Posted August 9, 2016
- A Book Review-
Joshua Hood Produces a Page Turner Military Spy Thriller
By Arelya J. Mitchell, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief
The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway
What John Grisham did for lawyers and corporate espionage intrigue in his novels, Joshua Hood might very well do for military/spy and political espionage in his. Hood’s latest book “Warning Order” (Publisher: Touchstone) takes you on the combat field – or rather I should say ‘fields’ because Hood’s characters occupy several battle fronts entrenched inside a sophisticated but deadly spy operation which can go as far up as the politicos operating inside the sainted enclaves of Washington, D.C.
The mystery of who is doing what keeps you turning that next page.
What I respect about Hood is his ability to take readers onto the battlefield where they experience the horrors of war. The guy got this down.
But there is reason why Hood’s descriptions come off as being more than words on a page. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was a paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne. This war hero was decorated for valor for his leadership in Operation Furious Pursuit, a battle which became the subject of James Dietz’s portrait, “Into the Heart of Darkness”.
So, you see Hood is a military celeb by his own accomplishments. In his bio, one also gets his political curve which meshes into today’s dialogue on America’s Middle East involvement stymied perhaps by political correctness. I suspect Hood’s main protagonist Mason Kane has a lot of the author in him and that’s why it’s intriguing, because Hood has an ability to bring out the rawness in his Kane character and his other characters as they become embroiled and boiled in a military and political mess which Hood ties together to the reader’s satisfaction.
Mason Kane is a soldier operating off the grid and feels himself justified in doing so, because the powers-that-be have pushed him off the grid. They didn’t have reason to do it – or do they? Kane is a black ops specialist and that fits him well for surviving bullets and the Benedict Arnolds inside the military and in the government.
The government has blacklisted Kane, but that doesn’t stop him from being patriotic in his rebellion. Mason Kane has a conscience which kicks in a guilt that he was helpless when he could not save several of his fellow soldiers. But Kane also has the ability to compartmentalize his guilt and war mentality to do what has to be done—and most of the time that means being a killing machine.
The following description describes Kane in a nutshell: “Mason stepped forward, clearing his mind, and carefully set his right foot between the jagged pieces of concrete littering the tight side street. He could feel the blood pounding in his ears, amplifying every step he took. Then the target moved.”
His friend and sidekick is the Libyan, Zeus—if you want to use the word sidekick, because if Hood ever decides to, he can go deeper in exploring this character and not make him a ‘sidekick’. He’s put enough meat on Zeus to pull him into a more substantial character. I would like to see him do this in any follow up book of this series, which is the second installment of Hood’s “Search and Destroy” series.
Among the other main protagonists in this puzzle of putting the pieces in place in this military spy novel are: Renee Hart, the only female of a special ops team who has to deal with harassment because of her combat role; Sergeant First Class Jake “Warchild” Carson who is Renee’s harasser and thinks it despicable for a woman to serve in a combat role; Secretary of Defense Winfield “Duke” Cage; and the spineless President Bradley who resembled “a young Robert Redford, and like the actor, he was usually very laid back.” These are just a few of the puzzle pushers in this drama.
To reiterate, the character of Warchild depicts the ultimate ‘male chauvinist pig’ in that he wants no females in combat with him. The banter between him and Renee Hart is both amusing and disturbing, but this female combatant can take care of herself: “She turned on Warchild like a wild animal, her fists flying…”
Renee Hart—yeah—is the romantic angle in the novel, but still not so much so. Hood does this backdrop of her which pretty much suffices for the entire novel where a Hart-Kane relationship could have gone: “Back then Renee’s job had been to find, fix, and finish suspected terrorist cells before they were able to strike. Her extensive knowledge of the different terror networks had made her a valuable commodity. But everything changed the day she met Mason.”
Hood also explores that human emotion of revenge as an impetus to keep war going—even in modern times when war should be about treaty breaking, national interests along with all that other good stuff which defines national defense and saving face.
Revenge is explored as a motive for Cage’s reason to keep the war going:
Hood writes: “Simmons had been there when Cage found out that his son had been killed in Iraq. Cage’s wife was sick when their son was killed, and she’d lost her will to fight after he was put in the ground. It was many years ago, but Simmons knew the pain was still there. He wondered if that’s what all of this was about, avenging the death of his family, no matter the cost.”
Even Kane himself has a revenge motive as he hunts down Abu al Qatar, the head honcho terrorist (and ‘head’ can be used literally here, seeing that this character doesn’t mind be-heading his enemies or anyone else who gets in his way). Abu al Qatar is out for personal revenge as well.
If you’re looking for a politically correct military book, this is not it. Thank heavens! Dialogue is just as harsh as the characters. There are multi-missions going on in “Warning Order” and multi-revenge motives as well. Bringing all these multi-angles could have slowed the novel into a quagmire, but it didn’t. Hood’s style continues at raw fast pace putting blood ‘n guts on the pages as he takes you into the world of Black Ops and official bull where the language is technical and profane. Characters get the point of saying what they mean and don’t give a damn that they do. They will do anything and everything to get the job done.
And Joshua Hood gets the job done in “Warning Order”.