THE ZONE #9 BODY COUNT BY JAMES ROUCH

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Copyright 1990.

Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are on leave in Munich. Munich is just on the edge of the Zone and is a major armaments production center for the war effort. On the night they are getting ready to go back on assignment a Soviet transport breaks through the air defenses. It drops two hundred highly trained Spetsnaz commandos into the city. Their job is to cause massive disruption to the city and cripple the war effort.

Revell and his SCC are the only available men to fight them. They must go from one hot spot in the city to another. They find themselves fighting among innocent civilians. Mistakes are made and innocents die, property destroyed. The SCC not only battle the Spetsnaz but their own leadership. Revell in disgust at the end decides to desert and take his men into the Zone to fight his own way.

I love the Bavarians. World War III is going on and they still find time for their Oktoberfest. Well this is the last of the Zone books published. The series lasted for ten years and actually outlasted the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union would follow a year later so world events were making this series obsolete. I have heard of a tenth book called Death March. Wikipedia lists it as coming out in 2007 but only as a pdf from an Australian company. Amazon does list the nine books available as either print or kindle. It also sounds that Death March doesn’t continue from Body Count since many characters that died in past books are in it. Hopefully some day I might get the chance to read Death March.

The series was your typical Zebra Men’s Adventure book series. Lots of action and sex designed to appeal to young teens and twentysomethings. Now the whole setup of a prolonged engagement in Western Europe for over three years is neither politically or economically feasible. The Soviets were little more than cardboard cutout villains and the plots were wildly improbable.

Still as a young teenager I really enjoyed the books. They were fast paced and populated with a wide variety of larger than life characters. After all these years I still found it enjoyable and it brought back some great memories. I find it appropriate how it ended. I can see these goofy characters continuing their never ending war in the Zone. So I bid adieu to Major Revell, Sgt. Hyde, Psycho Andrea, Obnoxious Dooley, Hillbilly Ripper and Goldbricking Burke. They fade into the mists of history and my childhood.

THE ZONE #8 CIVILIAN SLAUGHTER BY JAMES ROUCH

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Copyright 1989.
A shaky truce has been called in the Zone. Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are not in favor with the higher ups and assigned mundane guard duty. Their prisoners are from the worst of the Russian POWS, criminals, murders and such. Stripped of there heavy armor and equipment they must supervise these prisoners in rebuilding roads in a quiet sector of the Zone.

They settle in for the mundane duty but soon make a gruesome discovery. Over two thousand refugees are found buried, victims of a massacre. Revell’s reports lead to a high ranking general visiting with orders to keep silent. The bodies are disposed of and all trace of their existence covered up. The politicians do not want to upset the truce so they cover up the incident. If Revell continues to press the issue he is threatened with court martial and the disbandment of his men.

The massacre was done by the KGB Disciplinary Battalion 717 nicknamed ‘Beria’s sons’. A unit composed of the dregs of the KGB. It is run by a Colonel Tarkovski the most depraved human that ever lived. Tarkovski launches a raid that kills several of the SCC. Later the SCC finds another hundred victims of the KGB, all of them little children.

Revell and his men have had enough. They decide to administer their own brand of justice and to hell with the consequences.

The eighth book in the series is a sort of leisurely read. Not a lot of action it mostly deals with the indifference and cynicism of politicians. Something that there is no shortage of in the real world. You get a feeling of the futility of the war they are waging and that it seems to have no end.

The company gains some new characters.
Sampson the medic who dedicates his free time in helping the refugees.
Garett the practical joker and clown
Ackerman a first rate scrounger
The losses
Thorne dies in the beginning when they attack a convoy.
Clarence the sniper that was one of the original crew. He make his goal of killing 100 communist for each of his family that was killed. Decides he has had enough and eats a bullet. A very disturbed man who anyone could see was destined to kill himself.

THE ZONE #7 KILLING GROUND BY JAMES ROUCH

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The Warsaw Pact is on the offensive and NATO troops are retreating throughout the Zone. Major Revell and the Special Combat Company can do little but join the general exodus. Battered by constant airstrikes the company comes upon a picturesque village that seems untouched by the war. They have inadvertently stumbled on to paradise valley.

Paradise Valley is a myth among the NATO troops of a vast supply dump. The myth is in fact real with vast supplies stored in underground bunkers beneath the village. Defended by a company of elderly Dutch pioneers and a British air defense unit the situation looks hopeless. Surrounded by Soviets who are desperate to capture the supplies that are needed to continue their offensive. Now Revell and his misfits and mavericks must make a last stand that could determine the outcome of the war.

The seventh book in the series is a very solid story. A lot happens in this one. We get a lot of new characters. One tragic loss is Boris the Russian deserter that was assigned to the unit. He was tragic character and died a noble death. The callous reaction from Andrea has finally broken the weird obsession that Revell had for her. Unfortunately in later books the weird relationship these two have will continue.

The new characters in the unit.
Lt. Voke the leader of the Dutch pioneers. His men will now be part of the unit.
Old William a real old coot that is part of the Dutch pioneers.
Scully the self appointed cook.
Carrington a demolitions expert with veins filled with ice.

THE ZONE #6 PLAGUE BOMB BY JAMES ROUCH

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The Special Combat Company is assigned to routine salvage operations in a quiet part of the Zone. Major Revell has just come back from HQ looking for a better assignment. A group of leftist civilians has started out on a peace mission to the Soviet lines. Revell’s unit is to intercept them and bring them back. Not what Revell was looking for but better than salvaging damaged vehicles so the unit heads out in an old Marder APC.

Meanwhile in Moscow Colonel Rozenkov has just been promoted to Department A the propaganda arm of the KGB. To solidify his promotion his first task is to intercept the peace mission and turn it into a public publicity stunt to show the Soviet Union in a positive light. Rozenkov is an ambitious and ruthless agent that will do anything to further his career.

He has to deal with not only Revell’s men but the GRU, Soviet military intelligence that want to steal his glory. The civilians travel through land that has been contaminated by biological warfare so time is critical if he hopes to intercept them alive. It all comes to a violent confrontation in an abandoned Czech village.

The sixth book in the series is another exciting read. This time we get some of the story from the perspective of the Soviets. There’s a lot of intrigue and backstabbing in the story.

There are no losses to the unit and only one addition. Thorne the British sapper that was impersonating an officer from the last book is now part of the team. He favors the use of a flamethrower.

THE ZONE #5 OVERKILL BY JAMES ROUCH

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Hamburg is in it’s second year of siege by the Soviets. Because of political pressure NATO decides to scrape together a force to resupply the city. Not enough to make a difference but just to placate the politicians.
Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are assigned the task to lead this force.

Revell must shepherd a convoy of supply ships up the Elbe River. Through deadly mines, scuttled ships and gun emplacements the force arrives at less then half what it started out. They find a city of desperate ill fed and armed defenders on the verge of collapse. The company now joins the defenders and fights in the ruins of a once great city. Communist saboteurs, air raids, artillery bombardments and armor attacks are fought out in the rubble.
It all leads to a climatic offensive by the defenders to break the siege.

The fifth book in the series is another fun read. The book does take a grim turn at the end. It is discovered that the Soviets are so short of food that they have been digging up the corpses for meals. Yep nothing lightens the mood of a story like cannibalism.

Revell and Andrea’s continues to go down a weird path. She seems to have decided to latch onto Revell to learn his leadership skills. The guy acts like a twelve year with a crush around her. He also hooks up with a Swedish photojournalist that later turns out the be a Soviet agent. The guy really is a disaster when it comes to relationships with women.

THE ZONE #4 SKY STRIKE BY JAMES ROUCH

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NATO has decided to launch an airborne assault on a major railroad junction inside East Germany. It’s supposed to be an easy in and out with minimum air defenses. Unfortunately the intelligence is completely inaccurate. The Soviets are waiting with crack air defense battalions. Soon the first wave of helicopters is shot out of the sky.

Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are in this first wave. They survive their Blackhawk being shot down and now find themselves hundreds of miles deep in enemy territory. With no hope of rescue they are on their own. They steal an APC and head out. The APC happens to be the personal vehicle for a Soviet general. Now they have the entire Warsaw Pact forces after them.

The fourth book in the series is a great improvement from the last book. I would say it’s actually my favorite. This one had plenty of action from beginning to end. There was no new characters introduced but we had two new losses.
Cline the brownnoser bombardier from last book had his leg blown off by a mine at the end.

We also lost Libby. He was one of the original cast from the first book. I liked this character. His desire to be in the Zone to find his fiancĂ©e Helga gave this series a very sympathetic character to root for. The horrors of the Zone were finally getting to him. He knew that they would commit him to a psychiatric ward and take him out of the Zone. He couldn’t bear to give up his search so deserts at the end to continue his futile search in the Zone.

THE ZONE #3 HUNTER KILLER BY JAMES ROUCH

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Winter is coming and thanks to all the nuclear weapons used in the Zone it is predicted to be a cold one. The Soviets need to get its fleet out of the Baltic before the ports freeze over. They have strong armed Sweden into allowing passage of the Soviet fleet through their territorial waters. Then the fleet could cause untold damage to the North Sea oilrigs and NATO resupply convoys.

NATO comes up with a bold plan. Drop a team on an uninhabited island off the coast of neutral Sweden. There they will launch missiles at the fleet and Swedish military installations. This will hopefully start a shooting war that eventually brings Sweden in on the side of NATO.

Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are assigned this task. They are dropped in temperatures of thirty below on the island. Immediately things start to go wrong. The drop kills over half the men and destroys much of their equipment. The brutal cold threatens to finish the survivors off. If this wasn’t bad enough the Swedes have given permission for the Soviets to establish a listening post on one of their islands. Guess which one they chose.

The third book in the series is probably the weakest in the whole series. For two thirds there is little action and it deals with them landing on the island and establishing their plan of attack. It is an interesting read but compared to the other books it lacks action.

This story also gives Revell’s command a name, the Special Combat Company. They have some gains and losses.
Losses:
Lt. Hogg- dies from frostbite.
York- decapitated by a naval artillery bombardment at the end.
Gains:
Bombardier Cline- senior surviving member of the British artillery specialists. Is a real kiss ass and very ambitious for promotion.
Fraser- a medic.

Boris- Soviet deserter.