Courtney Hewitt has survived WWIII. She managed to escape Minneapolis with her best friend Sally Ann. Sally Ann’s father who has a drinking problem and a boy who likes her named Billy. She also found a dog she named Gaga. Yet the countryside is filled with zombies. Soon the drunk father is killed but they pick up an eight year old girl named Sansa who lost her family. The group continues on to northern Minnesota and the survivalist compound they heard about on the radio. Along the way they not only fight zombies but a biker gang, a mutant bear, and the green chemical clouds that have a mind of their own. Billy is killed but they meet up with Gar from Arkansas. The group makes it to the compound and gets captured by some escaped convicts. Courtney manages to warn the compound and stop the convicts plans to take it over. As a reward Courtney and her friends are allowed to join the compound known as the Home.
The conclusion to the story of Courtney was a satisfying read. The story is a prequel to Robbin’s popular Endworld series. Courtney is the grandmother to Hickok and Gar I’m guessing is his grandfather. I know Robbins has revived his Endworld and this the third prequel he has done set in that universe. I hope he does some more because I am enjoying them. So the following is the blurb on the back cover:
Courtney Hewitt is having a bad week
First, World War III broke out. Then she lost contact with her family. Toxic chemical clouds appeared. So did dead people who crave to eat the living. As well as horrible mutations, bloodthirsty gangs, and outright crazies.
On the plus side, she found a dog.
You have to love a book that just says no matter how bad it gets everything will work out with a dog.
The War Dogs are at the friendly Khymer village when they hear that Amy who is in the Philippines is in trouble. She ran afoul of some bigshot in Manila so Justin Ross and two others go there. The guy who is after her has his five daughters frame her for a bombing. So the guys have to break her out of jail. Meanwhile two of the guys head off to Saigon with their Khymer girlfriends. They save a journalist during a VC raid on their bus and get invited to a bar. There is also a third story going on about a seventeen year old girl from Portland who signs up as an entertainer and finds herself being sold into white slavery in Saigon. She gets raped and hooked on heroin. Meanwhile the reporter is found out to be a KGB agent and he is killed in a big raid by the North Vietnamese as one of the guys goes after him. At the end the leader Justine finds the girl who turns out to be his daughter and kills the guy responsible for raping and hooking her on drugs. Unfortunately at the end she dies of a drug overdose.
Well this book was a mess. It ends the series not on a very high note. It was all over the place. Half of it occurred in Manila and I still don’t have any idea why this guy was after Amy. Plus it had a very downbeat story. One of the guys who had a Khymer wife thinks she was killed in a bombing. He blames the reporter who ends up killing him and we find out he was a KGB agent. There was also the subplot with the girl that was just filled with depressing scene after scene of rape and getting hooked on drugs. The book was all over the place. Not a very coherent story. A sad ending to a series that up to now was entertaining and had some potential.
The War Dogs have decided after their last mission to go to Cambodia after reading about a princess who has problems with Chinese bandits. They make friends with the tribe and rescue the princess’s brother and take out the Chinese bandit leader in the process. Yet the mysterious Mr. Y in the Pentagon finds them and they get their next assignment. The NVA have an interrogation center for POWs next to the Cambodian border. Their mission is to go there and assassinate a recently captured Air Force pilot that was shot down. A strange assignment but the War Dogs don’t question their assignments and proceed to the base. Only they’re ambushed by T-54 tanks. The group escapes except for Chandler. Chandler finds out the Air Force lieutenant is the son of a man he served with in Korea. He died in an assault on Camp Starburst. The son has been searching for his father and found out a traitor defected to the Chinese.
Meanwhile the War Dogs after failing in their mission get another assignment. A Congressman is in Vietnam leading a mission to defeat the opium dealers in Cambodia. In the POW camp Chandler and the lieutenant are rescued by an old mercenary friend of Chandler’s from Africa. The man was posing as an East German interrogation specialist known as The Claw. They manage to escape and it all ends with a confrontation with the Congressman who was the traitor in Korea and the one responsible for trying to silencing the Air Force lieutenant for exposing him.
So this was another wild book in the series. I have to admit that the author has a way of throwing stuff at you that you don’t expect. The prologue that starts in Korea with Chandler and his run in with the sentry that was asleep and triggers the claymores when he is surprised killed the returning patrol. His actions result in the destruction of Camp Starburst. Yet it makes sense at the end. A traitor that’s now a congressman who is funding his campaign with drug money. There is goofiness abounding in the book. A German mercenary looking for a cache of weapons he can steal and impersonating an East German with a mechanical hand. Tanks used by the NVA in 1964 even thought they would be next to useless in the terrain and type of war they were fighting. An Air Force fighter pilot who was only 20. A little too young. All this made it an interesting read.
The War Dogs are in Bangkok to take out the local Communists who plan to attack the U.S. Embassy. After saving the deputy ambassador its off to Saigon. There the team has to assassinate an Army colonel who is running a white slaving operation on the side. As the team waits around two of the men decide to do a little extracurricular active to supplement their incomes. They kill a notorious drug dealer and steal his money.
June Wanda is a rising singer and movie actress. She is also a notorious Communist who married a prominent Black Panther. She also is a highly outspoken critic of the war. She has just been on a trip to Hanoi. Now she is coming to Saigon and the mysterious Mr. Y in the Pentagon wants her taken out. So the team plans an assassination at the rally she is attending. Only the mortar round they are using is a dude. An exciting car chase with a helicopter involved leads to the team capturing June. They take her to a safe house and torture her on why she is really in Saigon. We find out she is there to deliver $250,000 from a rich Texan to pay off the North Vietnamese to release his POW son an Air Force officer shot down in the north. We find out she is actually an NSA agent who has successfully penetrated the anti-war movement, the Black Panthers and the KGB. Then its found out she is a double agent working for the KGB and funneling secret war plans to the north. A final confrontation at an old French fort outside Saigon ends with the traitor getting her just deserts.
The second book in the series was a fun read. The story moved fast and was filled with plenty of action. I loved the wild twists and turns the story took. What was at first just some hit on a kooky Jane Fonda type celebrity seemed kind of pointless. Then all these wild revelations are revealed and it becomes clear why she was tortured and marked for assassination. The guys also donate most of the money recovered to a local orphanage giving the group with such questionable motives and tactics some redemption at the end. A very solid read.
1963. Lt. Justin Ross and his elite clandestine team are ambushed. They were going to assassinate a cousin of President Diem who is a known Communist sympathizer. The team was betrayed and now all his men are dead. Only the timely intervention of South Vietnamese police save him from certain death. Now Ross has to rebuild the War Dogs. So he gathers a new bunch of individuals he can use. One is a former Korean war vet who was working as a mercenary in Rhodesia. He was caught planning a bank robbery and deported back to the states. Because he faked his death and his wife collected $250,000 in life insurance he has to join or be exposed. A Pueblo, Colorado police officer who beats an arrest subject to death. A seventeen year old from a rich family that ran off and joined the Army. He kills his drill instructor who bullied a friend to suicide. Then a helicopter pilot arrested for smuggling drugs. Finally a Guatemalan prostitute working in New York City. She kills a pimp and the Bronx Basher a serial killer that was targeting prostitutes.
This group is trained to be an elite squad of assassins that clandestinely eliminate enemies of America. Their first assignment is back in Vietnam. They first get the chance to take out an arms dealer who is selling to the VC in Hue. Then they infiltrate the presidential palace to kill the cousin. Only the coup starts against President Diem and they find out their real mission is to assassinate President Diem and his brother Nhu who is head of the secret police. They follow the two through secret underground passages to the cathedral in Cholon where they shoot both of them.
So my tradition to read a Vietnam war book for the holidays I started this new series. The first book is an extra length one at over 400 pages long. This was a common practice for Zebra when starting a new series for the first book to be extra long to establish the characters and world. The book definitely does this for the first half, except for the prologue doesn’t even take place in Vietnam. Instead it skips all over the world for Rhodesia, New York City, Pueblo, Florida Everglades, and Panama. We get backstories to all the team members and why they are in the War Dogs. The ending actually involved real world events. President Diem and his brother did escape to the Cholon cathedral using underground passages. Yet history says the two were captured and killed by an ARVN captain in the back of an M-113. A bit of revisionist history.
The first book was an enjoyable read. The characters were fleshed out and feel real. Nik-Uhernik is the pen name for Nicolas Cain who wrote the excellent Saigon Commandos. So the first review of the new year. I plan to do many more with a mix of new books I’ve read and older ones that I plan to reread. Happy New Year.