The above description is not a teaser for my next novel, but a sampling of the dangerous world that Kris Herzog lives in as an American security expert. The owner of The Bodyguard Group of Beverly Hills manages a team of specialist bodyguards that include honorable police officers, ex-Navy Seals, and U.S. vets.
Kris’s clients have included Jon Voight, Angelina Jolie, Jack Nicholson, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. He has also managed the security detail of several presidents, royalties, and top business people.
The perils of his thirty-five-year career include saving a celeb from an assassin’s bullet (he got shot in the course), preventing the kidnapping of a porn-star, stopping an explosive-laden vehicle and countering a sniper. Everything that Kris told me during our phone conversation sounded like how I had described the secondary bodyguard characters in my novel, Gun Kiss. They were assigned to protect a fictional movie star.
What makes Kris’s service different from the regular bodyguards is that he and his team offer a range of real-level protection portfolio. Services include threat assessments, K-9 security, protecting children, and Navy Seal-escort for domestic and international travel.
Here are some of the questions I asked Kris, which he kindly answered:
Your services include screening mails, packages, and emails. What were some of the scary stuff you found sent to celebs?
Kris: For national security purposes I can’t go into details, but what I can say is that I’ve found poison, bloodied clothes, severed penises, dead animals, and child pornography. They were sent anonymously. These sick people do it for various reasons — some are obsessed fans, others want to intimidate.
How do you protect celebs if you accompany them on holiday?
Kris: Depending on the threat level, we’ll set up a protection “bubble” every step of the way. It’s a security measure that involves every level of checking. We’ll check the background of every hotel guest staying on the same floor as our client. We’ll also make sure that we are nearby. We’ll occupy the rooms above, below and beside our client as part of that measure.
Do you hire female bodyguards? What’s the advantage of having them?
Kris: They make great undercover bodyguards. They can also accompany our clients into the restroom with no hassle.
What were some of your crazy experiences protecting celebs?
Kris: We shot a male suspect pretending to be a female in a burqa as he was about to detonate a suicide explosive vest. We also shot a sniper who tried to kill a celeb. Once, we even rammed an explosive-laden car just as it came toward us.
How did you know there was a sniper in the vicinity?
Kris: Our counter-sniper team includes “spotters” to expose the sniper’s location. That Las Vegas shooting, for example, could have been prevented. Had we been hired, we would have rolled out precautionary steps to counter any potential threat in the vicinity.
You are not a fan of the paparazzi. How do you protect your clients from them?
Kris: Protecting our clients from the paparazzi is a small gig compared to the bigger assignments that we do. However, if need be, there are many ways to dodge these guys. We disguise our clients, maybe in a waiter’s attire, or use a decoy vehicle to get away from them. At times, the assignment can be tricky as anyone can pretend to be a paparazzo. Faces change daily, so we are always on the alert; we do not want to be caught by surprise.
What kind of barriers do you set up to protect celebs at an event, for example, an autograph signing?
Kris: It’s not possible to have full barriers, but we’ve never had a client injury. In a crowd, we place undercover people or what we call “Body-Men” to look out for potential threats. We also have “movers” whose role is to ingress and egress among the crowd, checking out suspicious behavior. We also use sniffer dogs to deter anyone carrying firearms.
What if a stubborn client refuses to comply with your security detail?
Kris: We’ll assess the client before agreeing to take up the assignment. If we expect problems, the greatest tool in our hand is to ask for money in advance. It’s in their favor to listen to us. Otherwise, we’ll just tell them goodbye, and keep the money. It’s really a case where we’ll have to slap the crap or pull the needle out of their arm to get the message across.
Are you close to any celebs?
Kris: I’ve dated some of them. They do call me from time to time asking for security advice.
Ask any author what’s it like to wait for their book’s first review, and you’ll probably get a nervous answer. But I’m excited that Gun Kiss’s first review is now out, from Midwest Book Review, and it’s a nice one. Take a peek:
“The mark of a superior thriller lies in its ability to seamlessly transcend borders, boundaries, and special interests to provide a series of interwoven subplots that all come together in a satisfying crescendo of intrigue designed to keep readers on edge right up to the end.
“Take a deep breath before reading Gun Kiss. Its special brand of activity and complex personal and criminal interactions makes it hard to put down, and highly recommended for thriller and crime readers alike.”
Some famous wartime cats who performed above and beyond their duty.
Simon’s efforts for Britain’s Royal Navy didn’t go unnoticed during World War II. He first survived a brutal attack that killed his caretaker, and proceeded to annihilate rats and raise the morale of his crew. He became a national hero, which earned him the prestigious Dickin Medal. He is the only cat ever to receive the award.
In 1854, when British and French troops occupied the Russian port town of Sevastopol, Tom led the famished troops to caches of food beneath a rubble hidden along the waterfront by the Russians. Tom was adopted as a mascot by the grateful soldiers. He was later taken back to England when the troops were called back.
Born and raised a ship cat, Tiddles served a few Royal Navy aircraft carriers, including the HMS Victorious in the early 1940s as the official Captain’s Cat. He traveled over 30,000 miles during his naval service.
She made her home at Saint Augustine’s Church in London in 1936. On September 6, 1940, the mother of one apparently instinctively moved her recently born kitten from the warm upper floors to the basement. The church was bombed by the Germans a day later. Faith and her kitten, Panda, were rescued from beneath the rubble by Father Henry Ross. The cat was later awarded a special medal for “steadfast courage in the Battle of London.”
The kitten was born in the Belgian trenches during World War I. After his mother was killed, Lieutenant Lekeux of the 3rd Regiment Artillery, decided to adopt Pitouchi, the only survivor of the litter. The Germans were up to something, throwing dirt near a thicket. Lekeux decided to investigate. With Pitoutchi on his shoulder, he left the trenches. He hid in a nearby shell hole to sketch their activity. He didn’t notice the enemy soldiers approaching. When he finally did, it was too late for him to run.
Lekeux hoped the Germans would not see him. When they came closer, he heard one of them say, “He’s in the hole.” Pitouchi jumped out of the shell hole. Startled, the Nazi soldiers fired twice at the cat, but thankfully missed. The cat managed to jump back into the hole. The Nazi soldiers laughed it off thinking they had mistaken the cat for a man. Lekeux returned safely behind the Belgian lines with his unharmed cat.
I guess this would be considered the boy’s locker room by today’s standard. While researching the Colosseum in Rome, I discovered plenty of things that I took for granted about gladiator fights. And then I realized how we’ve been duped by Hollywood.
Contrary to what the movies always show, not all gladiators were slaves nor did they always fight to the death. It’s too expensive to have a dead gladiator, especially after training and investing in these guys. It made no economical sense to exterminate the guy.
The “thumbs down” probably didn’t mean death even. Interestingly, there were also women gladiators.
My new Gun Kiss has a scene where it discusses the dilemma of a woman debating whether or not she needs a handgun when her life is put in danger.
I suppose, depending where you live, the question might pop up whether or not you need to keep one.
There are more than a dozen handguns out there designed specifically for women. They are easy to carry and concealable.
Here’s an example: The Ruger LC9s (9mm).
What are your thoughts about owning a gun?
Feel free to email me @ khaled_talib AT hotmail dot com
During the early days of the Syrian war I was monitoring a family friend who smuggled himself out of the country. I didn’t say anything to anyone because his safety was paramount.
In the course of his journey he was swindled, robbed, almost killed but he made it to Egypt then to Libya before reaching Italy. Some money was transferred to him.
He kept in touch with that “someone” I know through a cell phone at various stops. He’s safe now somewhere in Europe. His wife and family are with him.
Got bitten by a relative’s horse recently after taking a selfie with it. Laceration on my right arm. I ended up at a Malaysian polyclinic for treatment.
The medical service in Singapore is very slow. So you’d expect Malaysia to be much slower. I mean really sloooooooow, plus their reputation for being too lax.
But I got the surprise of my life. I walked into a crowded polyclinic in a small Malaysian town. Lots of patients already. The staff seemed very calm (humored by my incident, of course).
So I registered, got an injection,met the doctor, ended up in another room for a dressing, got some medication after — and I was out in less than half hour. I guess they won’t cast me as the next Lone Ranger.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling novel Once A Spy
Khaled Talib’s novel Smokescreen is a cocktail of Deighton, Ludlum, Hitchcock, and two parts adrenaline.
Million-copy NYT bestselling co-author of Hooked and Brainwashed
Devious! Diabolical! Lurid! Intelligent and deftly plotted. Pick it up if you dare. Put it down if you can.
Author of Drift
In this action-packed thriller, Khaled Talib explores the little known relationship between Singapore and Israel, spinning a web of international intrigue that expands across the globe as inexorably as it tightens around his protagonist’s throat.
Author of The Umbrella Man and The Ambassador’s Wife
I have published two novels set in the police and security services in Singapore, and I am here to tell you that SMOKESCREEN is nearer to the truth of that closely controlled little country than you might believe. It is a gripping and creepy tale of how governments can rig the way we all see the world.