Gun Metal Heart
Dana Haynes introduced the irresistible --- and lethally dangerous --- Daria Gibron in CRASHERS, his unforgettable debut novel under his own name. While Daria, a deadly operative with a history of leaving live enemies and dead bodies behind her, was a secondary character in that book, she was also an irresistible one in many ways. She made a return in BREAKING POINT, Haynes’s sophomore effort. Since then, Daria has hijacked Haynes’s creative attention, but in the best possible ways, returning as a primary protagonist in ICE COLD KILL and now for another go-around in the newly published and wonderfully titled GUN METAL HEART, which leaves her scrambling to defeat a virtually unbeatable weapon.
GUN METAL HEART opens with the seemingly indestructible Daria living off the radar in rural Italy as she slowly but steadily recuperates from the damage she sustained to herself in ICE COLD KILL. However, her burrowing doesn’t stop Diego, her old colleague and friend, from finding her and seeking her assistance. Diego was partnered up in Florence, Italy, on a bodyguard job, tasked with protecting an elderly engineer with an invention that had the potential to revolutionize security and warfare. They were attacked, though, by a deadly mercenary group known as the White Scorpions, which had become notorious in the 1990s during the Bosnian conflict. Diego was able to escape, but is being pursued by them. While Diego is only seeking help from Daria, he has also endangered her by bringing her into his conflict.
"Daria has hijacked Haynes’s creative attention, but in the best possible ways, returning as a primary protagonist in ICE COLD KILL and now for another go-around in the newly published and wonderfully titled GUN METAL HEART, which leaves her scrambling to defeat a virtually unbeatable weapon."
Meanwhile, Diego’s contact with Daria has not gone unnoticed by some of the world’s major intelligence agencies, which include the Mossad and the CIA, both of whom want Daria’s head on a pike. An additional group of CIA agents who had been drummed out of the agency as a direct and proximate result of Daria’s actions want a piece --- or pieces --- of her as well. The White Scorpions are the unwitting dupes of a disgraced and heavily sanctioned weapons technology company that has developed weaponry that is direct competition with that of the inventor whom Diego was tasked with bodyguarding. The weaponry is a new set of drones --- nicknamed hummingbirds and hawks --- that have the ability to identify, target and destroy anyone, anywhere, at anytime.
Daria and Diego soon find themselves mortally threatened by an adversary who can barely be seen. And, as added insurance against Daria, the White Scorpions are led by a legendary and deadly woman who is every bit Daria’s equal when Daria is at full capacity. The question is thus raised: How will Daria, still recovering from injuries and nowhere near full capacity, survive being attacked, and quite capably so, on all sides? The answer will be found here; it’s not a pretty one, but it’s an exciting one.
GUN METAL HEART would have been considered science fiction not that long ago. When someone said “drone,” what immediately came to mind is what any number of your college professors used to do when you were confined to a lecture hall on a warm spring afternoon. Drones are now a bit more dangerous than that (if you don’t feel a prickle between your shoulder blades when you’re outside, then you haven’t been paying attention), but what Haynes describes kicks it up a notch or five. I have no doubt the hummingbirds and hawks that Haynes mentions and that pursue her from Paris to Belgrade are somewhere between a drawing board and a factory --- or beyond --- even as you sit there. Think about that as you read GUN METAL HEART, which is arguably Haynes’s most fully realized book to date.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 22, 2014