Hollywood screenwriter Rich’s debut novel follows the adventures of a Marine poster boy, Lt. Roland Waters.
Son of a con man who taught him to lie, steal and cheat, Rollie joined the Corps, found a home, toured Iraq and Afghanistan and made it through officer’s candidate school. Given his natural flair for languages, Rollie was assigned undercover in Afghanistan to stop black-market weapons thefts. The Afghan action alternates with the primary narrative and injects essential back story. Recalled to Camp Pendleton when his undercover connection is killed, Rollie learns he’s being tailed, but no one takes his worries seriously. Rollie’s also a rogue general’s target, because the general’s incompetent son was ensnared in the weapons-theft sting. Rollie soon learns he’s being followed because the feds are tracing military caskets full of money, $25 million in each, stolen by a corrupt colonel from Saddam Hussein’s larder during Iraq’s liberation. With Rollie's father, Dan, in Iraq when the money disappeared, a treasury agent confronts Rollie with the suspicion the missing millions might be connected to Dan, “a con artist…a wise man who wasted his wisdom foolishly.” Now word is circulating that Dan dug up one casket from a veteran’s gravesite, and with Dan nowhere to be found, good guys and bad suspect devious Dan has the millions, and they want Rollie to find him. In a realistic story with an attention-grabbing premise, Dan becomes an entertaining character, while a measure of narrative depth comes from Rollie’s growing rapprochement with all that was gained and lost in being Dan’s son. Rich’s screenwriting skills send Rollie adventuring across the American Southwest, all while being pursued by killers, moles and spies. Although Rich displays a nice touch for descriptive phrasing—“a slurry of chain stores”—it’ll be readers with a taste for Bourne-level action who will be eager for Rollie’s next adventure.
An easy-to-root-for hero in a fast-paced thriller makes for entertaining reading.