South cover
Cover art by Damonza

Luis Ojeda owes his life to the Pacifico Norte cartel. Literally. Now it’s time to pay.

Luis led escaping American Muslims out of the U.S. during the ten years following a 2019 terrorist attack on Chicago. He retired after nearly being killed by a border guard. But now in 2032, the Nortes give Luis a choice: pay back the fortune they spent saving his life, or take on a special job.

The job: Nora Khaled — FBI agent, wife, mother of two, and Muslim. She claims her husband will be exiled to one of the nation’s remote prison camps to rot with over 400,000 other Muslim Americans. Faced with her family’s destruction, she’s forced to turn to Luis — the kind of man she’s spent her career bringing to justice.

But when the FBI publicly accuses Nora of terrorism, Luis learns Nora’s real motive for heading south: she has proof that the nation’s recent history is based on a lie — a lie that reaches to the government’s highest levels.

Torn between self-preservation and the last shreds of his idealism, Luis guides Nora and her family toward refuge in civil war-wracked Mexico. The FBI, a dogged ICE agent, killer drones, bandits, and the fearsome Zeta cartel all plan to stop him. Success might just free Luis from the Nortes…but failure means disappearing into a black-site prison, or a gruesome death for them all.

In a day-after-tomorrow America where government has been downsized and outsourced into irrelevance, and none but the very wealthy few can afford hopes or dreams, Luis and Nora must learn to trust each other to ensure the survival of the truth…and of the people they love.

What the Reviewers Say

South is a riveting work of action/adventure suspense that is a real page-turner of a novel. Author Lance Charnes demonstrates a truly impressive knack for deftly creating a complex and thoroughly engaging story that grabs and holds the reader’s rapt attention from beginning to end. A novel that could be ripped from today’s headlines about cross-border narco-terrorism, South is highly recommended…” — Midwest Book Review Small Press Bookwatch


South is a compelling futuristic thriller, as convincing a cautionary novel as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale was in its day…I really got the feeling, reading this, that these were real people forced to live in terrible times, and I was only too happy to cheer them on—or cry over their tragedies—as the novel raced to its conclusion.” — Criminal Element


The story is very fast. There are many things happening at once with many characters. I got the impression that I walked into an already very established landscape and I had to jog along to keep up...I really liked this book.” — The Review Hutch


You will find no better dystopian thriller than South by Lance Charnes for a host of reasons. If you’re a reader, you’ll love the literary thrill ride. If you’re a sci-fi fan, you’ll find the near-future unique and realistic… If you love flesh-and-blood characters, this story packs them in. If you love plot twists, try to figure out the alliances in this one…” — Seeley James, author of the Sabel Security thriller series


“Charnes creates characters you can understand and care for. The action scenes in South make you feel as though you are a participant… South is a brilliantly conceived and executed thriller…” — William Davis, author of Black Karma


“The story is fast paced and full of tense moments that keep you awake…The characters feel like your neighbors. They’re real and react the same way you would in the situation…”

Download the first six chapters of South -or- preview it in the Kindle reader.

Bonus material: extra chapters and a conversation with the author.

Published 2013. ISBN: 978-0-9886903-3-2 (paperback); 978-0-9886903-5-6 (ePub)


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