"A fast-paced, rewarding read whose combat realism is extraordinary."– Kirkus Reviews
A teenager develops a talent for killing, both in and out of the Army, in this riveting Vietnam-era thriller.
Rick Fountaine, 15, flees Connecticut after murdering the family that abused him and his mother. In Chicago, he finds a job and friends, but death follows him. He kills again—in self-defense, but no matter. He moves on to Peoria, then to Texas, then to California. His fake IDs catch up with him: Because he has pretended to be older than he is, he is drafted. Posted first to Texas, his platoon is shipped out to Vietnam. There he excels. His talents for finding the right way through the jungle and spotting ambushes—perhaps, he thinks, something innate from his Native American heritage—make him no friends with his commanding officer, but others appreciate him, including the CIA. He goes on a black-ops mission, providing critical covering fire for his team. Wounded on what was supposed to be a safe patrol, he is discharged. He connects with an old Army buddy and finds that there is a civilian demand for a man with his skills. He joins a team of fellow veterans working as “independent contractors” and soon finds himself pitted against embezzlers, high-end art thieves and Chinese drug smugglers. First-time author Le Beau has delivered a potent mixture of teen rebellion and true-to-life combat. Enormously compelling, this book doesn’t let you put it down. Le Beau, a Vietnam veteran, realistically depicts jungle patrols and firefights like no other. Yet there are quibbles. The first chapter makes Fountaine seem like an irredeemable psychopath, a notion the rest of the book does not support. What made him so good at violence needs to be reworked. The frequent switching from past to present tense doesn’t work, either, and the pacing at times is almost too fast. And who is the intended audience? It has the tone of a YA novel because of Fountaine’s voice and youth, but it could easily have mainstream appeal as well.
A fast-paced, rewarding read whose combat realism is extraordinary.