In the Blood: A Thriller
IT IS OFTEN SAID that you don’t hear the bullet that kills you, the idea being that the projectile is traveling faster than the speed of sound and therefore a well-placed head shot will put your target in the dirt before the vibrations of the bullet traveling through the atmosphere reach the tympanic membrane. Hence the devastating psychological impact and terror that can be achieved by a single sniper firing one shot and then disappearing into the bush. The enemy never knows when he might be in the crosshairs. He could be drawing breath, full of life, joking with a comrade one second, and gone the next, his soul snatched by an invisible demon behind the scope a mile away.
But this is more than a novel about snipers, more than a thriller about two men hunting each other across the globe. This is a novel of violent resolutions, but also one of forgiveness. At first glance those two themes might seem diametrically opposed, and you would be right. Often, dichotomies help us better understand ourselves and our impact on those around us. There is an advantage in eliminating a targeted individual on the battlefield and there is power in forgiveness. James Reece is a man struggling with those dichotomies.
By the time you read this, Navy SEAL Sniper James Reece may be on screens across the world, brought to life by Chris Pratt in the Amazon Prime Video series adaptation of The Terminal List. Why has this character resonated? My suspicion is that it’s because he is on a journey, as are we all. And, just like each of us, he strives to learn, to evolve, to apply the wisdom of his experiences to the decisions and the threats of tomorrow. Reece resonates because within each of us there is a warrior and a hunter. It is in our DNA, suppressed by “progress” perhaps, but there nonetheless. Our ancestors were skilled in both disciplines, or we would not be here today. They fought and killed to protect their families and tribes. They hunted to provide sustenance. In more recent times they fought and killed for freedom.
Some critics do not like James Reece. He makes them uncomfortable. I have found that most of those he triggers are the most disconnected from the land and the animals that inhabit it. Putting food on the table is the job of a farmer somewhere between New York and Los Angeles. Many don’t feel a responsibility to be prepared to protect their spouses and children when that primal task can be outsourced; just call 911. A moral vanity has trumped the obligation to protect their lives and the lives of those they love; that is the job of the police in a civilized society, after all. If that describes you, and you are picking this book up for the first time, perhaps you should put it down. You might not identify with, you might even despise, the protagonist in these pages. Self-reliant men, capable of extreme violence in defense of their lives, their families, and of freedom makes some people nervous.
I quote Robert E. Howard from The Tower of the Elephant in my third novel, Savage Son: “Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing.”
As a general thing…
I try to be thoughtful in all I do, whether it’s the prose in these pages, the research for the novels, a social media post, a question for a guest on my Danger Close Podcast, or an answer to an interview question. I feel an obligation to put the requisite time, energy, and effort into these endeavors, because you, the reader, have trusted me with your time—time you will never get back. I want my character to embody that quality as well. He is thoughtful yet deadly. He is a student of war and of the hunt. He is also searching, searching as we all are, for meaning, for purpose, for a mission. Will that mission always require the gun? Will Reece ever be able to stop killing for God and country? Will he become so disenfranchised by the political machine that he will lay down his weapons and retreat to the mountains of Montana?
In my previous book, The Devil’s Hand, I explored what the enemy has learned by watching the United States on the field of battle for the previous twenty years at war. I put myself in their shoes. That research led me to believe that if I was a state or non-state adversary, I might just observe for a while; we are doing a good job at tearing ourselves apart from the inside.
In the course of writing this book, I watched the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan in disbelief, although I should not have been surprised—our elected representatives, appointed bureaucrats, and senior level military leaders have a twenty-year track record of failure with almost zero accountability. They have failed up. Understanding the nature of the conflict in which you are committing or have committed military forces is an essential element of leadership. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “You know, farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” The same is true of warfare; it looks mighty easy when your rifle is a budget approval and you are six thousand miles from the battlefield.
These novels are also extremely therapeutic to write. Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran, along with terrorist organizations and super-empowered individuals, certainly give me a lot to work with, but so do those in what Eisenhower coined the “military industrial complex.” It is an ever-growing ecosystem of lobbyists, defense contractors, and flag-level military officers approving budgets in the Pentagon for the very companies they will advise as “members of the board” in retirement. Politicians and their relatives provide ample fodder as well, with elected officials who enter politics making between one hundred and two hundred thousand dollars a year, yet somehow amass wealth in the tens of millions over their tenure in government; aside from being humble public servants, apparently they are also astute investors. Politics is big business.
Is that a system worth serving? Is it one worth saving? Those are questions we must all ask and answer as citizens. As James Reece is pulled closer and closer to the heart of the American intelligence apparatus, they are ones he must ask and answer as well. What will be his answers? How much more power do we, the people, want to relinquish to what was intended to be a limited government? Our employees—elected representatives—rule by the “consent of the governed.” Those in positions of power would be wise to remember that as military and intelligence budgets inch closer to a trillion dollars a year, those investments resulted in two wars lost to insurgents wielding AKs and homemade IEDs working from caves and mud-walled compounds. Today, half the military budget and seventy percent of the intelligence budget goes to contractors. As a wise Marine Corps major general and Medal of Honor recipient once said, “War is a racket.”
James Reece has been a part of that system. He was betrayed by it just as were those who stepped up in service to the nation following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Read The Afghanistan Papers by Craig Whitlock for documentation. Reece has also been on the other side, becoming the terrorist, the insurgent, bringing the war home to the front doors of those whose decisions have sent young men and women to their deaths for two decades. Is James Reece now an instrument of those same political elites?
Before he can come to terms with questions of service, sacrifice, and the direction of his future path, Reece has business to attend to. He requires the resources of the very system he despises to put him in position; to get his crosshairs on a sniper, a sniper who is at this very moment also hunting him.
Which brings me back to the bullet that kills you. When it comes to the long-range dance of death, the victor may not always be the shooter most well-versed in the art and science of long-distance engagements. It’s a thinking man’s game. When two of the most lethal snipers on the planet face off, what will be the differentiator? When given the choice between answers or blood, what will James Reece choose? Turn the page to find out.
February 16, 2022
Park City, Utah
|Download Ebook||Read Now||File Type||Upload Date|
|Epub, PDF||May 18, 2022|
Do you like this book? Please share with your friends, let's read it !! :)