I have never liked war stories, except some about the War Between the States, but this one grabbed my interest from the moment I opened it.
|This reader-worn paperback, apparently left on my bus by a passenger, provided some excited reading of a type I wouldn't pick. Photo by Milt Gross.|
James W. Huston is a good writer, beginning with his reader grabber in the Prologue, "'What the hell was that?' Rawlings asked as he threw the stick of the F/A-18F Super Hornet to the left and pulled the jet around."
It is a war story that is so realistic and up-to-date, at times I forgot I wasn't reading a news story about Afghanistan. But it is a novel, and a good one.
Rawlings, a U.S. Navy pilot, and his partner are just about to return to their base after completing their assigned bombings for the night, when they are suddenly asked to make one more drop. The drop was supposed to target a secret meeting between top leaders of al Qaeda and the Taliban in a building just across the border in Pakistan.
After their bomb dropped, Rawlings turned their aircraft to head back to their ship.
"Dunk looked over his shoulder to watch the bomb hit. They were at 25,000 feet, but the target was in a high valley maybe fifteen thousand feet below them. He strained to keep looking between the tails, waiting for the impact, and suddenly saw the unmistakable flash and plumes of several missiles racing up at them.
"'Shit! Flares!' he yelled to Raw.
"'Flares! Break left! Come to idle! Missiles guiding on us!'"
Their plane was shot down, they were soon captured and found themselves on a jet, and then found themselves imprisoned in the Hague at the International Criminal Court.
Attorney Jack Caskey, a former Navy SEAL, is asked to defend them.
The story includes all the good stuff, suspense, romance, and an ending that, while not totally surprising, still held me spellbound.
The pilot and co-pilot were found guilty, of course, of a war crime they didn't commit, because they were not intending to kill any civilians. It turned out that the target building was also a refugee hospital. After being found guilty, a daring and very technical rescue brought them out of the court and on to a plane that flew them to safety.
I guessed generally how the tale would conclude, and it did as I had guessed. But the details were so technical and the pace so fast that it held me.
Unlike most books I "purchase for free" at our town's recycling center, this one is current, published in paperback in 2011 by St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
And I "purchased it for free" on my bus.
I never read war stories, but I read this one. I read it a few pages at a time on my bus, while waiting to start a run.
If I hadn't had to stop reading to start driving, I wouldn't have put it down.
No, that's not true, as there's no way I could have read a 546-page novel in one sitting.
But Huston's "Falcon Seven" made great reading.
It was published by St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010 as a hardcover in 2010 and as a paperback in 2011.
Huston wrote other books too, such as Marine One, Secret Justice, Flash Point, and four others.
I'll check the recycling center -- and my bus -- for any of them. Who knows, I might break down and buy one.
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2012
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