A political and military thriller that details the relationship between the global economy and the fallout of its wars, both figurative and real.
This exceptionally detailed, believable account of the Iraq War and its many corporate symbionts and leeches transverses the globe in the popular style of Clancy and his ilk. This novel, however, is written with a more critical gaze on the corporations and independent contractors that feed off global insecurity. Despite this view, it remains blessedly objective in its characterizations of the individuals who work within the economy and on the frontlines of 21st-century warfare. Risher has a keen eye for the cinematic and happily owes debts not just to his literary forbearers but to intense, personal war films like The Hurt Locker. The book’s opening sequence, with its sympathetic mother and baby turned martyr and improvised explosive device, is effective and chillingly rendered. The kaleidoscopic array of characters and actions—from hardnosed special-ops studs, to back-dealing manipulative fund managers, such as the not-so-subtly named Jake Gamble—is handled with grace and confidence. For example, a business decision in Venezuela leads to dead men and women thousands of miles away. While the book is solid topical thriller genre through-and-through, introducing no new character prototypes, the prose sets this story apart. Amid scenes of battle terror and corporate intrigue, Risher refuses to be anything but detailed and sometimes even florid in his writing, giving the world extra dimension. However, there are times when the reader is overloaded with detail, including when Jet Maier, an operative and resident badass, is overly sketched almost to the point of parody. Yet this is a rare misstep in an otherwise surefooted novel. By the time Gamble starts to navigate the labyrinth of consequence of which he has always been the overseer, a stunning metamorphosis of character from potential villain to sympathetic protagonist is achieved. Readers will expect Gamble to get a vicious comeuppance, but as in any good novel, his relationship to himself and his world changes as much as our relationship to him as a character. This seems to be the novel’s thesis—that it might not be too late for the world to change its ways.
A surprisingly complex novel with a simple, urgent message about corruption and redemption.