One of the more interesting side effects of electronic publishing is the ability of an author to introduce a character through a short story as a prologue to a subsequent full-length novel. Mark Sullivan, who has penned several critically acclaimed thrillers, has chosen to do just that with Robin Monarch, formerly with the U.S. Special Forces, through an eBook-only story. It’s a taste designed to tempt the reader for more, and succeeds completely in doing so.
"One of the more interesting side effects of electronic publishing is the ability of an author to introduce a character through a short story as a prologue to a subsequent full-length novel.... Mark Sullivan...has chosen to do just that with Robin Monarch... It’s a taste designed to tempt the reader for more, and succeeds completely in doing so."
BROTHERHOOD opens in the (recent) present --- the beginning of the Gulf War, to be exact --- with Monarch in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Monarch is buried so deep in the facility that sunlight has to be pumped down to him, if, in fact, he were permitted to have sunlight; accordingly, he is surprised when he receives a pair of high-ranking government visitors. They offer Monarch a deal: complete a mission for a grateful United States government --- his nation will not be grateful, since it will never know about it --- and he gets his freedom, a full pardon, and a clean record. Only a fool would ask what he has to do, and Monarch is no fool.
The narrative then proceeds along twin tracks, with Monarch engaging in his harrowing assignment in the present, while the reader learns about the events in his past, as an orphan in Buenos Aires, during which he acquired elements of his skill set that make him the perfect recruit for the mission at hand.
Two stories for the price of one? Yes, but while it is obvious that Monarch is going to make it to the end of both of them, there is never a dull moment here, as Sullivan ratchets up the suspense page by page and takes the reader on two rides through seemingly impossible and terminally dangerous missions. Rewards wait at the end of each --- including one that the adult Monarch does not fully expect, but certainly anticipates --- but how he makes it to the end of the finish line is the mission itself.
But wait, there’s more! BROTHERHOOD includes a generous sample of ROGUE, the full-length Robin Monarch novel to be published later in 2012. I won’t spoil that for you, but you will definitely want a second helping of Monarch. It is a two-for-one that you will not want to miss.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 16, 2012