Best known for his Gray Man series, New York Times bestseller Mark Greaney shows yet again why he’s one of the most talented, versatile, and dominant writers in the genre today with Red Metal (co-authored with Lt. Col. H. Ripley Rawlings), a brilliant standalone that offers a realistic glimpse at what World War III might look like in the near future.
Seeking to restore their reputation as a superpower, a desperate Russia launches a daring plan to take back several Rare Earth mineral mines in Africa, igniting a new world war in the process.
Not that long ago, Russia held the coveted mines, which produce the needed material to effectively own the world’s high-tech sector for generations to come. Since they lost control, special forces commander Col. Yuri Borbikov has been hellbent on taking them back, even going as far as to draw up a plan he calls Operation Red Metal—which basically amounts to an attack in Europe designed to severely limit AFRICOM, the United States’ Africa Command stationed in Germany, while simultaneously hitting one of the mines in Kenya. All they need now is to wait for the right moment to strike.
In Asia, the Chinese government launches a plan to assassinate a high-profile politician in Taiwan—a country that has grown tired of having their independence threatened and are finally ready to fight back. America takes note, and, with those events momentarily distracting them from what the Russians are up to, Red Metal is quickly approved by the Russian president—catching NATO, who didn’t think the sleeping bear would awaken quite yet, by surprise—and all hell suddenly breaks loose as battles rage and blood spills around the globe.
Over the course of the week-long war, readers follow a deep, diverse cast of characters from all sides of the conflict, including Marine Lieutenant Colonel Dan Connolly, a battle-tested soldier who leaves his air-conditioned office at the Pentagon to head to Africa; Shank, an A-10 Warthog pilot who’s sure to be a fan favorite thanks to his sick skills and laugh-out-loud one-liners; Pascal, an aging French spy who becomes a valuable player; and Paulina, a scene-stealing Polish militia member who’s a far cry from the other warriors mentioned, having originally joined the militia to help save up money—but ultimately finds herself in the middle of the war, determined to help defend her homeland from Russia.
Other characters emerge too, and Greaney and Rawlings do a fine job representing all kinds of different people from various backgrounds, while explaining the war from their perspective. It’s an impressive feat to be sure, as are the co-authors’ abilities to make their 650-plus page novel read like something half that size. Don’t let the page count or the book’s thickness fool you, Red Metal is a fast-paced thriller featuring nonstop action and a little something for everyone. Whether you’re craving big, large-scale land battles, beautifully choreographed air raids, powerful naval attacks, or simple hand-to-hand combat, this book has it all and then some.
While it’s already drawn comparisons to Tom Clancy’s Red Storm Rising (1986), Red Metal boasts even more action and tension, reading like a modern-day Game of Thrones (without the dragons and White Walkers), as individuals go all-in fighting for their cause—often with little regard for the rest of the world. Much like George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy saga, Greaney and Rawlings rely more on their characters to drive the story than the explosions, gunfights, and eye-candy, of which there is still plenty. The wargaming is impressive to be sure, but it all works as well as it does because the characters are so well fleshed out, and the conflict so perfectly captured.
Think Red Storm Rising but ten times faster, with more action and Greaney’s familiar, smooth style . . . Red Metal is a once-in-a-generation type thriller that is not to be missed.
Author: Mark Greaney & Lt. Col. H. Ripley Rawlings
Pages: 646 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 9.95/10
Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck 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.