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Last summer, after crowdfunding and publishing Weapons of Mass Deception, we started to think about a storyline for the sequel. We knew two things: (1) we wanted the sequel to feature the Minneapolis and (2) we wanted the topic to be timely.

The big headlines in the Minneapolis newspapers at the time were about young men being recruited to fight for ISIS. This phenomenon didn’t make sense to us: why would native-born American citizens of any ethnic background want to fight for a terrorist organization?

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So we started asking questions. We talked to people in law enforcement. We got introductions to and spoke with people in the Somali community. Then we had lunch with a mutual friend who also happens to be a criminology professor who specializes in gangs.

He described why terrorist groups, like gangs, appeal to young men in their teens and early twenties. At that age, young people are looking for meaning in their lives. The idea of belonging to a cause, of fighting for something you believe in, is very attractive. He also talked about the powerful role of women in gang culture. Then he said the thing that sparked a novel:

“Radicalization begins with personal relationships.”

The premise for Jihadi Apprentice was born at that moment. Our book was not about terrorism, it was about how someone became a terrorist. Recruitment is a many-layered, dark game of manipulation and seduction. That was our story.

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Here’s what a few early readers are saying:

“There is authenticity here – from the chain of command and interagency cooperation described to the weapons, protocols and military toys.”

“…a unique and delightfully surprising aspect of this novel is its focus on women characters—on both sides.”

“This book was engrossing, exciting, intriguing, and plausible to the point of being scary!”

“Your favorite characters from WMD all return, but it’s the new ones you need to watch out for!”

David Bruns & JR Olson, AKA the Two Navy Guys, are proud Minnesotans, US Navy veterans and co-authors of “ripped from the headlines” thrillers about current events, like Weapons of Mass Deception.  Join the Two Navy Guys Readers Group and get a free copy of Death of a Pawn, an international murder mystery.


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