Sunday, January 31, 2010

No Man's Land by Eric L. Haney

book cover

No Man's Land
by Eric L. Haney

Mass Market Paperback: 298 pages
Publisher: Berkley
First Released: 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Back Cover Description (slightly modified):
Kennesaw Tanner spent years defending his country from enemies around the globe, fighting a shadow war with no battlefields, no treaties, and no surrender...

Now, as a soldier of fortune, he spends his time in Savannah, Georgia, waiting for the next mission to come his way. He never has to wait long.

A military officer appears with an offer: Tanner is needed to locate and rescue the kidnapped heir of a powerful leader in Lebanon, whose alliance with the United States has made him a target for terrorists. A simple extraction job.

What Tanner doesn't know is that there are elements within the U.S. government who want him to fail, that the sands of political expediency are shifting against him, and that the job he's being paid to do may cost him more than he bargained for...

Eric L. Haney uses his 20-year Army career, including service as a combat Infantryman, a Ranger, and a Delta Force Operative, to create a suspenseful, realistic tale.

No Man's Land was a fast-paced and exciting military suspense novel. The world-building was excellent, and the details of the setting, various cultures, and actions (sailing, military, etc.) were realistic and brought the world alive in my imagination. I felt like the narrator was a real person telling me about events that had really happened. The characters were realistic and interesting. I wanted to know what happened next and had a hard time putting the book down.

It was clear from the character Kennesaw's actions that he didn't hold to any one religion but that he did believe in a god. So I was surprised when the book suddenly stopped the action to spend a page and a half stating Kennesaw's spiritual beliefs. They had no direct bearing on the story and could have been deleted without anyone noticing. I can only conclude that the author wanted to make a point by having his character do this, so I decided to mention the religious content as I do on more obviously religious novels.

Kennesaw states on page 97, "I believe that anyone who threatens his fellow man with the holy wrath of God, because other people fail to express the proselytizer's particular brand of religious propaganda, is nothing more than a moral terrorist." As for the other characters, the novel also had Muslims doing their ritual prayers and an American woman praying to an undefined "God."

[Note: I have a problem with Kennesaw's statement, by the way. Unless you have an unchanging God who has revealed absolute rules about right and wrong that flow from his very nature (as in, do not lie because he cannot lie), then you have no basis for right and wrong, good and evil beyond everyone's personal opinion. So, according to Kennesaw's belief system, why is it wrong to be a "moral terrorist" except for the fact that he doesn't like it?]

There was no sex. There was a minimal amount of cussing and swearing. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book as very well-written, fairly clean reading.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
I sailed into Savannah on what turned out to be a high tide of rare good fortune. I hadn't planned to put in here, but then again, few of my schemes ever work out according to the original plot. It's much like the old saying in the army: "No plan survives contact with the enemy."

I had been slipping down the Atlantic coast with the vague idea of making my way to Belize and doing a little charter work. Cruising, fishing, diving, it didn't make much difference to me. Anything to put a few doubloons in the old treasure chest and keep body and soul joined as one. And Belize seemed a good backwater spot where a man could lay low for a while.

But a fast-moving storm had slammed out of the North Atlantic and into the Georgia Bight. My old boat, the Miss Rosalie, a fifty-six-foot former Dutch fishing vessel, had taken a pretty severe beating from the particularly nasty nor'easter, and we needed to make a run for the proverbial port in a storm.

The tides on the Georgia coast are the highest to be found between the Bay of Fundy and Argentina, and the currents of the Savannah River are notoriously swift and treacherous, but this time the forces of nature conspired in our favor, and we scudded upriver on the crest of a surging spring tide. And then, after making repairs, I'd found an old shrimp dock where the space was neither too expensive nor the neighbors too discerning, and tied Miss Rosalie down for a period of well-needed rest and recuperation.

All in all, it was a pretty good spot. The way the yachting crowd avoided the place you'd think it was a quarantine dock for transient syphilis cases, which suited me right to the ground. And before long I came to know and become accepted by the fishermen, shrimpers, tidewater bums, and other human and animal denizens that called this little portion of out-of-the way waterfront their home.

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