Series: SEAL Team Six #5
Publishing Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Edition: hardcover (I got a digital ARC via Netgalley.com)
Genre: Military, Thriller
After a meeting with a CIA source in Istanbul ends in tragedy, SEAL Team Six Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Crocker vows revenge. He suspects the men who attacked him and his contact are involved in the the latest and most harrowing scheme SEAL Team Six is charged with preventing, in a region that grows more volatile by the day.Syria's government is unraveling, with the alliances among rebel groups increasingly complex and ISIS dangerously in the mix. Farid al-Kazaz, aka the Fox, leads the most threatening of the ISIS factions. The Fox believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered the murder of the Fox's brother and is planning a sarin gas attack that would wreak havoc across not just Syria, but the entire Middle East. It's up to Crocker and the rest of SEAL Team Six to stop a ruthless killer and keep an explosive plan from detonating.
The SEAL Team Six series has been hailed by special forces veterans and members of the intelligence community as a fascinating, behind-closed-doors look at the real-life heroism of our country's bravest soldiers. Now, Mann and Pezzullo use their experience and insight to tell the story of a terrifying plot ripped straight from the headlines.
The SEAL Team Six are called to extract canisters of WMDs (weapons of mass destruction) from a Syrian air base as surrounding forces fight each other for the control over Syria. Rebel groups are rallying with different factions forming alliances—there's the armed resistance of FSA (Free Syrian Army) and ISIS on the sides against the dictatorial administration of the Syrian leader, Assad with his elite forces. The clock is ticking and it is up to Captain Thomas Crocker and his team to secure the canisters of sarin before they fall in the wrong hands.
Despite starting somewhat at the bottom of the series, it did not impede my understanding of the story as it is just like most modern warfare films. In this manner, there's no need for the readers to know the characters at a personal level, rather to know them with their idiosyncrasies (as comic relief) with an understanding that as special ops, they're good at their jobs (likewise for the higher ups). So the focus is on the plot and how the characters deal with their adversaries. With this approach, I find the shifting of timeline with regards to Crocker's character (memories with his wife flashes) an obstruction in the story. I'm so used to this with other books involving special ops that I just have to roll my eyes. I understand the humanizing aspect and that military men think about their loved ones too. Still, nothing can stop me from groaning and rolling my eyes.
I was also very lucky not to have read the synopsis of the story in either netgalley or goodreads prior to reading the book (eARC) because if this synopsis' intention was a way of misdirection to arrive at a plot twist, it was not effective. Since I didn't have prior knowledge of what the book was all about, I find it awesome as the story unfolds all on its own without a hitch. Perhaps, you should do the same (still I'm putting up the synopsis if you're interested).
This is the first time I've encountered a fictional military material where the team leader is a medic, which I find unusual at first. But Crocker's role as a medic was perfect as he get to do his role in difficult situations without blowing up his cover.
The subtitle is Hunt the Fox (just for consistency in the series) and yet, our group here is not hunting the fox. Their job is always about securing canisters of sarin that you could substitute it with Secure the Canisters.
The introduction jumps straight to action but because the initial part of the story keeps flashing back to Crocker's memories with his marital problems, I find the story so slow and off-putting that it took me two weeks before that barrier has been broken. And once I got to the real action in the story, there's no stopping. Putting down the book finally as it ended, I find the story too short, as if only little happens. It was due to the pacing.
If you just skip that stalling part where Crocker thinks about his wife, you will find yourself not catching your breath as Crocker and his team operate with precision and cunning improvisation in doing their jobs. Go straight into action and you'll bask with adrenaline rush.
I really enjoyed this book that I'm now considering reading the first four books as well despite the small problems encountered. With my experience of this book, I conclude that each book of the series is a standalone so there's no problem reading a single book or two or reading the books at random.