Albert Lea native releases his latest thriller

Published 9:14 am Saturday, January 9, 2010

Roger A. Naylor, a 1951 graduate of Albert Lea High School, likes to say he’s in his “sixth life.”

In high school, he played professionally with area dance bands and show bands, worked at the local meatpacking plant, then spent 30 years as a school and community band director, composer and arranger in Wells and in Bettendorf, Iowa. He also owned a fishing resort, Lakewood Lodge, on Big Sand Lake in northern Minnesota for five years.

In 1988, he and his wife, Jeanne, a high school classmate, moved to California, where they lived for 17 years before moving to Mesa, Ariz., 5 1/2 years ago. He worked as an editor for an educational publishing company for 10 years while in California.

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Most recently, he’s been a writer.

In 1999, he co-authored his first book, “California Trivia,” with friend and editorial associate, the late Lucy Poshek.

His first thriller, “Black Rock Bay,” was released in early summer 2000. In this story, a beautiful north woods resort paradise becomes a battleground when misguided patriotism and religious fervor mushroom from vandalism to assault and murder.

His third book, “A Paper Statue,” is a World War II historical novel. In this story, rookie fighter pilot Lee Marks finds himself face-to-face with deadly Japanese aircraft, killer storms and a devious, manipulative commanding officer. Marks must quickly learn to deal with all of them if he is to survive.

Now, Naylor has released his fourth book, another thriller, called “The Cobra Conspiracy.”

Naylor explained that the book is actually a total revision of a book he wrote earlier, titled “Ark II.” Within 30 days of when the book was released in 2001, the publisher went bankrupt, Naylor said.

“Unfortunately, the publisher pumped some of the books into the market after it declared it was no longer in business,” he said.

“So I let it sit,” Naylor said.

But some of his friends told him it was too good a book to let die, so he did a complete revision and renamed it.

As “The Cobra Conspiracy” unfolds, middle-aged, unemployed and desperate sports writer Buck Barnum lands a job in public relations with a Los Angeles shipyard. The company is about to launch a controversial high-tech ship. But Buck runs up against an unlikely coalition of green group activists and syndicate thugs who will do whatever it takes to stop the project. Cast in the role of point man, Buck charges ahead, but with each step he sinks deeper into a puzzling quagmire. As he slips past the point of no return, he discovers which of his qualities the company really bought: his courage and his pit bull tenacity. But his skills seem to be no match for the adversaries he faces, and Buck must stretch his ingenuity to new lengths if he is to save the project, his family and himself.

He said “Ark II” focused more on the process of the high-tech ship. “The Cobra Conspiracy” focuses on the protagonist.

“I think it’s a much better book,” Naylor said of the revision. “I feel good about it. But it does have that ghost out there.”

Naylor said he originally got the idea for the book from his son-in-law, who had been a chief engineer on a supertanker.

The author said he’s told people who have the first book that they can trade it for “The Cobra Conspiracy” by contacting him at or through his Web site,

“But some people have told me they want to have both,” he said.

The book, published by iUniverse Inc., can be ordered through bookstores by referring to Bowker’s “Books In Print” listing. It is also available from online bookstores and retails for $20.95.

Naylor said he enjoys writing thrillers, but his attempt at historical fiction was also very satisfying. He said he also takes an artist’s pride in his characters as he creates his “common man thrillers,” each built around an ordinary man who is intelligent, talented, but capable of mistakes. “By a simple choice of turn along the road of life he finds himself thrust into an extraordinary situation. And trapped in that unfamiliar realm, he is forced to improvise and rediscover inner strengths that have been lost or forgotten.”

His next project is a complete departure from what he’s done so far. He’s working on stories about his beloved family cat, Buffy, who lived to be 15 years, 11 months and 1 day old. He doesn’t yet know if the stories will turn into a book.

“He was a very unusual cat and taught me all kinds of tricks,” he said.

He also has another thriller in the works.

Whatever happens, Naylor said, he enjoys telling a good story.

“I truly love the challenge of writing, trying to send messages that capture, entertain and influence others. I caught the disease in junior high school and never recovered,” he wrote. “As is my inclination in everything I do, I can’t stop looking for improvements in my craft, and each tiny success feeds the engine additional fuel that drives me onto the next page.”