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Friday, May 17, 2013

A War Hero Returns

A War Hero Returns by Johnny Ray
Letting the trenchant views of a war seasoned expert mingle into civilian life would prove to be a herculean task, indeed. But every so often things come together in the most unlikely way to prepare an individual for a different kind of war at home.

In A War Hero Returns, the main character, Suzan Mercer returns after eight years of serving in Afghanistan as a CIA operative. She is shocked to discover that all the land bequeathed to her upon her father's death has been stolen by her mother, who has an onset of Alzheimer's, and sold off to a developer.

"Home, a funny word to her, considering her mother had sold her place, her legacy her dad wanted her to keep forever."

She finds herself being propelled to fight against the man whom she believes to have tricked her mother into selling her property. As she continues convincing herself of the abuse of power that one man, Matt Harris, had exercised over her sick mother, she realizes just how far gone her mother's condition has become.

"When the door opened, reality set in. Her mother must have lost it. Paint drippings covered the floor, and half-finished paintings hung on the wall. The room looked completely ruined, and thus needing to be gutted and refurbished. The smell of paint fumes caused her to fight the urge to vomit... Present tense, her mother talked in present tense. Her father died over three years ago."

Suzan also finds that she has a finite amount of time to deal with Matt.

"She remembered her training in the CIA which taught her to focus on remembering details. They used her to do the unexpected. No one would ever expect an operative to be an Afghanistan woman walking the streets. Her training would serve her well, now when she needed the skills the most."

As the story progresses, things seem to take on a life of their own. The more that Suzan uncovers, the deeper the secrets go. Nothing is entirely as it seems. And with the usual sense of irony, fate, in it's own dogmatic manner, is not without a touch of humor. Suzan and Matt share a deep attraction to each other.

"...pure raw sex on the spot... Although she still considered him a predator, he remained a predator with a brain."

Johnny Ray's persuasive storytelling has an underlying sense of gusto. There is a sense of cloak-and-dagger with a twist of exploits around the world. The reader will be subject to a tale laden with adventure, betrayal, loss and romance.

On a side note, Ray's choice of cover was a bit confusing. Perhaps it is to symbolize the frustration and operational secrecy within the occupation of the main character, but more than naught, it reminds me of a misbegotten Marilyn Manson poster from the mid-90's. That said, it does not take away from the story inside. As a matter of fact, it may even enhance it, as the reader may not know what to expect upon first viewing the outside of the book.

Johnny Ray won the Royal Palm literary award for best thriller.

A War Hero Returns by Johnny Ray, 2013 ebook

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