Kurt Hunter Tour

Hi Guys,

I can’t thank you enough for reading the first of my adventures: Backwater Bay. Steve has written another one, called Backwater Channel, that can be pre-ordered today and is released on Feb 15th. This was an interesting case and has some great locations. Biscayne Bay National Park, or what I call my “office” is set just to the south of Miami. With a view of downtown, the chimneys of the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant and its miles of cooling canals to the west, and mangrove lined shores everywhere else, the park is so varied, Steve thought I should give you a tour.

Check out the Google Map I’ve made with some of the landmarks and key locations in the first two stories: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1APBzyefPpzoNrFNBCHzFYb85Coc&usp=sharing. Each location has a picture of the spot to give you a better idea of what I see everyday.

The red dots are some of the landmarks I see or visit in my daily travels: my home at Adams Key, the park service headquarters building, and the offices of the Miami-Dade medical examiner and forensics lab. There are also a few other key landmarks that dominate the landscape and play a part in the stories. Check out the Homestead-Miami Speedway and the cooling canals at the power plant.

The blue dots are from the stories. You can see where Herb and Holly lived, the Miami Marina, and the locations in the backwaters of the park where stuff just seems to happen.

Check out Backwater Channel for the latest on Justine, Sid, Martinez, Susan McLeash, and the rest of your favorites.

Stay safe,

Kurt.

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Backwater Bay – OUT NOW

Greetings from Adams Key in Biscayne National Park. My name is Kurt Hunter and I am a special agent for the National Park Service. It was through Mac Travis that Steve first met me. I always thought of myself as an ordinary guy, though once in a while I stumble onto some interesting things, but I never thought them story worthy. Steve insisted that there was some good stuff here and I thought I should say a few words and introduce myself before the release of my first book: Backwater Bay.

My posting here in Biscayne Bay is a whole lot different from Northern California where I was assigned for the last six years. I wasn’t after a change, but while fishing one of the streams in the forest there, I uncovered an intake pipe for the irrigation system which led me to the discover the largest pot grow ever found on government land. That didn’t go so well with the cartel running the operation-or my now ex-wife. Now, I’m out here on an island in what I call the park services version of the witness protection program.

My house is one of two residences on Adams Key. The small island is part of the chain of barrier islands separating Biscayne Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. Located about seven miles from the park service headquarters building in Homestead my park service issued center-console is my car.

I’ve met some interesting people since I’ve been here. Mac and his friends of course, as well as my new girlfriend, Justine, who works for Miami-Dade’s crime lab. Sid, the night shift medical examiner, and Chico, one of the local fishing guides have helped me learn the ropes out here. My neighbors on the island are Becky, Roy, and their two year old son Jamie. And of course there’s Zero, the islands security system.

I’ve been learning the park and picked up some boating skills, though I still have a lot to learn. The best way to learn new waters for me is to fish, and I’ve been working my way around the bay with some success. It was a pretty good existence until I found the body of a woman in the mangroves. Then everything changed.


How much would it take for you to kill someone close?

When a body is found floating in the mangroves of Biscayne National Park, Special Agent Kurt Hunter has his first real case. He’s not looking for the spotlight or notoriety—he’s had both with disastrous results. But that seems unavoidable as the trail leads him to South Beach and his introduction to the culture there is anything but comfortable.

In the National Parks Service’s version of the witness protection program, Kurt quickly finds out that the pristine waters surrounding Miami are very different from the National Forest he transferred from. Follow Kurt through this new world as he unearths a crooked families greed to solve the case.

Available on Kindle and paperback.

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2018 new releases and plans

Hope you all had a happy holiday season. It’s been a busy few months for us relocating to Tampa. It’s great to be back in Florida. I lived here from 1985-2000. I’ve been fishing and paddling out in the bay and gulf whenever I can get a pass from home improvements. The good news is that the list is getting smaller.

I plan on taking a trip down to the Keys during January. It will be the first time back since we were there a week after Irma blew through. I’m looking forward to seeing the progress. On the way, I’ll be making a stop at Biscayne Bay National Park to do some research on the second Kurt Hunter Mystery. Just being in the Keys gives me great ideas and I’m going to check out some spots for the next Mac Travis Adventure.

Backwater Bay is available now to pre order and will be released January 9th. It is the first book in the Kurt Hunter Mystery series. As the name implies, it’s more of a mystery, police procedural than the Mac Travis books, but there’s still plenty of adventure. Kurt made his debut in Wood’s Betrayal as a newly relocated park service agent. Now he has his own mystery to solve. Placed in the Park Services version of the witness protection program after finding a huge pot grow out in California, Kurt now lives out on Adams Key, one of the barrier islands between the bay and ocean. Boating and saltwater fishing are new to him and it’s been fun writing about both from a novices perspective and how much trouble learning each can get you in.

My release schedule for 2018 should have something for everyone. Kurt Hunter Mysteries: Backwater Bay and Backwater Channel will be released January 9th and February 15th. After that I’ll be working on the next Mac Travis Adventure, which I hope to be out in early April. I also have plans for another Tides of Fortune book. I’m excited to use some of the locations and culture I learned in Rome and Sicily last fall in the next Storm book.

All for now and my best wishes for a prosperous 2018.

Steve

We should complete our move to Tampa by the end of the month. I’m very excited about getting back to Florida after being in California for the last 17 years. I was based out of Tampa from 1985-2000 and still have some good friends there.

Many thanks to all of you who sent suggestions for boat names. I have decided on Reef Runner for Mac’s center console and my Parker 21. Mac’s Trawler will be named Ghost Runner. There will be a scene where one of the recurring characters names them in the next Mac Travis Adventure. Any guesses who that might be? There will also be an appearance by the winners of the contest: Rusty Faulkenberry and David Culbreath in the book. I hope to be down in the Keys in January and will get the name on my Parker.

The Keys are recovering from Hurricane Irma but still need your help. Please check out this fundraiser set up by fellow author John Cunningham. Wayne Stinnett and several other familiar authors including myself are all part of this: https://www.gofundme.com/Writers-for-Keys-Hurricane-Relief. Many of you have written and messaged me in the last few weeks about  either how Mac and the other characters in the series would have fared in and after the storm and if I would write a book about their experience.

This is the second hurricane that has affected me. I went through Andrew in 1992 and we have a vacation rental in Marathon. About ten days after the storm, we went down to check on it and found we were very fortunate. The house is new construction and came through well.

Several readers have emailed me asking if I have a book in mind about the storm. I have both experienced myself and seen firsthand the emotional toll these storms can take on people. I would never want anyone reading my work to have to experience this rollercoaster of emotions again. With this in mind, I have decided not to write about this storm directly. I will, probably in the next Mac Travis Adventure, use a fictitious storm to work in some of the ideas I got from our visit and watching The Weather Channel and my Facebook feed non-stop for a week.

I would guess that Mac and Mel’s house on the island would have survived the storm. It was rebuilt by Mac on concrete pilings. The island would most certainly have been under several feet of water from the storm surge, but the water would not have reached the main floor.  Everything else on the island would be gone. We can only hope that Mac and Mel got out in time.

Remember Kurt Hunter, the ranger from Biscayne National Park from Wood’s Betrayal? He will be the lead character in Backwater Bay. Look for it in early January.

I’m proud to tell you all that I’ve teamed up with lots of other writers whose books are based in Florida to form the “Writers for Keys” Hurricane Relief.

Please visit our gofundme project and donate what you can – we have.

We write books and songs that take place in Florida and the Florida Keys because like our readers, we love it there. We love the tropical islands, the water and the unique people. Hurricane Irma hit the Keys hard , a brutal blow that left many homeless. We want to help. We’re asking you to help too.

We partnered with the Navy League Key West Council because 100% of donations we raise will go directly to the victims that need our help. The Navy League Key West Council is based there and will be contributing to other non-profits with boots on the ground, who are actively making an impact. Organizations like Task Force Dagger and Star of the Sea (SOS) have been providing labor, supplies, shelter, food, water and other forms of relief to the people on the ground.

FIND OUT MORE BY VISITING THE GOFUNDME PROJECT PAGE

Mac Travis Adventures: Book Eight

“Action & Adventure In The Florida Keys from the #1 Sea Adventure Series”

Policy changes can have unintended consequences—and they can be deadly

It’s easy to stay invisible in the Florida Keys. and Mac Travis is doing his best when a simple fishing trip to the Marquesa Keys lands him in the middle of a deadly plot.

When a ruthless shipping magnate returns to his roots and exploits the new Cuban immigration policy, Mac and Trufante are pulled into a life and death struggle, not only for themselves, but those they love.

Wood’s Betrayal is a gripping standalone adventure thriller in Steven Becker’s bestselling Mac Travis series. Centered around South Florida and the Florida Keys, Becker’s books feature plenty of Keys counter-culture along with SCUBA diving, boating and fishing.

Available on Kindle and paperback. Audiobook coming soon.

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DO YOU WANT TO BE IN MAC TRAVIS BOOK 9!?!?

I need suggestions for the name of Mac Travis’s boat which will be used in future books. The winner will also appear as a character in the next Mac Travis book AND have their winning boat name added to my own boat.

To enter go to Facebook and leave your suggestion in the comments section of the contest post (CLICK HERE). You can make multiple suggestions if you wish.

CONTEST ENDS AUGUST 22ND

Beyond Key West

To celebrate the release of book eight in the Mac Travis Adventure series, I’m taking a look at what’s beyond Key West.

Key West is generally known as the end of the line, and hosts the iconic buoy for the Southernmost Point in the continental United States to prove it. The claim is true if you count the bridges that connect the chain of islands as part of the contiguous landmass, but the Florida Keys don’t end on the corner of Whitehead and South Street. The chain of islands extend another seventy miles, ending in the Dry Tortugas known for its landmark, Fort Jefferson.

Mac Travis hasn’t made it to the Tortugas yet, at least in the first eight books, but he spends some time in the Marquesas Keys in Wood’s Betrayal.

Head west from Key West, and after you cross the Northwest Channel, you would pass several uninhabited Keys known as the Mule Keys. Man, Woman, and Boca Grande Keys were all featured in Wood’s Wreck. Just past them and twenty-five miles from Key West is a small horseshoe shaped group of islands know as the Marquesas Keys.

The four mile diameter group of islands has as its centerpiece a two-mile wide lagoon created by a meteor strike. Mooney Harbor is frequented by cruisers for its protected anchorage. The Marquesas Keys are also known for fishing, both on the surrounding flats and the nearby Gulf Stream. It is here that Mac and Trufante come looking for Dolphin and run into another kind of trouble.

The location of the Marquesas is also a prime landing spot for refugee boats coming from Cuba attempting to make landfall in the United States. Many derelict rafts and boats are abandoned there each year, forcing Monroe County and the Coast Guard to pay for their removal. With a hold full of fish, can Mac resist the lure of an easy payday towing one of these boats back to Key West?

Look for the new Mac Travis Adventure Thriller – Wood’s Betrayal. I’m just finishing the first draft and expect to have the book released in mid July. After that, I plan to start writing the fourth Tides of Fortune book. Looks like the crew is going to Mexico and maybe crossing into the Pacific. We’ve got some travel plans in the fall, so the Storms may have an adventure coming soon in Italy.
Several of my readers have commented about the ties to characters and locations between my series. I’ve had fun including my characters as well as some of my friend Wayne Stinnetts. The Rusty Anchor, Jesse, and Rusty have made appearances in the last few Mac Travis books. Mac and Trufante have appeared in several of Wayne’s as well.
For my own series, the Brakens started out in Wood’s Relic and reappeared several years later in Bonefish Blues. Alicia was introduced in Wood’s Reach. She and TJ now have a larger role The Storm series. Mac had a brief cameo in Storm Force as well. There is also a trail of breadcrumbs from the first Tides of Fortune book: Pirate to Wood’s Island. I haven’t worked this in yet, but it’s too good to ignore.
Thank you all for your support of Storm Force. The second book in the series has been charting high and has very positive reviews.

The Storm Thriller series is a way for me to include some locations outside of Florida, where the Mac Travis Adventures series takes place. The first book, Storm Rising, is set in London and the British Virgin Islands. Storm Force starts in Chicago and moves to Hawaii. We’ve got a bicycle trip to Italy coming up this fall, so look for the next Storm book to have some locations from Rome and Sicily.

Storm Force is mainly set on the Big Island in Hawaii. Many of the locations used are from my own explorations of the island. Here’s a quick guide and map:

  • Kona – The main tourist city on the island’s west coast. A few years ago we did a diving trip with Kona Diving Company. Very different from the Florida Keys, where we typically dive. The water is cleared and the formations different. We did several dives through lava tubes and arches. We also paddled with the Waikoloa Canoe Club. Last September we were back for the Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race.
  • Kealakekua Bay – Also known as Cook’s Bay, this great snorkeling spot is down the coast from Kona. This is where the Discovery first made landfall in Hawaii. There is a statue of Captain Cook toward the northern end of the bay.
  • Kaumana Caves – Located outside of Hilo, this county park contains a great lava tube. We found this to be more interesting and way less crowded than the more famous Thurston Tube in Volcano National Park
  • Kalapana – The city was over run by lava in the 90s and the area is still active. This is also the site of the famous black sand beach wiped out in the same lava flow, but now regenerating. A sign posted on the trail to the beach claiming the area to be protected by war crime pillaging started my research into the indigenous claims for sovereignty.
  • Uncle Robert’s Market and Awa Bar – The only way to describe this is like going to a Grateful Dead concert without the Dead. Beyond eclectic, the market has great music, food, and crafts and is only open on Wednesday nights.

The Big Island of Hawaii is the main setting for Storm Force, the second book in the Storm Thriller Series. I’ve made several trips to the Big Island in the last few years: one with family, and the other to paddle in the Queen Liliuokalani outrigger canoe race. The settings in the books are the result of our explorations of the island (Check out the map here). As unique and fascinating as the island is, I was having a hard time finding a premise until I saw an article in the Daily Alta California from December 15, 1884:

PIRACY

Honolulu Captured and Sacked by an Armed Force

The most audacious Piratical Raid on Record

No Attempt at Resistance

Over Three Million in coin and plate carried off.

Got your attention—it got mine. After further research, I learned that the pirates held the city overnight, and without violence looted the town. A search was mounted, but neither the buccaneers or the treasure was found.

So, where did it go?

A couple of natural phenomena came into play: lava and hurricanes.

The Big Island, especially the southeast shore has a continuously changing landscape due to Kilauea, the centerpiece of Volcano National Park. Over the past three hundred years, the volcano has been active. As a result of the continuing flows, the present day coastline is different than it was in 1884 when the raid took place.

Two hurricanes bore down on the island last September when we were there for the race. Fortunately, the 13,000-foot volcano protected Kona, where we were staying, but the southeast shore took a beating—the same shore with tons of lava pouring into the ocean every minute. What if the buccaneers put into one of these bays after escaping Honolulu on their way to the mainland. Could a storm have not only held a ship captive but blown it into a lee shore and lava flow, where it is still buried today?