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Hunting in the Shadows (American Praetorians Book 2) Kindle Edition
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My only quibble, if there is one, is that the story feels like it builds a bit slowly, and I felt as if the end goal / approaching climax wasn't as clearly defined as it was in the first book. The characters move from one action to another and each set piece definitely works, but I feel like the larger narrative was a bit blurry. Nevertheless, this was a good read, from a skilled author with top-notch action sequences. For readers like me who really dig military adventure fiction with a lot of detail and a strong grasp of real-world weapons and tactics, this series is a must.
The follow-up novel, HUNTING IN THE SHADOWS, is even more violent, bleaker, and more twisted. In the wake of the withdrawal from Iraq, the situation in country has predictably gone from bad to worse. Stone, now a Praetorian team leader, is officially assigned to provide security to Liberty Petroleum, a Western oil company. Unofficially, the Praetorians are on the ground to continue what they started in the Horn of Africa a year earlier: take the fight to jihadists since a broken United States cannot and will not.
Nealen's descriptions of combat are tight and brutal, the words of a man who has lived through such experiences. What was particularly impressive to me as a fellow Iraq veteran was his spot-on analysis of the situation on the ground: a cluster of various Islamic groups all fighting each other and most of them simultaneously allied against the West. This was very much the situation on the ground when I was there in 2008 and 2009.
Another plus is that we learn more about Stone, the man and not Stone, the mercenary. These moments are fleeting and few, but bear a stark contrast to the heavy helping of fighting. It helps the reader to better relate to Stone and feel his pain.
HUNTING IN THE SHADOWS is a violent yet educational thrill ride from start to finish, and a must have for fans of the genre, a stark contrast from the Brad Thor-type thrillers.
Tactically speaking, Mr. Nealan's operational descriptions are basically textbook, if somewhat unbelievable. Imagine a whole team of Chuck Norris like gunfighters who regularly march into overwhelming odds without so much as a blink. That basically sums up the operators of Praetorian Security. Things move fast, and lots of people die and you get a little bit of a history lesson about middle eastern sectarian violence in the process. Ultimately it's all in good fun and keeps you glued to your seat until the conclusion.
This story is unapologetic in its disregard for the human aspect of the characters and the political consequences of their actions. Praetorian comes off as an "ends justify the means" type of organization without a great deal of regard for human life (friend or foe). Friends are mourned briefly and without fanfare. Mission comes first, despite the fact that the mission isn't really clear or really even benefiting anyone. Just kill bad guys and all will be well. It's not ideal, but it works for "Hunting in the Shadows". The heroes of this story are jaded war weary gunfighters who are breathtakingly efficient killers and not much else.