Her Pacific Showdown

Mahoney & Squire #2
February 13, 2024

Available in: Audio, e-Book, Trade Size

Her Pacific Showdown

Enemies attacking from all sides. Can she counter the offensive long enough to claim victory?

The South China Sea, 2012. Navy Captain Kate Mahoney can’t catch a break. Called back from California before she could reconcile with her teenage son, she rushes to contested waters as international tensions grow. But when adversaries capture a female reconnaissance pilot, the kick-ass captain escalates the operation to general quarters.

As her toxic ex-husband drives a wedge between her and their child, Mahoney wages a battle against both military and personal foes. But she’s unaware that a nemesis from her past is about to declare war…

Can she win peace on two fronts before she flames out?

Her Pacific Showdown is the suspenseful second book in the Mahoney & Squire Military Fiction series. If you like nail-biting conflicts, unique challenges, and characters finding their inner strengths, then you’ll love this unputdownable adventure from Mike Krentz, US Navy Captain, Medical Corps (retired).

Buy Her Pacific Showdown to stabilize the threat today!


 April 8, 2012, West (Yellow) Sea

The US Navy P-3 Orion maritime patrol plane arrived over the chaotic scene in the Yellow Sea, known as the West Sea by the Republic of Korea and its United States ally.

Lieutenant Commander Jessica “Cricket” Squire, United States Navy, put the four-engine turboprop aircraft into a descent to five hundred feet above the surface over the wreckage of ROKS Bucheon, a Republic of Korea Pohang-class corvette.

Not far to the north, a similar scene consumed a Sariwon-class corvette from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

By emergency direction from the US Seventh Fleet, the P-3 had broken off from a routine submarine-hunting mission to provide on-scene surveillance and a live feed from the scene of the latest skirmish between the two nations on the divided Korean peninsula.

Cricket flew the P-3 in sequential figure-eight tracks over both doomed warships. The aircrew in the back of the plane transmitted photos and videos to their base in Okinawa, Japan, from where the images would be relayed to USS Shenandoah, flagship of the Seventh Fleet, underway in the South China Sea.

From her left-seat vantage point, Cricket monitored almost identical disasters on both sides of the imaginary Northern Limit Line that divided the West Sea into North and South Korean territorial waters. Amidst the wreckage, she spotted desperate human beings either clinging to flotsam, flailing in the frigid  open sea, or sinking below the surface.

The P-3 had no rescue capability. Cricket and her crew could do nothing to help. The closest US Navy ship, USS Stethem, would arrive too late to save the humans perishing within sight of their aircraft.

“What the hell happened down there?” Cricket said.

A voice came over the radio. “Hunter one-zero-three, Seventh Fleet has all they need. Mission complete. RTB.”

Cricket advanced the throttles, put the aircraft into a climb, and turned toward home base on Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Japan.


April 8, 2012, Okinawa, Japan: Kadena Air Force Base

The post-flight brief completed, Cricket left her squadron’s hangar, still shaken by the human carnage she’d seen in the West Sea. She considered foregoing her usual gym workout in favor of heading to the Officers’ Club to drown her sorrows in generous libations.

A petty officer interrupted. “Boss wants to see you, ma’am.”

Minutes later, Cricket stood at parade rest before Commander Brett Hawke, her squadron commander. Neither considered the other among their favorite people.

“At ease,” Hawke said.

Cricket relaxed her posture but declined the proffered chair next to the CO’s desk.

The man shrugged. “Lucky day, Lieutenant Commander. You get to go home tomorrow.”

Cricket blinked. Why would they send her back to Honolulu in mid-tour? Was she being fired?


The commander gave her a sly grin. “It will be a quick turn. You’ll bring the P-8 back here.”

The P-8 Poseidon was the Navy’s newest aerial surveillance platform, with highly classified electronic intelligence (ELINT) capabilities. Cricket was one of the first pilots to qualify in the complex jet.

“This mission is hush-hush,” the commander said, “so you’ll bring it back under cover of darkness. Then we hide it until or if it’s needed. We don’t want other, uh, players in the region to know we have it.”

“I don’t understand, sir. Why now?”

Cricket’s boss shrugged. “I don’t have the complete picture. Seventh Fleet wants it in theater. Ours is not to reason why . . .”

“Got it, sir.”

“Then you’d best go pack. You and your crew are on an early transport flight to Honolulu.”

Back in her room at the Bachelor Officers Quarters, Cricket placed a call to Honolulu.

“I’m coming home, love. Quick turnaround, but we can sign that license.” 



 April 27, 2012, San Bruno, CA

The longest day in Captain Kate Mahoney’s life had begun with a jarring phone call to her Thailand hotel room sixteen time zones away from San Francisco Bay.

“Patrick’s missing.” Her sister Colleen’s grim message had shattered Kate’s pre-dawn erotic dreams and flung her emerging consciousness against the harsh wall of reality.

Teenage son in trouble. Absentee single mom naval officer thousands of miles away. Again.

  Thirty-six hours later, in the wee hours of a California Sunday, Kate was the only one awake in Colleen’s split-level home in San Bruno. She poured a full glass of Shiraz, took a generous quaff, and welcomed the near-immediate numbness washing over her body. She carried the bottle and glass into the living room, kicked off her shoes, plopped into the recliner chair, flipped on the TV, and muted the sound. After dousing the lamp, Kate sat alone and pensive in the flickering glow of the TV screen. In synchrony with the shifting light, random images of the day’s trauma flitted across her memory:

Luke’s aviator survival knife aimed at her chest had not frightened her. She’d recognized his desperate but empty threat. A show of force for their son? Outrage that she’d found him and interrupted his contrived reunion with young Patrick?

Patrick’s body-block on Luke had taken Kate by surprise. The boy hated his mother, and he admired Luke. No, he’d admired the man he knew as Mr. Homer, a kind mentor dedicated to serving abandoned children. Kate’s unannounced arrival at Homer House had blown that cover.

A teenager discovers his long-lost father minutes before the man attacks the boy’s mother. Of course, Patrick reacted.

Her son’s snarling words reverberated in Kate’s brain like electronic feedback. “You two are disgusting.”

Preston Davis had burst into the room like an avenging warrior, too late to do anything but gawk. He had risked what little remained of his plummeting Marine Corps’ career to follow her from the airport.

The same Colonel Preston Davis she might love. If she knew how.

Patrick had not spoken to Kate since she, Colleen, and Preston had whisked him out of Mr. Homer’s/Luke’s Haight Ashbury habitat.

Three men in Kate’s life. Preston had gone on to alcohol rehab, Patrick slumbered upstairs, and Luke?

What will he pull next?

As young officers in flight school, they’d gotten pregnant and married, in that order. She should have killed Luke when she had the chance. A mother defending her infant son from an abusing drunken father would have prevailed in court. She thought she’d accomplished the same end when her Navy superiors forced Luke Walker to disappear from their lives.

Now he’s back. And Patrick knows him.

She sipped the wine. Somewhere in the fog, Kate’s mind found clarity.

What Luke or I deserve doesn’t matter. We’ve cast our dice. Patrick’s life matters now. She drained the rest of the glass. Tomorrow, I’ll plan.

Still unable to sleep, Kate switched on the lamp and turned off the TV. She refilled the wine glass and picked up the day’s newspaper. A column below the fold caught her eye.


China Unlikely To Budge On Thorny South China Sea Dispute
By Morris Grimes

BEIJING - Pressured at home and sensing a concerted regional effort to diminish its territorial claims, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will be in no mood to make concessions on vast areas of the disputed South China Sea at two key East Asia summits later this week.

China claims the most extensive historic sovereignty rights in the oil- and gas-rich region, including uninhabited atolls near the equatorial northern coast of Borneo and west of the Philippines archipelago, collectively known as the Spratly Islands.

Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Brunei are the other claimants in the area. Along with the United States and Japan, they are pressuring Beijing to seek a resolution of the knotty issue of sovereignty, which has flared up again this year with often tense maritime standoffs.

“China is prominent and pretty powerful now, so why back down?” said Kelsey Hargraves of the Asia Program at Chatham House, a London foreign policy institute.

“It would be odd to do so when you consider the extents of China’s strategic needs, its energy needs, and the potential that these disputed territories can fulfill those,” Hargraves added.

Kate threw the paper to the floor. “Not my problem today,” she said in a firm, dismissive voice. She had two weeks of leave with Patrick before she had to rejoin USS Shenandoah, the US Seventh Fleet flagship, when it returned home to Japan. She had personal decisions to make, every bit as weighty—and in the end more serious—than anything she might do in her official role as Seventh Fleet Director of Operations.

Captain Kate Mahoney, United States Navy, could almost but not quite admit that she missed being in the middle of that maritime action.

*  *  *

Sometime later, Kate nodded awake, still in the living room. The lamp remained lit and the newspaper littered the floor. The bottle of Shiraz, two-thirds empty, stood beside the drained glass.

Her head ached, and her mouth felt parched. Groggy, she looked at her watch.

Four-thirty a.m. Jet lag.

Not yet two days since she and Preston Davis had boarded their flight from Bangkok. She closed her eyes and tried to sleep, to no avail.

How can a person feel exhausted to the marrow but not sleep?

Kate padded barefoot into the kitchen, found Colleen’s coffee maker, and started a pot. As she ascended the stairs to the bathroom on the upper level, she noticed a glow of light from beneath Patrick’s door.

At four in the morning? Is he up early or late? Maybe he fell asleep with the light on like I did.

She went to knock on his door, then thought better of it. Patrick had avoided her since they got home from The City. If he was asleep, he would rage if re-awakened.

Back downstairs, Kate poured a cup of coffee and returned to the front room recliner. She sat in silence, pondering. As the caffeine coursed through her body, her mind clarified. By the time the first morning light seeped through the window blinds, she knew what she must do.

*  *  *

“Did you not go to bed, Kate?” Colleen appeared in the doorway, dressed for her shift as a nurse in a local hospital emergency department. Kate wondered how her older sister could appear so prim and coiffed first thing in the morning. Maybe liberating herself from a toxic marriage had brought peace and meaning into Colleen’s life.

At least she didn’t have children to suffer through a family break-up.

“I dozed in the chair,” Kate said. “Mind on a rampage.”

Colleen went into the kitchen and emerged with a travel mug of coffee. “What are you going to do?”

“I have to go back there. I hope to talk to Mr. Homer rather than Luke Walker.”

Her sister cast her a wary eye. “Only a fool would go back into that lion’s den.”

“No matter what he’s done, he’s Patrick’s father. He deserves a chance to make it real. Patrick deserves to know him and maybe have a healthy relationship with him.” Kate looked down. “I have to try, Sis.”

“Hasn’t Luke Walker caused you enough grief for one lifetime?” Colleen gathered up her purse and car keys. She stared at Kate and shook her head. “Don’t let me see you in the ER later today.” She turned and left the house.

Patrick’s door opened. Had he overheard her conversation with Colleen? She called up to him, but he went straight to the bathroom. The slamming-door sound followed by the shower running. Kate went up the stairs and knocked on the bathroom door.

“Yeah?” His voice sounded angry.

“Do you want some toast or cereal before you go to school?”


She fixed the toast anyway.

When he came down the stairs, dressed and ready for school, Patrick ate with gusto. “Thanks, Mom.”

Then he was out the door.

Kate finished her coffee, then showered and dressed. When she came back downstairs, she had a battle plan laid out in her mind. She rehearsed it as she walked the several blocks to the Millbrae BART station for the train into San Francisco. She would spend some time wandering the city.

Kate intended to reach Homer House after it closed—when Luke Walker, aka Mr. Homer, would be alone.

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“Mike Krentz delivers off-the-charts cinematic action, powerful emotional drama, and a fierce, insightful portrayal of the unique challenges faced by the women of our modern military.”
— Jayne Ann Krentz, NYT best-selling author

“In his thrilling second book in the Mahoney & Squire series, Mike Krentz ups the ante in every way with explosive results. From family challenges of the highest magnitude to skirmishes on the high seas that could lead to world war, the stakes couldn’t be higher for Kate Mahoney and Jessica ‘Cricket’ Squire. Krentz expertly navigates and weaves multifaceted characters with complex naval, political, and diplomatic maneuvers. If you enjoy character-driven thrillers that reveal the inner machinations of the American military, you’ll love this page-turner by an expert in the field.”
— Rob Samborn, author of Master of the Abyss

Magnificent military thriller spans the globe from the California West Coast to the South China Sea. While mitigating external threats from China and North Korea, the Navy must also navigate internal threats in unchartered waters: senior female officers incorporating into Navy traditions. Captain Mike Krentz, US Navy (Ret.), takes you deep into the flag bridge of the Seventh Fleet like few writers can. You are not getting through this book unscathed. — Alexander Blevens, award-winning author of Bycatch.

“Mike Krentz delivers big as he further develops one of the best heroines to come out of military fiction, Kate Mahoney, and introduces the reader to another female aviator, Cricket, who will also win their heart. The women and men in his books face geopolitical and interpersonal challenges with bravery, authenticity, and grace. Krentz crafts a story full of tension, intrigue, and triumph!”

“Great book! This was an excellent second book to develop the characters and carry on the story line.”


“Another great, very accurate accounting by Mike Krentz. His knowledge of fleet operations and the geopolitical landscape of the Pacific enables him to weave a story that is both believable and enjoyable.”

“There aren’t too many well-done books on the military experiences of females in the military. This one is a good example of the genre.”

“Krentz delivers an action packed, reality-based roller coaster ride. Recommended read for those who enjoy a military thriller that includes the ‘rest of the story’ of military life.”

Captain Kathryn “Kate” Mahoney, USN
Call Sign “Scarlett”

Ambitious, strong-willed, patriotic, courageous and assertive, Kate Mahoney was often derided as a “bitch” by the old school naval aviation community. She struggles through dysfunctional relationships, most notably her early toxic marriage to Marine Corps Major Luke Walker. She escaped him thirteen years ago after a bitter confrontation, taking with her their only child, Patrick, now age fourteen. Avoiding serious entanglements ever since, Kate finds her life forever torn between the self-generated demands of a promising Navy career and the responsibilities of single parenthood. She feels distant from her son, and alienated from men. Until she meets…

As her star rises in the politically charged world of Navy politics, will a past tragedy come back to take her down?

Lieutenant Commander Jessica “Cricket” Squire, USN
Junior naval pilot who flies the P-3 Orion and the new P-8 Poseidon. In HER PACIFIC SHOWDOWN, she reluctantly joins the fleet staff on temporary assignment as maritime surveillance liaison officer. Self-assured and intense, she travels a lifestyle path divergent from the stereotyped aviator, even from pioneering women like Kate Mahoney. When the theater of operations heats up from multiple military threats, Cricket flies an ill-fated surveillance mission that becomes a lightning rod of international confrontation. She finds herself thrust into a situation that will try her soul and test her true mettle. Colleagues, politicians, and loved ones over a vast geography anxiously await the outcome.

Commander Alexis Sideris, JAGC, USN
Expert on international law, legal adviser to the admiral and his staff. Alex once represented Kate Mahoney during the aftermath of her traumatic breakup with Luke Walker. On the flagship, the two women form a tentative alliance as the only females in the male-dominated milieu of the admiral’s senior staff. But the shared knowledge of past events, and Alexis’ own inner identity turmoil, prevents their alliance from becoming a friendship. When pressed for what she knows, will she choose self-preservation or loyalty?

Lee Young

Cricket’s estranged lover/fiancee. She relentlessly seeks the truth about Cricket’s fate. But, what is the truth about Lee Young?

Other Books in Mahoney & Squire Series