Review: Enemy Unidentified

Enemy Unidentified


The third book in the Brannigan’s Blackhearts series, Enemy Unidentified takes it in a different direction. See, there’s a (then) unidentified group that has carried out one of the bloodiest terror attacks ever, and the right people to take out the perpetrators on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico are- John Brannigan and company. How surprising!

Now the book itself is typical action-adventure. I could sum up the basic plot with one sentence as always, that sentence being “The Blackhearts storm an oil rig.” But it’s very well done, and contains one of the best cliffhangers I’ve read. Yet this falls into the problem of stuff like this being hard to describe, even in good terms. What I find more interesting is the direction the series took, and how I felt about it.

Starting here, the books became somewhat more serialized. When I first read them, my feeling was disappointment, especially after the high of Burmese Crossfire. Now, especially having actually written an action-adventure book, I feel differently. The concept of a big-picture series has grown on me. If it can keep the author motivated, it makes the stories better than just somewhat interchangeable “51%” potboilers.

Review: Kill Or Capture

Kill Or Capture


Understandably pushed back because of the Maelstorm Rising series, Peter Nealen’s Brannigan’s Blackhearts continues with the just-released Kill Or Capture. It was well worth the wait.

Everything in this book reminded me of how great a cheap thriller this series is. Not just because the actual action is well-done (it certainly is) but because of all the touches that help it become more than the sum of its parts. There’s the opening where the protagonists are called back from their normal, everyday lives and families-something that distinguishes them from the Gold Eagle action automatons. There’s the super-conspiracy being both capable enough to pose a challenge worthy of a super-conspiracy and human enough to be fallible.

Of course, the actual plot is just a set-up for much action. I can sum it up in one sentence: The protagonists storm a fortified villa in northern Argentina. But the action is continuous, well-written, and solidly executed. The mountain terrain feels vivid and effective. The threats are varied. This is an excellent cheap thriller and worthy continuation of one of my favorite series.

Review: Burmese Crossfire

Burmese Crossfire

burmesecrossfire cover

One of the reasons why I sound more critical towards Peter Nealen than I actually am is because this particular book set the bar very high. From the moment I read it, I fell in love. The Brannigan’s Blackhearts series was meant to be a love letter to the classic action-adventure novels of the 1980s, and Burmese Crossfire delivers.

Colonel Brannigan, leader of a small mercenary band, gets a mission to go to the titular Southeast Asian country. Cue a “rumble in the jungle” (with apologies to Ali and Foreman) against many Burmese and North Koreans. This isn’t that much more than a classic simple action-adventure novel. But it takes that formula and with beautifully written, well-done action, hits a home run.

It’s in a well-researched, obscure part of the world that’s an ideal place for a book of its genre. One of my favorite small-unit action-adventure books of all time, this is well worth a read.