From Publishers Weekly
Ben Tails (aka "Mr. Slide") leaves a bloody trail indeed in Cook's gripping tale of a modern warrior's journeys from Montana to Vietnam and other parts of Asia, always returning home, always searching. His skills as hunter and marksman turn him into a deadly sniper, while his Vietnam War experiences leave him disillusioned and aware that he has been manipulated for evil purposes. He stays for years in Asia, where he learns Mandarin and does his best to suppress the violent side of himself he calls Mr. Slide. Tails's core values make him far more interesting than the run-of-the-mill action hero, and when one of the rare people he trusts lures him from Montana to Japan for a simple job selling motorcycles—and sussing out bad guys—Mr. Slide may have to reappear. Tails soon discovers that he's being used as a pawn in a deadly and vicious high stakes game. Graphic violence, penetrating, incisive analysis of complex cultural and historical events and one man's heroic defiance make Cook's long overdue second novel (after 1988's Graveyard Rules
) an event to celebrate. This is a writer with something to say and immense skills with which to say it. (May)
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This novel's outline--a haunted Vietnam vet returns to the Far East to work for a paramilitary, extragovernmental organization--sounds like standard thriller fare, but Blood Trail
is anything but standard. Call it a "ruminative thriller": as ex-marine sniper Ben Tails is manipulated by shadowy forces fighting for power, he spends more time in thought and in conversation than in battle. Cook's real mission is to explore the effects of war, the motives of those who start it and those who fight it, whether war makes us evil or brings out evil that was there already, and human nature in the natural world. That's not to say this is a philosophical treatise. When Tails does fight, Cook hooks us with clean, dispassionate prose that puts us right in the middle of the fray. He can be poetic, too, evoking the beauty of Tails' western Montana home with both love and skill. It will take some readers a while to adjust to this book's pace, but the adjustment is well worth it. A unique and compelling novel. Keir GraffCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved