A Book Spy Review: ‘Friendly Fire’ by John Gilstrap

John Gilstrap Friendly Fire

John Gilstrap’s latest Jonathan Grave novel snaps, crackles, and pops (that’s right, it has all of the Rice Krispies!) with nonstop action from beginning to end.

Ethan, a twenty-something barista at a coffee house, is at work one day when a “monster” from his past walks in. The monster is a child molester who kidnapped and held Ethan captive when he was just a young kid. Ethan, upon seeing him, snapped. Following the man outside, he stabbed him with a sharp knife he swiped from inside the coffee house.

Minutes later, the police showed up. Ethan had been in a violent haze and was shocked to realize what he’d done–though he wasn’t sorry. The monster had to go. He couldn’t be allowed to hurt any more children, Ethan thought.

When questioned by the police, Ethan explains that the man had kidnapped and sexually assaulted him years ago. They promised to check out his story, but there’s one problem. Ethan was held captive, and he was assaulted–but there is no official record of the events or his rescue. Why? Because he was rescued by a man known only as Scorpion.

Scorpion, of course, is the callsign of Jonathan Grave. Grave, the former Delta Force operator turned freelance hostage rescue specialist, works outside of the law. He operates in the shadows, helping those in need who have nowhere else to turn. After returning home from another mission, Grave’s team tells him about Ethan, who’s story is all over the news. 

As the team discusses Ethan’s situation, it’s revealed that there were many suspicious circumstances surrounding his case more than a decade ago. Things never quite added up, and worst of all, the bad guy had gotten away. The mission itself was still a success, though, as the “precious cargo”–Ethan–was rescued.

With the nature of his business being so secretive, Grave knew that Ethan was likely sitting in jail trying to explain why he killed the man, without any way to prove his story. Once again, Ethan needs to be rescued. And once again, there’s much more than originally meets the eye. 

As Grave and his team start to learn the truth about the man who kidnapped Ethan years ago, they uncover a much larger and dangerous plot hidden beneath the surface. It turns out that the dead man had ties to a terrorist group, and a devastating plan had recently been put into place. With an attack on the United States looming, it’s once again up to Jonathan Grave to save the day. 

A blistering thriller that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go for a second, Friendly Fire is four-hundred-plus pages of pure awesomeness! 

Why I loved it

John Gilstrap absolutely crushed it. Friendly Fire is well-written, fast-paced, and features nonstop action. Gilstrap continues to grow as an author and excels at creating can’t-put-down stories. Once I started this book, there was no stopping.

There are a lot of great books coming out this June–including three others (Ben Coes’ First Strike, Brad Taylor’s Ghosts of Warand Joshua Hood’s Warning Order) that will be released on the same exact day as Friendly Fire–but Gilstrap has proved yet again that he can hold his own with other big-name writers. 

Honestly, I thought that the plot was brilliant. I love the idea of there finally being a downside to Grave’s operating in the shadows. Yes, he saved Ethan from a child molester, but the covert nature of his work left Ethan unable to explain himself to the cops. That angle fascinates me, and Gilstrap wrote the heck out of it. 

(Note: Obviously, parts of this story involve a very sensitive subject matter. I loved the book, and couldn’t really find anything negative to say about it (some will, but they’re nitpicking either to sound like an expert by pointing out flaws, or just for the heck of it). However, I would understand some people not caring to read about child sex crimes. So for those wondering, I didn’t find it too graphic, nor was a ton of time spent on that. If anything, it made me hate the antagonist more, and root harder for Ethan.)

Why you should read it

John Gilstrap is a wildly underrated author. His Jonathan Grave series is every bit as good as the other heavyweights of the genre and is comparable to Ben Coes’ Dewey Andreas and Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller. 

I love how Gilstrap intertwined Ethan’s story with a current terrorist plot. It all came together nicely and ends in a way that will leave readers counting down the days until the next book. 

There are a lot of must-read novels coming out in June, and Friendly Fire is definitely one of them. Trust me, read this book!

Book Details

This is the eighth novel in Gilstrap’s Jonathan Grave series. While I’d certainly recommend reading them all (especially Threat Warning, my personal favorite)–it’s not necessary for understanding the events in this book.

Author: John Gilstrap

Pages: 436 (Paperback)

Publisher: Pinnacle

Release Date: June 28, 2016 (Order now!)

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