‘War Hawk’ by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

War HawkJames Rollins’ most recent novel, a collaboration with Grant Blackwood titled War Hawk, is a spin-off from his popular Sigma Force series staring former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his K-9 partner, Kane.

In the beginning of the book, Tucker is still adjusting to life back in the States. He and Kane are traveling through Montana, taking some time to relax and regroup for as long as their finances will allow it. They both needed a break from the action, and neither wants anything more than to vacation far away from other people.

Unfortunately for them, nothing goes according to their plans…

Tucker seems to be a magnet for trouble and violence. This proves to once again be true when a routine stop at a gas station ends in a bloody fight. While inside, Tucker watched the Arab owner freeze just as he was ready to head back out to his truck, prompting the former Army Ranger to spin around–which is when he noticed a group of men walking towards the door carrying baseball bats.

Slipping out the door to confront them, Tucker quickly figured out that the thugs before him are hellbent on destroying the gas station because the owner is an Arab. Outnumbered and without a weapon, Tucker commanded Kane to take action. The seventy-pound Belgian Malinois, who is every bit as well trained as his master, lunged at one man and quickly took him to the ground while Tucker went to work on the others.

The scenes with Tucker and Kane fighting together are both thrilling and unique, as no other author in the genre has utilized such a partnership the way Rollins has. The bond between a man and his dog is special, but the bond between a highly trained Army Ranger and his war dog is, well, absolutely lethal. It’s also a ton of fun to read!

Hoping the drama and violence is behind them, Tucker and Kane go about their way heading towards a motel. Upon pulling into the motel parking lot, Tucker sees a ghost from his past–former Intelligence Analyst with the 75th Rangers, Jane Sabatello.

Tucker was once very much in love with Jane, but hadn’t seen her in six years. During that time, Jane married Mike, an insurance agent, and they had a son named Nathan. Mike was killed in a car accident a few years ago, so Jane and Nathan are on the run alone–which is why she tracked Tucker’s credit card purchases so she could find him. She needs his help, and there’s nobody else she trusts enough to go to.

Jane, who is now working for the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency), believes someone wants her dead. Her suspicion arose when Sandy, a friend of hers, fell off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again. While trying to figure out what may have happened to her, Jane uncovered a shocking discovery. Several members of a team that both she and Sandy had worked on have either gone missing or turned up dead–all within in the last month.

Jane can’t share with Tucker what the nature of their project was, but as he begins looking into things he discovers a massive conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of government. Short on time with nobody to trust, Tucker, Kane and Jane must race against the clock and put their own lives in danger to expose the truth and stop the bad guys before it’s too late.

Of all the books I’ve read this year, none of them have surprised me more than War Hawk, which is a legitimate, can’t-put-it-down thriller that has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. James Rollins is so good at what he does, and Tucker Wayne is definitely my favorite of all his characters.

The action in this book is non-freaking-stop, beginning with a blistering prologue flashback scene that will jump-start your adrenaline, especially with the way it ends. That momentum carries right into chapter one, which picks up the pace and never slows down.

If there’s a negative thing to be said, it’s that while the prologue is amazing, it takes quite a while to understand how it fits into the actual story in the present day. But honestly, I’m just nitpicking there; War Hawk is a real treat to read and a surprisingly great thriller.

Why I loved it

Tucker Wayne is great character. He’s intimidating and highly trained, but flawed and personable as well. He feels real, as if you could be driving around and spot Tucker and Kane riding through town somewhere.

I really love the relationship between Tucker and Kane, and am so glad Rollins is exploring their partnership further by giving them their own series. I’m a firm believer that dogs truly are man’s best friend–now if only I could get my boxer pup to obey and listen like Kane does to his master!

Why you should read it

I hate to say that a book with James Rollins’ name on it could be flying under the radar, but there doesn’t seem to be a ton of buzz around War Hawk yet. I’m sure that will soon change, especially as we near the release date, but in my opinion this book is very deserving of fans’ attention. I’m excited for it to hit bookstore shelves and plan to pick up a few copies to give as gifts this year.

The characters are well developed, including the antagonist, who is very unlikable. The dialogue is believable and the plot isn’t nearly as outlandish as other books I’ve read this year. Like always, there are things that require the reader to suspend their disbelief a little bit, but overall I thought the story was very well written and presented–and I was very impressed with the pacing and action scenes.

If you love nonstop action with a side of suspense, then War Hawk is the perfect book for you!

Book Details

Author: James Rollins and Grant Blackwood

Pages: 384 (Hardcover)

Publisher: William Marrow

Release Date: April 19, 2016 (Pre-order now!)

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