A Search and Destroy Thriller
Clearly a writer with Joshua Hood’s credentials should deliver a novel about men (and women) in war that brings the reader into the heat of battle with all the horror, killing and personal trauma that such experience entails. And Clear By Fire certainly does.
Hood is a five year combat veteran of the 82nd Airborne division and saw action in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently a member of a full time SWAT team in Memphis, Tennessee. Clear By Fire is his first novel and reflects a background of exposure to being placed in harm’s way by his profession.
Hood brings in two protagonists with the obvious intention of keeping them together in future novels. The first is Mason Kane, who was a member of the army’s Anvil Team, a special ops group working in the shadows. He enters the book as a disgraced warrior as he had refused to kill an Afghan family when ordered to do so by his commanding officer. That order originated due to the officer having some twisted idea about prolonging the war in the Middle East.
The other protagonist is Renee Hart, a female special forces operative with the army who has chosen the military as a career and has an excellent reputation with her commanding officers. Kane and Hart find themselves in a fight against a conspiracy that leads all the way to the U.S. president’s inner circle. They must battle against rogue U.S. soldiers that are among the best in the world in order to stop them from completing their dangerous plan.
As expected action in the book is described, Hood has no problem in bringing the reader into it with apt descriptions of battle, the equipment used in fighting the battle and outcomes involving killing and being killed or wounded. It’s real – an author should concentrate on writing about what he is familiar with and Joshua Hood was there. The weakness I found was a tendency to move too rapidly from one scene to another. And most important since Kane and Renee will be placed together in future novels, there is no real character development.There is some insinuation that a love affair will develop between the two but who are they aside from being professional soldiers? These are factors that should be corrected as new books involving the duo are written.
The book is an adrenaline rush from the get go and certainly introduces situations that are real and well described. Looking forward to the next Joshua Hood novel.
10/15 Paul Lane
CLEAR BY FIRE by Joshua Hood. Touchstone (August 18, 2015). ISBN: 978-1501105715. 352p.