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Final Target: A Jonathan Grave Thriller


Final Target: A Jonathan Grave Thriller

John Gilstrap is the New York Times bestselling author of FRIENDLY FIRE and AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, the latter of which was the winner of 2016’s Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original Novel. In FINAL TARGET, Jonathan “Digger” Grave and Brian Van de Muelebrocke --- who, gratefully, has the brief moniker Boxers --- return to the jungles of southern Mexico, not Digger’s favorite tropical respite.

Digger’s elite hostage rescue team includes “Venice (Ven-EE-chay) Alexander, aka Mother Hen,” who, from headquarters in Virginia, watches over her clutch via satellite imagery, often hacking government computers. Just before midnight, Venice guides the team to “pluck their precious cargo --- their PC, a DEA agent named Harry Dawkins --- to safety.” Dawkins has already lost some fingernails and teeth to drug cartel members painfully extracting information.

With an exfiltration helicopter nearby, The Team is “outnumbered and outgunned.” But being “on the side of the angels,” they “kill the bad guys.” All they have to do is get Dawkins to the exfil site. What could possibly go wrong? The chopper pilot --- “the d*ckhead in the sky” --- is nowhere to be found: “The [SOB] flew off without us.”

"FINAL TARGET is far more than a whiz-bang, enthralling thriller.... The book also is steeped in international intrigue, forces trying to undermine Digger’s endeavor to right wrongs..."

Absconding with the drug thugs’ truck, they make their way to remote House of Saint Agnes, “an unaffiliated orphanage.” That means it’s not church sponsored. There, Digger discovers an arsenal hoarded by Alejandro Azul, “head of the Jungle Tigers” cartel. Azul “supports it because he created these orphans when he murdered their parents.”

Digger fears Azul and reinforcements will come for his weaponry and evacuates the orphans, taking with them as many rifles as they can carry. Boxers goes BOOM! with C4 and GPC explosives, vaporizing Saint Agnes and Azul’s armaments. Digger leads his “kindergarten army” on foot through the jungle, trusting Venice to orchestrate a new exfil venue that can accommodate a dozen de facto PCs.

Meanwhile, former team member Gail Bonneville is pulled “back into Jonathan’s world, and she was already reliving the nightmare, swimming in toxic waters that were way over her head.” Not in Mexico, she’s consigned to treading a much denser jungle, with tangled vines that wind their way into Congress. Specifically, Senator Charles Clark, who walks lockstep with reviled President Darmond. But how does the Teflon-coated Clark relate to a kidnapped DEA agent?

Things go awry on the harrowing jungle trek, “a hideous case of bad luck.” The well-orchestrated team is stretched to unimaginable limits, as Azul’s Jungle Tigers converge at the new exfil site. Apocalyptic gunfire and explosions make for a climactic conclusion to the 10th satisfying installment of the series.

FINAL TARGET is far more than a whiz-bang, enthralling thriller. That’s a given, seeing as how John Gilstrap wrote it. The book also is steeped in international intrigue, forces trying to undermine Digger’s endeavor to right wrongs, a metaphor for the holistic Zoroastrian conflict between good and evil --- the antagonistic duality that lives on, as long as Gilstrap has a word processor.

Don’t read anything into the title. Gratefully, it’s not the final Jonathan Grave thriller. It is, however, the first in the series to appear in hardcover as well as mass market. With almost 400 action-packed pages, Gilstrap’s fans can look forward to the next Grave installment, SCORPION STRIKE, in summer 2018.

Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on June 29, 2017

Final Target: A Jonathan Grave Thriller
by John Gilstrap

  • Publication Date: June 27, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Pinnacle
  • ISBN-10: 0786039787
  • ISBN-13: 9780786039784