The U.S. president’s newly formed anti-terrorist group pits former Navy SEALs against South American cartels and assassins in Bunting’s (Maiyun, 2016, etc.) latest thriller.
Having thwarted an al-Qaida plot,
Lt. Cmdr. Erin Ryan and Lt. Kevin Bond are primed to be recipients of the
Presidential Award for Excellence. But shockingly, the men are no-shows
at the ceremony. The public is incensed by the apparent snub, but it turns out
that their absence is because they’ve accepted the president’s offer to do some
clandestine work for the White House. They become field operatives for the
Department of Security, Analysis, and Logistics, with a man named Nigel
Hamilton as director and Erin’s military dog, Striker, as the fourth member.
DSEAL’s first assignment is to disrupt one of the Cali drug cartel’s operations
in Colombia enough to upset the whole enterprise and catch local authorities’
attention. In the jungle, Erin and Kevin meet an unexpected ally: 14-year-old
Sasha Carr, who was abducted more than two years ago but escaped her captors.
The teenager points the SEALs to cocaine laboratories, and it turns out that
she has a genius-level IQ and is highly adept at using a blowgun, her weapon of
choice. She opts to stay with her new pals as DSEAL targets additional cartels
and tries to prevent a possible attack on the president of the United States.
This second novel featuring Erin and Kevin features wall-to-wall action but
also a more personal touch. This time around, the protagonists forgo their SEAL
handles (“Scratch” and “Roach,” respectively) in favor of civilian names, even
during missions. They’re more like buddies than fellow soldiers, and this
impression is furthered by the appearance of Sasha, who serves as a surrogate
for a girl that Erin once lost. Their work’s not quite as covert as the
president initially suggests; for example, they always have their DSEAL
identification handy. But they’re unquestionably surrounded by peril, not only
from terrorists and snipers’ bullets, but also boa constrictors and army ants
in the jungle. The teen and the canine nearly outshine the leads: Sasha excels
at strategy, much like a general, and Striker parachuting with Erin makes for
an irresistible image.
An adventure featuring able characters immersed
in full-tilt action, with an open ending that promises even more.