If a reader is looking for a book that requires reading with the lights on and who enjoys a story about a criminal mastermind, then pull up a chair and get comfortable because Rise of the Iron Eagle is a wild ride and is sure to leave a haunting legacy in your dreams.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I decided to read this novel. I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t left unaffected and I sure as heck am glad I’m reading about the stuff that went on instead of seeing it for real. I think Mr. Teel, Jr.’s writing about criminals is like what Stephen King does for horror – leaves a lasting impression and horrifies while weaving a tale that one can’t step away from.
I ended up classifying this book as an erotic based on the three way relationship between one of the characters and two women. Also, the fact that a few of the deviants in the story got off on voyeurism while they did what they did was another reason I labeled it thus. However, this is first and foremost a mystery, and a murder mystery at that. And, this is a novel about one man on a crusade against the vilest of the vile, the most heinous and inhumane of human beings, and reading about them kept me on the edge of my seat.
The one thing that the author wanted to make crystal clear, and was abundantly successful, is making a reader believe that the method of death meted out by the Iron Eagle was warranted. Sure, Steve, the FBI guy, wanted the investigations of the crimes done by the book but, there’s a gray area that he sort of teeters on. Then there’s Jim, who actually is more open about accepting that what the Iron Eagle is doing isn’t such a bad thing, even when he duplicates the horrors done to victims onto the perpetrators themselves. It was extremely difficult to read because the author was highly graphic in his details. There is rape and torture and other extremely violent behaviors but it’s recounted in a manner to get the reader on the Eagle’s side. And, for me, it worked. Yes, I cringed a lot, and took a lot of breaks, too because some descriptions were horrendous and uncomfortable to read but that’s the point. Those creeps were under the radar, killing with seeming impunity, and until the Iron Eagle put the clues together and acted, no one was going to stop them.
What I liked were the surprises. I thought that I was going to be left with the mystery of trying to figure out who the Iron Eagle was but that was actually shared with the reader part way through. And I asked myself, why? Turns out there’s a cold case that is the whole impetus for the book. That’s the real mystery and eventually, although I wasn’t too keen on the cold and precise manner in which retribution was delivered, I ended up being very sympathetic to the Iron Eagle. I didn’t expect that.
Dialogue was dark, dangerous, powerful, gritty and incredibly effective. The characterization of both Steven and Jim were not written as touchy feely, getting to know you and your emotions type of detail, but were written as hard bitten, professional and driven. They are men who are extremely fallible with vices, profanity laden speech and yet take pride in the jobs they do. They really are the good guys, with a dark edge. But no one is as dark as the Iron Eagle. I eventually find out why and it broke my heart.
The ending was profound. As much as the author went into great gory detail with the initial few serial killers, when the final moment of reckoning came it was just a tiny teensy bit more anti-climactic than I expected. And you want to know why? Because I wanted the bad guy to suffer more, to pay harder for what was done to all the victims, and in my estimation, he wasn’t. In that I guess even I have a little bit of vigilantism in me. Imagine that.
Rise of the Iron Eagle is dark, gritty, compelling and powerful. It’s not a comfortable read but it’s potent, gripping, exciting and any other word you can think of to describe a book that makes a person read through their fingers because they alternately want to hide but can’t help but continue to read all at the same time. Believe it or not, there might even be a romance relationship coming out of this horror. Talk about unconventional. It’s not the focus but it sure made me happy that even with all this death and atrocity, love could still be found. Yet, even as one case comes to a satisfying closure, the author dangled a surprising carrot. I might need to fortify myself with cotton candy and fluff, but I definitely would read the next book in the series. Mr. Teel, Jr. has a commanding story-telling voice and Rise of the Iron Eagle is proof. Check it out and see, if you dare.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.