The official website of Ray Mileur and the Mike Shannon series

By Julie F. - The Gateway To Hell: A Mike Shannon Novel - 5 Stars

It's been a long time since I ranted about how much I loved a book! The Gateway to Hell is nothing short of exceptional. I literally couldn't put it down. The characters are so lifelike and the novel is very suspenseful. I usually read two books at a time but my James Patterson book sat untouched until I finished Gateway to Hell. I can't wait for the next one to come out.

Books, Bones & Buffy - 5 Stars

The Gateway to Hell
a Mike Shannon Novel

Mike Shannon is a PI with a past. Like the author, he’s an ex-Marine and
ex-cop that has just returned from a secret mission rescuing a U.S. Ambassador’s
daughter from a Columbian drug cartel. Unfortunately, the mission wasn’t so secret
after all, as Shannon’s face and exploits are soon plastered all over the news. To
make matters worse, Shannon gets a tip that someone has put a hit out on him, with
a million dollar payday to whoever kills him first. When a client asks him to locate his missing daughter Lori, Shannon’s life gets even more complicated when he finds a brick of crack cocaine under the girl’s bed, sealed with an evidence sticker and signed by none other than his cop friend Steve Holland. Luckily, Shannon has a friend on the police force named Frank Taggert, who believes that Holland is being framed, and who knows Shannon is one of the good guys. What follows is a rollicking story through the mean streets of St. Louis, as Shannon shoots his way through a barrage of dirty cops and Italian mobsters while trying to locate Lori, clear Holland’s name, and stay alive long enough to rendezvous with his ex-wife Carol.

This book had just about everything I look for in a good novel: well-developed characters, humor, perfect pacing and a page-turning story. Shannon is a battle-hardened, Dr. Pepper addict who has no qualms about leaving a slew of bodies behind wherever he goes. In his world it’s kill or be killed, and he’s got the shooting skills that will not only keep him alive, but give him the ability to take out all the bad guys by the end of the book. Shannon has an almost Clint Eastwood-like persona. Age-wise he’s on the older side for a hero (approaching fifty) and has the self-confidence and experience to practically save the day by himself, although he does have a crack team of employees that help him out. I also loved that he’s a man with weaknesses, his ex Carol for one.  Even though he finds out that she’s also sleeping with a dirty cop named Danko, a truly awful character that eventually gets his comeuppance, he still loves her and cannot give up their post-marriage trysts. And he’s not infallible. He gets shot twice during the story and frequently complains about his aging body’s aches and pains.

Shannon’s nemesis is a hit man named Morreti, an Italian connected with the New York mob. Morreti’s come to St. Louis to perform a hit on a cop, and during the course of the novel we discover the complicated relationship between the two. Both men have a grudging respect for each other and it shows in their brief but memorable encounters. I’d love to see Ray write another book with these two characters.

The two clashing groups of mobsters, one from New York and one from St. Louis, add a twist to an already exciting story. St. Louis crime boss Salvatore Salerno is as upstanding as a crime boss can get, I image, and I liked his character immensely. He clashes with the New York faction, a couple of Italian thugs who have come to town to collect the million dollars on Shannon’s head, and to work behind Salerno’s back with his nephew Joey to get a drug trafficking business going. Although blatant stereotypes, I loved the under-handed dealings of the two groups. Throwing Shannon and Morreti into the mix only made things more interesting.

This passage between Taggert and Shannon, before the shit hits the fan, sums up the flavor of The Gateway to Hell:

“We’ve got problems, Frank.”

“We?” Taggert answered. “What is this we shit?”

“You stick with me, we’ll go places.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of!” Taggert replied nervously. “Potosi Correctional Center or Marion!”

“Hell, by the time we wrap this one up, you’ll make lieutenant,” Shannon said, “and have your own driver to haul your fat ass around town.”

Taggert laughed nervously. “And how are we supposed to do that?”

“It’s simple!” Shannon said, ticking his fingers. “We have about 72 hours left. All we have to do is clear Holland’s name in time for his funeral, so he can be buried with full police honors; track down his killer; expose a band of rogue cops within the department; bust up an international drug trafficking ring; and find my runaway and get her back home safely.”

“Is that all?” Taggert said. He looked at his watch. “Can we eat first?”

Filled with authentic details and cop-speak, this is one thriller that you won’t be able to put down. I’m hoping for another Mike Shannon book soon.

Books, Bones & Buffy website - Reviews and Contests

Pacific Book Review - 4 STARS

The Gateway to Hell
a Mike Shannon Novel

In the world of hard-boiled detective fiction, the story is generally not so much about solving a mystery as it is setting things up for the hero to take on the bad guys and win, usually with bullets flying and plenty of bloodletting. Unfortunately, too many writers have turned this into a template for a lot of bad stories filled with clichés, caricatures, and stereotypes, not to mention a lack of any shred of originality.

The Gateway to Hell is certainly a part of this genre. Thankfully, it manages to avoid many of the pitfalls of this type of fiction, and turns out to be an entertaining read. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its share of clichés, caricatures, and stereotypes. In fact, the private investigator at the heart of the story is introduced to us being very much an over-the-top, cliché of a detective.

Mike Shannon is a St. Louis’ private investigator who has made a career out of solving the cases the police couldn’t or wouldn’t take. He’s killed more men then he cares to remember. He’s fiftyish and his work is starting to wear him down.

Shannon is also a former Marine sniper, former St. Louis police detective whose exploits often landed him in the newspaper, and the leader of a covert CIA op team known as Sabre 6, who we learn has just rescued an ambassador’s daughter in South America from the Escobar crime cartel. Shannon is one very tough, hard-to-kill, private dick, uncorruptable and a boy scout at heart.

And if, by the bottom of page two of the book you aren’t convinced of this, well, you just haven’t been paying attention. Admittedly, the opening chapters don’t really get the ball rolling. But the fact is, author Ray Mileur is just using those early chapters to set us up for a great ride, as Shannon ends up having an assortment of bad guys-- the mafia, the Escobar cartel, corrupt cops—all out to kill him.

His rescue of the ambassador’s daughter has led to a $1,000,000 bounty on his head, and resulted in the New York mob, at the prompting of the Escobar family, sending hit men to St. Louis to do him in. On top of that, the “Sandman,” a former marine sniper—trained by Shannon and now a freelance hit man— is also in St. Louis to perform a hit. And while Shannon isn’t his target, the Sandman clearly wouldn’t mind having a shot of Shannon.

And when Shannon pays a visit to the local mob boss, Salvatore Salerno—a Don Corleone-type who wants nothing to do with drugs, the FBI turns up. Their agents initially arrest Shannon in a ruse to get information out of him to help in their investigations into a cocaine trail that leads to St. Louis.

In the middle of all this, Shannon is hired by a minister and his wife to find their missing 17 year old, runaway daughter, who may be linked to one of Shannon’s police buddies, Steve Holland. When Holland turns up dead, and appears to have been a dirty cop involved in the drug trade, the action amps up, as things get increasingly personal for Shannon.

What ends up setting Shannon apart from so many other similar characters, is that it turns out he’s not superman-- he manages to nearly get killed while trying to catch the runaway. Shannon gets hurt, physically and emotionally, and he makes mistakes, e.g., had he returned a phone call he might have been able to save Holland. He’s also got an ex-wife who manages to complicate things even more for him.

Sure, you’ve seen similar characters with the odds stacked against them, but Ray Mileur does a great job of bringing Shannon to life and overcoming the tired plotline of the hard-boiled detective almost single-handedly taking on all the bad guys. Mike Shannon rises above the clichés and caricatures, keeping you locked into the story.

If you like action, if you like tough detectives fighting their way out of tough situations, you’re going to love Mike Shannon and The Gateway to Hell. And I’m looking forward to the next book from Ray Mileur.

James Sadler
Pacific Book Review

Barnes & Noble & reader reviews

By Capri Cooker - The Gateway to Hell: A Mike Shannon Novel - 5 STARS

I don't usually give reviews on a book I've read, whether good or bad, but when I read this book I just had to let people know how truly good this book is. Ray Mileur has created a true-crime novel that has all the makings of success: mob bosses, a missing runaway girl, corrupt police officers, the CIA and a haggard private investigator as the protagonist. The author put all those pieces together to create this intricate world of intrigue, mystery and emotion that had my nosed pressed to the pages, fervently reading the pages and wondering what was coming next. "The Gateway to Hell" is a promising start to Ray Mileur's writing career and I am looking forward to seeing what he releases next. One thing for sure is that I will be there among the throng of fans when his second book comes out.

By Jake Burkett - The Gateway to Hell: A Mike Shannon Novel - AMAZING  5 STARS

This book was amazing! I haven't read a really good crime novel in a long time and 'Gateway to Hell' surpassed my expectations. Considering this is the author's first book, I am really excited to see what he writes next in the Mike Shannon series. the plotline could have been boring as it's a well used theme with a world weary PI up against insurmountable odds, but Ray Mileur got my attention from the very beginning and he hasn't let go even now after I have gobbled up every word in the book. I am stoked to see what happens to Mike Shannon in the next book in the series, what next mystery he is going to solve and how it's going to draw me in. I am really impressed by this book and am very eager to see what the author comes up with for his second book.

By Bruce A. Sarte "Bruce in PA" (Red Hill, PA) - The Gateway To Hell: A Mike Shannon Novel

5.0 out of 5 stars Great detective novel!!

The Gateway to Hell (A Mike Shannon Novel) by Ray Mileur is a fantastically written detective thriller that keeps you guessing - and jumping - with each chapter. The Mike Shannon character is tough, smart and a good-hearted human being. I mention the human being thing because he isn't superman - he is human both in body AND soul. The author makes sure you see Mike for who he is and who he isn't.

Shannon is set up as an ex-Marine sniper who is proficient with his weapons as well as keen with his eyes and mind. When he has to chase a sniper that he trained, you see how Shannon's mind works - as well as how his training has paid off for his new nemesis.

Add to that a mob boss mixed up with the FBI and a missing minister's daughter and you've got a novel that just keeps on hitting you each time you turn the page. A solidly written crime novel - I highly recommend The Gateway to Hell.

By Tammy - Mike Shannon - The Gateway to Hell - 5 Stars

I really enjoyed reading this book. It has a complicated mystery, crime, good looking men and passion. Mike is a detective, who has recently saved an ambassador's daughter, but instead of coming home and continuing his slow paced life as a PI he finds his cover is blown. All his secrets have been revealed and now there is a contract on his head, but Mike a man who has built up many enemies over the years, this could be more than one person who would want him dead.

While Mike is trying to stay alive, he must also find a runaway girl, this is a simple job but it only leads him to the mob, drugs and dirty cops. Now he finds he needs to clear his name and a fellow police officer's and he only has 72 hours to do it, but will he make it in time or will he still be alive to do anything? I would highly recommend this book, its exciting, stuffed with loads of adventure and even some romance.

By Blake Marsman - The Gateway To Hell: A Mike Shannon Novel - 5 Stars

I'll admit I'm a little jealous-this book is too good. I am working on my first crime novel and my friend told me about The Gateway to Hell. She loved the book and thought it was an excellent example of how a great crime novel should be done. I read this book and I agree with her. Mileur tells this story in an exceptional way. I only hope I can do half as good on my book. I've still got a long way to go but by reading something that is done so well I know I can do a good job too. I definitely recommend this book!

By Nicole - Mike Shannon - The Gateway to Hell - 5 Stars

I was hooked instantly with the heavy details in the book.  From page one this book takes you on a nonstop and fast paced trip into the characters and what they endure.  There were many twists and turns along with unpredictable outcomes that I truly did not see coming.  I’m glad that this book made it hard for me to predict what would happen next. There are many suspense thriller books out there that follow a certain way of writing books in this genre. It’s nice to see an author not go down that route and instead works hard to put out a book that will satisfy his readers. I can’t wait to read the other books the author Mike Shannon will release soon.

By martins4unc - The Gateway to Hell: A Mike Shannon Novel - 5 Stars

The Gateway to Hell by Ray Mileur is an exciting murder, mystery thriller full of drug cartels, dirty cops, and C.I.A. agents. Mike Shannon is a private eye who was a former St. Louis police officer. He also served in the Marine Corps as a sniper. While in the service he was the leader of a secret C.I.A. group Sabre 6. On his last mission to rescue the daughter of a U.S. Ambassador from the Columbian drug cartel his cover is blown and he is exposed in the media.

When Mike takes on a case of a missing girl he ends up in the middle of a turf war between the New York City and St. Louis crime families. He finds he has a contract on his head from the Columbian drug lords, and his investigation leads him to uncover a bunch of dirty cops. During his investigation Mike's ex-partner turns up dead. He is murdered execution style and framed as being a dirty cop. Mike vows to clear his name. Can Mike find the missing girl and expose the guilty parties and still make it out alive? This book had lots of twists and I couldn't put it down.

By sjtlds -  A Mike Shannon Novel - 4 Stars

From the first page I was sucked into the life of Mike Shannon. Currently a PI, formerly in a secret CIA group, Shannon is tasked with finding a missing girl, only to be caught up in a world of dirty cops, the mafia, and drugs.

I'm sensitive to language, so the "F" word being used so much bothered me (the reason why I gave it only 4 stars). Otherwise, the book was AWESOME!!

By Giovanni - James Patterson's "Private Games" & Ray Mileur's  "The Gateway to Hell"

In this 3rd installment of James Patterson's series, Private is providing security at the 2012 Summer Olympic games. When shortly before the Opening Ceremony someone gets murdered!!! I found this book to be very exciting, one of Patterson's best novels yet. He just seems to be getting better with every book he publishes. I would recommend this book to all. You should also check out this other great book The Gateway To Hell: A Mike Shannon Novel

Advance reviews;

" I really loved this book! The main character is great and would love to see more books with him in them. It’s full of action, mystery, suspense and everything else that makes a book good.  I would definitely recommend this!  Five Stars for sure!"   Advance reviews

"The book was very exciting – it had plenty of action, and the story got me hooked from the beginning.  I liked the character of Mike – he was a pretty rough guy, but seemed to have a good heart underneath it all.  I would love to see more books by this author!"   Advance reviews

"The Gateway to Hell is a crazy ride, but very entertaining.  It was certainly a page-turner!  I highly recommend it."
Advance reviews

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Books, Bones & Buffy