Monday, March 7, 2016

A Mystery in a Combat Unit in a Dangerous Outpost in Afghanistan

Lieutenant Black hates his desk job in an outpost in Afghanistan. He's so dissatisfied he's ready to get out of the Army. Then he gets, what seems him, the ultimate insult. He's sent to the farthest outpost to investigate what appears to be a minor incident. Some soldiers fired a warning shot that led to confrontation with the villagers.

When Black arrives, he realizes that his is no easy mission. The soldiers stationed in the outpost won't talk to him about the incident. He wants to get his job done and get out, but the more he investigates the more he realizes that something more than a minor confrontation is going on. He's being fed lies. He senses it, but uncovering the truth can have serious consequences even putting the the existence of the outpost at risk.

On the positive side, this book is filled with memorable characters from Lieutenant Black to the Sergeants like Merick and Caine and the villagers. The setting is well described. You actually feel like you're in Afghanistan. The military operations all have the ring of reality although I'm not an expert.

On the negative side, the plot is so convoluted that it's hard to follow. You do get a wrap-up at the end, but personally, I prefer a plot where I can see the twists leading somewhere.

It's a good war novel that gives you an appreciation of what it's like to serve in a country like Afghanistan. There are exciting battle scenes, and the Army dialog seems realistic. However, I felt the mystery was strained and interspersing Black's stream of consciousness with the narration was confusing.

I received this novel from Dutton for this review.