Cindy Dees
May 23, 2024

With over two million books sold worldwide, Cindy Dees/Cynthia Dees is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 100+ books. A 2-time RITA winner and five-time RITA finalist, Cindy writes thrillers, military romance, and romantic suspense. As Cynthia Dees, she writes clean and wholesome romance with a twist of fun. A former U.S. Air Force pilot and part-time spy, Cindy draws upon real-life experience to fuel her stories of love on the edge.

Interview by Elise Cooper

Q: What happened with the movie adaptation?

Cindy: The movie was postponed by the writer’s strike. There is a director attached and it is a work in progress to be aired on Netflix.


Q: How did you come up with the plot for this book?

Cindy: This is book 2 of a 4-book arc. Helen and the bad guy will tango and be directly confrontational with each other. I knew I wanted to write how she would be sucked back in the Agency and is trying to get closer to her family. I had to change the opening scene to get the plot launched and once I did then everything fell into place. It was a bit of a struggle.


Q: Why did you decide to blend thrillers and mysteries in your plot?

Cindy: My market analysis is that many stories do not seem bound by a single genre or single tropes. I wanted to mash up dramas. I think the Helen stories have a mystery, the serial killer, a thriller, the spies, and some women’s issues. Now, since there are not many bookstores anymore, people buy their books online and do not care if there is crossover of genres. I think the day of the strict genre book is going by the waistline.


Q: Were you influenced by Vince Flynn in creating Helen, who could be seen as a female Mitch Rapp?

Cindy: He is one of my absolute favorite authors. Part of why is because he is not afraid to have bad things happen. I find his books fascinating thought processes involving the ‘what if.’ He pulls the trigger on stories and allows them to be challenging, ugly, or difficult. He will put his characters through things, which takes real courage as a writer, carrying through the repercussions. He still delivered stories that were satisfying and had good triumph over evil in the end. For me, any thriller must have good triumphing over evil and mysteries must have justice triumphing over crime.


Q: Can you explain this book quote, “Israel’s defense force is the sharpest military group on earth. They teach self-discipline and control”?

Cindy: The technical skill of the Israeli military is unmatched by anybody on earth. It has been this way for decades. Israel is threatened for its existence on a day-to-day basis. This brings a different intensity and focus. They have to dog fight for their lives over their own country. They are the best military who is the best prepared, trained, the most aggressive, and the most efficient. This is why Israel survives today. Anyone messing with them they will poke back.


Q: How would you describe Helen as a character?

Cindy: She is patriotic and loves her country. She loves to be in the shadows, sometimes she thinks she is invincible, a hunter, has threat awareness, a fierce mother bear, and a great sniper. She is tired. Raising a family was exhausting while trying to juggle it with her job, her job is unbelievably stressful, and her difficult marriage has been exhausting. This all manifests itself with her being at times cranky, and unwilling to put up with stuff. She is always asked to clean up other people’s messes.


Q: Does age play a significant role in the book?

Cindy: Her reflexes are not quite as sharp, not as fast, and she does not see a lot of respect for elders. She is resentful that her children have tried to placate her. She lost her job because of her age. Wisdom comes with age and experience. She is frustrated that her wisdom is being tossed out. Helen sees some sexism in that her handler, Yosef, who is the same age as hers, is put at a desk for his wisdom, while she is tossed out. I wanted to show how in the workplace and maybe with society at large older people are taken for granted. Helen is not quite an elder, but not young. She is in the frustrating middle ground because people do not give her enough credit. She does use her age by dressing old and greying her hair. Helen figures that since she cannot fight it, she will lean into it. She must prove repeatedly that she is competent.


Q: Do Scorpius, the spy, and the serial killer share any similarities?

Cindy: They are both hunters, smart, organized, observant, careful, stealthy, and sociopaths. Sociopathy is a spectrum. The more organized they are the more manipulative and subtle they are. There are three sociopaths in this book. Danny, the son is very disorganized, impulsive, with not much control. Scorpius is a charismatic sociopath, goal-driven, disciplined, and can contain his violence and anti-social behavior.


Q: How would you describe Bell, Helen’s CIA nemesis?

Cindy: He is cold, calculating, manipulative, and sadistic. He will trample over anyone who gets in his way to achieve his goal. Everyone is disposable. He is the worst of political animals at large.


Q: What can we expect in the next book?

Cindy: Helen will exist in book 5, but this arc will end with book 4. Part of the storyline of this book will continue with the next: can her son Mitch, who is a candidate for DA, be saved by her from how power corrupts absolutely? He has greed, ego, and ambition. Book 3 is being held up until the TV series will come out. I am thinking of doing a spin-off series with the defense attorney, Angela, a friend of Helen. I have another book that I co-wrote with a friend and am looking for a publisher

Review by Elise Cooper

Double Tap by Cindy Dees has an action-packed plot with riveting characters.  Her heroine, Helen Warwick, can best be described as a soon-to-be senior citizen, female version of Mitch Rapp. This story combines a thriller, having two spies going after each other, with a mystery, a serial killer who tortures and kills women.

The book opens at a DC press conference. Helen has decided to support her three children, Mitch, Peter, and Jayne, which is why she is attending the news conference playing the elderly mother. Mitch is the acting district attorney for Washington D.C. and is announcing his candidacy for the permanent position. As Mitch steps up to the microphone, she sees the ominous green light of a gun laser fixed on her son’s head. She pushes the would-be assassin out of the way and saves her son’s life.

While investigating who wanted to hurt her son, she is approached by her former boss, James Wagner, Director of the CIA, about returning to work for one more mission. The mission is to find the man named Scorpius who has been a deep undercover mole working for and with the Russian FSB for over a decade. Resentful of Wagner because he had told her that after thirty years of service, she was too old to continue and must retire. But being a patriot and protective of her family, Helen reluctantly agrees to rejoin the CIA and lead a team looking for the mole because her family is being threatened figuratively and literally. The plot then becomes a cat and mouse game pitting Helen against Scorpius.

The novel is shocking at times, emotionally charged, and pulse-pounding. There is plenty of danger, violence, and intrigue. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they turn the pages.

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