Joining the trend of blending a soupçon of fantasy into the action-adventure genre, Van Lustbader (The Bourne Ascendency, 2014, etc.) adds a Louisiana Santeria priest as a role player in a conspiracy against the "blackest of black ops" units, the Red Rover team.
Red Rover is the go-to gang for King Cutler’s Universal Security Associates, a private defense contractor. Greg Whitman is the top gun, and he leads the three-man Red Rover fire-team into Pakistan to find Seiran el-Habib, the bad guy du jour. It’s a trap. One team member dies; Felix Orteño is wounded. Universal Security works mostly for the National Security Agency, which is ripe with internal conflict, most of which originates from Luther St. Vincent, chief of NSA’s Directorate N. St. Vincent also runs the off-the-books Mobius Project, an experimental effort to chemically create "weaponized warriors." With administrative assistants bed-hopping and Whitman relying on a nude pole dancer for friendship, it’s no surprise that both Whitman and St. Vincent are connected to an ageless bayou conjuror named Preach Desmortiers, whose familiar is a crow. These characters collide in a narrative with enough threads to knit a camouflage uniform, especially after Whitman rebuilds Red Rover by adding Charlie Daou, an expert armorer who’s also Whitman’s estranged longtime girlfriend. It doesn’t help that Orteño’s manipulated when St. Vincent rescues his drug-addicted sister. Yes, she too is connected to Preacher. Van Lustbader further complicates this smorgasbord of intrigue and conspiracies, hubris and action by bringing in Illuminati-like behind-the-scenes manipulators called the Alchemists and much Sturm und Drang about the Well, a peculiar place for rendition or disposal of superbad guys.
If Van Lustbader intends for Whitman and Red Rover to be serial players, he should avoid the fog of war and offer more focused narratives.