In Sweetapple’s (Key West Revenge, 2012) thriller, a group of friends on a hunting trip discover that they’re the ones being targeted.
In 1985 Japan, U.S. Army Capt. Jim “Vette Head” Stillwater and his team are on an intelligence mission, pursuing members of a terrorist group in an effort to deter a possible attack on U.S. assets. Although they’re not fully convinced that there’s any real threat, they follow their orders to eliminate the terrorists. However, they learn later that their orders were based on a secret revenge plan and are told that if they ever set foot in Japan again, they’ll be arrested for murder. Disgusted, Jim resigns and joins the private sector. Fast-forward to 2005: Jim now works for a defense contractor and tries to convince his friend LP Thomas to join him on a New Hampshire hunting trip with some of his Army buddies. It turns out that LP, a fellow car fanatic, needs to pick up a transmission for his Corvette, and it happens to be on the way. However, the transmission is buried in the backyard of LP’s eccentric acquaintance. When the group instead unearths a cache of Nazi gold, all hell breaks loose. This thriller’s rambling and somewhat confusing storyline is full of action, but it’s a bit of a hodgepodge; halfway through the book, it’s still not clear whether the story is headed into spy-novel or military-thriller territory. Many of the characters are one-dimensional, and some verge on caricature, such as a cocaine-snorting biker and an overweight, lazy cop with a penchant for white supremacy. The overall premise has potential, and readers interested in the military will find that the author knows his stuff. However, some aspects of the novel are overexplained, such as the characters’ intricate knowledge of weapons and muscle cars, and these extraneous details detract from the novel’s action-packed climax.
A promising but unevenly executed thriller.