The following review is part of my being in the author’s review team, which ensures that you can read it the moment the book comes out.
It seems like yesterday since I turned the last page of the then most recent David Rivers story. But no, a little less than two months have passed since I read The Night Stalker Rescue, which I read two days after finishing the last American Mercenary novel (you can read my complete – and spoiler free – review of the whole series and the novella here). Yet here I am, writing a whole new review about a whole, brand new, David Rivers book, The Enemies of my Country, the first of Jason Kasper’s new series, Shadow Strike.
And it is so great to see David and his team again!
What the book is about
This time, I will not write the summary myself, nor will I use the official blurb. I prefer letting Jason Kasper himself give the summary, which he did in an interview published by Severn River a few days before the book released:
David Rivers is an elite-level assassin. He’s an expert in the art of violence. Honing his skill first as a Ranger, then as a mercenary, and now as a CIA contractor conducting covert action around the world.
But in his secluded mountain home in Virginia, David Rivers lives a double life. There, Rivers is known as a caring husband to his new wife, and the doting father to his young daughter.
Soft targets to his enemies.
Half a world away, on a mission to assassinate a foreign operative, Rivers uncovers his worst fear.
An imminent attack on US soil will occur in four days.
The target is in his hometown.
And his wife and daughter are mentioned by name.
The best of Kasper to date
I’m sure I said something along those lines in previous reviews, and I’m sure I will say it again after future books, but I will say, without a doubt, that The Enemies of my Country is Jason Kasper’s best book to date, on top of being, at 432 pages, his biggest.
This novel, his tenth, underlines just how much experience Jason has gained as a writer over the years, but also how much and how well he knows his characters, in a way that makes the reader meeting them (again, for those who have read his first series – which I highly recommend, if only to have David’s backstory, as well as his team’s) like visiting an old, slightly unbalanced, friend.
The ultimate antihero
For David Rivers is still the ultimate antihero, and his team is just the same, from techie Ian to sharp-shooting Worthy (Racegun) to violence loving Cancer to Dr. Reilly, all of whom I can’t help but really, really like. They are an unconventional band of brothers, and one that we can’t help but stan, despite the violence that is now ingrained in their DNA.
Short chapters, from various points of view
Where The Enemies of my Country differs from American Mercenary is in the length of the chapters, which are, in the new series, short. If the chapter is a longer one (which I can seriously count on the fingers of one hand), the point of view will switch to another character at some point, which gives us an insight to every character’s mindset at some specific points in the course of the action.
This is something that Jason Kasper has started to do in his Spider Heist books, which changes from Blair’s to Stirling’s to Jim’s. However, in this new series, we have chapters told by David himself, but also focusing on each of the team members at strategic points in the action, but also on what Duchess is doing in order to stop the threat on the US, or to keep an eye on David’s team’s mission.
The result: an even more compelling thriller, which kept me glued to the pages, often holding my breath either because of the action or because the suspense was so intense that I had to read and read so I would know how it will end. Furthermore, it helps us readers know the characters in a whole new way: through their thoughts.
This is nothing new for anyone who has read Jason’s books before: they are extremely researched. This last novel is, thus, in this same trend, much to our enjoyment, especially when some technical explanations come at a moment when we realise we had been holding our breath for a little too long.
This extensive research also makes for extremely realistic scenes, including a certain medical intervention by Reilly, which I had to stop reading for a few moments because it was so vivid that I came a hair from throwing up. Truth: Jason Kasper thus became only the second author to achieve this with me, the first one being the mistress of vividly realistic scenes, Diana Gabaldon.
It is this research which makes his books read themselves, letting us know that the author knows what he is writing about, and not only adding details which would end up being completely wrong. The mark of a great author.
A new perspective
In The Enemies of my Country, Jason Kasper also brings a whole new perspective to the military and paramilitary genre: that of a husband and father. After all, David Rivers, like his maker, is both (but there stops the comparison).
Because it is not only his country that is on the line, that makes his quest to find and kill the terrorist even more important: it is his own wife and daughter.
As if we needed more reasons to be glued to the pages of the book! And this one goes straight to our heartstrings.
A page turner like few others, I rejoice in knowing that The Enemies of my Country is the first of at least ten books of a new series of thrillers featuring a character who became one of my favourites, and a team that I honestly like more and more with each page I turn (and mind you, I liked them a lot before, although not from the start in the case of Cancer and Racegun – you’ll need to read the American Mercenary books to understand why).
And now comes the anticipatory wait for Last Target Standing, David Rivers’ next mission.
An explosive five stars! ✰✰✰✰✰