A year ago, a team of Navy SEALs impressed the world by killing Osama bin Laden. In this book, the SEALs go a few steps further by capturing a leading terrorist, breaking up a sex-trafficking ring and scaling K2 for good measure; all in a few days with little apparent food or sleep.
Far-fetched but fast-moving, former SEAL commando Mann’s debut novel is essentially a series of action scenes strung together. A car bomb devastates a U.S. embassy in Morocco during the prologue, a young woman is abducted two chapters later, and it doesn’t take long for the plot to tie those two events together (though we barely hear from the woman again, after one chapter from her perspective). Because the book quickly establishes that the SEALs are pretty much invincible and that freedom and justice sure beat the alternative, there’s never much suspense about how things will turn out. Co-writer Pezzullo (Jawbreaker, 2005, etc.) is probably responsible for fleshing out the character details—Chief Warrant Officer Tom Crocker is a music fan who hums Sonny Rollins and Bill Withers songs to himself, a nice touch—but even he can’t keep the terrorists from uttering stock terrorist lines (“You’re an infidel! What do you know of Allah?”) at crucial moments. The K2 side trip, which introduces a strong if short-lived female character and is full of gritty details about mountain terrain and hypothermia, is by far the most exciting section, though it has little bearing on the main plot. There’s also a bureaucratic supervisor who frustrates Crocker’s efforts at every turn, an action plot device that’s been familiar since James Bond was in diapers. The finale is a seaboard showdown complete with explosions and knife fights.
SEAL aficionados and action addicts will find a couple engaging hours of reading here; everyone else can wait for the inevitable movie.