Last Target Standing (ARC review – Now out) – Tortuous journey


The following review is part of my being in the author’s review team, which ensures that you can read it before the book comes out. Or, in this case, on release day.


I am usually much faster in posting my long review for an ARC. However, this time, I did it on purpose, again, and for the same reason as that stated in the review I linked: I wanted to make it last longer, savour it a little (OK, a lot) more. Fact: once I got to 75%, there was too much action for me to continue at that leisurely speed and I got back to devouring. That’s crunch time done well. And, to be honest, Jason Kasper is one of the best for that and the second Shadow Strike did make my “taking it slowly” difficult (and I think I won’t do it again because I realise that I need to know what happens quickly).

What the book is about

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Last Target Standing

Series: Shadow Strike, book 2

Author: Jason Kasper

Publisher: Severn River Publishing

Date published: 14 September, 2021

Pages: 425

Synopsis:

After the largest terrorist attack in US history is narrowly foiled, the sole enemy survivor has only one name to provide his interrogators: Ghulam Samedi, a fugitive hiding in the rugged mountains of China’s Xinjiang Province.

As part of the CIA’s newly-minted targeted killing program, David Rivers and his team are tasked with assassinating Samedi.

But once they are inside China, there will be no backup, no air support, and no escape—only a handful of local assets with dubious motivations. The location is known for its opium smugglers, violent separatist movement, and heavy deployment of Chinese secret police.

Which is exactly why Rivers’ team of former mercenaries was assembled for this covert operation. They are unilateral, unattributable, and if things go wrong, utterly expendable.

As Rivers embarks on his most challenging mission yet, he will stop at nothing to hunt down Samedi…the last target standing between him and a sinister conspiracy with global implications.

Never a dull moment, or an easy mission

Isn’t that the best of a David Rivers story? Yes! The camaraderie between the team members who, after all that they’ve been through, together or before they became a unit (read the whole American Mercenary series to understand, and my review to whet your appetite – or reminisce if you did read it), makes them a complete group of brother in arms, having each other’s backs, but also having them pull one another’s leg quite often, which makes for good laughs to ease the ever growing and ever present tension of the action.

To top it off, there are the thousand ways a mission can go wrong, which Jason Kasper exploits with great maestria, as shown anew in this second Shadow Strike book, from before infil to exfil, keeping the reader on edge until the next necessary laugh, often courtesy of Cancer or Reilly (dang, those two are hilarious when they put themselves to it!). I cannot explain further without spoiling things, so I will keep it at that, but when I say that the journey was tortuous, I mean it! It was already a difficult one, what with them having to infiltrate China through Afghanistan without being compromised, in order to find their mark, and then back, but all that came with it made the mission even more gripping. And more difficult.

Both sides of the coins

Yes, the plural of “coins” is intended, as there are various coins of which we have both sides of: the whole OPCEN vs governing people, the OPCEN vs the team, the team vs the terrorist. All of them were seamlessly shown, without any parti pris towards one side or the other. Although I admit that Duchess has all my admiration for the way she manages everything (but I will say that I still don’t trust nor like Jo Ann).

After having a laugh at the mark’s name because, in my native French, Samedi means Saturday, I liked the line of thought that Kasper brought to that part of the story, where we got to understand the reasoning behind his thoughts, not that what he did or does is in any way something any of us would condone. However, it was interesting to get his side of what happened in the US in the previous book, and his involvement in what his own team does in the current Chinese genocide of the Uyghurs.

On top of that, we understand why Asadulla doesn’t want to be neither seen nor have his name known to the terrorist, for his and his family’s safety. The brave driver whom we can’t not root for and hope for the best.

A hook? Yeah…

I think that the only negative part of Last Target Standing was the end. Not that the book ended, but that it ended in a hook, which made me scream at the book and curse a blue streak!

The good thing about it? The next book, Covert Kill, is set to come out in December. I will definitely be there, and tell you all about it, without spoilers, of course!

My verdict

Good and better still, the second Shadow Strike book is yet another one to add to your must-read list if you’re a fan of thrillers. Because it is that good! I am honestly awaiting the next adventure of David Rivers and his team of misfits with great pleasure and anticipation.

A completely not compromised five stars!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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