Former CIA case officer's mystery novel is set in the region known as The Raj


By Mission Point Press

Traverse City - J.R. Seeger’s most recent release — A Sound Like Distant Thunder: A Steampunk Raj Novel — may be fiction, but the story is steeped in historic accuracy involving a region of the world known as The Raj, a place and culture with which the author is well-acquainted and deeply knowledgeable due to an interest piqued during his college days and enriched through years of military service in the region.

“I have been a student of this time period and this region for nearly 40 years,” said Seeger. “My interest in the region, culture and religions go back to my days in college in the early 1970s. I just picked up that interest again during my time serving in Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union. I find the history of British India in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century to be filled with fascinating people.”

Seeger’s second installation in the Steampunk Raj series reacquaints readers with the young protagonist, Elizabeth Bankroft, introduced in the first novel, A School for the Great Game. Elizabeth — a thoroughly modern teenager in the Edwardian age — was sent by her parents to Viceroy College in British India, which she believed to be a “finishing school.” Instead, it’s a school for spies and Elizabeth finds herself learning the family business of espionage, martial arts, and Tibetan mystic arts.

In A Sound Like Distant Thunder, skills learned by Elizabeth in intelligence school will serve her well again as the next situation unfolds. A new century has brought a new competitor to the Great Game of Empires: the Germans, in alliance with the Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire, hope to gain control over the oil fields of the Middle East. And while treachery and deceit have always been part of the espionage trade, Elizabeth and fellow teenager and Viceroy College alum Michael O’Connell, must also use their mystic arts training to help their military masters.

It’s a game of move and counter-move between the Russians, the British, the Germans and the Turks, but that’s the easy challenge. Elizabeth and Michael and their families of spies must also survive a world going to war.
While the book is categorized as a young adult fiction novel, Seeger doesn’t focus on any particular genre as he writes.

“It is not about writing for a YA audience,” said Seeger. “There is no homogeneous YA audience. There are just readers who will find this series interesting because it has a mix of history, adventure and mysticism. The fact that the two protagonists are teenagers is secondary. I wouldn’t try to write to a mindset, I just try to write an interesting story.”

The idea for the series that evolved in Seeger’s imagination naturally led to the development of strong characters of a young age engaging in complex and adult-like encounters.

“I wanted to start the story at an intelligence school,” said Seeger. “That meant the characters needed to be young adults rather than full-fledged members of the British, Russian, or German intelligence or military programs.

“Many of the individuals who were successful in the Great Game started their work life in India in their teens, so it wasn’t too hard to imagine that the leaders of the time would want to foster young adults into a formal intelligence program early in their life that would include language and other skills.” 

A Sound Like Distant Thunder is published by Mission Point Press of Traverse City, Michigan, and is available in stores and online. The paperback’s retail price is $16.95. For more information, go to

J.R. Seeger is a western New York native who served as a U.S. Army paratrooper and CIA case officer for a total of 27 years of federal service. In October 2001, Seeger led a CIA paramilitary team into Afghanistan. He is the author of the acclaimed MIKE4 espionage series.

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