A Book Spy Review: ‘Rules of Engagement’ by David Bruns and J.R. Olson


Rules of EngagementFormer Naval Officers David Bruns and J.R. Olson deliver a fast and furious tale of cyberwarfare that pits the United States up against an unknown enemy that threatens to bring America’s military to her knees. 

Rafiq Roshed, a shadowy terrorist with an ax to grind, has set his sights on the greatest nation in the world. Already, Rafiq, a hacker extraordinaire, has pulled off a number of impressive attacks on America’s power grid, affecting most of the east coast. Now, hiding out on a remote island near North Korea, Rafiq is working for Kim Jung Un, before connecting with a Russian crime syndicate known as Bratva. His first order of business is to hack into the military networks for the United States, along with China and Japan, and infect them with his most genius creation yet—a super virus designed to turn their respective forces against each other. 

As all hell breaks loose, the entire planet is suddenly on the brink of WWIII. China and Japan have already lost control of their military, and with the clock rapidly winding down, three midshipmen from the Naval Academy are tasked with stopping the virus at all costs before it’s too late. Failure means an all-out war, but in order to find success, they must first find the most elusive and wanted terrorist in the world . . . 

Bruns and Olson clearly know their stuff, bringing a genuine layer of authenticity to the story, and while their first book together will no doubt draw comparisons to the early days of Tom Clancy, they actually have their own unique style that offers a much quicker pace to the story.

Also, whereas Clancy’s books are large in scope (much like Mark Greaney’s forthcoming Red Metal), Bruns and Olson focus on a few main characters—opting to rarely show heads of state and top-rung decision makers on the page. Their cast is still diverse and plentiful, but more in line with stuff from Rick Campbell and Dale Brown. Moreover, there isn’t any one hero who stands above the rest. With Clancy, readers knew Jack Ryan was the star, even if he had many supporting characters around him. Some readers may be turned off by the lack of a true protagionist to anchor the story, but with more characters sharing the spotlight, Bruns and Olson are able to flesh them out nicely—which pairs nicely with their sharp, honest dialogue and top-notch visual descriptions. 

All in all, Rules of Engagement is perfect for those in search of a solid military or technothriller, and Bruns and Olson kick off their new series with a thundering bang.

Book Details

Author: David Bruns and J.R. Olson
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1250200318
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: June 25, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10




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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