A suspense yarn that pits a former military man against a nefarious band of lawless terrorists.
Sgt. John Bishop, a decorated 14-year Green Beret combat veteran, returns home from the Middle East hoping to resume the life that he’d left behind. That life includes his beautiful girlfriend, Maria, who’s been breathlessly anticipating his return. Hines ably fleshes out Bishop’s backstory, in which the protagonist grew up in a gangster family. Bishop was raised by his uncle Gonzalo Valdez, the leader of the largest organized crime syndicate in the New York City area, who’s becoming even more widely known, and feared, as the gang grows in prominence. It becomes clear that the city has changed a lot since the last time Bishop was there, but he’s still grateful to be home, and he’s hoping for a peaceful return to normalcy. However, he gets himself arrested, along with his cousin Felix, on his first night home, and he soon has his hands full with intrigue. While out celebrating his new engagement to Maria, Bishop’s “Spidey Sense” kicks in, and he uses his Green Beret training to single-handedly interrupt a terrorist suicide bombing, scheduled to detonate in Union Square in Manhattan. From this point on, the novel’s momentum picks up as Bishop is heralded for bravery by the national press. He also becomes a prime target for a “bloody public statement” by members of a Middle Eastern terrorist cell (including a leader based in Brooklyn) who are organizing themselves to carry out more attacks on American soil. Compounding the menace are entanglements involving a wealthy corrupt former politician and a long-forgotten crime.
This is a rollicking debut, the first book in a series. In it, Hines dexterously keeps each of his many plot elements moving along furiously as his protagonist, despite his ample physical strength and intelligence, finds himself overwhelmed by lethal threats. Eventually, Bishop recruits the assistance of Uncle Gonzalo and his well-organized family brigade of tough mobsters to help him drive the terrorists out and take them all down. Throughout the novel, the author clearly shows his penchant for nonstop action, and as a result, he never lets the hero rest easy: Later, there’s a ruthless hit man stalking Bishop and his family—one with a sharpshooter’s laserlike precision. Overall, this novel reveals itself to be a nuanced and impressively constructed debut. Hines shows himself to be masterful at pacing and plot progression as well as effective at supplying gritty characterization. Throughout this multilayered narrative, he particularly demonstrates a unique talent for realistic dialogue—often making use of a Goodfellas-style vernacular—which complements the story well as characters find themselves embroiled in a seemingly endless streak of deadly ordeals. Fans of suspense fiction will find much to appreciate here—particularly those who are unafraid of raw, bloody, ultraviolent sequences. It’s a provocative, densely plotted action tale even if it’s not for the squeamish.
A consistently thrilling opening installment featuring plenty of blood and bombs.