A Green Beret’s return to civilian life isn’t an easy transition, as a band of murderous drug suppliers hijacks his bus ride to Las Vegas in this energetic thriller.
Sgt. Kris Klug thinks his court-martial is a setup. During a mission in Iraq, he and his team are attacked by mercenaries from PeaceMaker Corporation, after which he inexplicably faces charges of, among other things, disobeying orders. Dishonorably discharged, Klug heads to Los Angeles, where Uncle Fred gives his nephew his trucking business and houses in Malibu and Vegas. Fred’s inching toward retirement, but unbeknownst to Klug, he’s also hoping to sell off his drug dealing business. Fred makes the sale but is double-crossed by the buyer, Bill Bradley, who steals his money back as well as a bag of cocaine. Now drug suppliers Fat Mike and El Chito want their cash and drugs, and they hijack a shuttle bus that they know Bradley and his wife, April, are riding in. Klug’s on the same bus, worried about Fred in Vegas. When it’s clear that the gang’s planning on murdering everyone and leaving them in the desert, Klug and the other passengers run, taking refuge in Fred’s nearby cabin. But Fat Mike and the rest are determined to find and kill them, if the desert heat doesn’t get the passengers first. Though the bulk of the story is a tense desert actioner, Biskeborn (A Sufi’s Ghost, 2013, etc.) sprinkles suspense throughout. Klug, for one, is twice attacked by (possibly) PeaceMaker mercenaries. This also cleverly ties into the main plot: Fat Mike, et al., contractors for PeaceMaker, contemplate a proffered contract to kill a Green Beret. Some of the story belongs to Fred, and it’s hard not to cheer him on as he and girlfriend Gina race to the airport to flee the country. Then again, Fred outclasses his appropriately vile associates, most notably cokehead Bradley. The desert sequences are exceptional: Klug’s group is in danger from both dehydration and armed killers, and the gang may be stashing the makings of a dirty bomb. The inner turmoil, too, augments the story; people suggest ditching April, who takes blame simply for being married to Bradley.
A stellar desert setting reinforces this entertaining tale in which a group of bus passengers struggles to survive.