Frank Thompson, a recent widower and ageing Vietnam veteran is down from Maine visiting his nephew, Bill, and his family in New Jersey.
While at a trap range, he and his nephew have a chance encounter with a strange man who claims to remember Frank from the war.
That night, the windows in Bill’s home are shattered along with the quiet peaceful lives the two men had been living.
Three veterans from a special combat unit directed by the CIA during the Vietnam War have gathered to discuss what they are going to do about a man they claim killed one of their own over forty years ago.
Jasper, Birdie and Pogo were part of a team that called themselves the National League All-Stars. They were a squad of psychopathic killers trained by Special Forces to cause death and mayhem during the war. Now, they have banded together to hunt down and kill the professional soldier who led them all those years ago.
Drawing on his military training and a resurgent bloodlust from his tortured past, Frank prepares for a final, violent reckoning that will bring him full circle with the war that never left him.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS AND REVIEW
The story opens back in Vietnam with a special op trained unit moving through the jungle, what follows won’t ever be forgotten or forgiven by the men that call themselves All-Stars.
Forty years later, Frank Thompson’s wife has recently died so he is taking a break from his home in Maine to visit his nephew Bill and his family in New Jersey. When Frank and Bill go to a shooting range a man confronts Frank and says that he knows him from the past. It is clear from the encounter that it won’t be the last time they see each other. Frank knows that he must head for home and the familiar ground where he knows there will be more than just one man that comes after him.
The special ops unit were made up of the psychos of yesteryear that simply didn’t have a switch-off button, no matter who got in their way, so this was a chance for them not just to get even but also feed that adrenaline rush of the hunt and kill that had laid dormant. Jasper, Birdie and Pogo had an arsenal of weapons, pills and booze just like the old days but Frank was getting ready at home too.
There is enough background at the beginning of the story to create tension right from chapter one that builds and spikes towards the final encounter. The characters are well defined with only five of them having major roles. I got a real sense of fear to think that a government could purposely nurture and enhance these men to use as weapons then just send them home and hope that the flood gate they had opened would dry up. The descriptions of the guns were lost on me but I am sure these would mean something to lots of other readers.
Frank was no saint in the war but he had a conscience and was able to live a relatively normal life, he would never forget the past, but he wasn’t ready to die yet. He was like a man with two lives. The gentle man that everyone knew in the small community where he lived and the quick thinking special ops veteran that had been given a free hand in getting a job done in the war. These may have been old men but somethings you never forgot.
Bill was a little gem in the story but that last chapter just made my blood run cold. Brilliant read.
HERE, IS A LITTLE ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven Max Russo has spent most of his professional career as an advertising copywriter and agency owner. He got interested in writing fiction after one of his short stories was accepted by an online literary journal in 2013. Then he caught the bug and began writing seriously. The publication of his first novel, THIEVES, has garnered praise from renowned crime and thriller authors from around the globe. With a gritty writing style and unique voice, he is quickly winning a legion of new fans. Steve is proud to call New Jersey his home.