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Read Local: ‘Devolution’ first in spy thriller trilogy

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    The book cover for "Devolution" Courtesy image—

Published: 3/11/2020 12:46:09 PM
Modified: 3/11/2020 12:45:59 PM

“Devolution” is book one in the Devolution Trilogy, a psychological spy thriller series written by John Casey. Book two, “Evolution,” will be released in October 2020 followed by “Revelation” in 2021.

In “Devolution,” Michael Dolan is a stoic perfectionist and former special operations pilot working a staff job at the Pentagon who is approached by the CIA with an improbable request, to help prevent impending terrorist attacks in Europe. As his deep-cover role in OPERATION EXCISE evolves, Dolan finds that of all the demons he must prevail against, the most terrible are from within…

“When I began writing Devolution I wanted to create a story where the depth and complexity of the main character were just as compelling and important as the plot,” Casey said. “As spy thrillers go, ‘Devolution’ has everything readers of the genre crave: action, suspense, cliffhangers and mystery. What makes the story so unique (and that much more captivating) is the dark and labyrinthine nature of Dolan’s psychological struggle as he navigates the challenges of his top-secret mission while confronting the demons of his past.

“The psychological thriller aspects of ‘Devolution’ are continued in ‘Evolution, ’which I am writing now. It is notable that the title of each book is not indicative of what happens with the plot but instead, of the state of mind of the main character. Michael Dolan finds himself caught in a mental downward spiral in the first book, but this is reversed in the sequel. The third book, ‘Revelation’, finds Dolan at the top of his game, which is imperative as he and his black ops CIA team will be challenged as they have never been before.

“I have received many unsolicited comments from readers of ‘Devolution’ that ‘this book would make a great movie.’ This is something I have thought myself; however, as the author I recognize I am quite biased in this regard and had kept the idea to myself until hearing it from several others. I am now taking steps to advertise ‘Devolution,’ along with ‘Evolution’ and ‘Revelation,’ to the film community and my fingers are crossed!”

For more information on John Casey’s writing, his television appearances and other media events please visit

The following passages come from Chapter 37 and puts you right into the middle of the action, near the end of the book. In this scene the main character, Michael Dolan, is injured and finds himself confronting members of a terrorist cell without backup.


Dolan stood up and pulled up his right sleeve, gingerly. His shirt and jacket were soaked with blood and both the entry and exit wounds were bleeding heavily. As far as he could tell the bullet had traveled between the radius and ulna without breaking either. Another stroke of luck. He glanced back at the tunnel. Seeing nothing he took off his overcoat and ripped off the right sleeve of his dress shirt, wrapping and tying it tightly around his right arm. His chest wound wasn’t bleeding too badly so he left it alone, donned the jacket and walked back to the tunnel. He held his breath again, this time walking inside. No change – dead bad guy on the ground, two lifeless forms inside the car. The dead bad guy looked more like a boy, now that he thought about it. Then he realized this was the first time he’d killed someone without being thousands of feet away. He had been close enough to see the whites of his eyes as he pulled the trigger. Unlike his combat experience piloting the Spectre gunship it wasn’t so impersonal, clinical. Routine. The antithesis of that, actually. And without the right training, much more dangerous. He picked up the Beretta and walked back out. By the time he exited he was experiencing extreme vertigo. He bent over with his hands on his knees and after a few minutes of deep breathing he felt better. As quickly as the gas had worked on the Algerians, he surmised he’d only gotten a very small dose. Each moment he was feeling better, aside from the tremendous pain in his forearm and the thudding ache in his chest.

Dolan forced himself to get back in his zone, to kill off the adrenaline. It was difficult but he was able to do it as he walked the path back to the house, now holding the APX in his left hand. Instead of going back to his hiding spot he turned left inside the tree line and circled the yard, watching for movement through the backlit curtains covering each window. As he was circling the back yard he noticed motion in the far-right window, probably a bedroom. He continued around until reaching the far side of the property. There was a covered vehicle parked there at the edge of the yard. Dolan left the tree line and approached the vehicle, crouched. He knelt down and removed the valve stem covers on the passenger side tires and deflated both.

There were no windows on the garage side of the house. Unable to low crawl because of the pain, Dolan hunkered down and moved steadily until he was up against the outside wall, then slid along toward the back. He quickly moved along, ducking under two windows, until he was at the back door. Locked. He’d never shot left-handed before. This worried him a bit. But he had the element of surprise, and it will be tight quarters inside. He should be able to get close.

With one swift, powerful move Dolan kicked in the door, splinters of the frame spraying in the doorway. The he stopped, head down and listening. A rustling sound to the right. Dolan bolted down the hall to the door he was sure led to the room where he saw movement and kicked it in as well, immediately diving through the doorway with the Beretta elevated toward the middle of the room. The second he saw Martin standing to the left he fired off a volley of shots. Martin sprinted toward the door he’d just come through, firing as he ran. Dolan paused for a microsecond and decided he hadn’t been hit. But how could he have missed Martin? As he got up off the floor bursts of plaster erupted from the wall as Martin let loose a barrage of bullets through from the other side. They’re all rookies, thought Dolan. He immediately fell back to the floor, left arm with the Beretta trained on the doorway and waited. He heard clicks as Martin repeatedly pulled the trigger on his empty weapon, then retreating footsteps and a door slamming. Out of bullets. He popped up and grimaced as a bolt of pain coursed through his arm, then raced out and down the hall to a door at the end, to the garage. He noticed a few spots of blood on the floor. His or mine? He could hear the garage door opening, not sure how much longer he could continue. He was gasping, in pain and out of energy.

Gritting his teeth, Dolan flattened his back against the wall, turned the doorknob and pulled the door open. Nothing. He held out the Beretta and took one stride into the doorway only to see Martin in his peripheral vision on the right swinging a two-by-four over his head. There was a wet, deep red stain on his shirt. Ah, got him in the shoulder. Dolan made a move to get out of the way and squeezed off a round toward him just as Martin hit his gun hand. The bullet struck the floor and ricocheted through the wall as the Beretta was knocked free. Dolan immediately leaned to his right and landed a punishing roundhouse kick to Martin’s kidney and he doubled over. He followed with an axe kick, his right heel dropping swiftly to impact the top of his head and Martin dropped to his knees.

Dolan turned to look for the APX. Seeing it about three meters away he noticed the panel truck, bright green with ‘Baumservice Berlin’ painted on the side. Berlin Tree Service. As he reached for the handgun he became lightheaded, almost falling. He tried to grab the handle, but his fingers weren’t working. His hand was swelling. Broken metatarsals... Martin then got up behind him, picked up the two-by-four and swung it like a baseball bat, hitting Dolan squarely on the side of the head and he crumpled to the floor on top of the gun.


John Casey grew up in New Hampshire, attended Keene High School, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1992 and earned a Master of Arts from Florida State University in 1994. He then began his flying career as an airlift and developmental test pilot. Casey left the cockpit in 2005 to work as an international affairs strategist and diplomat at the Pentagon, embassies in Germany and Ethiopia, and at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas where he retired in 2015. Since then, he has focused on his writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals, magazines and online blogs in the USA and internationally. Casey authored Raw Thoughts in 2019, published by Adelaide Books, and was nominated for the 2019 National Book Award. Select poetry from the book is nominated for the 2019 Pushcart Prize. He is currently working on CODA, the capstone to the two-book Raw Thoughts series. CODA will be released in June of 2020. Casey’s first novel, Devolution, is nominated for the 2020 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award. He is passionate about fitness, music, nature, and the human spirit. His writing is inspired by the incredible spectrum of people, places, and cultures he has experienced throughout his life.

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