Thriller Thursday Guest – Author C.L. Withers


Well, it’s that time again!  I love Thriller Thursdays!  My guest today definitely has everything I enjoy in a thriller, bad guys, cops, police dogs, and an action plot. Please welcome C.L. Withers with his pulse pounding, suspense/thriller CASTLE CAPE.



Anchorage Police Detective Sheridan McKenna, once a top-notch investigator, hurtles toward a dark oblivion in both his personal and professional life following the accidental shooting death of his ten year-old son Michael. The crumbling remains of his career and the companionship of an aging and now-retired police K-9 are the only respite from his bleak existence of self-inflicted isolation and alcohol.

In a chance early morning encounter with two strangers McKenna is seriously injured and his partner killed, along with one of the assailants. Recovering in the hospital McKenna is visited by Phil Rennick, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Anchorage, a man with whom he shares a long-standing feud with, along with a beautiful FBI agent recently arrived from Washington D.C. The air of tension in the meeting is made even odder by the presence of Paul Lambert, a mysterious individual connected to an unidentified U.S. Intelligence agency.

McKenna soon learns the man killed in the shooting has been identified as a Chechen terrorist wanted by the Russian Federal government. Upon extracting all useful information, the Bureau representatives harshly dismiss the police detective’s competency or his involvement in their on-going investigation, citing the wreckage of his personal life and matters of national security. While recovering at home McKenna realizes that he holds the only genuine lead in the case, one which launches the detective’s unsanctioned hunt for the terrorists responsible for his partner’s death.

A growing trail of dead bodies leads far afield and despite the FBI’s conclusion that a spectacular strike against the Kodiak Island Missile Launching Facility at Narrow Cape is imminent, McKenna follows his instincts in another direction entirely, one aimed squarely at a remote and mysterious location on the Alaskan Peninsula. It’s a race against time for McKenna as he battles a determined group of killers as well as the lethal Alaskan wilderness to save a beautiful hostage and to uncover a fantastic conspiracy dead and buried for more than sixty years at CASTLE CAPE.

CASTLE CAPE is available:

For KINDLE and in paperback at Amazon Books

For NOOK at Barnes & Noble


Jennifer Chase:  If your main character, Detective McKenna, was trapped in an elevator with three other people, how would he devise a plan to escape? Would he take any of the people with him?

C.L. Withers:  Interesting that you should ask that question, hasn’t everyone been trapped in an elevator? I have, twice, and I’d love to hear back from readers if I’m just unlucky or it really that commonplace. Isn’t it curious that phones in elevators always get you in touch with some guy all the way across town instead of building maintenance on-site?

J.C.:  I have never been trapped in an elevator… maybe I haven’t been in enough of them?  Please continue…

C.L.:  The retired cop in me or any ‘first responder’ would groan and tell you, just make the phone call, stay put and wait for the engine company to arrive. My character Dan McKenna would indeed escape through the roof panel always available in novels, assuming he had an urgent need to escape. He definitely would take Kira, the Russian-American beauty from CASTLE CAPE along with him. Not sure about the used car salesman and tax attorney.

J.C.:  How do you get inside McKenna’s head when writing?

C.L.:  Readers should picture me smiling here. That’s the easiest part of writing Dan McKenna. Early on I denied that Dan is my fictional alter-ego, now I’ve come to accept that separating us is impossible.  Even allowing for CASTLE CAPE’s ‘larger than life plot’ I didn’t ask McKenna to do anything I couldn’t do and in most cases haven’t done. With more than twenty years as a cop it’s easy to recount the times I’ve scared myself to death on the job and I’ve had a few unique personal experiences to draw on too. Readers frequently mention favorite parts of the book; one featured is a gigantic storm at sea. Well, I really have been shipwrecked at night in such a maelstrom and drew heavily on my real life adventure. I’ve also interacted with the Russian Militia and the KGB, a rare opportunity to be sure, but it opens your eyes when you meet them face to face. So, whenever Dan McKenna confronted an emergency I relied on my own life and said “How would I have resolved this scenario.” If I didn’t feel a seasoned professional could accomplish the task, I didn’t ask my character to go through that particular door.

J.C.:  I love that attitude and confidence. It makes a great adventure thriller.  What’s your specific genre? And, if you could write in any other genre, what would it be and why?

C.L.:  I usually describe CASTLE CAPE as a suspense-thriller. It’s unabashedly ‘plot-driven’, with dramatic action to keep readers moving rapidly toward the climax. I’m a big fan of Alistair McLean and his genius for making incredible plots totally believable. That was what I was shooting for in my book.

As for writing in other genre, I’m probably just as much a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy. This past fall I committed what most critics would regard as a writing sin and temporarily set aside my sequel to CASTLE CAPE in order to publish a scifi-fantasy for both teens and adults called THE MAP OF AGES that’s now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I’ve also got a hardcore classic sci-fi nearing completion titled AND THE STARS FEEL NO SORROW that I’m really excited about. I hope McKenna & Nero fans will forgive the wait when they return in THE SAMURAI STRATAGEM, which I’ve resumed working on.

J.C.:  Fantastic! I was going to ask if there was a sequel to CASTLE CAPE.  So why should readers pick up your book?

C.L.:  First of all, despite my police background I think many readers will be greatly surprised where CASTLE CAPE takes them. The book was never intended to fit into the niche of the more traditional ‘cop thriller’ and quickly shifts gears into a far-reaching adventure filled with action and suspense, hence my earlier reference to ‘larger than life plot.’ Added to this, readers have told me how much they enjoyed McKenna’s faithful sidekick Nero, a ‘retired’ aging police K-9 who plays a significant and ultimately pivotal role in the novel.  As one reader said to me, “I said to myself, if you kill Nero off I’m going to hunt you down!”  If you lean toward exciting plots with a big reveal, I think you’re going to like CASTLE CAPE.

J.C.:  This book ticks all the boxes for me.  What types of emotions will readers experience when they read your book?

C.L.:  CASTLE CAPE employs the elements of a good mystery together with a fair amount of action and of course, violence. I hope readers feel McKenna’s flawed character is still likable enough to capture their loyalty as the hero. By the end of the story his dog Nero will capture their hearts, of that I’m certain. There is suspense, chills, a bit of romance, action and a great plot. I’m confident that by the time the reader turns the last page he or she will feel satisfied their time was well spent and they enjoyed the ride. That’s what I ask from a good book and I think CASTLE CAPE delivers it.

J.C.:  You couldn’t ask for anything more!  Now, please bear with me, it’s time to play word association with McKenna. Please respond with one word that comes to mind (in your main character’s voice) to the words listed below.  Thanks so much C.L. Withers for stopping by and sharing your books.

Plot- Suspect

2012- Confusion

Predator- Victims

Giggles- Children

Rural- Solitude

Omnipresence- GOD


Author Bio- C.L. Withers    Website-

Craig_with_Alcatraz_behind2I was raised in Alaska, the family arriving in Anchorage during the winter of 1955. My father was a ‘honest-to-God’ bush pilot and professional big game guide for many years during the late ’50’s and ’60’s and my family homesteaded for several years on a remote 160 acre parcel far north of Anchorage. Like many long-time residents, I continued to explore much of the 49th state as an avid hunter and sports fisherman in later years.

My law enforcement career with the Anchorage Police Department began in 1980, my last thirteen years assigned to the Detective Division. Over the years I worked to suppress more than one area of criminal enterprise such as Theft, Burglary and was a court-recognized expert in the field of Auto Theft Investigation. Later, while assigned as a Fraud Investigator I had the opportunity to be trained by the U.S. Secret Service in the field of Questioned Documents.

I retired from law enforcement in late 2000, honoring a promise to my wife Sheila (married for more than thirty years now), to return her to Oregon where we now reside in the beautiful Willamette Valley along with our Bearded Collie Caesar and two extremely lazy cats. CASTLE CAPE’s heroic canine is based on a family pet of long ago, a husky-wolf hybrid named Nero who I think about to this day.

CASTLE CAPE is available:

For KINDLE and in paperback at Amazon Books

For NOOK at Barnes & Noble

THE MAP OF AGES is available:



About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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1 Response to Thriller Thursday Guest – Author C.L. Withers

  1. Caleb Pirtle says:

    Good stuff, Jennifer. C. L. has a nice vibe to his writing. He’s definitely one who deserves to be called an author. I have long been a fan of his novels. Thanks to you, I feel I know him a little better.


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