Book Reviews, Guest Posts, The Indie Spotlight

“Writing Crime Fiction” + Review of Broken Allegiance (Tom Kagan #1) by Mark Young

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Please welcome today’s Featured Author Mark Young to The Indie Spotlight with an excellent guest post on “Writing Crime Fiction: Fighting Hollywood’s Version of A Cop’s Life “. Plus check out Ariel’s 4 Controller Review of his novel, Broken Allegiance, the story of Tom Kagan, a man who must face his past and work with some unlikely allies to thwart a killer .






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I received this book for free from the mentioned source in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

“Writing Crime Fiction” + Review of Broken Allegiance (Tom Kagan #1) by Mark YoungBroken Allegiance by Mark Young
Series: Tom Kagan #1
Published by: Self Published on 10/23/2013
Genres: Crime Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 372
Format: eBook
Source: Author Submitted

View on: Goodreads
Grab it: Buy on Amazon

Review Score:
About the Book:

Before Travis Mays, before Gerrit O’Rourke—there was Tom Kagan.

Police gang detective Tom Kagan has been seeking justice for more than ten years, leaving him a broken man. His only reason for living—the woman he loves and the badge he swore to uphold. When a man is brutally killed in a vineyard on the outskirts of Santa Rosa, California, it sparks a series of events that test what’s left of Kagan’s resolve to protect and serve.

Secrets from the past thwart Kagan’s efforts to unravel a series of killings sanctioned from within the walls of California’s highest security prison. From the lush vineyards of Sonoma County to the shores of beautiful Lake Tahoe, the detective must outsmart a killer who is moving in for one epic killing spree.

Leaders of the notorious Nuestra Family prison gang are fighting for power, a struggle that spills out onto the streets of California. Kagan joins forces with Special Agent Hector Garcia, a feisty supervisor of the Special Services Unit for the California Department of Corrections; Diane Phillips, a beautiful and hard-charging prosecutor; and Mikio Sanchez, a former gang member marked for death. Through the eyes of cops and gangsters, readers are able to glimpse the seldom seen workings of the gangster underworld.

Lb>Broken Allegiance is about treacherous lies, broken promises, and shattered lives—about life, death and a man’s honor.








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Broken Allegiance is the first in a new series from Mark Young.  The protagonist takes the form of Tom Kagan, a cop in Santa Rosa, CA who works for the Organized Crime and Intelligence Section.  Tom is determined to take down a gangster setting up hits on his fellow gang members.  But will Tom’s dark past be a hindrance as he goes after the gang leader?  Or will it give him the motivation he needs to succeed?


I really enjoyed having Tom as a protagonist.  He’s damn good at his job, and he is determined to put an end to gang violence in Santa Rosa, an admirable goal if a little large.  The death of his son is something that haunts Tom, and something that he needs to work through as the novel goes on.  It also takes a toll on his relationship with his wife Sara, who I also really liked.


There were so many side characters that I loved!  Bill Stevenson being the first and foremost.  He’s such a good partner for Tom.  He’s still determined to catch gang members, but he also understands that you need to have some downtime from your job or you’re going to go crazy.  He’s a good father to his little boy, and a good husband to his wife.


Broken Allegiance has a really entertaining plot.  It centers around gang violence so there is constantly something going on, whether people are being killed or people are planning hits on other people, there’s never a dull moment in the story.  Each chapter also focuses on different characters, so you could get a chapter focusing on Tom and his effort to capture the man behind all of these murders, or you could have a chapter focusing on one of the gangsters already in jail, setting up hits for people on the outside.


This being a novel about gang violence, there are quite a few characters to keep track of.  Maybe not Game of Thrones status, but still a lot to keep track of.  It especially gets confusing when the gang members are referred to both by their street names and their birth names interchangeably.  It’s not necessarily a downside, it’s just something that keeps your brain working throughout the whole thing.


The writing style is very blunt and straightforward, which makes sense for being a crime novel, but something about it didn’t wow me.  This isn’t to say I wasn’t entertained by the book, because I loved the book, the writing style just didn’t grab me.  It wasn’t bad, just not really my thing.


Probably my favorite thing about this novel, and probably why the book is so amazing, is it’s based on the author’s own experiences.  Young used to work for the Santa Rosa police department, and while I’m sure that a lot of what goes on has been exaggerated, or changed to be more entertaining in the novel format, I really find myself admiring the fact that the author probably went through cases that weren’t too terribly different from what goes on in Broken Allegiance.


Overall, I’m giving Broken Allegiance 4 out of 5 controllers.  Really entertaining story, I love myself a good crime story, but there are a lot of people to keep track of, and the writing style wasn’t really my thing.  I would definitely recommend it for fans of the crime genre.


My Rating

rate 4

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Writing Crime Fiction: Fighting Hollywood’s Version of A Cop’s Life

By Mark Young


Writing realistic crime fiction is a chore!  It would be too easy to follow the route of Hollywood police shows where everyone and everything is captured on  surveillance tape; where a cop might survive multiple shoot-outs before the show is over; and where internal affairs only shows up to give the Good Cop a platform upon which to wail against the injustices of the system.


I find this Hollywood-version of police work popping up on TV shows and in crime novels like a bad case of measles. As an ex-cop turned writer, I find myself wanting to take the shortcuts. But I just can’t make myself do it. I just cannot make myself write unbelievable fiction.


Let’s take surveillance tapes. In the United States, law enforcement has joined with other public agencies and private companies to develop and install surveillance cameras wherever they might be needed. But to use these resources to find a suspect in the amount of time it takes for a mouthwash commercial just is not believable.


How many times have you sat through a movie or TV show and watched a computer geek—sitting before a Star Wars-type console that takes up a football sized room—hit a few buttons, and see video feeds streaming in from traffic cams, ATM cams, satellite feeds and who knows what else. They make it look like they can track a suspect from the scene of the crime to the Stop-And-Rob store where the crook buys a Big Slurpee, uses the facility—where another camera is perched—and jumps into a gas-guzzling sedan that coughs it way to a deserted waterfront warehouse. Cameras capture each belch of the smog machine until the crook finally reaches his hideout.


This stretches the imagination beyond belief. I cannot tell you how many times I have responded to robbery calls or grab-and-runs where the store clerk sheepishly admits that the camera is malfunctioning, a euphemism for “Huh oh, I forget to put in a tape and the owner is going to kill me.”


Or what about shoot outs? The Good Cop rolls out of bed and makes it halfway to the police station before he is engaged in a shootout at a convenience store—where the clerk proudly admits their security cameras captured everything, including a price tag sticking on the Bad Guy’s boxer shorts—and the cop escapes unscathed. He leaves that scene before other cops arrive because he just got a call from his favorite snitch, who has been stuffed in the truck after being snatched by another set of Bad Guys. Good Cop tracks the kidnappers because the communications center has the Bad Guys on a collage of surveillance tapes tracking the crooks throughout town. Good Cop races to the waterfront warehouse where another shootout erupts and the snitch is rescued with most of his body parts still intact. Oh, did I fail to mentions that the Good Cop totaled his car on his way across town, and commandeered a citizen’s bright yellow Hummer to continue the chase. He cracks up that vehicle, too.


So, since the Good Cop climbed out of bed this morning, he’s been in two shoot outs, totaled two vehicles, and finally made it through the morning without writing one report; getting IA’d for the shootings and traffic accident; or having messed up his hair. And his afternoon is clear of any administrative slowdowns and paperwork because the writers does not want to slow down the action and bore the audience. In other words, Good Cop is free to continue the rest of the day pursuing his one-man crusade for truth and justice.


Okay, I may exaggerate a little—but you get the point.


Sometimes, fiction can be too much fiction and not enough reality.


My latest novel, Broken Allegiance (A Tom Kagan Novel) has been created with a little more reality than the Good Cop scenarios I mentioned earlier. In the novel, my main character—Tom Kagan, a gang detectives for the Santa Rosa Police Department in California—does get in one heck of a shootout in which he later faces an IA investigation that takes place after the story ends (You pick up the results of the IA in my next novel, Circle of Lies, coming out later this year). Not once did I use a surveillance camera, and Tom Kagan was able to track down the Bad Guy using old-fashioned police work. I believe the reader was entertained as the plot unfolded, but you will have to be the judge of that.


Now my antagonist, Ghost, an escaped prison gang leader, does kill a lot of people. But Bad Guys get to do that without incurring the wrath of IA investigators, doing a pile of paperwork to document their foul deeds, or stretch the believability of readers.


Bad Guys in realistic fiction have all the fun. That is just the way crime fiction rolls. However, Good Cops usually wind up with the love of their life—and I am not talking about a Harley Davidson or the world’s best hamburger. And Bad Guys—well, they usually wind up dead most often.


So in the end, justice sometimes prevails—even in realistic fiction.










About Mark Young

Mark Young is the bestselling author of three previous novels, Revenge (A Travis Mays Novel) and two Gerrit O’Rourke novels, Off the Grid and Fatal eMpulse. Prior to his full-time writing career, Young served as a police officer with the Santa Rosa Police Department in California for twenty-six years. Additionally, he was an award-winning journalist and a Vietnam combat veteran. He served with several law enforcement task force operations, including the presidential Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force targeting major drug traffickers, and the federal Organized Crime Task Force charged with identifying and prosecuting prison gang leaders. He lives in the Pacific Northwest with his family. Visit to find out more about Young and his writing.