Monday, September 16, 2019

Book Review: 'Field of Valor' by Matthew Betley

Field of Valor (Logan West, #3)
“I just killed a Secret Service agent. I’m pretty sure that’s a crime, and this is now officially a really bad day,”

Ohio author Matthew Betley grew up in Cincinnati, attended St. Xavier High School and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where he earned a B.A. in psychology and minors in political science and sociology. He also spent the first semester of senior year investigating felony murder cases as an intern investigator in Washington, D.C., for the Public Defender's Office. After graduation, he worked in corporate America for five years in Cincinnati before joining the Marine Corps in 1999. Matt spent ten years as a Marine officer and was trained as a scout sniper platoon commander, an infantry officer, and a ground intelligence officer. His experiences include deployments to Djibouti after 9/11, and Fallujah, Iraq, prior to the surge, both in staff officer support billets. Of important note Matt is a recovering alcoholic with nearly eight years of sobriety. He credits the Marine Corps with providing a foundation in discipline and personal accountability for his desire to initially seek help. Matt is open and direct about it and has spoken in front of large groups of people with one clear message - if he can get sober, so can anyone. He credits his recovery with providing the authenticity for Logan West's struggle with his inner demons.

With a bio such as this it is no wonder Matt has become such an important writer in the genre of military and terrorist thrillers. He knows the military, the legal system, and the impact of personal demons. But that does not always accompany a fine writing style: in Matt’s case the tools and the manner in which they are conveyed are married well.

Pulling the reader into the drama happens immediately – even for those who have not had the experience of getting to know Logan West from the initial book in this series OVERWATCH. ‘Quantico, Virginia Thursday, 0740 EST Crack-crack-crack! The rear windshield of the Ford F-150 shattered onto the backseat as glass was blown inward behind Logan West and John Quick. The raspy and harmonious voice of the Stone Temple Pilot’s lead singer filled the cab from the pickup’s surround sound stereo system. Once Logan West—former Marine Force Recon platoon commander, recovering alcoholic, and the head of the president’s Task Force Ares—had turned on the ignition, shifted gears, and floored the pickup away from the smoking headquarters building, the alternative rock band’s music had provided an audio backdrop to the unfolding battle. He hadn’t bothered turning it down as he’d fled the carnage, intent on only one thing—survival. More bullets tore through the cab and punched holes in the front windshield, the cracks of the rounds audible inside the truck. “Jesus Christ,” Logan said, as he reached out and hit the power button on the stereo, interrupting Scott Weiland midvocal. “I always figured you for more of a country guy. STP? Seriously?” “Hey, it depends on my mood,” John Quick—Logan’s second-in-command and former Force Recon platoon sergeant—said, and coughed, a sound that sounded tinny and hollow, concerning Logan. “I even like Eminem from time to time.” “Get out of here,” Logan replied. “Will wonders never cease?”

Matt provides a fine if too brief synopsis for this Volume 3, FIELD OF HONOR - ‘The president requests Logan West to form a covert task force with the mission to dismantle a nameless enemy. With the full resources of the Justice Department, Intelligence Community, and the military (not to mention presidential pardons pre-signed), Logan must battle a secret organization with the connections and funding to rival many first-world nations. The goal of this organization is both singular and sinister—to pit the United States against China in a bid to dismantle the world’s security and economy. Back on US soil, Logan and his task force pursue the elusive foe from the woods of northern Virginia to the banks of the Chesapeake Bay, from suburban Maryland across the urban sprawl of Washington DC. The stakes have never been higher for Logan or America itself....’

Thriller authors of this caliber are rare. Matt Betley has earned his kudos and his honors to our good fortune. Highly Recommended.

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.