Here are four more great novels you won’t want to miss that I got from the wonderful NetGalley:
- Red Metal — a new character by Mark Greaney
- One Minute Out — the Gray Man takes on trafficking of young girls with a vengeance; I love this guy
- Hawke’s Target — a personal tragedy turns an amoral criminal against his own kind
- The Russian — a new character (meaning not that lovable bigger-than-life rogue Dewey Andreas) by Ben Coes
by Mark Greaney and LT COL Hunter Ripley Rawlings IV USMC
In Greaney et al’s 600+-page Red Metal (Penguin Group 2019), we follow the carefully orchestrated and brilliant Russian plot to simultaneously strike Western Europe, Taiwan, and East Africa with the goal of taking over several Rare Earth mineral mines in Africa that they believe will give the Russians control over America if not the West. Told through the eyes of different parties, each involved in different ways–a Polish civilian warrior who has barely enough training to fire her weapon, two Russian commanders–one eager to make his mark and the other fearful of what a world war will do to his beloved Rodina, an almost-retired French Intelligence Officer (and his son) who just happen upon clues that they can’t resist but to follow, two American Intelligence Officers who try valiantly to get their American agencies to take the series of seemingly disconnected clues seriously. The events seem far-flung but in the fullness of the story, come together to create a top-notch geopolitical thriller.
The detail of the Naval war strategies is impressive, thorough, and believable. Like this:
“The carrier strike group used submarines as its outer most ring to serve as the eyes and ears of the task force by venturing out from the CSGs to find enemy shipping. The next ring was an array of frigates. The workhorse of the fleet, they screened for enemy submarines.”
If Greaney and Rawlings weren’t sitting at the elbow of the officers in charge of America’s Pacific Fleet, they should be–that’s how consuming the facts are. It takes a while to determine who the main character(s) is/are, if there is even one or two. I become so vested in all of the characters, they could all be the protagonist. I must confess, I’ve read all of Greaney’s Gray Man novels, always know that Gray Man is the operator no matter what is happening in the story or where in the world I am. This is different.
Let me close with a high recommendation: If you loved Tom Clancy’s iconic war novels, this is a perfect story for you. Not just the incredible detail and depth of knowledge but the way Greaney and Rawlings are able to bring these characters to life in dramatic life-and-death circumstances.
by Mark Greaney
Mark Greaney’s Alpha operator, Court Gentry, aka the Gray Man, is so-named because he’s almost invisible when he’s on a mission. He sneaks in, performs with precision, brilliance, and excellence, and is out before anyone can find him to stop him. He is smart, clever in his plans, and rarely does the expected.
Book 9 of the Gray Man series, One Minute Out (Berkeley 2020) is one of the best yet. Gentry has a storied career, first with the CIA, then on the run from a CIA kill order, and now doing jobs for hire or for the agency when they want consummate deniability. This particular job, Gentry is to kill a very bad guy (he will only kill the worst of the worst–never as an assassin) for a private client. He does that but finds out that this very bad guy is part of a pipeline that traffics underage and young girls for sex all over the world. Gentry should walk away, job completed, but he has a moral compass that supersedes any orders or directives from his bosses (part of his problem with the CIA). He literally can’t make himself ignore injustice. As he’s fretting how to save these girls, he winds up aligned with a forensic investigator who is tracking down the same bad guys because they kidnapped her sister. What she lacks in skill and experience, she well makes up for with determination and passion. Between the two of them, they decide to do the impossible.
There’s one way this book is different from other Gray Man stories: It’s written in present tense first person, which makes it more personal and immediate than stories written in third person past tense. I asked my husband if he noticed that–or cared (he also read the book). He didn’t notice, didn’t care. I’m going to call that, just me.
Overall, I highly recommend this for readers of spy/mystery/adventure thrillers. There is no way you’ll be disappointed.
by Reavis Wortham
Reavis Wortham’s Hawke’s Target (Pinnacle 2019), third of three in the Sunny Hawke Thriller, is the simple albeit complex and fast-moving tale of a lawless family who sells drugs, porn, and whatever else makes money without any thought for the victim. By all accounts, they have never faced a circumstance where that amoral approach to life didn’t work. They are ruled by the unforgiving iron fist of the patriarch, Daddy Frank, both a father and a grandfather but ruthless and unforgiving to his own family as well as extended members. He expects everyone to do exactly as he says and those who don’t suffer vicious consequences. This works well for a while but cracks are forming, starting with his grandson, Alonzo. His wife was killed by a criminal who escaped conviction for the murder because of a technicality. Now, Alonzo’s only purpose in life is revenge again this man and anyone who walks free of a heinous crime because of red tape. The more Alonzo researches these guilty-but-free killers, the more similarities he finds to his own family until he no longer sees any difference.
Trying to track down the serial murderer of the guilty-but-freed criminals is Texas Ranger Sunny Hawke. His focus at first is narrowly on Alonzo but that soon changes when the murders seem to be part of something much bigger.
The story is a fun, atmospheric story despite the seriousness of the topic. Highly recommended for those who like a good ol’ Southern-based murder mystery.
by Ben Coes
Ex-Navy SEAL and top tier operator Rob Tacoma is the star of Ben Coes’ latest book, The Russian (St. Martins Press 2019), first in a new series. Tacoma is recruited by the CIA’s Hector Calibrisi (a name we know from the Dewey Andreas series) to battle the Russian Mafia after it kills two well-respected Washington politicians, both of whom actively fought to stop their illegal activities in the US. Tacoma is selected to be part of a two man team licensed to kill within the country but before they even start, the other member is murdered. Where Tacoma was on the fence about taking the job (he was happy enough with his post-SEAL life so why get into a political mess?), the violent way the Russians killed his would-be partner was all the motivation he needed. And the battle is on. Though Tacoma can do pretty much anything needed to catch those behind the Russian Mafia, he is on his own. Well, him and a few geeks which doesn’t bother Tacoma at all. The book is non-stop action, quick decisions, clever solutions to problems, and exactly the type of plotting we’ve come to expect from Coes as it relates to Dewey Andreas–except now, the hero’s name is Rob Tacoma.
I admit, I started out petulant and angry because my beloved Dewey Andreas wouldn’t be saving the day. Instead, some guy I didn’t know or trust would be doing the heavy lifting. I think that lasted about ten pages, thanks to Coes’ excellent writing, detailed plotting, and the absolute greatness of this new character. I’ve often wished I could read the Dewey Andreas series again for the first time. Now, thanks to Tacoma, I can (kind of; you get my point).
Overall, this is a political thriller as only Ben Coes can write. Highly recommended if you like strong character who are human, and never back away from trying the impossible.
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, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Summer 2020.