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Insurgency

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Alan, a Gen-Xer with obsessive-compulsive disorder, is randomly targeted at a local dive bar outside Chicago with a synthetic drug called Red Phase. This particular narcotic, with an effect similar to the common street drug "bath salts," prompts its users into manic and ultra-aggressive behavior, spanning a half-life of 1-2 weeks. After leaving his part-time job as a standardized test scorer, Alan meets a friend at a local dive bar for a beer. This is where a group of college students randomly "roofie" Alan's drink with Red Phase, causing Alan to perform an atrocious series of murders he doesn't even realize he committed until the discovery of alarming physical evidence in his home the next morning. Upon Alan's aforementioned realization, he contacts a former undergraduate classmate and friend, George, who is a defense attorney in Chicago. After a quick phone conversation, George commutes to Alan's house and convinces him it best to turn himself in, but under the umbrella of his counsel and protection. While Alan is sitting in lockup, sleeplessly wrestling with his OCD, The Hand, an underground black bloc group of military-skilled insurgents, liberates him from confinement. After Alan is transported to their underground compound nestled in the recessed boroughs of "Old Chicago," he meets the leader of the domestic terror cell and discovers it's responsible for the creation of Red Phase. Consequently, this brotherhood plans to mass-distribute the synthetic drug during the height of the G20 Summit in Chicago, hoping to throw the city into a chaos of apocalyptic proportions.

296 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 2014

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About the author

Kurt Schuett

3 books34 followers
Upon graduating from high school, Kurt Schuett won the Gwendolyn Brooks Award for Poetry in 1993; this honor, coupled with professional publication in The American Goat literary anthology in 1993 with “The First Time” and Harmony literary magazine, where he won the esteemed Guy Cooper Poetry award for “Tree House Blues,” all fueled the realization that Kurt could and should write, dabbling in everything from poetry and short works of fiction to professional essays and lengthier works of fiction during and after his college years. He completed his undergraduate in English at Culver-Stockton College before tackling a Masters of Education at Graceland University. Currently, he is entering his eighteenth year as an educator, formerly as a German instructor and presently as a high school English teacher, working in the suburbs of Chicago. He lives in the northern suburb of Libertyville, Illinois.

Kurt recently published a Southern Gothic ghost story titled “Calamity James” in the Belle Reve Literary Journal, a work that was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In addition, two of his poems, “A Response to Charles Bukowski: Yes I’m Drinking Today” and “The Bohemian Waitress” were featured in the 69th edition of the Burningword Literary Journal. Kurt’s short story “The Last Supper Redux” (also published in Sanitarium #19) will be the top-slot in an upcoming anthology launching this fall, highlighting local Chicago horror writers.

Insurgency is Kurt Schuett’s debut novel, a speculative work of fiction that encompasses elements of urban suspense, thriller, and horror. This novel was released by Bad Day Books, an imprint of Assent Publishing, on August 2nd in print and all e-book platforms.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews
Profile Image for Sheri.
1,923 reviews
October 2, 2014
Insurgency by Kurt Schuett

Alan is a down on his luck average guy. He just left his boring job as a test scorer and meets with a friend at a local bar. A group of college kids decide to randomly spike his drink with a drug "Red Phase". Alan has no recollection of what he did, he just finds evidence that he has killed someone. Later he learns it is more than just one. Not knowing what to do he calls his friend George an attorney, who advises Alan to turn himself in to the police.

Once in jail things turn really bizarre. A Black Bloc group (with military skills) known as The hand gets him out of jail, leaving Alan to wonder why. Soon he is about to find out and (he) does not like what he is dragged into.

The "Brotherhood" has plans to use this Red Phase drug in mass proportions during the upcoming Chicago G20 Summit. The entire City of Chicago, the members of the Summit, including the President of the United States are all in danger. Will Alan be able to stop this group? Will he be able to save himself? And who can he trust?

An intense psychological/action/urban/suspense, that will leave you at the edge of your seat and up late into the night. I loved the story, the frighting aspect that something like this could really happen madeInsurgency even more gripping.

Well written with vivid details, really grabs the reader into the story and won't let go. I highly recommend to those who love a nail biting, page turning fantastic story of suspense. Kurt Schuett is an Author to watch.
Profile Image for John.
4 reviews10 followers
August 26, 2015
This thriller kept me turning pages throughout by recreating the great city of Chicago with rich local details--and then presenting its destruction at the hands of a terrifying outbreak. The action sequences are particularly well-crafted, and there are a number of genuinely horrific moments certain to make readers remember, and fear, the Red Hand Brotherhood for a long time. Alongside the fast-paced fireworks, the author's characters (heroes and villains alike) make timely, poignant observations about our modern United States. Fans of political intrigue, action, and horror will find a winner in this debut novel.
18 reviews8 followers
March 27, 2016
OMG---this is SUCH a good book! Rock star author--Kurt Schuett puts the pen to paper and makes it flame! I've just started and am supposed to be doing something else but Insurgency grabbed my attention! P.S. I am the lucky owner of a signed copy!

I am in the chapter title TUNNEL VISION, this is awesome escape effort action description that fans of Anthony Horowitz and Hal Coben will go for!
Profile Image for Hubert O'hearn.
4 reviews3 followers
September 15, 2014
In the beginning, there is a very good first chapter title: In the Beginning, There Was Unemployment. What separates Kurt Schuett's novel Insurgency from the growing numbers of reader-disturbing apocalyptic fiction is that this novel is grounded in an understanding of why a mass of people may revolt and turn to terror. After all, it truly is in the eye of the beholder as a famous old political cartoon of Ronald Reagan put it, which ones are the insurgents and which ones are the freedom fighters?

Imagine, as Schuett did, a group of people who have become so disaffected and disenfranchised by society that they wish to strike back against it. How best to go about that? There are of course the usual methods: bombing, kidnapping, or perhaps attacking corporate computers. All have proven successful in both the worlds of reality and fiction, yet all are limited. Not to sound utterly callous about it, but a bomb destroys one building, kills those unfortunate enough to be in its immediate vicinity, and the result is that the corporate state clamps down even firmer on the aggrieved. Would it not be much more effective to destroy from within, by turning the comfortable into the uncomfortable? Yes, it would be much more effective to turn the weakness of the target against itself.

So what then is the targeted weakness in the people of Insurgency's Chicago? There is a simple one word answer: drugs. And so it is that the insurgents here invent a narcotic named Red Phase, with one assumed the name chosen from making the takers 'see red.' As one of Schuett's characters describes the effect, “This Red Phase supposedly numbs people entirely, causes them to become hyperactive, aggressive, and can cause both euphoric and paranoid reactions, depending on the individual.” Flood the street market with this stuff and enough of the subconsciously angry – even the consciously bored – would transform from so many mild-mannered Bruce Banners into legions of raging Incredible Hulks. Smash!

This, one must say, is an excellent set-up for a novel; so the question then is, how well does the author execute it? The answer is, very well indeed. His protagonist Alan Schultz is just another guy who works at a dull office job (he marks standardized tests for a living – lucky him!) who has a shot of Red Phase slipped into his Friday after-work drink. Complications arise, in the form of a trail of dead bodies that are the result of Alan murdering them, as he realizes to his horror when the effects of the drug wear off. He is this resolved to set things right.

Where Schuett is absolutely brilliant in his plotting is in describing what the reaction of government is to this latest pandemic. There is a G-20 Summit planned for Chicago. Yes, it is ludicrous to put such an event in a large city, but on the other hand that is exactly what happened in Toronto just a few years ago. Thus, the corporate state cracks down on personal liberties, the streets are armed with the National Guard, and with that as the result it becomes an interesting debate as to whether or not the drug lord insurgents actually have won. The nation is destroying itself from within.

I note from his biography that Kurt Schuett is also an award-winning poet. It shows. It shows not in the way one might reflexively expect – he is in no way a florid or purple writer. No, he understands the economy and vivacity of words; how words can manipulate a mood with equal (yet hopefully more benign) effect that a Red Phase drug. I truly look forward to reading more of his work.


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Profile Image for Ashley.
1,050 reviews16 followers
October 15, 2014
First off: This novel mentions "Fraggle Rock", "American Psycho" (the film) and Stephen King. You have to love that. Plus, they are mentioned in such a seamless way that it doesn't feel as if Schuett is name-dropping for the sake of name-dropping.

Truth be told, I wasn't hooked by the first few chapters. This sounds conflicted but it seemed simply worded but wordy. I decided that I was too busy and stressed to enjoyed the book and I sat it aside to attempt later. The second time around, I was much more appreciative of Schuett's prose as it was visual, more like poetry painting a picture in my mind. I could see the snow, the violence, the destruction, all quite vividly. (However, the blow-by-blow street names and paths taken were lost on me as someone that has never visited Chicago)

"Insurgency" is simply written, almost YA in nature, (except for the blood, death, chaos, language etc) but done so quite well, deeply detailed. Schuett is never lazy with his words or stingy. He paints a world of real life horror, his words a paintbrush. No "See Jane Run" here but more of a "Watch as Jane's feet eat away at the asphalt, effortlessly propelling her forward".

The backdrop is executed well, the story-line interesting. The plot moves forward at a smooth pace that begins to grab you and practically forces you to turn the pages as fast as possible... but characters don't flow as well. Perhaps it is not the characters themselves but rather, at times, dialogue comes across as forced. Conversations don't ring true and are stiff. This is especially true of Alan's inner dialogue with himself. Alan also mutters quite a bit and "audibly" at that. Lots of "sneering" too, by different people in the book.

I was extremely pleased with a main character that "suffers" from O.C.D.. I'm not quite the hand-washer that Alan is yet I know how it feels to live with those little details that everyone else ignores or never sees. To have a front and center character like that? FINALLY. I HATE talking to someone through an intercom and if I must do so, I rub/scratch my arm excessively til the transaction is completed. Something I never knew I did, til family pointed it out. Alan and the leg rubbing was too true-to-life for me.

(Side note: My family name is "McCook" and past & current generations over-used the name Thomas so to see a character in a book by that name was rather humorous to me, plus it was cool to see our unusual surname in print.)

And BOO on you, Mr. Kurt Schuett for not forewarning me that "Insurgency" was book #1 in a series. Here is to hoping I can get my hands on a copy of book 2, sooner than later because I need to know the endgame in this! But props for being about to throw me off with that unexpected end of a friendship. I adored that move.
Profile Image for Stephen Kozeniewski.
Author 36 books393 followers
December 10, 2014
A man in a bespoke suit swings from a noose made out of an American flag. Outside, Chicago looks like Mogadishu. This is our first - and also our final - glimpse of Kurt Schuett's titular INSURGENCY.

Schuett then rewinds the tape and takes us back to the current day city, frumpy, but functional. In the wake of the Great Recession, no one is particularly satisfied with their lot in life, but no one is exactly taking to the streets in violence, either. That journey from point A to point Z, when the identity of the hanging man is finally revealed, takes up the rest of the narrative. I'll admit, I thought I had guessed who the dead man was about four or five chapters in, and I was stunned at how wrong I was.

In fact, that little bit of misdirection was enough to completely pull the rug out from under me. With INSURGENCY I was expecting something a bit smallish, I don't know what exactly. A fluffy political thriller, let's say, like FIVE DAYS IN MAY, about an attempted small-scale insurrection that is squashed through the hearty effort of a few plucky heroes. Instead I was presented with a nihilistic novel of dark spec-fic or maybe even horror depicting the opening days of a full-scale global revolution. As the stakes rose before my eyes I kept expecting that the peak had been reached and Schuett would begin reeling things back in, but, nope, the stakes kept right on rising until the very last page.

I would be lying if I said this was a perfect novel. The dialogue is clunky, and the motivations of almost every character are muddled. I'm still not 100% sure what the insurgents wanted, although maybe that was supposed to be a mystery to be revealed in future installments of the series. If it was supposed to be a mystery, though, that wasn't clear, and they sure seemed to pontificate and bloviate an awful lot about their lofty ideals without ever really explaining them. After the initial in medias res opening, the beginning was a bit slow and the middle was a bit saggy. In other words, INSURGENCY suffered from a typical case of debut-novel-itis.

Where INSURGENCY set itself apart from its peers, though, when it really started to hum, was when the endgame began. I've already stated how astonished I was that Schuett managed to gradually expand the scale and raise the stakes until I didn't even know what genre I was reading anymore. This author has a gift for turning the screws. One particular scene in a hospital was...jarring, to say the least. Similarly there was research here, research that made me say, "Damn, this is plausible." If this all happened...this is the way it would happen. Schuett shows a real skill for description, and his action scenes are white-knucklers. Keep an eye on this guy. I predict he'll be a real talent to watch.
Profile Image for Stevie Kopas.
Author 12 books117 followers
August 16, 2014
Alan Schultz is your everyday graduate. Can’t find a good job, has his own personal grumblings with society, and is very, very OCD. So maybe Alan isn’t the everyday guy, but he was a character that Kurt Schuett really created very well. Alan was a character that I enjoyed reading about and irritated me as much as he entertained me, which any personal in the real world is sure to do, so thumbs up for a strong protagonist.

Alan is thrown into the middle of an underground domestic terrorist group after he is roofied at a local bar and boy do things get turned upside down for Alan. A massive underground movement has begun with a little help from a new street drug called “Red Phase”, a drug that turns people into wild, cold blooded killers. Alan, with the help of his attorney friend George, must race against time, the law, “The Brotherhood” and the elements, through Chicago, to see if they can stop the terrorist group from overthrowing the government and casting our country into the shadows of total anarchy.

Insurgency was a bit slow out of the gates for me. Schuett does a beautiful job of being descriptive, but in my opinion, sometimes less description is more. Once you get passed the “underground” you’ll start to notice the book really digging its claws into you. Schuett becomes braver and bolder with his writing and Allan Schultz becomes what I feared he’d become from the get go; an innocent man trapped in a whirlwind of calamity in which he’s forced to do terrible things.

There are a few scenes that are a bit vague that require some rereading in order to understand, but it’s a part of the book that you can really look past. The story is so rich with political depth and there is a level of anti-government planning and intricacy that truly makes this a thriller…and a realistic one at that. In the world we live in today, anything can happen, especially very scary things, and Schuett has truly proven to me that he is a master of putting pen to paper in Insurgency.

I anticipate the follow up to this novel, especially after that jaw-dropping ending. This is definitely a book worth reading and I recommend it to any lover of political fiction, suspenseful thrillers, or action adventure!
December 23, 2014
Kurt Schuett’s work, Insurgency, is a hypothetical debut novel, which primarily incorporates various aspects of urban thrillers, suspense, actions and horrors, as well as political conspiracy. According to Schuett, the country appears to be in actual decay, and the citizens nurturing a feeling of complete hopelessness. This perception actually makes the tale rich with elements of political unrest. This is specifically manifested in the level of anti-state developments and complexities thus making it a lifelike thriller. Schuett actually proves to be outstandingly brave with his writing, especially regarding this particular work of fiction. Protagonist Alan Schulz is a character well created by the author to represent the everyday graduates, who cannot find good jobs yet have personal grievances against their immediate societies. Kurt Schuett paints Alan, a young law-abiding citizen turned a serial murderer in the City of Chicago.
Kurt Schuett also creates a creepy and unnerving inner-city environment where nobody is considered sacred. He depicts Chicago as a dark and daunting city with hard-hitting tales, particularly characterized with turmoil, conspiracy, street riots, and murder, among many other evils in the society. Worst of all are the experiences of the central character, which has been dragged unintentionally into the midst of all these unnecessary mayhems. The sequence of actions in the book is well-fashioned. For instance, there is a number of sincerely shocking moments, which are somehow capable of instigating fear in the readers. Other than the fast-paced actions, Schuett’s characters, both villains and heroes alike, also make both emotional and timely observations about both the modern and future United States of America. As a result, all enthusiasts of horrors, thrillers, suspense, actions, as well as political conspiracy are expected to enjoy the debut novel.
Profile Image for Bill.
238 reviews9 followers
November 30, 2014
First thing, Insurgency is the first book in a serial series. That means that even when you finish reading this book, you aren’t done. You have to read the next book, and the one after that and so on. I know that a lot of people like serial books, I’m just not one of them. If I had known before I started reading Insurgency that I was starting a serial, I wouldn’t have read it.

That being said, it was a good book. I liked it. The characters were interesting, and the action was good. It takes place in a near future Chicago, and has a mildly dystopian feel to it, but feels quite believable. The country seems to be in decay. There is a feeling of hopelessness. But is the solution to the problem a fix or the end of civilization? We will have to see.

Mr. Schuett knows how to tell a story, I just don’t know where the story is going. He can write the first part of the story, but can he finish it as well? Can he bring all the elements to a believable and satisfying conclusion? When will we know?

I give Insurgency 3 Stars out of 5, and recommend it to people who like dystopian serial novels. If the book description sounds interesting to you, I’m sure that you will like it.

I received this book from the author.
16 reviews
May 16, 2017
Never would I have selected this book to read, but it kept my interest throughout. Incredibly suspenseful (that's usually not my choice to read for pleasure) and I can't wait for the next in this series!!
Profile Image for Geri.
361 reviews
January 2, 2015
I know Kurt personally and think this was an awesome debut novel.
Looking forward to the next book in series coming out.
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews

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