Thursday, February 1, 2018

Book Review: 'Execution of Justice' by Patrick Dent

South Carolina native author Patrick Dent earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and his Masters in Chemistry. He went on to receive Advanced Infantry Training while stationed at Fort Benning. With detailed experience such as this it is no wonder this debut novel is such a fine thriller – opting to include the inside knowledge of political activity with military experience and a depth of knowledge about chemistry. As Patrick adds, ‘In Execution of Justice, I wanted to add deep characterization to the military covert operations genre, exploring concepts such as: revenge vs. forgiveness, universal vs. relative morality, self-discovery and the roots of what makes each of us who we are. Family, abuse, trauma, personal loyalties, betrayals, and patriotic obligations conflict and eventually form the amalgam that is our protagonist, John Drake’

Strong self assigned challenges for a debut novel, but Patrick meets his goals. The tone of the book is apparent from the first paragraphs – ‘Safi, Morocco - The young American did his best to look casual as he approached the Moroccan bar. His eyes constantly scanned for incongruities – anything more interesting than an infinite expanse of sand and about a dozen rugged four-wheel-drive vehicles. He saw none. The bar itself looked ancient, having a wooden frame plastered with a tan adobe, making its color indistinguishable from the surrounding desert. The slate roof appeared on the verge of collapse. The windows were arched and glassless, about twenty feet from the ground, with heavy wooden shutters latched open with hasp locks. Elan had selected attire generic to the region. His tan robes concealed his slightly trembling hands, as well as the Colt .45 automatic in his shoulder holster. Luckily, the desiccating atmosphere evaporated sweat, helping mask his anxiety. The locals called the bar Shaqra, although it bore no markings either outside or in. Elan grabbed the huge iron ring serving as a doorknob and pulled. The thick wooden door eventually surrendered to his will and swung open with a creak, attracting the attention of some of the locals inside. Rheumy, bloodshot eyes turned toward the offending desert sunlight cutting through the dimly lit room, but quickly lost interest when they saw Elan. Elan blinked as his eyes adjusted to the darkness. The main room was large, with about a thirty foot ceiling. The only light had to fight its way from the open windows through thick clouds of hashish, opium and tobacco smoke. The air hung motionless. In the center sat a square bar. A solitary bartender cleaned his fingernails with a US Army issue bayonet. No wait staff was visible. This is it, Elan thought, the next fifteen minutes will decide the course of my career. Elan knew his Arabic heritage was the main reason Major Briggs had selected him for Operation Sierra.’

And the plot is condensed as the following – ‘John Drake races across the globe, one heart-pounding step behind the loathsome Tartus, a human trafficker who has abducted a congressman's daughter. Behind Drake is a trail of brutally murdered covert operatives. Ahead lies an impenetrable global syndicate of the world's most dangerous men. Disavowed by the US government, Drake is determined to deliver his own brand of justice to these ruthless thugs. Tracking the most powerful enemy he has ever faced, Drake stumbles into the center of a CIA plot to incite a war between the Muslim oil countries and Israel. Tormented by personal demons, Drake must ultimately confront the most terrifying identity of all - his own. Can he exterminate this vermin, rescue the innocent, and prevent a war? Or will he become the monster he hunts?’

Exceptionally well paced, compelling prose, and a keen sense of immediacy pour out of every page of this impressive debut novel. Patrick Dent will likely become on of the more important authors of this genre. Grady Harp, November 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. 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.

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