Review, Interview & Giveaway: The Secret Eye by Brad Hanson

The Secret Eye by Brad Hanson

Publication Date: September 2, 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction

Charlie Brand, barely 17, enters World War II where he protects the fleet from Japanese threats in this new novel about the history of radar in World War II.

Charlie Brand joined the Navy to avenge Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and he has the best eyes and ears in the US Pacific Fleet. In Japan, Hadaki Yamatsumi journeys to determine his ancestor's will for his life. The two men are thrust on a collision course with history where only one man will survive.

In Great Britain, a gift to the United States will change the direction of the war and change the life of Charlie Brand forever. While Charlie struggles through loss, a chance meeting on a train propels him to a new life he never dreamed he could have.

As America prepares her response to the attack on Pearl Harbor, a new secret technology, Radar, will begin to turn the tide of the war. America's Secret Eye peering over the horizon, detecting and directing attacks before anyone knows they are there. However, a new Japanese weapon, the Kamikaze, will threaten America's technological advantage.

Does Charlie have the skill to detect these attacks before they can destroy the USS Lexington and the Pacific Fleet? Can America find a way to defeat this new threat, and will the Secret Eye save American lives and finally win the war?

"Readers who enjoy both military and historical fiction novels will enjoy The Secret Eye. Brad Hanson delivers a fast-paced, action-filled story with The Secret Eye that is recommended to those who enjoy learning mixed with entertainment. Hanson provides both." - Tom Gauthier, Readers' Favorite

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound



Inspired by stories told to the Author from his step-father Charlie who fought in WWII, The Secret Eye is a wonderfully unique historical novel. Charlie is only 16 when he hears President Roosevelt speak about the tragedy of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After hearing the infamous speech he feels that he has been called upon to help and serve his country. As a young man he loves to tinker with electronics and taking things apart and putting them abck together again so he's technically skilled. A skill that will ultimately serve him well when he joins the Navy. His training offivers soon see his talent and task him with learning a top secret new radar detection machine. He excels at this and impresses his commanding officers. With his help they can spot friendly planes and help guide them, as well as track enemy planes for defense attacks. It's so new and secretive that Charlie is unable to tell his family or his new sweetheart, Lilly, about where he is located or what he is doing on the ship.

The other aspect of the book features insight into the planning on the bombing of Pearl Harbor from the Japanese side, as well as the US plans on how to thwart another attack. President Roosevelt, Alfred Loomis, Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, US Secretary Hull and Winston Churchill play key roles, among many others.

The book covers the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the Battle at Midway, also the Marianas Turkey Shoot (which was all new to me), and ending after the US nuclear bombing on Japan.

This book is more technical than I am used to reading but it was very interesting to learn about radar and how officers on the ship are able to guide the pilots. The use of radar no doubt helped tremendously in winning the war, and men like Charlie were invaluable in that mission.

Fans of military history, naval history, and WWII buffs woudl definitely enjoy this read. I really liked how the author told the story from all sides of the conflict. The way that each country thought they were mightier, better, morally, and ethically superior to others is still so true to this day and Hanson captured that perfectly. It's apparent that the author did a crazy amount of research to write this book, and I was quite impressed by that.

I look forward to the next book and to catch up with Charlie and Lilly again.

Interview with Brad Hanson

Hello Brad and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about The Secret Eye!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

I am a first-time author and worked on this novel for 3 years. I grew up in the Midwest, surrounded by people who served. My Grandfather on my mother’s side served in World War I and my mother’s brother served during World War II as did the man who inspired me to write this story, Charlie Stainer. I always knew I wanted to write and tried many times to write scripts for plays I would have in my basement. I have had many opportunities to write while working in high tech having written articles for trade magazines and authoring training material for fortune 100 companies. While completing my MBA many years ago, I wrote a 10-to-15-page paper every week for 2 years. I found that I had the ability to turn out large volumes of words, but I needed a story that captured my attention.

Through the stories told to me by my stepfather Charlie, the seeds of the story began to grow. Entertaining as Charlie’s stories were for our family, the elements for creating a strong story were not there. I needed to have a protagonist to provide the tension needed to create an exciting story, one that would draw the reader in and not let go until the end. Here is the hook I use when talking to people about my book. The Secret Eye is the story of a young man who joins the US Navy at the age of 17 right after Pearl Harbor and becomes the best Radar operator in the US fleet. It is also about another young man from Japan who joins his military and through a series of events, becomes the Kamikaze pilot who hits the USS Lexington in November 1944.

Now, I have something that captures my attention. The Navy Radarman against the Kamikaze pilot who wants to destroy his ship. The juxtaposition of following a Japanese and an American soldier through the war helps the reader see the war from both perspectives.

What inspired you to write The Secret Eye?

After the loss of Charlie in 2013 at the age of 88, I wanted to do something that would honor his memory. Service to others has been a bedrock foundation for my life and I felt called to write a story that would honor the young men who left everything they knew to go somewhere they had never heard of with no guarantee they would return alive. The story of our greatest generation needs to be remembered by those 30 and above but especially by our youngest generations.

There are not many stories written about the Pacific Theater during World War II and none that I could find about how Radar played an instrumental part in winning the war. Writing a story about the motivations of men to join the war and the human cost those decisions take both on the battlefield and the Homefront excited me.

What research did you undertake when writing The Secret Eye?

I spent 3 years researching all aspects of Radar and its use in the Pacific Theater during World War II. I watched many documentaries where I heard stories from brave men faced with impossible odds but still finding the will to come back alive. I had the privilege of knowing Charlie for over 50 years, but it was not until he was interviewed for a documentary on US Carriers that we truly began to hear the true stories of his bravery and service. During the war, Charlie also served on the USS Yorktown and several years before his death, he was interviewed by the staff historian where he recounted his World War II service. Fortunately, I have this recording as well.

I was able to view now declassified documents from World War II including after action reports from Pearl Harbor and every major Pacific Theater battle. I also subscribed to Fold3, an site, where I could view documents from the Lexington including muster reports (who is on the ship) and intelligence debriefs from every engagement they had with the enemy. The reports even included the number of bullets expended and ordinances dropped. Way too much detail for an Historical Fiction novel.

What would you like readers to take away from reading The Secret Eye?

I hope that people will see how special that generation of men was to the soul of America. Young men, barely able to vote leaving everything they knew to fight somewhere they never heard of should impress everyone. The influence of Radar in the outcome of the war has not been well documented in other books and movies about the war. When the war began, we would be lucky if we could see 5 to 10 miles away from a ship leaving our forces completely vulnerable. As the tide of the war turned for America, we could see almost 100 miles (over the horizon), farther than any ship in the Japanese navy. All thanks to our best ally, Great Britain. Because of our technological innovations and our industrial might, we were able to defeat a formidable enemy. Through the innovations of Radar, every person in the United States enjoys a better life. Your microwave popcorn, the medical radiology scans, and of course our ability to track and forecast weather are all because of a gift from Great Britain.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I guess there were actually 2. The first is the introduction of Charlie Brand who is a mischievous young man, determined to have some fun at the expense of a streetcar in Little Rock Arkansas. He pulls a prank with his best friend Ed where they soap the rails of the streetcar line at the bottom of a sizeable hill. No one was hurt but he did get in trouble for his prank.

The second scene is the attack of the Kamikaze on the USS Lexington. My real-life Charlie told us about this attack many times and it was my honor to recall this for my readers. The toll on the Lexington and Charlie Brand were great and I remember feeling the emotion of the results of the attack. I was surprised to find myself crying while I completed the scene. I believe if you allow yourself to feel the emotions of your character while writing, your readers will react in kind.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

The attack on Pearl Harbor took the most time to research and to write. Although it was fascinating to learn more about the Japanese attack on Pearl, creating a story out of the hundreds of researched facts about Japan and our response was very difficult. Trying to describe Pearl Harbor and the locations of our ships to my readers presented the greatest challenge of the entire story.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I felt I wanted to write something as early as 7 or 8 years old, but I did not have any stories wanting to come out. Over the years, I tried to write technical manuals and stories about my life but nothing stuck. It was not until the death of my stepfather Charlie in 2013 that I knew I had a topic I could write about. When the juxtaposition of the Japanese Kamikaze and the US Radarman came to mind, the story laid out before me.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

My full-time job is working for a fortune 100 technology company, so I write only on weekends and vacations. Writing in the Historical Fiction genre, I used the arch of history to guide the story line, inserting my characters to explain the military strategy and technology used by each side.

I researched well known historical figures and gave them voice through their dialog. I would listen, if possible, to the speaking cadence of a character and craft dialog that would remind the reader of the historical figure. For example, many recordings still survive of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and they guided me while writing his dialog. Try to imagine Roosevelt say these words.

“Gentlemen,” began Roosevelt, “these are tragic days we are in with much grievous news to endure. However, I am confident that we will soon turn the tide of this horrible war and drive our enemies into submission. The American people are sturdy, and we have proven we can fight if the cause is just. Japan attacked us, and the American people want justice. You, the men of the Joint Chiefs, will be the weight behind the spear that will guide and direct our forces to victory. Your vision and planning will light our path to victory.”

Instead of researching every part of the Pacific Theater during World War 2, I chose to break the war down into major sections. The development in England of Radar and the Cavity Magnetron and how the United States mass produced the technology, pre-World War 2 preparations by Japan and the United States, and each major battle from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a natural procrastinator, breaking down the story into manageable sections reduced the anxiety I felt tackling the entirety of World War 2.

After researching a section, I would sit down to write about a battle sequence or important technology. Using character dialog to describe technology or the environment of the scene, prevented overly dense text blocks enhancing the readability and enjoyment for my reader. Switching scenes (chapters) between the Japanese and United States perspective helped the reader understand the motivations and decisions of each side, creating a complete understanding of the Pacific Theater.

Through the backstory of Charlie and Hadaki, I was able to give context to the decisions and motivations of each character. Humanizing both men, the reader could dispassionately follow their role in this historical drama while creating empathy for each man as he experiences loss through life changing decisions.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

I am a procrastinator which inhibits my ability to be productive during my writing sessions. I will find many reasons to avoid researching or writing. Over many years, I have learned to break down tasks into more manageable sections making it easier to power through the entirety of the Pacific Theater during World War II. My book is not intended to be a complete history lesson about the war but an overview of the major events of the war told through the dialog of the characters. Using short chapters, five to six pages, progressed the story forward enticing the reader to continue. It also helped me to feel a sense of accomplishment as I was not trying to write 40-page chapters in 1 sitting.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Early in my technical career, I began traveling from Sunday to Friday almost every week. I grew tired of watching TV on the plane and decided I would try to read during flight. One of my favorite movies is The Hunt for Red October so Tom Clancy become my first author who inspired my writing. Clancy is known for his technical detail and storytelling. I am told that my technical descriptions is like Clancy.

Another of my favorite films was The Firm so I began reading John Grisham novels. His ability to create empathetic characters influenced my ability to connect with my readers through dialog and their backstories. Finally, James Patterson taught me that shorter chapters made his novels read faster and I felt my story would feel less like a history book if I borrowed his technique.

What was the first historical novel you read?

Strangely, I have never read an historical novel. I love history but most of my historical consumption has been through TV and films.

What is the last historical novel you read?

Same as above.

What are three things people may not know about you?

First, I have had 3 distinct careers in my life. I started out as a Band Director teaching in Oklahoma and Texas for 5 years. I moved into the IT and Telecommunications field first as a teacher and then supporting customers through technical sales and finally professional services. I moved into Program and Project management later in life which is what I do for a fortune 100 company.

Next, my mother and father divorced when I was 14. Shortly after that, my neighbor and his wife divorced. Shortly after that, my mother married my neighbor. Shortly after that, my father married my neighbor’s (now my stepfather’s) ex-wife! To top all of that, my new stepmother taught at the high school I attended.

Finally, my brother and sister in-law were famous Christian entertainers during the 80’s and 90’s.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

Because I love history, there are endless canvases for me to paint my stories. With so many interesting times in history, the amount and variety of stories are endless. Charlie Brand has many interesting historical events headed his way and I look forward to writing about them in the future.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

I love American history, especially reading about the founding of America and about the Civil War.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

I am an avid woodworker and golfer. I built 13 feet of bookshelves for my office and recently, I built a crib for my first grandson.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

Charlie Brand is now married and has children. Expect to see Charlie come back to service his country during the early 1960’s in another Historical Fiction novel. After that, Charlie’s oldest son will follow in his father’s footsteps.

About the Author


Brad Hanson loves military history which prompted his desire to write this story. Inspired by experiences shared by a family member and those of our Greatest Generation, Brad is proud to bring this story to readers everywhere. When not working on writing projects, he works for a fortune 100 company as an operational leader of technology programs.

He is an avid woodworker and golfer and has two grown children. He and his wife share their Texas home with their British Shorthair cats.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 7
Tour Kick-Off at Passages to the Past

Tuesday, February 8
Interview at Jathan and Heather

Friday, February 11
Excerpt at Books, Ramblings, and Tea

Monday, February 14
Interview at Mythical Books

Wednesday, February 16
Excerpt at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals

Friday, February 18
Feature at Reading is My Remedy

Monday, February 21
Interview at The Writing Desk

Friday, March 4
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past


Enter to win a copy of The Secret Eye by Brad Hanson!

The Secret Eye

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on March 4th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

1 comment:

  1. I am kind of tired of all the WWII novels being published. However, using the history of radar is a cool way to bring the war to life. My own uncle was on a ship in charge of radar during the war.


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Passages to the Past
All rights reserved © 2013

Custom Blog Design by Blogger Boutique

Blogger Boutique