Yesterday it was a job. Now it’s personal.
Eric Steele, the Program’s top operator—a clandestine unit of elite warriors who serve directly under the command of the president of the United States—is still recovering from the events of Sean Parnell’s explosive debut thriller, Man of War (2018), when readers pick back up with him here.
Set just a few months later, Steele is beginning to get back into top physical shape, but is still badly in need of some time off from the risks his job presents before getting back into action.
One of several “Alphas,” the most hardened and seasoned badasses the United States military has to offer, Eric’s job is to go to the most dangerous places on earth, under the most grueling of circumstances, to take on the most impossible missions. So far, he’s pitching a perfect game, but the stress and demands of the job have cost him in more ways than one. Even so, he’s always been able to go home and rest up, get his mind and body right, then head back out. Sadly, all that changes when trouble follows him back to Pennsylvania for the first time, endangering Steele and his loved ones.
Moments after sitting down to dine on a couple of steaks with his mother, Susan, explosions rock the front of Steele’s home. As teams of unidentified Russian commandos storm his compound, Steele coaches his mother through what to do, while simultaneously engaging the gunmen—dropping them one by one, before escaping in his ’67 GTO. The getaway turns tragic, though, when the bad guys follow Steele and in the process gravely wound his mother, who is later placed in an intensive care unit, barely clinging to life.
Filled with both rage and guilt, Steele confides in his buddy and trusted sidekick, Demo, who drops this bit of sobering truth: “You can’t do anything.” After making peace with the fact that there’s nothing he can do for his mom in her current state, Steele turns his attention to the attackers, his thirst for blood overwhelming. Seeking revenge, Eric goes after those responsible, only to realize that he’s now part of a far bigger, more sinister plot.
As it turns out, a high-profile terrorist named Aleksandr Zakayev has escaped from Black Dolphin, Russia’s maximum-security prison, and met up with Hassan Sitta, who had been incarcerated in an off-the-books facility located onboard a massive ship floating down the Northern Sea Route. On their own, each man is bad enough, but together, they pose an even greater threat to the safety of the United States . . . and when whispers surface that Sitta has assembled a bomb someplace in the Middle East and is targeting world leaders, all bets are off as Steele tries yet again to save the day.
After a long career in the military, much of which was covered in his New York Times bestselling memoir Outlaw Platoon, Sean Parnell knows combat intimately, and that realism bleeds through each and every page of All Out War. Much like his first Eric Steele novel, the follow-up is fast-paced and well-plotted, and the story is unique and structured so that there’s never a dull moment. That said, Parnell’s calling card is still the riveting action sequences he somehow pieces together, which are some of the biggest, boldest rapid-fire scenes in print today. Fans of Brad Taylor, Mark Greaney, and Brad Thor will especially appreciate his attention to detail.
As for Eric Steele, Parnell continues to develop his hero, who is fast becoming one of the more formidable leads in an action series, by showing a new side to him here. The opening scene where the gunmen descend upon his home is a work of genius, and the dialogue between son and mother is spot-on, adding the kind of heart-warming touch that’s rarely seen in these types of thrillers.
Sean Parnell continues to impress with his second novel, All Out War, a timely action thriller that brings the pain in a big way . . . and readers will no doubt enjoy following Eric Steele as he goes to work killing bad guys and trying to save the world yet again.
Author: Sean Parnell
Series: Eric Steele #2
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 9.0/10
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 developmental 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.