Chapter 1 – “One Death Too Far”


Chapter 1
Monday, 8:11 a.m.
San Francisco

Hartmann drummed his fingers on the desk, glancing quickly at the clock hanging on the opposite wall. Eight eleven. “Come on. Come on,” he shouted into the empty room. “Answer the god damn phone.”

“Federal Aviation Administration. Phil Cruz speaking,” the voice said.

Hartmann breathed a sigh of relief. “Mr. Cruz? This is Special Agent William Hartmann. FBI out of San Francisco. The Deputy Director of the FBI gave me your name. He said you were the only FAA person on the west coast who could change the flight path of a plane already airborne. I need you to do that immediately.”

“Sir, I can’t do that unless …”

“I’m sorry to interrupt, Mr. Cruz, but there’s no time for I can’t do that. You’ve got to get that plane back on the ground. There’s a bomb on board.”


Please leave a Reply as to what you thought of the chapter. If it moves you to want to read further, please email me at and I’ll send you the next few chapters.

21 thoughts on “Chapter 1 – “One Death Too Far”

  1. With very few words, the reader is swept into the action and anticipating “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey would say. Good job. And “yes,” we want to see where the story goes from this exciting start.

  2. James Seay

    I like the introduction and how you set the stage for the pending drama. Reminds me of John Grisham’s writing style, which I absolutely enjoy.

  3. Dick

    Dennis, Sure you didn’t learn your language at CMA? Ann and I both read your first chapter, and enjoyed it! Bring it on! Dick

  4. Dennis – I just read Chapter 1 after reading your first draft a while back. It hooked me just as much this time as the first time. You are an excellent writer and I can see why you received an award for this book.
    – Ralph

  5. Dennis, Loved the first chapter. Can’t wait to read the rest of the novel. Soon your name will be mentioned in the same breath as Connelly, Baldacci. Ludlum and Clancy. Maybe Fr James Martin, SJ also.
    Mike O’Hara

  6. Dan Marchetti

    The first chapter sets the reader up rather quickly with the plane’s bomb blast.
    Who were the men in the cleaning van? bad guys?, FBI?, or some one else? You never know DEA?
    send us more

  7. Karen Hanning

    id prefer just technically, to see the first two sentences combined as in .’Impatiently, Hartman drummed his fingers on the desk, (and? maybe not!) glanced at the clock… etc. moves a little more quickly. And I’m just curious as to the procedure – is this the way a real agent would have to call bout an urgent thing like this? Somehow, I hope there is a way that would get through quicker to the proper person and give them verification of the caller’s ID or the call’s importance at the same time- isn’t there? I cross my fingers the real answer is, “Yes!” and this was just to make it more suspenseful, but I’d like to know! And yes, would like to read more!

    • Thanks for the comments. Very helpful indeed. You are absolutely right about combining the 1st two sentences. You are also right about the procedural question. Technically FBI Agent Hartmann would have called the FAA (only they have the jurisdiction to turn the plane around). Why did I use the VP at SFO? Because thought it would be cleaner, and therefore add to the tension. However, you are not the only one I received push-back from concerning the legitimacy of using a local at SFO. Thanks to the “final” push-back (yours), I am going to change the scene so Hartmann contacts the FAA. Thinking more clearly on the “suspense” angle (which I want to thank you for forcing me to do), I can exact as much tension by using the FAA as I did by using an employee at SFO. MY bad! Thanks for the comments and for being so discerning.

  8. Mary Ann Halpin Shapiro

    Very intriguing. I have to get this and read it. Didn’t know you had gone into writing Dennis. Congratulations.

  9. Tom Irvine

    Hi Dennis,
    I just finished “The Oath”. I thoroughly enjoyed it. You combined the three things I love to read about (San Francisco, Vietnam Nam and police stories) and melded them into one book. Great job. Can’t wait for your next book. Thanks.

  10. Dear Mr. Koller, I just finished The OATH. Fantastic read. From start to finish, I didn’t want to put it down. If not forgotten a bing to sleep and other human needs, I know I would completed your Great Novel in one sitting.
    I can’t wait to get and read your next offering . !!!
    Most Sincerely,
    John H. Kuhl, CPCM

    • John,
      Thanks. I’m glad you enjoyed it. My next book is in its final (I hope) re-write. It should be ready for human consumption within the next month. Email me and I’ll send you the first four or five chapters. Your input would be helpful.

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