CLEAR BY FIRE by Joshua Hood


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In Hood’s debut action adventure, it’s tough to cheer for a hard-case hero who tortures with gasoline and a Zippo, but then special-ops warrior Mason Kane had good reason.

Before he flicked the lighter, Kane knew Decklin wanted him dead. Both were members of the off-the-books Anvil Program, doing dirty jobs in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Middle East hot spots. Then Anvil’s leader, Col. Barnes, wiped out an innocent Afghan family that refused to give him information about a Taliban network. Kane didn’t participate; Barnes despised his disloyalty. Later, during a Libyan Anvil mission, Barnes ordered Decklin to kill Kane. Kane escaped, allowing Barnes to blame the newly discovered Afghan massacre on him, turning Kane into a shoot-on-sight fugitive. Kane’s going rogue also meant distraction from another plan by Barnes’ boss, the president’s national security adviser, Cage. That’s Operation Lion, a nerve gas attack in Damascus to inflame tensions and draw America into an all-out war. The book’s all action and ambush, with Kane fighting in streets, casbahs, and secret unidentified CIA bases from North Africa to Afghanistan. Character development is the first casualty. Kane’s a can’t-be-killed soldier equipped with the standard ex-wife who couldn’t stand the strain. His closest friend is Zeus, a Libyan operative, but any cinematic-style buddy-buddy banter falls flat. Then there’s the meet-not-so-cute between Renee and Kane. Renee’s a pretty (and deadly) woman–turned–special-operator leader of Task Force 111, "the tip of the spear when it came to tracking high-value targets." Renee has Kane speculating maybe "both had found something in each other they had been missing."

Hood has the foundation for an action-adventure series, with a shoot-first hero in the style of Child's Jack Reacher, Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger, or DeMille's John Corey.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5011-0571-5
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2015


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