Last year Joshua Hood kicked the doors to the military thriller genre off the hinges with his explosive debut novel Clear by Fire. This year, Hood has topped himself with Warning Order, the second book in his gritty, action-packed series following elite super-soldier Mason Kane.
Hood opens with Mason and Zeus, both returning from Clear by Fire, running an operation near the Turkish-Syrian border. Mason, who is once again trying to clear his name, has agreed to a deal with the CIA that is supposed to be a simple smash-and-grab job. And then things go wrong.
It takes just two pages for Hood to turn up the heat, after the team’s sniper announces that he has no shot at a roving enemy threat. Mason, the ex-Special Forces soldier who was originally part of the Anvil Program–a blacker-than-black-ops squad of elite operatives–neutralizes the threat himself. The bodies keep falling from there as the action kicks into high gear and never lets off the pedal.
Also back is fan-favorite Renee Hart, the DOD operative who is by all accounts the strongest female character in the genre today. Renee is smart, good-looking, and absolutely lethal. Essentially, she’s a knockout who can actually knock you out, in the same vein as UFC star Ronda Rousey.
Renee is rushing to connect with Mason, believing he and Zeus are about to walk into a trap. It turns out that an old Army buddy of Mason’s, a man named Boland, may in fact be a traitor who is secretly working with the enemy. Worse, Boland is the one currently leading Mason and his team on the ground.
Renee hops on a chopper with her own team, hoping to make it to Mason in time to warn him. As she nears his location, she loses all communication with the soldiers on the ground. Suddenly, a series of gunshots ring out, and Renee realizes she is too late. Boland had led them right into an ambush.
Hood, a decorated combat veteran and former member of the 82nd Airborne, who is currently a full-time SWAT team member in Memphis, has already made a name for himself by writing some of the most realistic and authentic action scenes in print today. His books are gritty, often providing insight into the mind of a solider and the transformation they go through as they evolve from civilians to trained operatives. By doing so, Hood provides a glimpse behind the curtain that most people never get an in-person look at themselves–and it’s riveting.
As the plot charges forward, Mason ends up taking on the most savage, barbaric group of terrorists currently walking on the face of the earth: the Islamic State. Warning Order is a bloody, heart-pounding thriller that stings with authenticity from top to bottom. Joshua Hood continues to make a name for himself, taking one more step towards joining the likes of Brad Taylor, Ben Coes, and Mark Greaney as the best military thriller authors alive today.
Why I loved it
It’s hard to describe the feeling I got when I first discovered Joshua Hood and his debut novel, Clear by Fire, last year. A rush of excitement and anxiety coursed through my veins, as I knew I’d just stumbled upon a diamond in the rough. I couldn’t wait for the next installment in the Mason Kane franchise, and had high expectations for Warning Order from day one. In fact, my expectations may have been unfairly high, but still Hood surpassed them by a mile.
There is nobody like Mason Kane in the genre right now, and here’s why: to some extent, even on a small scale, Mason is Joshua Hood. By that I mean Hood draws on his own combat experiences to shape Mason, and he doesn’t shy away from controversy. In fact, Hood’s first two books read like a character study into mindset of a soldier, and it’s oftentimes as heartbreaking as it is compelling.
Mason is damaged, and a very different man than he was before joining the Army. Somewhere between being trained to kill people and then being betrayed by his country and brothers who were part of the Anvil program, Mason becomes hardened. Like a dog who’s left tied up and alone in the wilderness to survive on its own, he may live, but he will never be the same again.
It’s fascinating to read, and those are just the undertones of the book! I haven’t even mentioned the plot, which is spectacular, by the way, and a giant leap forward from Clear by Fire. Hood is growing in leaps and bounds as an author, and his career is going to be a lot of fun to watch for many years to come.
Why you should read it
Hood knows his stuff, and he’s managed to develop his cast of characters rather brilliantly over the course of two novels. Renee Hart remains the strongest female in the genre, and some may even prefer her to Mason. I’d expect to see her get her own starring role in a spin-off novel someday, and hope that happens sooner rather than later.
Bottom line: If you’re looking for nonstop, authentic action and an original story concept involving ISIS, Joshua Hood’s Warning Order should be at the top of your must-read list heading into this summer.
Author: Joshua Hood
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Release Date: June 7, 2016 (Pre- order now!)