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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fast-Paced Novel or Military Exposé? Can America Handle the Truth?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – After spending her career as a military historian, defense writer, and publicist, author Gina Maria DiNicolo has just released a double-take thriller of corruption in Congress, scandal in the Pentagon, and a systemic abuse of power that thrusts the Marine Corps into unspeakable acts. 

DiNicolo has filled her first work of fiction, Blood Stripe: The Susanna Marcasi Chronicles, with headline fodder: sexual assaults against uniformed women who serve with distinction, U.S.-funded paramilitary outfits fighting for the highest bidder, and the multilevel dysfunction preceding the catastrophic failure of New Orleans levees in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The metaphors speak to serious issues. Violence and sexual themes abound where combat is a constant.
View the book trailer here:
 Blood Stripe ignites with reports that a senior Marine officer has killed himself on the Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C. It burns its way to Susanna Marcasi, an exiled Marine and Naval Academy alum, who battles dark forces to find truth. Her quest leads to a web of corruption and deceit. A physically and emotionally scarred Susanna finds herself toe-to-toe with Manfred Stahl, a retired Marine general, whom a cowering president has crowned defense secretary. Stahl’s unabashed lust for power and emotional instability are eclipsed only by his vile and vindictive nature. Circumstances land the two on the deadly collision course they shared a lifetime earlier.
Sexual tension permeates an often violent backdrop. A risqué yet troubled senator satisfies her voracious need for sex with a Marine whom she summons even during meetings with foreign dignitaries. A megalomaniac with a penchant for South American prostitutes and Argentine tango, works naked in his office. Lost love reappears, but must battle brutal forces to survive. 
Power proves an aphrodisiac to all, revealing an underlying tale of desire, yearning, and love—pure as well as demonic.    

Amazon reviewer John Kelly in his critique of Blood Stripe write “ Like a literary version of ‘A Few Good Men (and Women)’ on steroids, Gina Maria DiNicolo rips into your emotional core like a ‘kill shot’ from page one and never lets up for 217 pages. This book, not for the weak of heart, tells the story of strength, courage and no mercy in the most elite units of the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Grady Harp, a Top 100 Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer calls Blood Stripe “One of the most controversial novels of the year. A brilliant thriller, a challenging and courageous novel, one that is headed for awards.”

DiNicolo’s first book,The Black Panthers: A Story of Race, War, and Courage – the 761st Tank Battalion in World War II, (Westholme 2014), is the nonfiction account of the first African American armored unit to see combat duty in World War II.
Reviewers held the narrative in high regard. Publishers Weekly wrote: “… the book really heats up when she writes of the intense, deadly clashes with General Patton's 761st tanks taking on the powerful German Panzer units in snowy forests and French towns. Written with fine detail and in a spirited style, DiNicolo's tribute to The Black Panthers illuminates a fighting armored unit that made both their community and their country proud.”
Blood Stripe: The Susanna Marcasi Chronicles (ISBN 978-0966298604, 2015, St. John’s Press, 322 pages, $15.99 paperback and $6.99 on Kindle) Available on Amazon and everywhere fine books are sold and the author’s website: View the book trailer here:

About: Gina Maria DiNicolo:
Marine Officer,
Military Historian,

Baltimore native Gina Maria DiNicolo graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in history and an attraction to the unconventional. She accepted a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps where she worked in aviation, recruiting, history, and public affairs. As a fulltime author and historian, in addition to her two books, DiNicolo has written scores of articles for the Military Officer magazine and other publications. After publishing Blood Stripe, she sought to get her historian game on and accepted a. one-year, work/study assignment as a senior writer/editor for the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., producing studies on military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is a dancer specializing in Argentine Tango.  
Born in Baltimore and raised near Annapolis, Md., author Gina Maria DiNicolo graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1984 with a degree in history and an attraction to the unconventional. She accepted a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps, a military career that took her to the remote Solomon Islands to see World War II history firsthand, to New Orleans at a time when crime and corruption careened out of control, as well as Washington, D.C., where everyone has something on someone. Following an early retirement, she went from news editor to defense journalist and occasional muckraker back to historian. After more than a decade, she moved from magazine contributing editor and staff blogger to author.
Her second book, Blood Stripe: The Susanna Marcasi Chronicles, is a pulsating thriller about an exiled Marine who must battle dark forces through a maze of intrigue and deceit in her quest for redemption. Though fiction, and somewhat thinly veiled, she pulls from her wild-ride experiences and unique lens. The work is as violent and sexually charged as it is heart-wrenching and unforgettable. 
DiNicolo won the 2008 Gold Award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for “Building Stability,” a feature article detailing provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan. The article appeared in Military Officer magazine where she was a contributing editor for many years. More than 20 of her articles graced its cover.  She was a recent finalist for the Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for her first book, The Black Panthers: A Story of Race, War, and Courage – the 761st Tank Battalion in World War II (Westholme 2014)
In this highly acclaimed narrative of the 761st, she tells the story of the first African American armored unit to see combat in World War II. Future baseball great Jackie Robinson served with the unit. The 761st fought under General George Patton against Hitler’s best. One of the unit’s members, Sgt. Ruben Rivers, is one of only seven African Americans to have earned the Medal of Honor for heroism in World War II.
Gina DiNicolo lives in Alexandria, Va., as a fulltime author and historian. She accepted a one-year, work/study assignment as a senior writer/editor for the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington, D.C., producing histories on military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. She dances ballroom and specializes in Argentine Tango.
Selections From Blood Stripe: The Susanna Marcasi Chronicles
  • He had long assumed the Marine Corps would stand as his legacy, as it had his father’s, in part, as well as his grandfather’s. Within days he realized he deplored the Corps as much as the burden of his heritage. In contrast, Susanna, dubious of her choice to shun the Navy, found a home much to her surprise.  Resentment between the two careened out of control. 

  • The rains had made the bank treacherous, but Lori saw that only the ground stood between her and Joe. Her lifeless eyes had swollen like the river. But as her tears flowed, her rage welled. She watched as the police made their way across the bridge, cordoned off with yellow “Do Not Cross” tape. Lori had lost her sense of time. Had she arrived an hour ago? Two? She cleaned the mud off her watch. Her twenty minutes there seemed like an eternity. 
  • Arlington Cemetery rose to a commanding ridge above the Potomac. At the top stood magnificent Arlington House, the home Lee and his family had to abandon because of his choice to fight with the Confederacy at the beginning of the Civil War. Susanna continued her hike, extending her legs with each step. Weeks lay just ahead. Section 5 of the cemetery had an unobstructed view down onto the Memorial Bridge. 

  • The affable 18-year-old reminded Bartholomew of his dreams just nine years earlier. Without knowing it, Mike Singleton rescued Ken Bartholomew, who fought his way back from his certain professional grave. The enlightened lieutenant replaced his flag-level drinking with AA meetings, tobacco, and Jesus Christ.  Being born-again did not mean he had to upgrade his vocabulary. In his mind, his colorful word choices brought him closer to the Lord.

  • Mike became agitated, rare as far as Bartholomew knew. “Anything is possible. In fact, there is more evidence that Jimmy Hoffa is buried in the end zone of Giants Stadium than suggesting Earhardt shot himself. Joe? Blow his head off on a bridge? No way. I have known him 20 years. I lived with him for four. He may be a Marine lieutenant colonel, but he is as vain as Miss America.”
  • Generosity proved the greatest threat to the family. Allen lost untold thousands forgiving debts at the store, and Elaine Singleton would take in boarders with no means to pay for their room. The solution seemed too simple to Mike, the eldest of the three boys, but his parents explained because of their good fortune, it fell to them to help those in need.  Mike never believed a word of it. 
  • Despite his unenviable reputation, most knew Manfred Stahl as one of the most powerful and unstable men ever to serve in the U.S. Senate. He used that power to improve the lot of the people of Louisiana and asked no forgiveness for the outrageous measures he took on their behalf. His constituents never questioned that he stood to gain in most of the bills he sponsored, but his on-the-line impropriety had become a matter of great debate in Washington. 
  • Tonight the Marcasi women would stay at the Catholic mission. The center’s coordinator had showered her mother with attention. As he propositioned Betta, the name her mother preferred, his eyes bypassed her and strangled Susanna. She knew his advances would soon follow—as did Betta. Though mother resented daughter, providing the child for a harmless grope assured her preferred treatment on and off the streets. 

  • “Mike, yes, your lieutenant colonel is missing, but he left that bridge very much alive,” Russell said as he again paced the room. “We found blood on the bridge and some powder residue, but not enough to indicate he fired his weapon. It appears someone dragged him from the railing to a vehicle waiting behind him.

  • The magnitude of their plan hit Susanna. “Consider it done,” she swallowed. Mike sensed her concern. He did not like this either and hoped for one of her Catholic miracles.
  • In seconds, countless files appeared as if he had opened the gates to the Emerald City. “Now I just need to look behind the curtain and find the mighty Oz,” he murmured to himself, though loud enough for Susanna to hear. 
  • Though the Levee Board president enjoyed his status as a retired general as well as his claims to heroic deeds, he lived with the constant threat of exposure as a fraud. He and Manfred Stahl had known each other more than 30 years, and Stahl knew things about him more damning than the Medal of Honor scam. Vic Dumaine almost wet himself every time he talked to Stahl.
  • As much of an ass as Manfred Stahl had become, he stood as a legend from a war that most wanted to forget. Four Purple Hearts for combat injuries. Three times the Viet Cong mangled him. A fourth near-fatal incident landed him in the hospital in Saigon. Rumors circulated his own men had shot him.  Apparently, he was an ass then, too.

  • Like Moses with the Ten Commandments, Mike held up the thick files Susanna took from Stahl’s office. 
  • He thought of the red-headed man abducting his little brother. Mike almost gave his life to save the little boy. Now he obsessed on Susanna. He needed to do something for her.   And maybe for him, too.
Maybe he finally succumbed to the Surgeon General’s warning on the use of tobacco products. He knew not to ignore a change in a man he considered one of his closest friends who had lied to him for no apparent reason.  Mike sensed they would fight on opposite sides. 

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