Friday, May 25, 2012

Above Reproach by J. D. Kinman

A blogger whom I follow, Ordinary American, has published his first novel, Above Reproach. The story is too darned close to possible for comfort, much like Clancy's story about an airliner being used as a bomb to destroy the Capitol building while a joint session of Congress was convened presaged the "unimaginable" horror of 9/11. The underlying premise is that a far-sighted terrorist mastermind began placing sleeper agents in the United States decades ago, and many of them are in positions of importance and influence, unsuspected.

The mastermind begins to activate his sleepers, their missions predetermined, and the first attacks are incredibly successful, from the terrorists' point of view. Seemingly innocuous men and women (actually men in disguise), in a restaurant and a shopping mall, suddenly open fire with automatic weapons on shoppers and diners. The result is a horrendous massacre, and the attackers get away cleanly. The main stream media and many politicians react predictably, condemning the gun culture and outdated Second Amendment rights that allowed such a tragedy to occur.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Dillon Cole is a former federal marshal who now lives near Dallas, raising horses, flying airplanes, making saddles, and keeping his skills sharp on the rifle and pistol range, with the help of his friend, Ramon "Ram" Alvarez. Ram is a former gun for hire from Mexico who turned his life around and became a firearms and tactics instructor for the Mexican federales. When we first meet Dillon, he is working out on a tactical pistol course with Ram, and demonstrates that he's still as good as he was when he was working as a marshal, and can shoot equally well with his left and right hand.

This scene demonstrates one of the solid aspects of Kinman's writing, as it sets up in advance the believability of a later scene, which takes place when Cole and his wife, Vicki, are attending a speech by a conservative journalist friend on a college campus in Tulsa. Four "students" armed with automatic weapons try to turn the auditorium into a slaughterhouse, but Dillon manages to kill two of them with his concealed pistol before sustaining a wound in his right arm, and having to switch hands. He takes down the third with a southpaw shot, before passing out from blood loss.

Lest you think Kinman can only write good action sequences, I have to tell you that the author had me leaking tears for a good fifty pages, early in the novel, relating the story of how Dillon and Vicki worked with Angel Flight. For some months they have been helping a young lady, Shelly, stricken with leukemia to travel from Tulsa, where she lives with her father, Owen, to Fort Worth, where she receives chemotherapy. Angel Flight is a real group of pilots and airplane owners who provide free transportation for medical treatment to those who could not otherwise afford it. The story of how the Coles go above and beyond the call of duty to provide for Shelly and Owen, a widowed, disabled, Gulf War veteran, is guaranteed to ring all your emotional bells.

This is a darned good read, and a chilling look at some possible problems with the way we as a nation are dealing with potential terrorist attacks. Dillon Cole gets to deliver a great speech at a Congressional hearing near the end of the book about our Second Amendment rights and the proper role of our elected representatives that's well worth the price of admission. There are some loose ends here and there in the book referring to previous events in some of the characters' lives that makes me wonder if Kinman wrote an earlier novel that I missed, or whether a prequel/sequel or two are in the works.

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