In this violent political thriller, Greer shows how history-altering events can have roots in the tiniest of details.
John Harris, a public defender and U.S. Army reservist in Houston, has settled into a pleasant, rewarding existence. Despite his crushing workload, he manages to spend time with his wife and daughter, take occasional hunting trips with friends and meet his duties in the Reserve. His life is happy until a paperwork foul-up wrongly puts him in the Internal Revenue Service’s cross hairs for back taxes he doesn’t owe. After a tempestuous confrontation with a minor bank official, Harris takes proper steps to clear up the error, but then the official shows up with two U.S. marshals in tow. The ensuing confrontation goes wrong in every way, leading to tragedy. Shadowy militia groups and mysterious government officials soon get involved and up the stakes, bringing threats of civil war and secession. The novel undergoes a change in tone from the personal to the political about halfway through, transforming it into a militaristic thriller in the vein of an early Tom Clancy, and as a result, some readers may feel shortchanged. While Harris does remain in the forefront, his close friends and family disappear or are relegated to minor supporting roles; even Harris takes a back seat during the battles that dominate the latter half. Although Greer deftly handles the plot mechanics and keeps the story accessible, the faster pace and emphasis on military hardware and tactics push dialogue and characterization aside. Characters and motivations that were murky in the first half don’t become any clearer, and after the excitement of the battles has passed, readers may find that some questions remain unanswered.
A well-paced and plotted novel that unfortunately strands its characters mid-narrative.