In Michael’s sci-fi debut, a sniper must deal with his feelings and his family as a North American superstate takes over.
In 2051, in Chicago, a father and son are taking in a ballgame when a bomb destroys the whole ballpark. Then, in 2076, in Mexico City, Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Jackson takes time off from training snipers to protect the presidents of Mexico and the North American Union. The NAU is the new country that was formed by the United States and Canada in the wake of the 2051 terrorist bombings. Michael devotes several pages to Jackson’s thinking about this history, including the revitalization of Detroit and its reduction in unemployment. Readers will notice that, although this takes place 60 years in the future, the concerns and references are contemporary, including the mid-2010s collapse of Greece’s economy, the danger of Mexican cartels, the fight against Islamist fundamentalist terrorists, and others. Jackson also comes off at first like a larger-than-life figure: one of the best snipers in the world, with “muscles rippling under every surface of skin.” However, he becomes more sympathetic as he worries over doing the right things by his men, his wife and daughters, and his country. Unfortunately for him, the NAU—and a new state formed by the inclusion of Mexico—no longer holds to the U.S. Constitution or to citizens’ rights; dissidents disappear without trial; and newspaper editorials discuss the need to appoint rather than elect a president. What’s interesting here is that Jackson isn’t conspiracy-minded or even curious, and it’s only a bit of heavy-handed eavesdropping at the end that clues him in to the government’s obvious wrongdoing. In other words, despite his sniper skills and muscles, he’s just a guy trying to do his job and take care of his family. Most of the suspense that the author generates in this book comes from Jackson’s struggles to do everyday things rather than from larger political issues.
Readers will find an engaging family drama underneath this futuristic political thriller.