Monday, February 28, 2011

Ghost by John Ringo

Ghost (Paladin of Shadows Book 1)Ghost is the first book in Ringo's Paladin of Shadows series. I had a review of the fourth book, Unto the Breach, already written and posted it here in June, so since I've got them handy both in paperback and Nook form, I'll probably do some catchup and give you some info on the earlier books, too.
Ghost is written as a series of three interlinked stories, which would work as novellas, or which might have been serialized in the SF mags at first. In the first little vignette, Mike Harmon, a retired Navy Seal who is trying to settle in to life as a college student after leaving the teams, witnesses a co-ed getting snatched by what are obviously professionals, and decides quickly to do something about it.

He follows the kidnappers, and discovers that they are terrorists who intend to ship the girls they've captured -50 in all - to an undisclosed location in the Middle East, and broadcast their torture and murder on worldwide TV to force the U.S. to remove its forces from the area. Mike, whose nickname in the teams was "Ghost" for his ability to move and kill silently, stows away on the plane the terrorists are using and hitchhikes all the way to Syria to their hidden base. There, he foils the plot and rescues the girls, of course. The U.S. government at its highest levels is grateful for his exploits and rewards him with lots of cash and sort of puts him on retainer to help them deal with other issues that may come up.

The second story takes place in the Caribbean, where Mike is enjoying some R&R on the fishing boat he bought with some of the loot from the first story. He's partying with some beach bunnies when the call comes in that terrorists have a nuclear weapon that they're smuggling through the area to plant somewhere in Florida and detonate. Mike drops his fun and games and picks up his weapons and heads out to foil the plot.

The third story shifts to Eastern Europe, where Mike is hanging out, now that things have gotten a little hot for him in the Caribbean. He's actually on the prowl in the brothels there when he runs across a hooker with a heart of plutonium...well, actually she just tries to sell him a nuke. Intrigued, he has her lead him to the sellers, but it's too late; the bomb has already been sold to some Chechens. He lets his friends in Washington know what's going on, then follows his nose as the trail leads all over Europe to find out who has the bomb now and what their target is. As you might imagine, it all ends mostly well for Mike, not so well for the terrorists.

Graphic violence, graphic sex, and a smart-ass hero. What's not to love?

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