"The overall premise has potential, and readers interested in the military will find that the author knows his stuff."– Kirkus Reviews
U.S. government agents battle drug dealers in Sweetapple’s latest thriller, which includes characters from the author’s 2005 novel Vette Head’s Not Dead.
Former intelligence officer LP Thomas and his colleague Morgan Smith are soaking in the sights of the Florida Keys when they’re kidnapped and taken to a ship by sinister drug runners with ties to the notorious Cuban-born Panamanian drug lord El Diablo. Morgan manages to escape, but LP is not so lucky. El Diablo’s men also abduct a sleazy character named Sandy “Dirt” Dogwood, whom El Diablo blames for a cocaine deal gone bad. The drug lord forces Dogwood to deliver a bomb to the Department of Defense’s U.S. Southern Command headquarters in Miami. Intelligence agents and others, including LP’s friends Jim (“’Vette Head”) Stillwater and Col. Steve Yamoto, make it their mission to find and rescue LP and apprehend El Diablo. The novel works best during the faster-paced sections, when the going gets tough for the heroes, but other, less engaging sections get sidetracked by unnecessary explanations of plot developments and extraneous details. The novel makes ample use of its South Florida setting, which plays a key role in the story, but gets weighed down by local anecdotes; an early chapter, for example, relates the history of a century-old Key West bridge and its special type of steel, without clearly connecting it to the main plot. The author does skillfully stage action scenes, however, indicating the possibility of promising future novels.
A thriller that sometimes gets lost in its details.
In Sweetapple’s (Key West Revenge, 2012) thriller, a group of friends on a hunting trip discover that they’re the ones being targeted.
In 1985 Japan, U.S. Army Capt. Jim “Vette Head” Stillwater and his team are on an intelligence mission, pursuing members of a terrorist group in an effort to deter a possible attack on U.S. assets. Although they’re not fully convinced that there’s any real threat, they follow their orders to eliminate the terrorists. However, they learn later that their orders were based on a secret revenge plan and are told that if they ever set foot in Japan again, they’ll be arrested for murder. Disgusted, Jim resigns and joins the private sector. Fast-forward to 2005: Jim now works for a defense contractor and tries to convince his friend LP Thomas to join him on a New Hampshire hunting trip with some of his Army buddies. It turns out that LP, a fellow car fanatic, needs to pick up a transmission for his Corvette, and it happens to be on the way. However, the transmission is buried in the backyard of LP’s eccentric acquaintance. When the group instead unearths a cache of Nazi gold, all hell breaks loose. This thriller’s rambling and somewhat confusing storyline is full of action, but it’s a bit of a hodgepodge; halfway through the book, it’s still not clear whether the story is headed into spy-novel or military-thriller territory. Many of the characters are one-dimensional, and some verge on caricature, such as a cocaine-snorting biker and an overweight, lazy cop with a penchant for white supremacy. The overall premise has potential, and readers interested in the military will find that the author knows his stuff. However, some aspects of the novel are overexplained, such as the characters’ intricate knowledge of weapons and muscle cars, and these extraneous details detract from the novel’s action-packed climax.
A promising but unevenly executed thriller.