Bang. A shoot'em-up novel contemporaneous with world politics.
Thomas Crocker is a red-blooded, patriotic warrior and leader of the fabled SEAL Team Six. His five team members cover the spectrum of American society, and all are tough, battle-hardened and ready for action at a moment’s notice. That notice begins in Bangkok as a young autistic boy is left an orphan when a bomb is attached to his parents’ car by a passing motorcycle rider. The attack is duplicated toward American targets in other foreign cities, and we are off on a global chase for the very bad guys. Mann and Pezzullo (Seal Team Six: Hunt the Scorpion, 2013, etc.) bring it on fast and heavy. They put the reader in the center of the action—the smells, sounds, savagery of war. (Note that author Mann is a former SEAL.) This war against terrorism targets an Iranian government–sanctioned cadre called Unit 5000 that intends to do serious damage on American soil. To stop them, Crocker and his SEALs work with the CIA and move quickly from Afghanistan to Thailand to Venezuela, ending in Ahvaz, Iran, running through the bad guys’ offices. The SEALs are efficient and deadly, scarred physically and mentally from their work. And it is work, plain and simple, for the warriors they are trained to be, leaving their families to fend for themselves within the secrecy each man must maintain. Mann and Pezzullo can write action and place, politics and patriotism, but the novel feels like it is stitched together, a travelogue of violence. The characters are not fully formed but remain snapshots of what we envision a Navy SEAL to be in the flesh. Retribution drives Crocker as much as duty and patriotic zeal, and when the good guys win, they end with a sentimental moment with the autistic orphan the book began with. Like a good SEAL mission, the circle is completed.
Action is the purpose here, and Mann and Pezzullo deliver. Those looking for something more could be dissatisfied.