Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Enemies Foreign and Domestic by Matt Bracken

While  some may find Bracken's Enemies trilogy out there in the realm of tin foil hat, black helicopter conspiracy theorist alarmist rhetoric, I found the first novel in the tale quite engrossing, tightly written, and entertaining - albeit scary as being swept down river towards raging rapids. With just a bit of tweaking, our own time stream might look just like this cautionary tale.

When a group of overly enthusiastic BATF agents arrange a false flag operation where a veteran suffering from PTSD appears to massacre hundreds in a football stadium, the U.S. Congress decides, once and for all, that the public cannot be trusted with scary black guns, and completely outlaws the possession of semi-automatic rifles, first calling for voluntary turn-ins, then proceeding to raids (which rapidly turn deadly) and confiscation. Rather predictably, this doesn't sit well with a large segment of the population, sometimes derided as the "gun culture", but which in reality is composed of a quite sizable portion of the populace, and after the rogue agents stage a few more incidents targeting the "gun nuts" and innocent bystanders - blamed on gun nuts - battle is definitely joined.

One of the main heroes in this story is Brad Fallon, a thirty-something veteran of the Alaskan oil fields, who has seen enough of the erosion of American civil rights over the last couple of decades and is presently restoring a sailboat so that he can become a PT (Permanent Tourist) in more tropical climates. The boat is moored in the Chesapeake Bay area, and Brad has become as accepted as any outside in a small town can by the local shooting sports enthusiasts, especially after he won a regional target competition.

Our other hero is Ranya Bardiwell, daughter of Lebanese Christian refugee immigrants who have made a life for themselves in the small town. Her father is a gun dealer, supplying local sportsmen with guns, ammunition and gunsmithing services. Ranya grew up around the gunnies, and is an expert shooter with a number of small arms, as well as holding a black belt in martial arts. When her father's store is burned to the ground and he is murdered, she returns from her studies at UVA to mourn, and soon discovers evidence pointing to government agents responsibility for the crime.

Of course, as one might expect, Ranya and Brad fall in love, and despite Brad's previous commitment to get out of Dodge, he decides to aid her in her quixotic quest to find the men who killed her father and to bring them to justice. They are joined in their efforts by a revolving cast of patriots, old friends of Ranya's father who bring to the table a rather astonishing assortment of weapons of retail destruction. Suffice it to say that looking over a fruity drink with an umbrella at a Jamaican sunset isn't likely to appear in the couple's near future.

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