Featured Review: ‘Reaper: Threat Zero’ by Nicholas Irving and A.J. Tata

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Reaper Threat ZeroFollowing their hit series launch, Reaper: Ghost Target (2018), Vick “The Reaper” Harwood is back for more action in the latest high-octane thriller from Nicholas Irving and A.J. Tata. 

What should have been a memorable weekend of fun quickly becomes unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. To log some much-needed relaxation and time with loved ones, President Bob Smart hosts his first ever “Family Day” at Camp David for members of his cabinet and their immediate family members. But just as the convoy of black SUVs rounds a secluded bend close to the president’s home away from home, a team of gunmen ambushes them—mercilessly slaughtering innocent men, women, and children. 

Following the blood bath in Maryland, Harwood, one of the most deadly sniper’s in the history of the United States military, is sitting at home, helping Monisha—his foster sister of sorts—get ready for school when a Facebook notification pings on his phone. His old spotter, Sammie Thurmont, fires up Facebook Live, where he’s seen holding a gun to the bottom of his chin. Hoping it’s all some kind of sick joke, Harwood frantically tries to call his friend, who responds only by looking into the camera and saying, “I’m sorry, Vick,” before adding, “it’s all right in front of you.” Moments later, Sammy kills himself. 

Harwood, too stunned to move, is pulled from his paralyzing disbelief when a noise at the backdoor brings him back to the hear and now. And when a gunman breaks through the door, Vick is waiting, his trusty Beretta at the ready.

After dispatching two unidentified hitters, Harwood calls on Command Sergeant Major Murdoch to help clean up the mess—who informs him of the attack on the president’s cabinet members, before dropping another bomb: Sammie is the alleged shooter behind the attack. Refusing to believe that Sammie was the killer, Harwood pulls some strings to get himself involved in the investigation, where he links up with FBI agent Valerie Hinojosa, who secretly sets out to help him try and prove Thurmont’s innocence after finding potential exonerating evidence at the scene.

Meanwhile, the president wants revenge—and a group of special ops soldiers is quickly assembled to take the fight back to the terrorists and anyone else who had a hand in the attack on his cabinet members. Designated Team Valid, the president wants Harwood and his lethal set of skills to join the group, and he obliges, ready to avenge the fallen families. But when controversial orders send them to Crimea, Iran, and Azerbaijan, Harwood becomes uncomfortable with the mandate, prompting him to question what they’re really being used for. 

Caught between obeying orders and following his own sense of right and wrong, Vick discovers an explosive conspiracy brewing beneath the surface. . . and one wrong move could cost him everything. 

While both Irving and General Tata bring plenty of grit and boots-on-the-ground authenticity to the plot, it’s Tata’s steady growth as a writer that shapes the story here—and this is by far the most daring thing he’s ever written. Harwood, a fictionalized version of Irving, the real-life “Reaper” and the first African American in his battalion to deploy in the G.W.O.T. as a sniper before serving in the Army’s Special Operations 3erd Ranger Battalion 75th Regiment as a Sniper Team Leader, combines the physicality of Jack Reacher with long gun skills of Bob Lee Swagger, making him one of the best new characters the thriller genre has to offer. 

Though it’s relatively short, coming in at just over three-hundred pages (just under the average length for a military thriller), Irving and Tata cram a surprising amount of action and intrigue into the story—which reads fast and furious, perfect for devouring in one sitting. Watching Harwood do his thing is still the main attraction here, but the tightly-wound conspiracy is expertly plotted and bigger in scope than the previous book, making this a notable thriller in a crowded field of new releases coming out this spring. 

Hard-hitting, bold, and overflowing with nonstop action, Reaper: Threat Zero is tailor-made for fans of Stephen Hunter and Mark Greaney. 

Book Details

Author: Nicholas Irving and Anthony Tata
Series: Vick Harwood #2
Pages: 307 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 125012736X
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: May 21, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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