The Rockets' Red Glare

Cal Bellotta, ex-Army Special Forces/WMD expert, and Ray Nassiri, a Muslim computer wizard, form an unlikely partnership that challenges the Homeland Security bureaucracy.

Together they must peel away layers of deception in a race to uncover the truth about an unprecedented alliance threatening the very fabric of the country they love.

Islamic terrorists, overflowing with money and a stockpile of radioactive cesium, are stymied by intense surveillance in their efforts to carry out massive Independence Day dirty bomb attacks on 16 U.S. cities. Meanwhile, the White Aryan Resistance flies under the radar with an abundance of invisible American foot soldiers ready to take arms. An unholy pact is formed and together they present the perfect threat.

With a countdown of just 15 days, the country is thrown into turmoil. Homeland Security chases a smokescreen, the media whips Americans into a frenzy, Wall Street flounders, and politicians rage. Only Bellotta and Nassiri recognize the alliance that experts say could never happen.

The Rockets’ Red Glare is a compelling, vivid, and accurate insider’s portrayal of what President Obama has called “the single biggest threat to U.S. security” – a terrorist dirty bomb attack.

Buy it on Amazon

The Story Behind The Story

The Rockets’ Red Glare started life as an outline for a thriller to be called Piece 31. It was to be the third installment in the Seth Mathias Trilogy, following The Law of the Pack and Screenshot. The story was a threatened terrorist dirty bomb attack on the US. To create the plot, I used my knowledge of a government program called Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel (FRR SNF) Acceptance Program meant to recover spent nuclear fuel from Eisenhower-era research reactors still operating today. Operating in such questionable locations as Iran, Iraq and Pakistan. In the wrong hands, this material could be processed into dirty bombs, and even nuclear weapons, and that was to be the story.

Well into writing the first draft, I talked about the book with my friend, Michael Gresalfi, and he was eager to jump on board. The result was a whole new kind of thriller – Forecast Fiction. It is fiction that tells a non-fiction story that hasn’t happened. Yet.

Michael is a terrorism and WMD expert consulting for a number of Executive Branch agencies including the FBI. He brought an insider’s point of view and a level of knowledge that quickly overwhelmed the possibilities for my Mathias crew to realistically handle. It was just too big an event for any unofficial group to cope with. And so Cal Bellotta was “born” – a hybrid hero, knowledgeable and ready and able, but not really a part of the homeland security operations apparatus. An outsider thrust to the inside.

The writing and editing took about two years of my life spread over five. Michael was invaluable as a source of ideas and knowledge over that time – an expert, a story-teller, an editor, and a writer, especially when it came to government-speak.


— John C. Darrin

Dr. Michael Gresalfi has more than 30 years of proven expertise in leading both national-level strategic policy and planning initiatives. He has substantive experience advising senior decision-makers, to include Federal agency senior executives and corporate leadership.

Since 9-11, he has provided significant operational and planning support to a wide range of offices and clients within the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, as well as within both the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which are agency-level components of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

His focus remains on strengthening our national capacity to prevent and respond to weapons of mass destruction threats and attacks upon our Homeland by terrorist groups and rogue nations. He received his Ph.D. in Public Policy from George Washington University in Washington, DC.


— Michael Gresalfi

© 2022 John C. Darrin