Sunday, December 27, 2015

Brief Mention: John Gilstrap, AGAINST ALL ENEMIES (Jonathan Grave Thriller #7)

The "high stakes" holidays of the year have rolled past, and we're ready to get a little giddy at New Year's. It's all good.

Still, there's nothing like a fast-paced thriller for distraction during the intense and sometimes emotional holiday season. My choice this December was the paperback original of AGAINST ALL ENEMIES by DC-area author John Gilstrap. This seventh in the Jonathan Grave series is full of the quickly planned, gun-toting interventions "on the side of the angels" that make it such fun to follow along with wealthy independent operative Jonathan Grave and his ever-present sidekick Boxers, aka the Big Guy.

This time Grave and Boxers accept a paramilitary op assignment that can't be official, since it's on American soil. (Usually their rescues of "precious cargo" -- kidnap victims -- have taken them elsewhere, at least for the bloody parts.) They're intervening to stop some very dirty politics, maybe even treason.

But what makes a Gilstrap thriller stand out is the interactions of the team -- Jonathan's mingled determination and regrets, the unpredictable soft side of the Big Guy, and a handful of women, this time particularly their new associate Jolaine, with flashes of others who'll be familiar to readers of the series: Wolverine and, of course, Venice (pronounced Ven-EE-chay), whose hi-tech espionage powers the team's adaptability.

In AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, Gilstrap also probes the mixed motivations of people jumping into terrorist-type group actions. If he's on target, we need to be working a lot harder at making the lives of pre-kindergarteners work out better. Oops, sorry, didn't mean to distract from the Special Ops mood, but even Jonathan Graves spends a big chunk of money and time on taking care of vulnerable kids. Did I mention guilt and remorse? Yeah.

It's a rattling good read. If you like action thrillers, and haven't yet tapped into Gilstrap, now's a good time. You don't need to read the other six first, although some go deeper into the emotions than this one, and the whole set is a pleasure. Glad to see Pinnacle Books backing this series (and congrats to the author, who announced at the start of the year that he was leaving his Day Job at last).

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