Robert Valletta

Book Cover



    Core Theme














    After a group of military scientists is murdered, including his father, a toughened Marine uncovers a diabolical international plot to hijack a nuclear-powered laser weapon.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 18-34,35-54

    Target Gender: Male Leaning


    New York, Washington, Moscow, Los Angeles, Denver, Indian Ocean

    Based on a True Story


    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Robert Valletta Books

    Year Published: 2020

    Starting Description

    First Lieutenant Nick Gallaher soon discovers several top Department of Defense research scientists, his father among them, were killed as part of an elaborate scheme to take possession of the game-changing laser system, codenamed Crossfire.

    Ending Description

    This modern-day espionage thriller follows Gallaher at breakneck speed as he investigates and then races against time to stop the corporate black-market scheme before its consequences explode around the world.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available




    Mature Audience Themes

    Extreme Violence, Language/Profanity,Nudity

    Plot - Other Elements


    Plot - Premise

    Overcoming Monster/Villain

    Main Character Details

    Name: Nick Gallaher

    Age: 32

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Masculine,Decisive,Heroic,Educated,Honorable,Leader,Patriotic,Confident

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Vitaly Dobrovolsky

    Age: 50

    Gender: Male

    Role: Sidekick

    Key Traits: Empathetic,Engaging,Educated,Honorable,Secretive,Patriotic,Decisive,Confident

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Kayden Gallaher

    Age: 55

    Gender: Male

    Role: mentor

    Key Traits: Aspiring,Confident,Decisive,Empathetic,Engaging,Heroic,Educated,Honorable,Leader,Visionary,Patriotic

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Leilani Kamealoha

    Age: 28

    Gender: Female

    Role: emotional

    Key Traits: Sexy,Confident,Engaging,Heartthrob,Sophisticated,Seductive,Romantic




    A hardened Marine finds himself engrossed in the mystery surrounding his father's death. When his investigation leads to the discovery of a sinister plot to hijack a nuclear-powered laser weapon, he must hurry to put a stop to it before it causes worldwide destruction.

    Overall Rating


    Point of View


    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: FAIR

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: FAIR

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    The Book Profile does an excellent job of reflecting the book. It feels concise, descriptive and leaves just enough to the imagination. If there's anything to note here, it might be that DeLorenzo's character should be highlighted in the Characters section, because he is the story's primary antagonist. Aside from that, things look great.

    Draw of Story

    The story is fast-paced from the beginning. After a quick, but scandalous rendezvous between two lovers, we get right into the action. But perhaps the most interesting part about it is that we don't receive much information about either party, which makes us wonder if the murderer was after Julia or her lover. From there, we get to know Dylan Gallaher briefly and engage with him before his untimely demise. This does a great job of setting us up for what's to come, but also proves to us that something sinister is at work. It's easy to connect the dots between the two scenes, but enough mystery is left to compel us to keep reading.

    Possible Drawbacks

    There are a lot of characters to follow and a lot of different settings, which sometimes makes it difficult to hone in on the primary cast. There are also a lot of esoteric references throughout, be it technology, military language, etc. that may not be widely understood. It may be useful to consider paring down some of the supporting cast. For instance, maybe Gallaher only meets with one person per scientist, so the reader has an easier time knowing who to pay attention to. And maybe some of the assistants and/or secretaries who greet him don't need to be identified by name. In terms of language, it's clear that there is an excellent understanding of subject matter here. But it's possible that the reader doesn't need to be privy to all of it. Taking out any ancillary references and using layman's terms to describe the rest could help the story appeal to a wider market, and ensure that the reader doesn't get bogged down in specifics that don't drive the story forward in a major way.

    Use of Special Effects


    Primary Hook of Story

    The fate of a nation, and perhaps the fate of the world, depends on one man solving the mystery of six suspicious deaths. A complex storyline with many moving parts is boiled down to a simple but effective premise. It's a race against the clock, which helps to sustain the tension levels throughout, but it also appeals to us on an emotional level because Gallaher is largely motivated by grief. We understand why the mission is so important to him, and thus it's easy to be compelled by his quest.

    Fanbase Potential

    A story like this would certainly appeal to fans of thrillers, those who love political action, and to anyone who enjoys redemption arcs. That said, it's most likely to skew more towards a male, US centric audience. Fans of authors like Vince Flynn and Dan Brown might particularly enjoy a story like this one. In terms of a rating, it's most likely a solid R, because of its violence, sexual moments and overall international unrest.

    Awards Potential

    Based on the genre, it's not likely that a story like this would get much attention for major above the line awards. But it's possible that there is below the line potential. An adaptation like this one would require careful cinematography, expert special effects, and fantastic choreography, all of which could be contenders.

    Envisioned Budget


    Similar Films/TV Series


    What’s New About the Story

    The fate of the country, and the world, rests on one man, in the midst of grieving over the loss of his father and brother, and recovering from a traumatic imprisonment in North Korea. His motivation feels effective enough as is to elevate the story and perhaps make it feel more unique than others of its kind. But to capitalize on that might mean bringing his struggles forward even more. For instance, if he had recurring nightmares about North Korea that impacted his journey and that he must overcome in order to be successful, it might humanize him a bit more. And if we saw more of his grieving process and perhaps went deeper into his family dynamic, it could give him a touch more emotional complexity and push the story forward in a more unique way.

    Lead Characters

    Nick Gallaher is man of many skills. He is well-connected, capable, and emotionally likeable enough to root for. Vitaly Dobrovolksy is much of the same, so much so that we're excited when the two plot lines begin to unify. DeLorenzo and his crew stand out because their end goal is so clear. We know exactly what DeLorenzo wants, and thus why he behaves the way he does. It makes him an effective antagonist, and a worthy opponent of Gallaher and Dobrovolsky.

    Uniqueness of Story

    Although it has potential, the story doesn't feel like a rare gem quite yet. It feels like Gallaher's grief and trauma, and thus his motivation, could be a bit more of a driving force within the story. Additionally, the sheer number of characters runs the risk of negatively impacting the story flow. Paring it down a bit and only identifying characters with a strong purpose could help things feel more natural and easy to follow. Finally, pulling back some of the very specific language and esoteric references could help elevate the story even more.

    Possible Formats

    Film: Studio TV Series: Limited Run / Mini-Series

    Analyst Recommendation



    There are a lot of things to like about the story and its execution, but largely it feels like there's a bit more work to be done in order to maximize the story's effectiveness. There are a lot of characters to follow and many different settings to keep track of, which makes it hard to identify a primary cast and storyline.

    Tips for Improvement

    Streamlining some of the supporting cast and the very specific language are both things that could help improve the story flow. Additionally, bringing forward Gallaher's grief and/or trauma more could help elevate his character and thus his arc. Overall, the story has potential and could likely appeal to a wide target market. But it feels like a touch more elbow grease is needed in order to make the story shine, and maximize its effectiveness. Keep at it, and best of luck!


    A hardened Marine finds himself engrossed in the mystery surrounding his father's death. When his investigation leads to the discovery of a sinister plot to hijack a nuclear-powered laser weapon, he must hurry to put a stop to it before it causes worldwide destruction.

    What We Liked

    CROSSFIRE is a fast-paced military action/thriller that follows a hardened Marine on a quest to find his father's murderer. It has a lot of moving parts, but the crux of the story rests on the protagonist discovering the killer in a race against the clock, and the destruction of the world. Along the way, he discovers friends and foes but emerges victorious as a character thats easy to root for and engage with.

    Film: The story has a defined, singular goal that is strong enough to sustain a film, and the protagonist follows the basics of The Hero's Journey to reach a satisfying conclusion. Along a way, a series of setbacks, twists, and turns, keeps our attention as we root for the protagonist's victory as he opposes the bad guys and fights to avenge his traumatic losses and save the world.

    TV: It's possible that the story is a bit too fast-paced for the typical television format, but it may fit the miniseries format quite well. There is more than enough source material to sustain a television show, and a bit of room for expansion in terms of the protagonist's backstory, family dynamic and past trauma. There is a singular goal: find the killer and save the world. And there is a definitive ending, where the protagonist emerges victorious. But along the way, there are twists and turns that keep the audience engaged and invested.

    Key points:
    Global story.
    Military story.


    JULIA PETRUCELLI (20s) has sex with her older, male lover in a secluded area of a New Jersey community park. He excuses himself to go to his tennis match, and Julia silently wishes that he would stay with her. She waits hopelessly for her lover to return and soon feels a breath on her neck. Believing that her lover has come back, she succumbs to him. But he begins choking her and stabbing her repeatedly. Julia tries to claw away from her assailant, but it’s too late.

    DOCTOR DYLAN GALLAHER, an Airforce rocket scientist who has just discovered life-changing, classified research, prepares to go skydiving with his closest friends. Their pilot, GABE, has broken his arm and has been temporarily replaced with ZACH PARKER. Parker takes the men up to the appropriate altitude and instructs them to jump. Gallaher’s three friends pull their ripcords successfully, but Gallaher’s doesn’t open. There is nothing in his pack except a typewritten letter.

    FIRST LIEUTENANT NICK GALLAHER is led down the corridor of a North Korean prison. A GUARD picks him up and forces him out into the winter air. Gallaher overpowers the guard, twists his neck, and kills him. He takes the guard’s coat and weapons and is about to try to navigate the terrain when he hears the unmistakable sound of landmine. He sits there, freezing, through the night. When dawn comes, Gallaher vows to become free. He pushes on, leaving his dead captor behind.

    SUYOUNG HONG, a child, seeks refuge in his abandoned house. He sees French soldiers approaching and ducks below the window. He decides to travel, under the cover of night, to his cousins in a nearby village. A French truck approaches and Suyoung dives into the bushes. There, he finds a wounded Gallaher. He flags down the French soldiers, who tend to both. DR. STEPHEN BILLINGS patches Gallaher up on a British hospital boat.

    Gallaher awakens, and panics that he is unable to see. Billings tells him that he his corneas were scratched by shrapnel, but his vision should return to normal within a few days. COMMANDER BRIAN SHEFFIELD arrives and tells Gallaher that his father has passed, and that he was new orders. Once fully healed, he is to travel to Washington to speak to top brass.

    In Russia, PAVEL MAKAROV waits in the shadows to meet VITALY DOBROVOLSKY. A British orphan who was adopted by a pair of Russian spies, DOBROVOLKSY has spent his entire life in disguise. The Russian government has no knowledge of his British past, and he rose through the ranks of the military with ease. He urinates in the nearby river and drops a pack of American cigarettes. When he leaves, Makarov picks it up and prepares to deliver Dobrovolsky’s encryptions to the British government.

    CHASE GALLAHER is instructed by his uncle, KAYDEN, to meet with PhD scientist DONALD STRZELECKI, a renowned government researcher. KAYDEN, special advisor to the President, believes that Strzelecki knows something about Dylan Gallaher’s death. Chase rents an SUV and travels to an ice yacht race that Strzelecki is participating in. He waits next to his car as the race begins. About a mile from the finish line, there is an explosion, and several boats go up in flames. Chase and the spectators rush onto the ice to assist the survivors and realizes that Strzelecki is dead. He finds the responding police officers and produces a fake FBI ID, given to him by Kayden the year before. He discovers that there was a typewritten suicide note in Strzelecki’s car.

    Feeling that something is awry, Chase returns to his hotel room to call Kayden. That night, Chase awakens to a masked intruder with a silenced gun. The intruder shoots Chase dead.

    In New Jersey, CHRISTIAN DELORENZO stands in a classified factory with his business partners, Frenchmen FRANCOIS ROUSSEAU, and KENNETH DADE. They stare at the Crossfire, a military reconnaissance laser beam. Rousseau reveals that Dylan Gallaher’s files prove that the Crossfire is much more powerful than originally believed. DeLorenzo has promised the Russians the technology, to assist them in taking over the oil fields in the Middle East.

    The men have developed a plan to trick the US government and NASA into thinking that the Crossfire malfunctioned in space. They will board DeLorenzo’s yacht and meet up with a Russian submarine in the middle of the ocean, where they will hand over the technology, without raising any suspicion. Rousseau asks if he can inform YVONNE DELORENZO, Christian’s daughter, and his lover, and DeLorenzo promises to fill her in when the time is right.

    Several weeks later, the launch goes according to DeLorenzo’s plan. They promptly lose connection with the Crossfire, and DeLorenzo falsely blames it on his North Carolina facilities. He promises a replacement, at no cost to the American taxpayers.

    AIR FORCE LIEUTENANT COMMANDER RICHARD DRAKE flies Nick Gallaher to Washington. He is escorted to the Pentagon, where he meets with Kayden. Kayden informs him that Chase is dead and begins to sob. Nick consoles him, and he begins to inform Nick of his suspicions. He presents him with five photographs of six scientists, including Dylan, involved in special research for the Department of Defense. All of them died under mysterious circumstances. Despite the conspiracy, Kayden has been told not to investigate it to prevent unfavorable review of the current presidential administration. So, he needs Nick to investigate it for him.

    Nick arrives in New Mexico and sees his father’s skydiving poster at the rental car station. He drives to the flight school and meets Gabe, who remembers him from his youth. He asks about the circumstances surrounding Dylan’s death, and Gabe admits that it was suspicious. Dylan left his parachute pack alone with Zach Parker while he used the restroom. And after the incident, Parker drove off never to be seen again. When Gabe asked the police to investigate him, they had already deemed Dylan’s death a suicide and let the matter drop.

    After the flight school, Nick meets with COLONEL NOAH WALLACE at the local air force base. Wallace believes that Dylan committed suicide, like the reports say. But after some prodding, he begins to tell Nick the details of his father’s top-secret projects. Dylan helped design a laser beam that could interrupt the flight of missiles and render them useless. With that information, Nick thanks Wallace and continues his journey. He catches a flight to Los Angeles and arrives at Cal Tech. He produces a fake ID card from Kayden that deems him Navy Intelligence and checks into an appointment with RANDOLPH STILES to inquire about the death of the one of the scientists, MARVIN SAMUELS. He learns that Samuels had been buying illegal amphetamines off a security guard before driving his car over a bridge. His job was creating highly classified military computer software and signal processing technology.

    Gallaher deduces that Zach Parker must be responsible for the deaths but needs to settle on a motive before trying to track down the pilot. He hurries to his next appointment, where he meets SHARON MURPHY and LEROY CORDERO, close associates of Dr. Strzelecki. He learns that the scientist was working on a strong mirror, that would focus sufficient energy on a target without destroying it. He was under fire for losing track of a test mirror that was tested at the Los Alamitos Naval base, and never made it back to the facility. Cordero still struggles with deciding whether Strzelecki was telling the truth about the mirror.

    Gallaher’s next trip is to Vandenberg air force base, to ask about the death of MAJOR JOHN STARK. He meets with COLONEL SHERWOOD JONES and MAJOR RAYMOND HERNANDEZ. The men tell him that one of the propane valves on Stark’s hot air balloon had been welded shut, and a typewritten suicide note was found after the incident. Gallaher learns that Stark worked very closely with Kenneth Dade.

    Gallaher arrives at Sinclair Components Inc., a subsidiary of Cal Tech, to speak with GEORGE LEWIS. He is escorted through the high-security facility by a beautiful secretary named LEILANI. Once inside Lewis’ office, he asks him about the death of LEONARD PRICE. Gallaher learns that Price helped develop sensors for NASA, military, and government contracts. He learns that sometimes, the researchers collaborated with Kenneth Dade and THANE MCCOLLIAN. Lewis calls Leilani to escort Gallaher out. He seduces Leilani and takes her back to his hotel room.

    Gallaher arrives in Denver and looks up Thane in the phone book. From the television, he hears breaking news about a fatal car accident. He looks up when he hears that Thane is the victim. Soon after, he receives a phone call in his hotel room. An anonymous voice tells him that he has the information Gallaher has been looking for and asks to meet in Littleton. When he arrives, he is assaulted by Zach Parker and one of his thugs. Gallaher tries to fight back. More adversaries arrive and begin shooting machine guns at Gallaher. He uses Parker as a human shield, and ducks beneath a bush. The thug finds him, and they tumble together over a cliff and into an icy river below. Gallaher smashes the thug’s face on a rock and allows the river to carry him downstream.

    Nick flies back to Washington to meet Kayden and RONALD PRESCOTT of the CIA. Prescott supplies Nick with a suitcase full of weapons and a bulletproof vest. Kayden gives Nick access to the FBI database and sets him loose on a subfloor of the Pentagon. Nick searches for the names he’s learned in all his meetings, but the only connection that comes up at first is that Kenneth Dade once worked for a subsidiary of Sinclair Components. He keeps digging and learns the name Christian DeLorenzo. He learns that DeLorenzo’s daughter, Yvonne, is the Chairwoman of the Armed Services Committee and is the one who forbid Kayden from investigating the suspicious deaths. He sees a news headline of Yvonne and Francois Rousseau leaving a club. When he looks up Rousseau in the database, he’s able to peg him as the go-between DeLorenzo and Russia.

    Gallaher poses as a reporter and arranges an interview with Yvonne. She claims not to be dating Rousseau, but that they’re good friends. Gallaher pulls a Glock from his pocket and reveals his true intentions. Yvonne begins to cry, and Gallaher realizes that DeLorenzo fooled her into thinking his dealings were pure. He has no time to process this however, because the front window the Yvonne’s house is shattered, and several gunned assailants enter. Gallaher ducks behind a sofa and takes out several of them. He feels a sharp attack to the head, and then everything goes black.

    Gallaher awakens to Rousseau and Kenneth Dade standing above him. They take his Glock from him and hit him in the head with it. Gallaher loses consciousness again. Meanwhile, in Russia, Vitaly Dobrovolsky is summoned by the Russian government. He learns that he has been chosen for a covert mission. He is to accompany several others to DeLorenzo’s yacht, to oversee the transfer of equipment. In a deal struck with DeLorenzo, the Russians are to transfer shipments of oil tankers as well, but Dobrovolsky is informed that those shipments will never occur. Instead, Dobrovolsky is to slip into the water and attach bombs to DeLorenzo’s yacht. Armed with this new information, Dobrovolksy knows that he must get it to the British government before it’s too late.

    Dobrovolsky is escorted to the mission, and he struggles to be alone long enough to read the documents contained in his black briefcase. Dobrovolksy is given a homing device to place onto the vessel. But bad weather and choppy water causes him to drop it out of the dinghy. He and the rest of the men are catapulted overboard. Rescue divers hurry to save them. Dobrovolksy can get some word to the British but is prevented from sending any further communication. He inputs all his information onto a tiny microchip and places it into a cigarette and gets it to a spy pickup spot.

    Dobrovolsky convinces the captain of the vessel to make a pitstop so he can exchange arms with an international dealer. After some hesitation, the captain agrees. Meanwhile, British intelligence gets wind of the plot. They team up with the Americans and watch the testing of the laser in the middle of the ocean.

    Gallaher awakens on a ship, but he still has his bulletproof vest and a knife attached to his pantleg. He is greeted by DeLorenzo, Dade and Rousseau, who are shocked that he came so close to figuring out their plan.

    DeLorenzo and his crew arrive at the rendezvous point. Dobrovolsky comes aboard the yacht and notices a guard guarding Gallaher’s stateroom. Dobrovolsky insists that Gallaher be present for the transaction. DeLorenzo and his men hesitatingly agree.

    The British and the US deploy forces to track the ocean meeting. They get sight of the Russian submarine, but it soon falls out of view. Meanwhile, Dobrovolsky asks to interrogate Gallaher. He reveals his identity and arranges for Gallaher to come aboard the Russian vessel, so they can work together to stop the master plan. Dobrovolksy tells him that, if the Russians succeed, the US and Allied forces in the Middle East will all be killed by DeLorenzo’s plot.

    Just as the Russians are about to launch the weapon on US and British forces, Dobrovolksy and Gallaher overtake them. Bombs begin to explode around them, and the vessel begins to sink. Dobrovolsky is shot and Gallaher hurries to get him away from the enemy. In the nick of time, they are rescued by US divers. They are originally mistaken as Russians, until Gallaher can explain. They return to Washington victorious.

    About The Author

    Robert Valletta was selected as a semi-finalist for the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts in Creative Writing. He twice received the annual Josephine P. Farace Award for Excellence in Journalism. He is the author of Under the Silent Sky and A Foreigner's Heart.