As a fan of military fiction I have to admit that the genre is full of garbage: Boring Clancyesque white male protagonists fighting for god, mom, and apple pie. That's why "Hell and Gone" was so refreshing with its dirty dozen cast of real characters and real personalities.
On the surface the plot appears to be standard-issue for the genre, Islamic whack jobs with a suitcase nuke, but characters carry the story and the plot turns out to be anything but what we expect from "techno-thrillers" or "men's adventure." As a former soldier I was also impressed with the authors attention to detail and general accuracy in regards to weapons and tactics. Every time I thought he slipped up I was proven wrong with what was described a few lines later such as the security situation when the protagonist arrives at his safe house in Sudan. The only small correction I would make is a scene where the mercenaries are shooting 1000 meter targets with 5.56 ammunition. With a M12A2 it is difficult hitting a bulls eye at 500 meters never mind a 1000 but this was a small detail and didn't distract from the quality of the story.
I liked the descriptions of the mercenaries and found them accurate and true to life. This was particular true of some of the more unsavory characters who had a garrison mentality or bragged about ruining some lower enlisted kid's life. I've crossed paths with guy's like that to be sure. The disenfranchisement of some of the mercenaries also rang true, particularly Scarred Wolf's comment about officers viewing their soldiers as "assets at our disposal" rather then "warriors on our team." The protagonists comments about how shallow rich kids are exactly the type of fodder the military wants as officers was also dead on, thankfully a few good ones sneak through the cracks.
The author does wear some of his politics on his sleeve regarding US-Israeli relations but that is his prerogative and generally his political views are well spoken throughout the novel without bashing the reader over the head with them. The novel had a awesome climax with a number of different parties vying for control over the ultimate prize. Even the ending was cast against type...still I hope to see a sequel sometime in the future.
And the author said...
--What a pleasant surprise to see this review posted today. I thought I had made it pretty clear that only the M21 sniper rifles (7.62 NATO) were used on the 1,000 meter targets, but sometimes it is the author's fault when a reader misunderstands. I'll have to look it over again and decide if it needs different wording or something. But anyway, a nice review, and nice to hear from someone in my target audience.