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Fish Pond

Published by: Bell Bridge Books
Release Date: April 15, 2011
Pages: 246
ISBN13: 978-1611940015





A crippled Air Force recon plane, trapped in the eye of a violent hurricane.

An outspoken tropical weather forecaster, fired from his network TV job before he can issue a warning: the storm is changing course and intensifying.

A desperate family searching for a runaway daughter on Georgia’s posh St. Simons Island, cut off from escape as the hurricane roars toward them.

A marriage on the rocks; an unrequited sexual attraction; a May-December romance.

All will be swept up by the monster storm.

Get ready for a white-knuckle adventure.

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“H. W. ‘Buzz’ Bernard bursts on the scene with Eyewall, a compelling and suspenseful tale told with the insight and authenticity of one who has walked in the world of the famed Hurricane Hunters and endured the harsh realities of a major, devastating storm. Great characters combine with razor-sharp suspense and leave you breathless. A one-sitting, white-knuckle read.” —Vicki Hinze, award-winning author of Deadly Ties

“A dramatic and frenzied story of how an angry hurricane collides with the frailty and heroism of human nature. After reading the exciting and emotional Eyewall, I admire even more those who work to protect us from the next Cat 5.” —Michael Buchanan, co-author and screenwriter, The Fat Boy Chronicles and Micah’s Child

“Buzz Bernard conjures up one satisfyingly suspenseful situation after another in this novel.Eyewall has all the adrenal intensity of a roller coaster combined with intricate plotting, compelling characters, and a larger-than-life situation expertly handled. This jewel of a thriller founds itself on character complication in the midst of an all-too-believable natural disaster that will keep you turning pages to its exciting conclusion. There is nothing calm at the eye of this perfect storm of a book.” –Brian Jay Corrigan, award-winning author of The Poet of Loch Ness

“An edge-of-the-seat, action read of the finest quality.” —Elizabeth Sinclair, author of Hawk’s Mountain

“Riveting. Intrigue, power struggles [and] frightening reality from several perspectives. Eyewall will keep you more than interested.” —Marshall Seese, retired anchorman and meteorologist, The Weather Channel

“Eyewall is a well written and very gripping thriller. This book is hard to put down. [It] races along just like the hurricane that is bearing down on St. Simons Island. It is an excellent thriller ….” —Kathryn Poulin, MysteriesEtc

“Not since the ‘70s and Jaws have I read a book that I literally did not want to put down. [Eyewall] gets a great big WOW from me. A wonderfully suspenseful book from beginning to end, very reminiscent of Peter Benchly, except the monster is not a shark but a hurricane. I recommend it highly.” —Kathleen Kelly, Goodreads

“Readers will be amazed at how many lives are affected by a very deceptive force of nature. Bernard’s story is very entertaining and a great read and it will captivate your imagination and attention from the very first paragraph.” —Sabrina Cooper, RT Book Reviews

Behind the Scenes

The idea for EYEWALL was born of a real event. In 1989, a NOAA Hurricane Hunter was trapped briefly in the eye of Hurricane Hugo. The WP-3D Orion lost an engine during a low-level penetration of the storm’s eyewall, but was able to fly to safety after only a brief imprisonment.

I chose, however, to use the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters as the focus for my novel rather than NOAA’s for several reasons. One was purely partisan: I’m a retired Air Force officer and once flew a mission with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the Hurricane Hunters.

Another was the fact that while I was on active duty I spent a good deal of time riding around in C-130s, the aircraft now used by the Air Force to stalk hurricanes. I’m familiar with all the whining, grinding and shimmying that goes on in the venerable old airplane.

I also had access to a former C-130 pilot (and retired Delta captain), Mike Klindt, two houses down the street from me. I peppered him–-a patient man, fortunately-–with numerous questions about flying.

But there were other reasons. At The Weather Channel, I worked with an Air Force Reservist, Nicole Mitchell, who’s an airborne meteorologist with the Hurricane Hunters. I think I wore her out with questions about flying through hurricanes. Still, she was kind enough to arrange a chance for me to prowl around inside the new J-model WC-130 and introduce me to Lt. Kevin Olson, a Hurricane Hunter pilot.

A good friend of mine, and former Weather Channel employee, Dr. Steve Lyons, is one of the foremost hurricane experts in the world. Steve knows more about the mechanics of hurricanes and storm surges than anyone I know. He helped me immensely with Eyewall’s meteorological details, even to the extent of calculating a storm surge for the novel’s fictional Hurricane Janet.

Both Nicole and Steve served as inspirations for characters in my book. Having a female weather officer as part of the Hurricane Hunter’s crew opened up a lot of possibilities to me as an author, but Nicole was concerned people would think the character was her. No, no and no. If anything, Nicole is a responsible, mature antithesis to female officer portrayed in Eyewall.

Steve’s astounding knowledge of hurricanes was an absolute must for the book. So I packed his wisdom into a character that otherwise bears no resemblance to Steve.

The plot for Eyewall rolled around in my mind for many months–-and through at least one false start–-before it came to fruition. I finally ended up with characters not only in conflict with a catastrophic hurricane but, in many cases, with each other.

There’s sex, duplicity, despair, alligators, a baby and even a hint of romance all crammed into a tale that covers less than twenty-four hours.

But what a twenty-four hours!


Chapter One



Dead ahead of the aircraft, a massive redoubt of roiling clouds, the eyewall of Hurricane Janet, billowed toward the heavens and poked into the underbelly of the stratosphere. Between the aircraft, an Air Force Hurricane Hunter, and the towering wall, layers of white and gray clouds, innocuous outliers of the storm, cluttered the skyscape. But the eyewall itself was obsidian, foreboding.

Major Arlen Walker leaned forward in the pilot’s seat, scanning the sky through the cockpit windshield. Beads of cold sweat spotted his forehead. His muscles were tense, strangely alert to some undefined threat. It was as if he’d been awakened in the dark to the heavy creak of a floorboard, or the rustle of bushes outside a window when there is no wind.

He understood–or thought he did–that the probable source of his apprehension was not Janet but the strange events of the previous day. Thus, there should be no rational, no logical reason for his unease. Or was there? He stared at the barrier of clouds, trying to take their measure, guess at what lay within them. Janet was a mere category one, the lowest intensity on the rating scale, yet if you could judge a storm by its looks…. He spoke into the intercom, addressing the on-board weather officer, Captain Karlyn Hill. “Karlyn, this thing might have teeth. Is it still looking like penetration at 5000 feet?”

Her voice came back. “Yes, sir. The Hurricane Center said she’d still be a cat one on our first pass. If she isn’t, we’ll do the next fly through at 10,000. And kick the asses of those guys next time we see ‘em.”

Walker considered her words, her tone of voice. Whistling past the graveyard? Colonel Bernie Harlow, the copilot, didn’t think so. “Attaboy, girl,” he said. Walker gripped the aircraft’s controls and stared at his looming adversary. “Give me a heading, nav,” he said.

“Zero-four-five,” Major John Best called out.

Walker turned the aircraft to the new track, then glanced at the cockpit radar. They were minutes from the edge of the eyewall. On the radar, solid red and magenta returns indicated torrential precipitation. They were approaching a palisade of rain. “No way this thing is a one,” he said.

“Yeah,” Karlyn responded. She usually added a commentary or light-hearted one-liner before penetrating the eye of a hurricane. This time she didn’t.

The plane was doing a little dance now, a constant jiggle as it barreled toward the bulwark of bruise-colored clouds.

“Winds are going up fast,” Karlyn said.

“Is there a better way in?” Walker asked.

“Don’t see one.”

“Break it off, Major?” Colonel Harlow asked.

“Negative. Let’s do the mission. It’s not a cat five.” Harlow was testing him.

“Let’s hope,” Best chimed in.

“‘Half a league, half a league, half a league onward. All in the Valley of Death rode the six hundred,” Harlow recited, holding his gaze on the eyewall.

“What’s that?” Walker asked.

“Tennyson. ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade.’ The Brits. Crimean War.”

“If I recall my history, that didn’t end well.”

The plane rattled more sharply now, the jiggle lapsing into a hard shake.

“No. It didn’t.” Harlow looked at him. And in his eyes, Walker caught a flicker of doubt, something he’d never seen before.