Eric Wise is a Delta Force operative who was mysteriously pulled from his unit and summarily discharged from the military. He has no idea what he’s done and is understandably irritated when it all clicks after some spook shows up to offer him a new job leading Project StrikeForce. The project revolves around brainwashing and modifying a United States citizen who also happens to be a terrorist and veteran; Eric is to be his handler. John Frist has blown up a Red Cross building because he’s angry that the disaster service dropped the ball and he wasn’t able to leave his deployment in Iraq to attend his parents’ funeral. His terrorist status is perfect as the project needs someone who is disposable, and whom no one will miss, just in case the technological enhancements the scientists retrofit Frist with go haywire. Soon enough, Wise and Frist have a mission to untangle as they race to figure out another terrorist plot.
Swaim does an outstanding job of injecting a strong sense of drama into this slightly-futuristic military thriller set in the current day. The novel goes from one action-packed mission to another with little to no discussion of the characters’ personal lives between missions. In other words, they’re on the job all the time. The story also cycles between characters, taking different third-person points of view that include Wise, Frist, and the leader of the terrorist cell as well as other more minor characters when their view is applicable.
While the plot is believable and the military references are likewise commendably believable, character development unfortunately takes a back seat to the mission descriptions. This leads to the novel being a little less engaging than I could hope. It’s still highly entertaining, though, as long as you’re one who enjoys this type of adrenaline-fueled trip reminiscent of a Jason Statham movie. I am.
There are many large and obvious hooks embedded in the novel that foreshadow a sequel. Despite this, the ending is otherwise fulfilling on its own and very delightfully unexpected. After a while I had gotten used to the constant rush and then BAM, I hit the ending, where Swaim smashes the reader in the face with a large brick. Once done, still shaking my head from impact, I decided that I’d enjoyed that.
As former military, though, I’m going to offer a tongue-in-cheek critique: there just weren’t nearly enough acronyms.
Reviewed by Jen Rothmeyer