Charles A. Salter served as a uniformed scientist in the U.S. Army for 28 years, nine of them at the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute. An expert on radiation defense, he served as Director of the Medical Effects of Ionizing Radiation course and taught it world-wide to all branches of the military and public health service throughout the U.S. system as well as to allied nations. He has published over a dozen nonfiction books and hundreds of articles.
Currently he is writing the Brad Stout Adventure series of novels, each of which is based on true military cases and unsolved mysteries, particularly those involving nuclear and radiological emergencies or terrorism.
He grew up in south Louisiana and graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans. Many of his most popular characters are based on Cajun and other Southern folk he grew up with.
“A broad, satisfying thriller that's as invigorating as it is charming.”
– Kirkus Reviews
In this novel, a special military unit must quickly thwart terrorists in Greece cooking up a secret nuclear plot.
Col. Blake Hunter’s relaxing Santorini vacation takes a turn for the worse when armed men enter the picture. They threaten his wife, Mia, and their kids, coercing Blake, who heads the American military’s Nuclear Response Team, into aiding a scheme underway. Combat-trained Blake manages to save himself and his family, but now the United States ambassador wants to know what the baddies wanted him to do. This is especially crucial, as it definitely entails a classified “plasma sphere” and the likelihood that terrorists are planning to get “the biggest bomb in the history of the world,” a weapon that could blow an entire country off the map. Back in America, Lacey Brown and Jim Logan of the NRT look into cases of acute radiation syndrome. Their investigation sends them to Greece, where they team up with Blake. The NRT soon has eyes on a ship that the team will have to intercept if it wants any shot at preventing a nuclear catastrophe. In this series opener, Salter maintains a brisk pace with a kinetic plot unfolding on Greek islands and vessels at sea. Blake proves to be an engaging hero; for much of the story he’s fighting an undiagnosed ailment that’s gradually weakening him. Flashbacks also take readers to his youth and a scene with his grandfather that parallels Blake’s relationship with his twin son and daughter. Unfortunately, the supporting cast pales in comparison, as even Mia is little more than a woman in peril and an emblem of family life. Salter nevertheless outfits this thriller with action, as NRT members engage in fisticuffs and stealthily shadow dubious types. A highlight is Blake’s quiet pursuit of a would-be assassin as a musical rehearsal goes on.
A dynamic officer headlines this energetic thriller that will make readers eager for the sequel.
Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2022
Page count: 274pp
Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023
A tough guy and a genius embark on a dimension-hopping adventure.
As Salter’s novel opens, all seems peaceful enough. A cheerful group—Breslin “Brex” Herndon, the smartest science nerd in the world; Jack “Jacks” Rigalto, his friend and former bodyguard; and Sara, Jacks’ 6-year-old daughter—is enjoying a day in Manhattan’s Battery Park when a mysterious portal, a schimmerplotz, opens in thin air. Brex and Sara are spiritually drawn to it. By the time the quick connection is broken and Jacks’ friend and daughter are restored to him, they know quite a bit about the portal—and the dystopian world on the other side of it. The two experienced the horror of this grim realm and the dark villainy of a general named Bnindagun, and, unfortunately for them, he’s aware of them in turn. Brex and Jacks are employees of the newly created Cosmic Intelligence Group. Much to Brex’s confusion, his bosses don’t seem interested in following up on what looks like Bnindagun’s elaborate plan to range over different dimensions and diverse time periods. This throws the burden of an investigation squarely on the wisecracking but effective team of Brex and Jacks in a fast-paced plot that reaches out to include Sara; Jacks’ wife, Momma Sara; and her identical twin sister, Tara. Salter adopts a breezy, friendly tone throughout. Even during the story’s frequent and well-managed action sequences and when the plot’s developments are sinister and foreboding, the author maintains a bouncy repartee between his unlikely pair of heroes, always contrasting Brex’s arch intellectual snobbery with Jacks’ rugged directness. As the first volume of an action-adventure series, the book is winningly inviting. The two heroes go from one mishap to another in Bnindagun’s alternate timeline, always with Brex supplying the exposition and Jacks delivering the snappy comebacks. Readers will be eager for more.
An exciting and fast-paced time-travel fantasy starring an action odd couple.
Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2020
Page count: 210pp
Publisher: Dingbat Publishing
Review Posted Online: March 18, 2021
A collection of short stories by brothers J.L. Salter and Charles A. Salter that centers on murder and the uncanny.
These 10 tales span multiple genres, including mystery and SF. The opening story, J.L. Salter’s “Buddies Forever,” is by far the most thought-provoking; it tells of Donague and Donahue, two soldiers who fight together in the Vietnam War. When a rookie accidentally pulls the pin on a grenade, one of the two main characters wakes up in an evacuation hospital with his eyes bandaged, but confusion about his identity leads to an unexpected revelation. Other stories by the same author present a wife whose husband may be poisoning her (“Murder on her Mind”) and a bedroom clock that’s mysteriously affecting time itself (“Time Conscious”). The stories by Charles A. Salter include “A Lousy Way To Rye,” a delirious first-person narrative about a bioterrorism attack; “That ASMR Girl,” about top-ranking officers mysteriously dropping dead at an Army base; and “The Caves of Lonesanne Blu,” set in an alternate reality in which Lord Oonain, a war veteran, has been sentenced to death. J.L. Salter writes gripping action, exemplified by a flashback in “Buddies Forever” in which the soldier remembers diving on the stray grenade: “Then the scene sped up to real time—as real as time gets in vivid dreams—and I shoved Donahue’s body out of the way before I grabbed my helmet and threw myself on top of the grenade.” Charles A. Salter’s prose has a boldly surreal edge, as demonstrated in “A Lousy Way To Rye”: “The worst day of my life began as I noticed my left arm falling off. Luckily it wasn’t my dominant one.” Neither author writes consistently snappy dialogue, however, and at times, the conversations can prove laborious: “ ‘Bill, we should visit Darren…maybe take a casserole or something.’ ‘I can pick up something at the deli tomorrow.’ ‘Tomorrow… right.’ ” Despite this weakness, the stories’ events are sufficiently curious and unnerving to make for compelling reading.
Intriguing and unsettling in equal measure despite occasionally dreary dialogue.
Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2020
Page count: 186pp
Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020
In Salter’s latest thriller (The eBay Guardian, 2013, etc.), the recurring protagonist is sent to Puerto Rico for a covert assignment that may have global implications.
Maj. Brad Stout is having trouble getting details on his latest Unexplained Radiation Phenomenon mission. He’s too busy trying to protect the congressman who’s supposed to give him the particulars. When Stout finally arrives at the compound, he has a lot on his plate: He’s in charge of a team of scientists assembled to explain and possibly thwart a phenomenon that could be catastrophic to the planet, and terrorists are trying to force their way into the building. Before Stout even learns exactly what his mission is—at which point the scientific element enters the story, over a third of the way in—he saves the congressman and his mistress, Lindsey, from a tiger shark; is attacked by a snake; and lands himself in a gunfight. Without revealing the precise URP that Stout faces, Salter presents scenes of scientists discussing theories and predictions to plan the team’s next step. But the story never lags, continually building intrigue and suspense, and there’s the constant threat of the terrorists, who repeatedly try breaching security and lead Stout to teach the scientists how to handle guns. The novel shows shades of sci-fi, but it’s primarily an action-crammed thriller. Salter avoids lingering on violence and any vulgar language, though his protagonist may be a bit too wholesome this time around; Stout, who’s cut off from his wife, Mary Lou, and their twins, hardly seems tempted by Lindsey, whose obvious come-ons consequently have little dramatic impact. His reaction to Bertram Skitlik, however, is unmistakable, as the mere mention of the peevish scientist’s name causes Stout to grimace and come close to swearing (“egotistical a-hole”). And that’s just one of the many obstacles that readers will enjoy watching Stout overcome.
Coursing action with a sci-fi flavor.
Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2013
Page count: 198pp
Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2013
In Maj. Brad Stout’s return, he must foil a radiological threat against the president mere hours before his wedding.
Part of Brad’s job at Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute is monitoring eBay for anyone selling radioactive material. The Army major believes he’s uncovered an online sale written in code that offers a potentially lethal item related to a 1961 nuclear incident in Idaho. There’s also an allusion in the code to the president’s upcoming visit to Camp David. Brad desperately attempts to warn the president about the scheme, and he’s also in serious danger of missing his wedding to his pregnant fiancee, Mary Lou. Though short, the second book in Salter’s (The eBay Plot, 2012) series packs a mean punch. In addition to the nuclear threat and pending nuptials, Brad is attacked by dirty-bomb terrorists—he’d thwarted their plans in his last adventure—seeking a World War II–era diary they believe he possesses. Brad also travels to Germany when a loved one is kidnapped, and he meets his odd, insular Cajun future in-laws. The novel can sometimes read like Salter was trying to squeeze in as many genres as he could: action, espionage, drama, a detective story, comedy with Mary Lou’s Ma and her nearly incomprehensible Cajun dialect, and even romance, as Brad and Mary Lou’s intimacy is in ample supply. Fortunately, though, the story isn’t convoluted, and there’s always some elbow room in the narrative. The best scenes deal with the bonding between Brad and his father-to-be: Brad calls him Dad and contrasts him with his own father, a cold, violent man. The two men work together in tracking down the highest bidder for the dubious eBay auction. But at the core of the story are Brad’s fear and excitement about his future marriage and impending fatherhood. For instance, despite having just survived an attack, he’s worried he’ll incur his fiancee’s Cajun wrath if he’s late picking up her father from the airport. Tellingly, the countdown, which begins about halfway through the novel, counts down not to the threat against the president but to the wedding day.
A broad, satisfying thriller that’s as invigorating as it is charming.
Pub Date: March 12, 2013
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Review Posted Online: June 19, 2013
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013
U.S. Army major Brad Stout must go undercover into the cyberdepths of eBay to foil a deadly radioactive threat in the first book of Salter’s eBay Detective series.
The Army’s leading experts in weapons of mass destruction are being taken out one by one in suburban Maryland, just miles from where they serve their country as critical researchers. Brad, a decorated veteran of the Bethesda-based Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, is hard at work piecing together a series of questionable purchases by anonymous eBay buyers. He devises a cunning online strategy, offering to sell radiobiological items on eBay, and soon, the prime suspect in the murders is in FBI custody. At home, he has a spinster sister, with whom he shares troubling memories of their abusive father, and a new fiancee, Mary Lou, who’s pregnant with twins. Brad’s ready to return to his normal life—until he receives an email from another anonymous buyer. Convinced that this new buyer is working with the first, Brad panics, believing that he, his fiancee and his sister could be the next casualties. He races to protect those he loves, while keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of a psychopath. Based on a true story, the engaging plot reaches back into World War II history and secret Nazi laboratories. Its prose and hackneyed dialogue don’t offer the same sense of excitement, however. For example, in the opening chapter, a villain fakes an injury, and when an innocent woman asks what she can do to help him, he replies, “You can die!”; in a later scene, when a character asks the same villain what he should do with some sensitive materials, he replies, “You can take them to your grave!” The novel’s structure is repetitive, as well, with Brad alternating between the government facility, his eBay basement and his girlfriend’s home. The bond shared between Brad and his sister feels genuine and lends them some depth, but Mary Lou is depicted as an overseasoned Cajun stereotype.
An intriguing, if occasionally awkward, cyberespionage thriller.
Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2012
Page count: 228pp
Publisher: Tate Publishing
Review Posted Online: June 30, 2013
While there are numerous books about keeping healthy, including psychologist-nutritionist Salter's simultaneously published Looking Good, Eating Right, this is one of the few concerned with adopting various degrees of vegetarianism. The benefits and types are clearly defined: what is included or left out in pollo-vegetarianism, lactovegetarianism, and many more. Salter recommends making any dietary change gradually and takes care to advise on how to make up for possible nutritional deficiencies. Readers may be surprised to learn the identities of some famous meat-decliners, from Plato and Shakespeare to New Kids on the Block. The mature yet accessible tone here is like vegetarianism itself—lean and clean—and the advice for teens is especially strong: how to get parents to go along, how not to appear to be a fanatic, how athletes can give up meat. A recipe section is easy, appealing, and sophisticated. All in all, right on target. Notes; bibliography; index. (Nonfiction. 12+)
Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1991
Page count: 112pp
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991
The eBay Plot
Department of Defense biomedical research manager
Washington, DC National Capital Region--setting for the Brad Stout Adventure series
The eBay Plot: THE EBAY DETECTIVE BOOK ONE: Readers' Favorite Honorable Mention, 2013
The eBay Code: THE EBAY DETECTIVE BOOK 2: Readers' Favorite Honorable Mention, 2013
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!