I love to read, to read anything and everything, but I've never been a fan of suspense stories. Clancy, Crichton, Ludlum? Meh. VENGEANCE BURNS HOT, however, grabbed me from page one to page last. I read it when I was supposed to be doing something else - yard work, boring meetings, sleeping. In VENGEANCE, debut author Rick E. George has fleshed out a familiar I'll-Get-The Bastard-Who-Wronged-Me plot with layer after layer of deeper concerns: parental love and the fear and grief it engenders, current-day political firestorms, the fragility of romantic love in the face of greater causes and hidden, dark emotions, heroism without boast.
In addition, George spins a tale of bravery-under-fire in the gripping action of the protagonist, Ed Kline, a hot-shot chopper pilot transporting and aiding intrepid fire crews fighting the massive dragons of wild fires in the mountains of central Washington. George served as a firefighter on those crews and it shows with every line and paragraph describing the breath-stopping, teeth-clenching fortitude such men and women bring to their unsung heroism. I now know more about fighting wild fires from reading VENGEANCE than I would if I read a thousand textbook manuals and descriptions of the craft. And I had much more fun in the bargain.
If the action of flying choppers into skyscraper-tall columns of flame, shuttling crews in and out of danger isn't enough for you, the relentless motion of the plot should be. Ed Kline fights to save his son Lewis from a cadre of steely killers in a militia's disguise - the Patriots United Militia of America - who have recruited the disaffected young man with promises of glory and freedom. Lewis has already planned to defect, but cannot escape the tight grip his captains and comrades keep on the small troop. When he tries to escape during a bloody mission - a bank robbery turned murderous - he is caught and branded traitor, with all that implies in a group steeped in fanatical warrior ethos.
In short, VENGEANCE BURNS HOT is stuffed to the rafters with high action, fully realized characters, astute examination of current concerns, love, betrayal and hairpin-tight plot turns. Rick E. George is a master of the page-turner, the 'one-more-chapter-what-happens next-one-more-chapter' engagement that all readers want and all writers strive to achieve. If his second out-soon novel, COOPER'S LOOT is anywhere near as engaging as this one, I'll be missing more sleep and the weeds will again rule my garden as I sit turning pages for one more chapter, one more chapter, one more chapter.
(Edited to correct: George worked as a wildfire fighter, not as a pilot. It sure reads like he did, though ;) )
- Free expedited shipping on products sold by Amazon AU when you purchase select books. Here's how (terms and conditions apply)