The Devil’s Hand (Terminal List #4), by Jack Carr

Nine stars

Jack Carr has developed a series that mixes captivating political intrigue with personal experiences working on the dark side of American covert missions. These novels not only force the reader to think about what’s going on around them, but also provides an exhilarating mission to keep the country safe from powerful enemies. While it has been two decades since the largest act of terror on US soil, few have forgotten. Some within the Administration want to ensure those responsible pay the ultimate price, feeling that the core planning group remains at large. A new threat is being developed, one that could cripple America once again. Will the country be ready and react, or remain hopeless once again? Carr proves that he’s one of the strongest writers in the genre.

After the attacks on September 11, 2001, America smouldered, but would not succumb. Twenty years of reflection and war on the enemy, showing their might, but also a means by which they plan, execute, and progress on the battlefield. This has not gone unnoticed by those who helped plan the previous attack, and it is high time for a new strike, one that no one will (again) see coming.

While the US has been trying to make sense of what happened those years ago, a new president emerges, with hopes of helping to heal and reset the direction into the future. However, he has ties of his own to September 11th and wants to take one more form of action before closing the book on this part of US history. James Reece, former Navy SEAL, is summoned to meet with POTUS and play a key role in eradicating a handful of men on US soil who plotted the attacks, but remained in the shadows.

While Reece is working to help his Commander-in-Chief, there are those within the US who see Reece as a loose cannon that mist be stopped,. Violating many of the rules and laws of American espionage, there are some who will do whatever they can to see Reece brought to justice for his actions and possibly neutralised. Still, it will take more than tattling to get it done effectively.

All the while, a diplomatic pouch makes its way into the United States and ends up in the hands of a young man. What’s inside will surely prove deadly if it falls into the wrong hands. A bioweapon that few knew existed could be unleashed with devastating effect and send America into a state of panic once more. Carr delivers a story that could so readily happen, making it all the more impactful.

While I enjoy counter-terrorism and espionage stories, they can sometimes be far-fetched or a tad over the top. In all four novels that Jack Carr has penned, none of them have been implausible, which makes the writing all the more worthy of notice. The ideas are strong, easily relatable, and full of action, forcing the reader to wonder ‘what if’ and ‘when’, rather than rest peacefully, knowing it is all guaranteed fiction.

James Reece is a wonderful protagonist in this piece, offering up some stellar one liners when the time is right. His backstory is less prominent in the novel, though there are still some flashbacks to substantiate what he is doing. His grit and determination are like no other and left me eager to see what he would do next. He is job-focussed, but shows a slight vulnerability when needed, adding depth to his character at the right time.

Carr writes in such a way that the reader cannot tell where the fiction ends and reality begins. Not only is this the sign of a great writer, but there is an disturbing sense of what might be intermingled with plot lines that add to their story. The narrative inched its way forward effectively, never giving the reader a reprieve from the action. The plot evolved well and seemed to take on a life of its own at just the right time. Mixing politics with espionage, Carr keeps the reader on their toes and wondering how to handle what’s been put before them. While not my usual reading fare, I could not put it down and am pleased that I took the time to read the latest in this series. Jack Carr is at the top of his game and others within the genre ought to take notice.

Kudos, Mr. Carr, for another winner. Keep it up and you will surely have many more fans admitting your work.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Savage Son (James Reece #3), by Jack Carr

Eight stars

Jack Carr returns with his third instalment in the James Reece series, which has just as much action as the previous novels. While he coalesces after brain surgery, James Reece has plans to rest up in a Montana cabin. On the other side of the world, Oliver Gray, who was responsible for killing Reece’s father, has his targets set on finishing the job, knowing that it will be a case of strike before being targeted by Reece himself. Gray works with members of the Russian Bratva to secure the attack, one that will require stealth, as Reece was once a SEAL and now has been working for the CIA. When Reece and his new belle settle in the cabin, a strike team inches forward. No one could have predicted that Reece’s long-time friend and fellow SEAL, Rafe Hastings, will also be in the area. After the strike goes awry, Reece knows that he is in big trouble and will not be able to hide for much longer. Even worse, the Russians are able to nab Hastings’ little sister in Europe, only adding pressure to an already jarring situation. It will not be enough that Reece knows the Russians are after him. He must annihilate them and find Gray for a final standoff, while a man who hunts humans for fun arrives to play a little game. A well-paced novel that is full of plot twists and wonderful storytelling. Recommended to those who love a good thriller, as well as the reader who finds an interest in military-type novels, full of gun technology and scouting tactics.

I stumbled upon the first book in this series after a friend recommended it to me. While I am not as keen on military thrillers, I do love the espionage stories that Carr has been able to create. James Reece is an interesting character who continues to grow before the reader’s eyes. Now on the defensive, after a few novels where he was hunting his enemies, Reece must show how sharp he can be without being prepared with everything he might need. He appears to have moved on from the murder of his wife and unborn child, letting the walls down so that he can be happy. There is no lack of action when it comes to Reece or those around him. Other characters do a wonderful job of complementing the protagonist and adding their own added flavour to an action-filled read. The numerous plot lines kept the story interesting and the perspectives of all the characters did well to keep the story on point. The novel itself was quite well paced, even as the reader must leap over some of the redaction pits placed throughout by the US Department of Defence. Carr knows his stuff and does not write in too inflated a manner, but is able to get to the root of the plot without issue and keeps the reader right there with them. Full of military and gun talk, this helps to add depth to the plot rather than lose the reader from the get-go. Carr brings his experiences to the entire novel and the read can bask in the attention to detail. The mix of chapter lengths pull the reader in and sustain their interest in equal measure. There’s little time to catch one’s breath, as the story is so full of action and locales that it will be a fast ride throughout. I hope to see more from Carr, as there always seems to be a thread that is left hanging for Reece to tug upon.

Kudos, Mr. Carr, for another winner. I hope others find your series and enjoy it as much as I have been to this point.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

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: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Terminal List (James Reece #1), by Jack Carr

Eight stars

Having agreed to read this book on the recommendation of a friend, I was unsure what to expect from Jack Carr. Using elements of his past work experiences in the military, Carr creates and develops a wonderful character in James Reece, adding a thrilling adventure to propel the reader into the middle of something quite memorable. While serving as a Navy SEAL, James Reece watches much of his team die in an ambush ordered by a ruthless imam. Able to escape, Reece’s orders to return stateside cannot come soon enough. Before he is shipped back, an army doctor notices a tumour in his brain, something about which Reece is completely baffled. Landing in Southern California, Reece puts the idea of the tumour out of his mind, wanting to see his family before anything else. Arriving home to a ‘break-in gone wrong’ leaves his wife and young daughter dead, devastating Reece. With little left to do, he reports to his commanding officer and discovers that he is being blamed for the ambush. Meanwhile, those in the highest levels of the US Administration have been trying to keep some of their most covert plans under wraps, but Reece knows too much and must be eliminated. When Reece partners up with a keen investigative journalist, they soon discover an experimental medical program being tested on SEALs, something that creates a great deal of animosity and is the likely cause of the tumour. Add to that the murder of Reece’s family, and this SEAL is ready to eliminate all those who have used and abused him. Reece creates a payback list, vowing to hunt down everyone with a connection to destroying his life. Dodging the law and those contracted to hunt him, Reece is fuelled by passion and determination, using his past training and covert measures to bring some semblance of order to his life. A wonderful debut thriller, Carr pulls the reader into the middle of this story and does not let up. Recommended to those who enjoy military thrillers with a strong protagonist.

While I have an eclectic taste when it comes to books, I thoroughly enjoy novels that are well-written and filled with detail. Jack Carr uses much of his military background to develop a story that is both believable and full of nuances that allows the reader to feel in the middle of the action. Carr admits in the introduction that he has used much of his past to shape both the story and his protagonist, James Reece, but that he has freely used some literary freedoms, as well as the redaction requirements of the Department of Defence. Reece proves to be quite the character, who is a mix of military hero and scorned man who has seen much of his life come apart at the seams. His training makes Reece a man not to be messed with, though when his emotions cloud his mind, one can never know what will transpire. Reece pushes through all his adversity and focuses much of his attention on retribution, which becomes the central tenet of the novel. Other characters offer interesting flavours to the narrative, both military and civilian individuals. Carr utilises these characters well and thickens the plot throughout, keeping the reader enthralled. The story may not be entirely unique in its plot, but Carr does well in keeping the tale believable and full of intrigue. From the military parlance through to the grit of a man wanting justice, the novel takes the reader on a mission with only one goal, revenge. Gritty and emotional in parts, Jack Carr delivers a debut novel not soon to be forgotten.

Kudos, Mr. Carr, for an entertaining opening novel in this series. You have a wonderful way with words that is sure to keep the reader hooked.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons