A debut thriller tells the story of a veteran haunted by his past who attempts to foil an extremist plot.
A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Jim “Night Bear” Kotah prefers to keep to himself as he attempts to reconcile the traumas of his past. “Sometimes I don’t want the ghosts to leave me, not ever,” he says of the people he lost in the wars. “But they won’t let me rest. I just need to give it a rest and get on with my life.” Bear has been largely absent from the buffalo spread run by his Comanche relatives in southwest Oklahoma, but when neighboring rancher Ramiro Jenkins goes back on an agreement to lease the Kotahs’ land, Bear’s cousin comes to ask for the soldier’s assistance. Bear is reluctant to intervene—an old ranch-related romantic wound exists for him beside his psychological ones—but when one of his cousins is killed mysteriously on Jenkins’ land, Bear feels compelled to investigate. What he uncovers goes much deeper than a mere family feud: Jenkins is the ringleader of a gang of Latin American malcontents bent on seeking revenge for America’s imperialist sins. Allying themselves with other world forces that wish to harm the U.S., Jenkins and his crew concoct a plan involving small ships and high-tech mortars striking petrochemical complexes in Galveston Bay. Bear will do all he can to prevent the attack, but first he must find a way to quiet the ghosts of his past. Gibson, a talented storyteller, spins his tale with a level of assurance that keeps the reader with him. While many of the characters and plot points question the limits of credulity, the author executes them in a way that mostly keeps the doubts at bay. Both Bear and his antagonist, Jenkins, make for unusually compelling versions of genre archetypes, and while Gibson mostly retreads familiar territory, there is enough here to make the novel a memorable one. Perhaps more important, there is enough to breed interest in further Bear Kotah adventures.
A rousing, if sometimes unlikely, tale of terrorism and trauma.