous game that rivals his armed forces experiences' complexity and the potential for personal disaster, Jamie is forced into a role that taps his military skills in a deadly cat-and-mouse game. This spins a fine yarn of intrigue, deception, and psychological challenge.

Spiced with DEA encounters, military skills put to unexpected use in civilian life, and underlying motives that affect not just the ownership of the Emerald Cross but the lives of those involved in its management, Ken Cruickshank crafts a series of encounters that are vivid in their complexity and possibilities.

Cruickshank tempers action with psychological entanglements and revelations, leading thriller readers to more closely examine their own concepts of justice, vengeance, survival and exploitation. Circumstances drive an ex-hero to take up the reins of battle as a civilian and tackle extraordinary opponents and circumstances that buffet both his life and his potential for healing.
Midwest Book Review

Ken Cruickshank's THE EMERALD CROSS is a great, action-packed thriller about revenge and second chances. [It] is the second novel by Ken Cruickshank and the first in a new series about Jamie Morales. The former Green Beret is a compelling character in his first literary outing: equal parts tragic and comedic, just as willing to cover his destroyed eye with a comical eyepatch as he is to defy orders to avenge his family. Sylvia, ace pilot and Jamie's partner in his trip to take out Delgado, also shows promise; hopefully she and the latest in her string of fiancés will be fleshed out more in later novels.

The action in THE EMERALD CROSS is strong, with nearly the entire second half of the book devoted to Jamie's mission. It is, by design, a difficult read at times, with multiple depictions of the impact of PTSD on its lead characters. The imagery runs the gamut from military shoot-outs to enraged baboons on out-of-control helicopters. But peppered through these intense scenes are more subdued moments—tea on the terrace and attempts at dates—reflecting the peaceful life Jamie longs for and fights for. The book culminates in a good twist and an explosive conclusion, closing out this particular story but leaving the way open for further installments.

THE EMERALD CROSS is, funnily enough, very little about the Emerald Cross itself. (Though readers will get the payoff of an explanation of the holy relic.) The eponymous item isn't truly the focal point of the novel, just as it isn't truly the focal point of Delgado and Jamie's deadly rivalry. Rather, this is a novel about revenge, envy, and second chances. It's a strong start for a fascinating character who will hopefully star in many more sequels.
Indie Reader

Cruickshank (Eagle Bay) introduces a new action hero in the square-jawed, morally upright former Green Beret Jamie Morales. The son of a slain Mexican journalist, Jamie lives a good but somewhat haunted life, having retired from a frequently harrowing military career and now living with his wife, Brooklyn, his mother, Maria, and the occasional traumatized flashback. Also haunting him: the specter of his journalist father's assassination at the hands of a psychotic but cunning cartel leader, Marco Delgado. When Jamie's sister-in-law, Ashley, deep in debt, contacts Delgado to sell an artifact, the Emerald Cross, of great significance to the cartel leader, a series of violent and tragic events pushes Jamie to plan the unthinkable: a vigilante mission storming Delgado's compound, with the goal of capturing him alive to get justice in U.S. courts.

Old friends show up to help over Jamie's protests, and Cruickshank leads the reader through a gauntlet of deadly firefights, vicious wild animals, and unexpected allies. Cruickshank's narrative is as much about the conflict between integrity and corruption as it is a revenge story, as Delgado's belief that everyone can be bought or intimidated is tested by Jamie's ethical resolve. Cruickshank is careful not to make Jamie a saint, as this justice-minded hero who had vowed to leave violence behind now must fight the urge to kill Delgado outright. His mix of anger, resentment, and empathy for his guilt-ridden sister-in-law further humanizes him, and Cruickshank handles his PTSD (Jamie was once tortured by the Taliban) with sensitivity.

Cruickshank [follows ] a tight plot thread. Those details coalesce in an exciting climax and heartfelt denouement that features a twist that establishes another potential volume. The result is a viscerally and emotionally satisfying action thriller that feels connected to real-world happenings.[A] thriller with strong action and moral weight.
BookLife Review

The Emerald Cross is a work of fiction in the mystery, suspense, and family drama subgenres and is the opening novel in the Jamie Morales series. The work is best suited to the general adult reading audience. Penned by author Ken Cruickshank, the story follows the journey of Green Beret hero Jamie Morales as he returns to Southern California from the Middle East. He is haunted by the scars of war and burdened by a promise to his wife, Brooklyn, to leave the violence behind. However, when Jamie's mother becomes entangled with an ancient artifact once owned by a notorious drug lord who killed Jamie's father, he is thrust back into a world of danger and betrayal. As Jamie confronts his past and grapples with the complexities of justice and vengeance, he teams up with his ex-Army comrade Sylvia Sokolov to navigate a treacherous path filled with secrets, deception, and heart-wrenching revelations that will forever change their lives.

Author Ken Cruickshank has crafted a compelling narrative filled with vivid characters, intense action sequences, and twists that keep you on the edge of your seat from cover to cover. Jamie Morales is the deeply flawed yet incredibly compelling protagonist at the center of it all, and his journey of redemption and self-discovery resonates thanks to the author's close-up narrative skill and excellent speech and thought presentation. The intricate plot sets Jamie's personal narrative against a tapestry of other small stories and interactions to offer an emotional arc that is as thought-provoking as it is exhilarating. Overall, The Emerald Cross is a captivating start to what promises to be an unforgettable series, leaving readers eagerly anticipating the next installment, and I would not hesitate to recommend it.

Readers' Favorite


Readers who enjoy spirited thrillers replete with military background, experiences, and intrigue will find The Emerald Cross an appealing, notable draw. Drawn into a dangerous game that...

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ISBN 9781960981103
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