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Friendly Fire: A Jonathan Grave Thriller


Friendly Fire: A Jonathan Grave Thriller

Following AGAINST ALL ENEMIES (winner of the 2016 Thriller Award for Best Paperback Original Novel) and END GAME, John Gilstrap introduces his most complex work, an intriguing premise that potentially holds all of America hostage in a grip of terror. Gilstrap is the New York Times bestselling author of intense thrillers featuring Jonathan “Digger” Grave and Brian Van de Muelebrocke, who, gratefully, has the abbreviated moniker Boxers, a nickname derived from his first three initials: BVD.

Eleven years ago at age 11, Ethan Falk was kidnapped by sex-slave traffickers. Digger and Boxers saved him. “Hostage rescue was a delicate balance of finesse and violence.” During Ethan’s rescue, three of the four pedophiles were killed, with only “Bill” escaping. Since covert operations are off record, Ethan knows his rescuer only as Scorpion, “a cool name for a scary insect that strikes fast.”

Despite carrying more baggage than a major airline, Ethan survived the ordeal and has recently turned 23. He’s now a coffee shop barista. A customer comes in, and immediately Ethan recognizes him as the monster he knew as Bill. He plunges a knife into the pedophile’s warped brain, killing him. But there’s no evidence that Ethan had been tortured or rescued. No defense for justifiable homicide.

"Like the flashbang grenade Digger uses, FRIENDLY FIRE packs 'a blinding flash and a teeth-rattling bang' of intense thriller reading, Gilstrap’s best of the series."

Detective Pam Hastings is first on the scene and talks Ethan into surrendering. He tells of the horror he endured, but there’s no documentation. Hastings feels that there’s an element of truth in what Ethan says and investigates an 11-year-old unsolved triple homicide. Compounding matters, Hastings learns that the victim’s name is James Stepahin, not Bill. “There are no records of the man [Ethan] killed. None.” Totally off the grid. How can you kill someone who doesn’t exist?

Digger had “made it a point over the years not to think much about the people he rescued.” When he learns of Ethan’s plight, he can do nothing about it. How can he tell cops he killed three traffickers? Now it appears Stepahin was the ring leader of a group hired by al-Amin jihadists, “the nest of bad guys we’ve been looking for.” They’re intent on shaking America’s confidence to the core.

Near Washington, DC, upscale Braddock County is “nowhere on anyone’s list of probable terrorist targets.” But after Digger and Boxers rescue a senator’s kidnapped daughter and prevent another congressional hostage situation, the dynamic duo links Stepahin’s misfits to a much larger terror organization. The book doesn’t focus on an individual hostage situation. America is the victim. “Terror isn’t about capturing ground, it’s about making everyone feel unsafe.”

“Some stories just don’t have happy endings.” Reading about the real-life carnage into the final pages made me think that this novel led into a sequel. What happens may cause literary whiplash.

Like the flashbang grenade Digger uses, FRIENDLY FIRE packs “a blinding flash and a teeth-rattling bang” of intense thriller reading, Gilstrap’s best of the series.

John Gilstrap is the upcoming Keynote Speaker at the October Florida Writers conference, where he will introduce the eighth Florida Writers Association anthology, HIDE AND SEEK.

Reviewed by L. Dean Murphy on June 30, 2016

Friendly Fire: A Jonathan Grave Thriller
by John Gilstrap

  • Publication Date: June 28, 2016
  • Genres: Adventure, Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Pinnacle
  • ISBN-10: 0786035072
  • ISBN-13: 9780786035076