The latest in the Jonathan Grave series, following HOSTAGE ZERO, is a wake-up call for anyone who thinks terrorism cannot strike in the States, aside from hijacked jets crashing into tall buildings. Look no further than recent attacks in Norway, where more than 90 were killed. But that's fact. This is a novel, fiction. It is, however, a true threat warning in the perfect marriage of dialogue and narrative, with seamless point-of-view character representations. Conceptual brilliance.
This installment opens with the Army of Allah lodging warfare reminiscent of the Beltway Sniper's weeks of terror condensed into one massive shootout. That evil army then blows up Muslim children in Michigan, the "Islamic capital of the U.S."
Grave questions, "What's the Army of Allah's real end game?" A member of that regime says that it is "a quest to reeducate the Users." Users are "people who take all of God's gifts for their own and give nothing back. They live for money and not for goodness."
But Allah's name is used as a ruse to rile anti-Arab sentiment in the United States. Where the Jonestown-like group is cloistered in rural West Virginia, locals say, "The Army of God. It's a nutso group of paramilitary types." However, the Army of God has its sights set on a target far larger than mere mortals and small town residents. Grave engages the Bad Guys' leader in psych warfare---after the conventional kind.
An integral part of Grave's rescue team is Venice Alexander. Those who mispronounce Ven-EE-chay twice never make that mistake thrice. Al Gore may have invented the Internet but Venice says, "I own the Internet." Venice is like a one-person squad at NCIS's MTAC.
Grave's group is "a hostage recovery team with a perfect record." He, Boxers and newbie Gail "Gunslinger" Bonneville are there to rescue Christyne Nasbe and her son Ryan, age 16. The Nasbes have been taken hostage in D.C., after a shoot 'em up where dozens are killed. Ryan's father, "Boomer", is deployed in the Middle East and had served with Jonathan "Digger" Grave and Boxers in the past.
Having served as an FBI agent, Bonneville questions violation of certain laws. Grave says that "some laws are ridiculous. Like the ones that respect terrorists' rights over those of people they terrorize." After a wake-up call---no snooze button with Jonathan Grave---Bonneville is no longer sure that she's suited to be on Grave's team.
The classic struggle between good and bad for a greater cause is at play, here. "Ask Pablo Escobar's family if it makes a difference that the guy who pulled the trigger on him was operating with permission from Uncle Sam. Dead is dead." The foundation on which Bonneville has built her house of law enforcement ethics shakes like the Kobe earthquake.
This is a terrifying and real warning presented in an entertaining format that causes readers to question strict adherence to laws that protect the rights of those who would destroy a government that protects those who would commit genocide.
---Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy