Soldiers of Dragon Company are out on patrol in Iraq when they’re quickly ambushed by Al-Qaeda leaving two soldiers missing in action while the rest of the soldiers on patrol are left dead. Everyone in the army wants the perpetrators found, but the commanding officers want the two missing soldiers found quickly to save their careers rather than to help the grieving families. An ex CIA operative, Eric Ritter, is tapped to find the Al-Qaeda cell and missing soldiers. Moral lines are clearly drawn and Ritter crosses them several times through the novel leaving the question of, ‘who really is the bad guy?’ The ending of the novel offers little in the way of moral direction and serves to offer an even darker contrast to the novel, hence the title, ‘Into Darkness’.
There are several things that this novel does right. The essence of a soldiers life in Iraq is confidently captured down to the smallest detail. You can obviously tell that the author has been to Iraq and is calling on his own life experience. I rarely found any hiccups in the writing and dialogue flowed easily. The story switches back and forth between the US soldiers perspective and the perspective of the insurgents, but I felt like there were several chapters that didn’t move the story forward at all and could have been summarized and combined with other chapters to pick up the pace of the story. The only other issue I had with the novel is the misplaced focus of detail. An example, when an explosion goes off the author describes the event with a simple “BOOM!” There’s a missed opportunity here to paint a beautifully destructive picture of an explosion ripping through vehicles, people, and lighting up the night sky while in the next chapter were treated with mundane details of a briefing room layout that’s given an entire paragraph. Also, simple character movements and placement were given a hefty amount of real estate throughout the book, but I think this is normal for new authors as they decide what should be left to the reader’s imagination and what should be left out. For this being a military novel I felt that there was an awful lot of talking and maneuvering going on between the characters which might suit some readers that prefer dialogue over a straight up firefight. In the end, ‘Into Darkness’ truly captures the essence of a soldier’s deployment and deftly blurs the lines between good and evil.
Published January 16th 2013 by Triplane Press
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