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Mann of War Paperback – January 29, 2013
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About the Author
John Brantingham’s other books include East of Los Angeles and Let Us All Pray Now to Our Own Strange Gods. His work has appeared in hundreds of magazines in England and the United States and on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. He teaches English at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut where he lives with his wife Annie.
Top customer reviews
Robert Mann is such a character. Imagine Dr. Johnathan Hemlock (the CIA assassin from Trevanian's book The Eiger Sanction), take away his a**hole qualities, make him a really nice guy, give him a rich interior life, and you have Robert Mann.
Just like with Hemlock, only a few pages are spent on the why's and wherefore's of how Mann became essentially an FBI assassin. Nevertheless, I have to disagree with one of the other reviewers who said this was a failing. We do know that Mann and his FBI connection, Dean Cooley, were blood-brothers in the U.S. Special Forces, that Mann was trained to kill in battle, and that avenging the murder of a third comrade of their's while he was a policeman started the off-grid killing program. And we know that the Mann/Cooley team have a well developed thirst for Justice. For this genre, that is plenty of back story. And, throughout the novel, we observe both of them repeatedly questioning whether their ends-justifies-the-means quest to bring balance to the forensic universe is moral, and whether their personalities are being corrupted by that quest.
What makes this novel such a fun read is Mann's growth as an assassin. Even as he increasingly worries that killing bad guys is warping his personality, he gets more inventive and confident in the practice. And yet he is such a nice guy, really, a Nice Guy, and so he is always having to tell himself, "Don't think about it," and "If anyone deserved to die, he did," etc.
Another fun aspect is that the bad guys he has to kill are much much better at being evil than Mann is at being an avenging angel. They generally have the full arsenal of the psychopath: they are narcissistic, manipulative, effortless liars, and exquisitely sensitive to their own danger and discomfort. By the time Mann somehow figures out how to deliver the coup de grace, a savage satisfied little smile is always on my face.
Bottom line: this is a real page turner, a fun read, worth a couple of afternoons of pleasure reading. However, from Mr. Brantingham's other works, I know he is capable of a much deeper exploration of the character's personality, of much more complexity. I'm looking forward to the next Robert Mann novel, and I'm hoping it is The Empire Strikes Back to his first novel's Star Wars.
Fantastic Five Stars.
Most recent customer reviews
Robert Mann is an ordinary college professor with issues.Read more
Can't wait to share it with friends so we can discuss the characters, and the great...Read more