True Believer (James Reece #2), by Jack Carr

Eight stars

Jack Carr returns with another explosive military thriller that pulls on his years in the field, as well as the current geo-political situation. After a stunning cliffhanger, Carr pulls readers right back into the middle of the story and continues to spin treacherous webs. James Reece is likely the most wanted man in the entire world, especially after his actions to destroy those who had his family killed. Armed with a terminal brain tumour, he has little to lose, but hopes to stay alive long enough to ensure no one bearing responsibility is still breathing. For the meantime, Reece chooses life at sea, sailing from the East Coast of the United States to the Eastern portion of Africa. Completely off the radar, it is Reece and the open ocean, for who knows how long. While he is battling the waves, a terror cell strikes numerous locations across Europe, though there is no one who has yet claimed responsibility. Reece is completely unaware when he lands in Mozambique and takes up helping an old friend keep the local poachers at bay, at least until he is hunted down by one of the people in his former chain of command. Interesting revelations come to light and Reece is brought back into the fold, if only temporarily. Armed with amnesty and a mission to track down those in charge of the terror cell, Reece heads to a black-ops site to train before being thrust into the middle of a deadly firefight that could have international ramifications and leave an indelible mark on how terrorism is portrayed. With little to lose, Reece finds himself being stealthy and cut throat all at the same time, though it may not be enough. Carr does a masterful job at balancing truth and fiction here, taking the reader deep into covert operatives and leaving them just on this side of what can be revealed publicly. Recommended to those who enjoy military thrillers that leave a realistic film on the brain.

I had the debut novel recommended to me by a friend on Goodreads and I could not read it fast enough. While I struggled to get into the mindset of this piece, when I was able to shake off my inner issues, I was fast enveloped into the wonders of this novel. Carr offers a wonderful way of exploring covert operations without getting too hokey. It would seem apparently that Carr uses James Reece as his alter-ego, telling his own story through the protagonist. While Reece has nothing to live for, he pushes on and finds a new lease on life, starting with some work in rural Africa. However, you cannot expect a man with such a passion for covert missions to disappear from the lifestyle with ease, which is easy to see when Reece is asked to come back and fight another day. Still emotionally fragile, Reece has a lot more left inside him before he is ready to give up. Other characters enrich the story in numerous ways, throughout the various turns the narrative takes. Carr encapsulates the story with effective characters and puts them into a variety of situations, all of which are sure to complement whatever James Reece might be doing at that time. The story was quite strong and developed at a decent pace. Carr’s ability to take the reader on a journey is like few others, which is further enriched by the obvious limitations put on him by the Department of Defence in the United States, who redacted portions of the manuscript (and which Carr has shown were removed in the final product). This injection of additional realism does not go unnoticed throughout, balancing nicely between the long and short chapters to keep the breakneck pace of the story as things progress. Carr has earned the right to be called an author in the know and I can only hope that his future writing projects are just as strong.

Kudos, Mr. Carr, for a stellar piece. Mitch Rapp and Scot Harvath do not hold a candle to James Reece, though he might let them carry his gear into battle.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: