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review 2018-09-04 04:32
An entertaining thriller follow-up that almost lives up to its predecessor.
The Cleansweep Counterstrike - Chuck Waldron

This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader as part of a Book Tour stop which includes a giveaway and Q&A with the author.
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Let me preface all this by saying that I enjoyed The Cleansweep Counterstrike, I thought it was a fun return to the characters of the first book. I had some problems with it -- that weren't so bad that they kept me from enjoying this book, but they diminished my appreciation. I do talk about them below, and to adequately express them takes some space -- so much so that it dominates my post. This isn't because I didn't like the book -- it's just that I wanted to be sure I explained my thinking. So I'm stressing at the outset -- I recommend this book, I liked it and I think that other readers will, too.

 

Ahab had his whale, Coyote has his Road Runner and Charles Claussen has Matt Tremain (and the others that helped him out in The Cleansweep Conspiracy). Claussen lost a lot -- not just in terms of influence of money, either -- when Tremain's investigations helped bring his Cleansweep project down. Now on the run from his former bank-rollers and trying to keep under the radar of law enforcement, Claussen risks everything to get his revenge.

 

Tremain and his friends have moved on in their lives and careers -- but you get the impression that they haven't stopped looking over their shoulder for something to come at them for their role in Cleansweeps failure -- not just Claussen, either. He may have been the front man, but no one thinks that he's the only one that might bear a grudge.

After he gets his revenge, Claussen does plan on trying to get some mercy from his benefactors -- and maybe see if he can demonstrate that Cleansweep can work in another country. But first things first.

 

I am so glad that Waldron took this approach to things -- I went in apprehensive that this would be Conspiracy Redux -- somehow the people behind Claussen were trying it in a new city/country (or worse, they were trying again in Toronoto under a different name) and that Tremain and company had taken it upon themselves to head off to the new location to do the same thing they'd done at home. I just wasn't ready for the tortured logic that would make it possible. Instead, it's all about the fallout from Conspiracy -- good and bad for all involved, and all parties trying to go on with their lives, obsessions, and whatnot. Everyone except Claussen, that is. He's still stuck in the moment, making him the proverbial fly in the ointment for everyone.

 

Like in Conspiracy, there's some issues with time -- how much time went by before Claussen starts his efforts at revenge, how long before Tremain and Carling go hunting for Claussen, for example -- there's a couple other spoiler-y items that I'm confused on the timing about, too. Yes, Waldron gives plenty of clues about the time, but some of them are pretty vague and some of them come so late into the game that by the time he says anything about it, it's too late and the reader is already a bit muddled on details. That could just be me, but I don't think so. On the flip side, there's some things in Tremain's personal life that move so quickly (I think) that they're hard to believe. The key there is to not fight it, not insist that everything's crystal clear -- and the book will sweep you up in the hunt and you'll stop caring. And, when it comes to the things that are important -- he doesn't miss a step. It's only in the setup, the subplots, the background, etc. that things get muddled.

 

Once Claussen starts to move in and really gets the four worried about what he's up to and what might happen to them, the book comes together and all the little quibbles vanish. There's danger afoot, hazards everywhere and they all will have to be ready to adapt to any strange circumstance if they're going to get out of this alive and intact.

 

We spent plenty of time with Claussen in Conspiracy -- and we get even more here. Early on, almost every line of dialogue, every thought of his that's recorded is as diabolically evil as it could be -- which made it so hard to swallow. But after a while, that goes away. And you can almost reach the point where you want to see Claussen escape a little longer so that when he does come for Tremain, the whole thing will be a tinge more exciting.

 

My main problem with this novel is that we don't get nearly enough time with Tremain and his allies -- so much of that part of the story feels rushed and under-cooked. I'd like more time with Carling, Remy and Susan. Yes, Tremain is the focus -- and should be -- but we get almost nothing about the other three when they're not playing backup to Tremain. Carling is the most neglected (which I don't think will be a problem in the next book), keeping him the one I want to learn most about -- Tremain's Russian hacker benefactor would be a close second.

Angela Vaughn, Claussen's former security chief, was one of the highlights of Conspiracy for me -- and she has a great moment or two here. But sadly, just a moment or two. I'm glad that Waldron brought her back for this book, I just wish he'd done more with her.

 

The criminals and mercenaries that Claussen surrounds himself with and/or is surrounded with (it's a fine, but important, distinction you can learn about yourself) aren't as compelling. Those that are competent vacillate between almost too capable to believe and have they ever done anything more complicated than hold up a liquor store?

 

Conspiracy felt plausible, maybe some of it was a stretch, but it still struck me as something not too far-fetched, and the stakes felt real. On the whole, Counterstrike is probably closer to plausible, but the stakes didn't -- maybe because it felt so unlikely that someone like Claussen could be so focused on his revenge -- so short-sighted about the dangers inherent in pursuing it (from the government, his backers, other enemies he's made). But it's that Ahab-like focus that drives the novel, so you have to accept it. Once you do -- the rest is easy to buy into.

 

Once again, this novel is close to be a great thriller, but it misses by an inch or two on many fronts -- some are minor quibbles, some are more than that -- but you get enough of those and it's hard to be enthusiastic about the book as you could've been. Maybe I'm wrong, but it feels like this is a draft or two away from being at that point (would a Toronto police detective call the FBI "the Feds"?). For every thing that I grumbled about above (or put in my notes and didn't bring up because I was starting to feel like I was being negative), Waldron nails 3-4 other things. The story is there, I simply don't think that Waldron told it as effectively as he could've.

 

I don't want this post to come across as negative, I'm just underwhelmed. I enjoyed it -- I don't think it's as good as Conspiracy, but it's a worthwhile continuation, and should make the reader keen to get their hands on Book 3. Given where Waldron leaves things, it has the makings of a pretty strong installment.

 

Disclaimer: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for my honest thoughts.

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review 2018-08-29 06:00
The CleanSweep Counterstrike
The Cleansweep Counterstrike - Chuck Waldron

Charles Claussen's Operation Cleansweep has failed. It was meant to cleanse the world of undesirables and improve humanity. The plan came crashing down though thanks to investigative blogger Matt Tremain and his friends including police detective Carling. Now Charles wants revenge but it won't be easy as the people who funded his project are out for revenge against him along with their money back. After receiving threats from Claussen, Tremain ad Carling head off to the 4 corners of the world to find Claussen and bring his brand of chaos to an end. 

 

The CleanSweep Counterstrike by Charles Waldron is the sequel to The CleanSweep Conspiracy but it works as a stand alone novel. What I enjoyed about this book was how it went in a total different direction then the first book. While that one had a message about how many freedoms are we willing to give away to the government for our protection this one is more of an action adventure novel. Claussen is a great villain and I loved how his character changed in this story and what he has to resort to in this story. This is a great thriller which fans of conspiracy and spy stories will love.

 

http://www.chuckwaldronauthor.com/

 

 

https://www.ireadbooktours.com/

 

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text 2018-08-22 12:10
Guest blog post: Chuck Waldron

Why write a conspiracy thriller?

 

I sometimes ask myself the same question. Why in one’s right mind would try and compete with today’s news. Conspiracy is one of the most searched words on Google? While The Cleansweep Conspiracy is loosely based on a real event, the story is a complete, total figment of my imagination. Freud reportedly said a cigar is just a cigar. For me, a story is just a story, intentionally created as fiction.

 

When you read The Cleansweep Conspiracy, you won’t find a story about FEMA coffins, Knights Templar, Area 51, Elvis sightings or the JFK conspiracy. 

 

Reading thrillers is my passion. Not surprisingly, my writing follows that same passion. It’s great fun to put characters in harm’s way. It’s great fun to create characters that have that dash of evil thriller readers expect. Creating roadblocks and dead ends is a given, but always providing my character, Matt Tremain, with a way to keep going. He’s not a Hollywood hero. Matt’s flawed, yet filled with resolve to get at the truth of a conspiracy he’s uncovered. He’s committed to exposing the conspiracy, even at the cost of his life.

 

Matt is up against Charles Claussen, a character representing evil but looks the opposite. Maybe he’s like the saying that the Devil’s greatest trick is convincing us he’s not real.

 

The story woven throughout The Cleansweep Conspiracy could never happen in real life . . . or could it?

 

Read about Matt’s story, and you decide.

 

Chuck Waldron

Author, The Cleansweep Conspiracy and The Cleansweep Counterstrike

 

 

 

Chuck Waldron is the author of four riveting mystery, thriller and suspense novels and more than fifty short stories. Inspired by his grandfather’s tales of the Ozark Mountains and local caves rumored to be havens for notorious gangsters, Waldron was destined to write about crime and the human condition. Those childhood legends ignited his imagination and filled his head with unforgettable characters, surprising plots and a keen interest in supernatural and historical subplots.

 

With literary roots planted in the American Midwest and South, and enriched by many years living in the fertile cultural soil of metropolitan Ontario, Waldron now resides on Florida’s fabled Treasure Coast with his wife, Suzanne. While keeping an eye out for hurricanes, alligators, and the occasional Burmese python, visitors will find Waldron busy writing his next crime thriller.

 http://www.chuckwaldronauthor.com/

https://www.ireadbooktours.com/

 

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review 2018-08-22 12:08
The Cleansweep Conspiracy

Reporter/Blogger Matt Tremain has stumbled on to a conspiracy that could make his career if it doesn't get him killed first. This book starts with a bang as a riot breaks out in the city of Toronto with building being torched and people being murdered. Now Toronto is looking for ways to keep it from happening again and have turned their security needs over to billionaire Charles Claussen. Claussen's plan is called Operation Cleansweep and its goal is to rid the city of undesirables. In the rush to feel safer the city has overlooked that people are loosing their freedoms and putting their way of life in jeopardy. It's up to Matt Tremain and a handful of others to stay alive and expose the conspiracy. 

 

The Cleansweep Conspiracy by Chuck Waldron is a story that gets right into the action and never lets up. The events in this book are fictional but you can see that a lot of the ideas in it come right out of the news. Claussen's main influence is Nazi Germany but he feels that he knew where the Nazi's went wrong and he can correct their mistakes. Also the idea of giving up freedoms to feel safer is something we see put forth by different governments. This book is like a social commentary on how the government manipulates its people by using their fears against them. If you enjoy thrillers with a little mystery and a lot of action then this is a must read. 

 

The Cleansweep Conspiracy

http://www.chuckwaldronauthor.com/

https://www.ireadbooktours.com/

 

 

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review 2016-07-14 13:28
Review for The CleanSweep Conspiracy by Chuck Waldron
The CleanSweep Conspiracy - Chuck Waldron

The CleanSweep Conspiracy

REVIEW

 

I love a good conspiracy novel and The CleanSweep Conspiracy by Chuck Waldron keeps my beliefs alive. The CleanSweep got my attention from the opening pages and if you don’t believe that there is more going on than meets the eye, you may want to get informed.

 

Matt is a blogger…do you post your true thoughts and feelings about controversial subjects? Would your name be on a watch list? Matt has a bulls-eye on his back and It is time for him to put all his emergency preparations into play. Will it be enough to save him?

 

We live Matt’s life. Those in power use the threat of terrorism and fear to watch us all. How much are you willing to give up? Are we…right now…being watched and listened to 24 hours a day? What do you think?

 

Who is to say who has value…the billionaire or the homeless. Whose life is worth sacrificing? Once the criminals, homeless, junkies…are gone, who is next? Where does it end?

 

The suspense builds, then relents, only to build again. My fear for the characters kept me reading and thinking about current events. Sure they might not be exactly the same as what Chuck Waldron has going on in The CleanSweep Conspiracy, but politicians are always muddying the waters, keeping us distracted, like a magician. If you are watching the right hand, you don’t know what the left one is doing. My conspiracy beliefs are alive and well and maybe yours should be too.

 

I received a copy of The CleanSweep Conspiracy by Chuck Waldron in return for an honest review.

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  4 Stars

 

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