A fierce battle between Iranian mujahideen fighters and a U.S. military convoy sets the stage for Williams’ debut conspiracy thriller.
Steve Holmes is a former FBI agent and current executive for Kratos, a U.S. Department of Defense contractor named after the winged enforcer for the Greek god Zeus. After a firefight in Iran results in the deaths of 35 American soldiers on his watch, Holmes has questions: Where was the intel? Why didn’t they receive communications from anyone outside the convoy? He knows three things. First: “Our people died for no good reason today.” Second: “Something or someone caused that FUBAR mess.” And third: “I’ll find out who or what…if it’s the last thing I do.” Holmes’ investigation soon puts him at odds with his abusive, ethically challenged boss, who directs him to forge relationships with unreliable Middle Eastern partners, saying that “We can make billions.” But his main nemesis is Alex Shankle, a pro-war U.S. senator with an increasingly suspect agenda. Holmes finds an ally in FBI Special Agent Sherry Adkison, who’s every bit as stalwart as he is. They make a solid team, keeping their heads in a conspiracy plot that becomes increasingly unhinged. Williams, who has extensive experience working for military contractors, is on more solid ground writing about that industry’s workings. His profound respect for members of the military is palpable, as is his frustration with a system that sometimes fails to honor their hard work and sacrifice. At one point, for instance, he points out that injured and deceased contractors are denied the Purple Heart. A couple of key character arcs are anticlimactic, though, and Williams sometimes includes odd, gratuitous details (such as that Sen. Shankle enjoys “pancakes with real maple syrup and smoked sausage” during a meeting with his colleagues). The dialogue also tends toward B movie clichés (“The whole world will call me ‘Mr. President’ one day”).
Not an entirely successful mission, but one that may interest avid armchair warriors.