“Write about what you know” is the conventional wisdom for first-time authors, and Kevin Hurley has followed that mantra in multiple ways in his debut novel, a thriller, Cut and Cover (Skyhorse Publishing, $25.99). The setting is the Catskill Mountains, where Hurley lives, as do his main characters, former Marine Major John Rexford and his girlfriend, Maggie. The subject matter also reflects the military history of the author’s family (from the Korean War to Afghanistan) and his passion for martial arts.
The suspenseful storyline is one many readers living near a big city may fear in real life: An international team of explosives experts is trying to contaminate New York City’s water supply with chlorine gas and burn all five boroughs to the ground. It’s up to Rexford — who was recruited while he served in Afghanistan for seven years — to eliminate the terrorists and their money supply while he works as a blacksmith forging knives. In the end, Rexford must make a tough call that will keep you hanging on the edge of your seat.
Hurley’s prose style is tight and straightforward yet filled with colorful details that show his understanding of international intrigue. Those who love the Hudson Valley and the surrounding region will also enjoy the titles of his chapters, which range from “Brooklyn” to “Lower Hudson Valley,” “Kensico,” “White Plains,” “FDR,” and “Yonkers.”