Oath of Honor
Matthew Betley quickly earned a spot on my must-read list with the publication of OVERWATCH, his debut novel, in 2016. Betley doesn’t just talk the talk; he has a decade’s worth of experience as a Marine officer in Middle East combat hot spots that lend an air of authenticity --- and much, much more --- to his Logan West and John Quick novels, which chronicle the actions of the pair as members of the United States Joint Terrorism Task Force. This newly published second book fulfills and exceeds the promise implicitly made in its predecessor that this would be a series to watch. It most definitely is, and then some.
OATH OF HONOR has enough action for three or even four books, sparked by a multilayered plot against the United States that has the duo and its support team globetrotting across continents from North America to Europe, Asia and beyond. The action on its surface involves the technological hijacking of a United States satellite in order to create a crisis that will put two of the world’s superpowers on war footing against each other. There is even more to the plan than that, given that the implications extend far beyond a conflict between two countries and into economic and military control of the world itself.
"The action here is nicely balanced by the development of the characters themselves, particularly that of Logan West, whose realistic yet sympathetic flaws add a further degree of realism to a book and a series that is very much of this world."
Logan and John have plenty to deal with on the ground, as the skill sets and abilities of both men are stretched to the limit in a variety of situations against a multitude of enemies. The world is a dangerous place, as Betley knows firsthand, and that knowledge is demonstrated time and again in OATH OF HONOR. A major question that echoes throughout the book, however, is the identity of the people behind the action generally, and who specifically is the traitor in the highest reaches of the US government who continuously transmits sensitive intelligence to the enemy tasked with carrying out the plan. The former issue will no doubt be explored in future installments of this fine series, which takes place in a world where, like this one, the US does not lack for enemies.
The action here is nicely balanced by the development of the characters themselves, particularly that of Logan West, whose realistic yet sympathetic flaws add a further degree of realism to a book and a series that is very much of this world. And speaking of which, people die suddenly in this world; so to in Logan’s, where a strong secondary character meets a sudden, violent and heroic end. The incident echoes throughout the remainder of the story and no doubt will do the same for at least a couple of installments to come.
Betley’s sophomore effort demonstrates a confidence and clear vision that one would expect of a Marine, particularly one of his own background. The introduction of an addictive new character, one who easily could be featured in a stand-alone book or a new series altogether, adds to the heft of OATH OF HONOR, and may well enlarge the readership demographic that one would otherwise expect of a book of this nature. If Betley’s first two titles are any indication of what is to come, Logan West and John Quick will be a fixture in bookstores for a long time to come.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on March 17, 2017