THE SEVERANCE by Elliott Sawyer

Book Quote:

“From the parts of the document written in English, they learned that the money had been the first of three payments for the construction of a large civilian airfield in the Ghazni Province. Given the fact that (it) was over 120 kilometers away, the only thing that made sense was that the Afghan they‘d killed had been a corrupt contractor who was trying to make a quick getaway to Pakistan.”

Book Review:

Review by Katherine Petersen  (DEC 30, 2010)

Author Elliott Sawyer earned a Bronze Star while serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a captain in the 101st Airborne Division. His intimate knowledge of military operations enables the actions scenes to come alive and lend credibility to his characters. Jake Roberts has a not-so-pretty past, and his punishment is to lead a platoon of misfits with past drug, alcohol and assault charges. The battalion commander sends the Kodiak Platoon on the “dirty” missions that no one else wants. During one of these night details, the platoon stumbles across a cache of funds, stolen by a corrupt contractor. Jake and his men opt to smuggle the cash back to the U.S. when they’re discharged rather than turn it over to the authorities. They call it their severance pay.

But things don’t turn out to be that easy. Someone else finds out about the severance money. It could be the nurse Jake has been seeing, someone in the platoon or an unknown. Whoever it is, they’re not afraid to kill. The story grows in intensity as it becomes less and less clear if Jake and his platoon will manage to keep either the severance money or their lives.

Sawyer does a nice job of weaving particulars into the plot action without bogging the story down with unnecessary details. He gives us a glimpse of why some of the members are in the platoon, but doesn’t overwhelm the reader with minutiae. The platoon is comprised of alcoholics, drug addicts, thieves and other miscreants, but when we meet them, they’re sympathetic characters, and it’s hard not to like most of them. The story jumps a bit in places, so readers must pay attention. Sawyer’s character and plot ring true, and he doesn’t glaze over sticky situations: a soldier’s homosexuality, infidelity and foul language have their place in this novel, and, at least in my opinion, they fit. I mention this only as the book might not be appropriate for all age levels.

This story will appeal to mystery fans in general but also to fans of books with military action. While it may not have the nonstop action of a Tom Clancy novel, the scenes are remarkably well written, and in combination with a tightly-woven plot and intriguing characters, it’s a a good debut. I hope Jake Roberts and his men make another appearance soon.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-5-0from 7 readers
PUBLISHER: Bridge Works (November 16, 2010)
REVIEWER: Katherine Petersen
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Elliott Sawyer
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:

Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer


December 30, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Afghanistan, Debut Novel, Thriller/Spy/Caper

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