Thursday, February 8, 2024

Reap The Wind - Book Tour

 


Action/Adventure/Thriller

Date Published: 02-06-2024

Publisher: Sunbury Press, Inc.

REAP THE WIND is THE PERFECT STORM meets THE FIRM.


The novel  is an action/adventure thriller in which three lawyers flee Houston heading to Cincinnati in a rented Lincoln Town Car. They must drive across Texas and the Midwest in the midst of the worst climate change-induced hurricane of the century so Josh Goldberg can be with his girlfriend who is giving birth to their baby. They have to survive a hurricane, tornado, hailstorm, driving rain, and each other to get there.

Josh’s travel companions are his best friend—an alcoholic, drug-addicted lawyer—and his boss who connives to derail his plans so she can get to Philadelphia for a business meeting with a Norwegian billionaire. The odyssey is dangerous on many levels and may be a suicide trip.


Read An Excerpt Below...



About the Author

Joel Burcat is an award-winning author of three environmental legal thrillers: Drink to Every Beast (about illegal dumping of toxic waste), Amid Rage (about a coal mine permit battle), and Strange Fire (about a fracking dispute). His most recent book, Reap the Wind, published by Sunbury Press, Inc., is about three lawyers trying to drive from Houston to Cincinnati in a climate change-induced hurricane.

 He has received a number of awards, including the Gold Medal for environmental fiction from Readers’ Favorite for Strange Fire, and as a Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Amid Rage.  He has written numerous short stories. Burcat imbues his novels with facts to educate his readers about critical environmental issues while they are being entertained by the story.

Burcat’s books are infused with realism developed over a forty plus year career as an environmental lawyer. Burcat has worked in government as an Assistant Attorney General and in a private law practice. He was selected as the 2019 Lawyer of the Year in Environmental Litigation (for Central PA) by Best Lawyers in America. Among his numerous professional writings, he has edited two significant books on environmental and energy law. He has retired from the practice of law and works full-time as a novelist.

He is an active member of the International Thriller Writers and PennWriters.

Burcat lives in Harrisburg, Pa. with his wife, Gail.

 

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Excerpt from "Reap The Wind"

Highlight quotes

REAP THE WIND

By Joel Burcat

 

The rain rat-a-tat-tatted against the fuselage of the Weatherbird aircraft and sounded like an old World War II movie soundtrack the moment before the plane was shot from the sky. Prologue

 

At twenty-five hundred feet, they broke through the cloud ceiling and Windy could see the ocean, gray and tempestuous, enraged and wrathful, with swells the height of skyscrapers, and nothing but rough water for hundreds of miles around. Not exactly ideal for a water landing. This would not be Captain Sully and his U.S. Airways Airbus on the Hudson.

The Navy or Coast Guard would dispatch a ship to retrieve them.

If there was anything left to pick up. Prologue

 

Generally speaking, partnership was dangled in front of the associates in the way a fish was dangled in front of a cartoon cat running on a treadmill on the old Saturday morning TV shows. Always just out of reach. Geoff was two years and eleven months into those three years at Bartram, Wynne. His time was nearly up. Chapter 1

 

I’d once been told by a senior partner that making partner at our law firm was a “vicious meritocracy.” Bullshit. It was more like rushing a fraternity. Even today. One blackball and you were screwed. If one of the big guys didn’t like you, you had to hope that partner either retired or had a stroke. That’s the way it is. I don’t expect anyone to shed a tear for us. Associates in big law firms are overpaid crybabies. Truth. Chapter 1

 

At that moment, a thick clump of leaves and small branches splattered against the window with a loud bang. Then, a gray ball crashed into the center of the glass. Claws sprang from the ball and scratched the glass for a grip. A gray squirrel. Not the flying kind, but the regular neighborhood type. He was soaked and you could see his heart pounding through his white underbelly. Shit. That dude must have flown about three hundred feet in the air to reach the twenty-eighth floor. Slowly, he slid down the window, his claws leaving scratches in the glass. Finally, he tumbled to the bottom of the window onto a narrow ledge and huddled in a corner of the sill. Shivering. Chapter 1

 

“Wow, that looks intense,” said a female member of the anchor team, safely bunkered away in the studio in Houston. “Has the Weather Service given any reason for this late storm?”’

A trickle of blood wormed its way down Stan’s neck, then began soaking his white golf-shirt collar. “The NWS says intense storms like these are caused by climate change, if you can believe that. I listen to a wide variety of sources and one podcast says it’s just good ol’ Mother Nature having fun with us. They say climate change, if it even exists, has nothing to do with this.” Stan managed a big folksy smile. “Take your pick folks,” he held up his mic and his free hand, palm up, exposing a handful of blood. He made the motion like he was weighing something in both. “Your call.” Bright weatherman smile. Chapter 1

 

I love guys like Abdul. He got to this country from Jordan ten years ago and is proud of his heritage. We talk about Jordan and Israel often when he’s taking me around. They are civil conversations. Here’s a man who came to this country with very little in his pockets and drove someone else’s limo fourteen hours a day. Now he owns a thriving business with a dozen drivers. How American is that? He loves America. Chapter 2

 

As Keisha pulled out her cell phone to text Josh, an oncoming light blinded her, and she looked up. A tractor-trailer, going too fast on the slick road, was headed straight for them.

The semi’s air brakes shrieked, and the trucker leaned on his horn, blaring a frenzied warning.

Abdul’s knuckles were white on the steering wheel, his eyes wide open, his teeth clenched and bared.

He cut the wheel first right, then left, then right. The big car fishtailed and skidded sideways across the shoulder.

Keisha yelled, “Oh God!”

She grabbed the overhead strap with one hand and covered her face with the other.

She waited for the impact.

The limo’s tires squealed.

The car skidded onto the shoulder toward the embankment.

Keisha held her breath awaiting the impact. There was none. The semi continued without stopping or hitting anything. The limo, however, hit some debris as it slid on the shoulder.

Keisha first heard, then felt, the blowout.

Abdul continued pumping the brakes and working the wheel to keep the limo going straight. It was a masterful job of driving and if it weren’t for the blowout, they would have been able to continue to the airport. They slowed and he pulled off the road, two wheels in the grass near a guiderail and two on the shoulder.

The limo idled quietly as they sat saying nothing for several seconds. Finally, Abdul turned around and looked at Keisha. “That son of a pig. Are you okay, Ms. Keisha? The baby?”

Keisha breathed heavily as she evaluated her status. She seemed okay, but the limo had lurched back and forth several times. The seatbelt was snug below the baby, and she hoped there was no damage. “I think I’m fine. I just want to get home .” Chapter 4

 

“My situation is different,” I said as I enjoyed the first sip of the new bottle. “You know, I have my opinions about environmental issues, strong opinions, but I keep them to myself. I’ve always considered myself an environmentalist, yet here I am, working as an environmental lawyer for a big law firm that represents chemical, oil, and waste disposal companies. I’ve convinced myself that I’m still doing the environmental thing. I mean the C-Suite guys in the board room pay us a shit-ton of money for our advice and I try to steer them in the right direction. I like to believe they pay more attention to me than the people protesting outside wearing the paper mâché Guy Fawkes masks. At the end of the day though, my guts tell me I’m working on the wrong side.”

“How can you live with yourself doing that?” Geoff asked. “I mean, I do real estate law and for the most-part that’s morally neutral. Don’t you help companies get around the law?” He laughed.

I squinted my eyes. “Them’s fightin’ words, pardner. No, I don’t do that. I don’t have to tell you that regulations are really complicated. Most companies just want to have someone, me, us, figure that out for them. I’ve never knowingly helped a company violate the law.”

“So, all you're doing is helping companies to comply with the law so they can legally rape and pillage the environment?” He smiled.

I shrugged. “What’s the line from The Big Chill? ‘Then there’s the money.’ I hate to admit that. My views were strong at one time, college, law school, but when the firm offered me the job, I figured I’d better take it and keep my values to myself. The starting salary was $160,000. One sixty. Way more than my father ever earned, and I didn’t know squat. My total student loans when I graduated from law school were over $300,000. One month after graduation, I had to begin paying $2760 a month to pay that off. Do you know how that limits your choices?”

“No one told you to go to Haverford and Georgetown Law.”

“Yeah, and when I was seventeen years old, no one told me not to. Everyone said I should go to the best schools I could get into. My parents paid some of college, but law school was entirely on me.”

“Don’t whine. It’s beneath you—”

“Says the kid who grew up in Chestnut Hill and went to private school starting in kindergarten.” Chapter 5

 

There’s nothing worse than being stuck somewhere, worrying about someone who matters to you, and having that person located far away. Keisha wasn’t even close. I was getting sick to my stomach. Chapter 7.

 

“I’m driving to Cincinnati in a fucking hurricane.” Chapter 10

 

Geoff slowly shook his head no. “You’re a no-good, shit-eating, low-life bastard, asshole scum, bro. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if you can convince your buddy Abdul to rent you a limo, I’ll go with you. I’m not paying for gas. Plus, when we get back to Philly, you and Keisha are taking Imani and me out to dinner at Barclay Prime. And you’re going to buy a bottle of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner.” Chapter 11

 

Abdul laughed. “Mr. Josh, you’ve not spent any time in the souk, I see. That’s not how this works. I give you a price, then you give me a lower price. We argue for a few minutes, and you tell me how worthless my car is, you wouldn’t transport pigs or your mother-in-law in it, you don’t really need it, blah, blah, then we agree in the middle.” Chapter 11

 

“This is going to be awesome,” Geoff said looking forward, I assumed so Diane couldn’t read his lips. “The Lincoln Lawyers.”

Awesome, indeed. “All-righty then,” I said. “Giddy up.” Chapter 13

 

The highway department seemed to be playing a losing game of whack-a-mole with the tree limbs. Chapter 14

 

I started venturing across tentatively, slowing to maybe ten mph. When I was a few dozen feet across, the wind picked up even more and the car began to rock. I mean serious rocking. I glanced at Geoff. He was holding the above-head grip with one hand and had his other on the dashboard. I glanced in the rear view. Diane had put down her work and had her hands on my seat to brace herself.

I tapped the gas and sped up to thirty. The rocking eased a bit. When we were about half-way across, a big gust coming down stream hit us from the side. The car began to go up on two wheels. The front and back wheels on my side felt like they weren’t gripping the deck. The wind was like a giant fist, pushing us off the bridge onto the narrow shoulder. As my wheels were pushed, the noise from the concrete corduroy strip on the shoulder warned me we were approaching the edge of the bridge. The car felt like it was going to roll onto its roof and over into the river.

 “The hell with it,” Geoff shouted over the wind. “Get off the damn bridge.”

I stomped my foot on the gas and the car shot ahead. It was all I could do to keep the wheels on the bridge. I turned the steering wheel hard to the left, as though I was making a left-hand turn, to keep from getting blown off the bridge. The tires squealed on the wet pavement above the noise of the wind. When I got to the other side, just a few seconds later, I quickly had to correct the wheel and the car swerved wildly as we rocketed onto the highway doing at least seventy. A seagull shot past the windshield. Not flying. It was like it had been launched from a canon. Chapter 14

 

Diane looked around the small place with its booths and art from Sears and said, “Any chance you can make me a macchiato, maybe a latté?”

The waitress closed her eyes and shook her head. “Dang it, fresh out. I’ve got regular coffee and decaf coffee, hon. Maxwell House. That’s it.”

Diane nodded and said, “Give me a Diet Coke.” Chapter 15

 

Diane shrugged. “Whatever. You’re just a real estate lawyer. What do you know? How to lease a shopping center? Asking you about climate change would be like asking a urologist about brain surgery.” Chapter 20

 

“Down there,” yelled Geoff over the rising noise as the tornado approached, now just hundreds of feet away. He pointed to the side of the road. A ten-foot berm was built up just ahead, between the field and the roadway. To carry the highway over a small dip in the terrain. “It’s not much cover, but it’s better than nothing.”

I understood his idea but couldn’t see how we could get down the steep incline without rolling over. “How are you going to get there?”

Geoff looked at me and grinned. He looked crazy-mad. “Hang on. We’re going full Dukes of Hazzard.”

“Wait! What?” Was all I could say as I rushed to re-attach my seatbelt. Geoff hit the accelerator and we rocketed into the teeth of the tornado.  Chapter 20

 

As I sat there, I thought about Diane and the firm. Basically, they had been good to me. As advertised. They had made me the kind of lawyer I’d become. On the whole, the people were good, smart-as-hell, high-achievers, and ambitious. The firm did what it said it would do: it made me a great lawyer and gave me opportunities I’d never imagined. I appreciated them. They gave me a platform to build a practice and interesting cases to work on. They paid me handsomely. They generously doled out the perks from a firm credit card, to bonuses, to box seats at Phillies and Eagles games. They only demanded three things: I had to work hard; I was expected to be honest with them in all things; and I owed them complete loyalty.

The firm culture had seduced me. Changed me. I needed to make money to pay off those damned student loans and have a place to live, but the whole thing just made me feel…dirty. None of this was what I wanted for myself on the day I started college or the day I started law school. It was like I was sucked into the gaping maw of some alien creature. Instead of consuming me, it transformed me into something else when it shit me out. Made me something I didn’t expect or want to be. I wasn’t happy about it. Chapter 25

 

 

 

 

 

 

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