My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Co-authors Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson’s Tier One (Thomas & Mercer 2016) is a heart-stopping, action-packed military thriller told through the eyes of an American Special Forces operator, an Iranian Muslim jihadist, and the man responsible for pitting the two against each other to see who wins.
Dempsey is a top-level SEAL, so seriously injured in a mission-gone-bad that he must leave his SEAL Team and join a covert group of hand-picked operators who use HUMINT, SIGINT, and other intel-type of resources to wage their battles. Their first task: Find out who sabotaged the last mission that destroyed Dempsey’s team. As the story progresses, we root for Dempsey to make the transition from warrior SEAL to intel-based operator as he struggles to come to terms with the changes required to fight enemies with this new approach. Sometimes we think he won’t make it, despite his unusual traits (like a knack for remembering inconsequential trivia), maybe because of the demons that drive his behavior. We aren’t privy to these in this book, but they leave lots to be unfolded in future books.
“Some people call it instinct. Others call it a sixth sense. I call it situational awareness.”
The antagonist is an Iranian jihadist intent on paying back America for killing his son by doing his part to destroy it. Unlike some faceless terrorists, in this story, we get to know Mamoud, understand his motivations, meet his family, and see that in a different culture, with a different upbringing, this man would be considered a friend.
“Martyrdom is essential to jihad, he told himself. The plan cannot succeed without sacrifice.”
One more fascinating character is the boss of the team–Jarvis. He’s a synesthete, almost sociopathic in his lack of emotion for events and his practiced approach to dealing with people.
“The chemical formula of polystyrene (C8H8)n, popped into Jarvis’s head, accompanied by a mental image of an expanded hydrocarbon chain of hexagonal phenyl groups.”
“Everything in life was an equation, and unbalanced equations set off chain reactions and became chaos.”
Jarvis reminded me of L.J. Sellers’ sociopathic FBI agent in Point of Control (see my review).
Overall, the authors have a wonderful way of presenting the story pieces and evidence in a way that brings readers along. The only problem I had with the book: The lead up to the climax I found somewhat annoying. I can’t tell you why without spoiling the story. If you read it, what to you think? By the ending–all was forgiven; it was satisfying, well-done, and set up these characters for an ongoing series. Which I will be reading.
I’ve read one other book by these authors–Beijing Red (see my review) so expected a tight story with lots of twists and turns–and that’s exactly what I got. This author is highly recommended, as is this series.
–This was received free of charge from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
More military thrillers:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and To Hunt a Sub, her debut fiction. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her nonfiction books at her publisher’s website,Structured Learning.