If you’re looking for a relentless, action-packed thriller, Devil in the Dark by Chris Lindberg is the hit you’ve been seeking. This follow-up to the 2011 thriller Code of Darkness brings back the walking natural disaster named Rage, a priceless military asset with more fury and superhuman abilities than any one man should possess.
His new task, now that he has been successfully contained (and medically subdued) by the powers that be, is to end the reign of a vicious Mexican drug lord, Javier Oropeza. After a devastating attack on a key border crossing between the United States and Mexico, ordered by Oropeza, Rage’s elite squad is put into action.
As a living, breathing weapon, Rage may seem like a one-dimensional character, but beneath his deadly exterior, he brings an oddly charming, tongue-in-cheek attitude to the book that lends unpredictability and levity to an otherwise intense novel. The early parts of the book are largely exposition, with obligatory action scenes reminding readers just how powerful this “asset” can be, but it also lays the groundwork for Otis Brown and Enrique Castillo, the other two focal characters of the novel. These two are also more than they appear – one a war veteran with a closetful of demons, the other a humble border worker that is more closely tied to the drug kingpin than anyone initially suspects.
While this trio is involved in most of the action in some way, Lindberg spends plenty of time painting the colorful cast of supporting characters, from the colloquial language of Otis’ team to the sinister organization of Oropeza. Every scene helps to build tension and drive the plot forward, with very few slow moments throughout the book. Overflowing with testosterone, violence and hard-edged writing, this novel is perfect for fans of military procedurals and good old-fashioned mayhem.
As the story progresses and this rag-tag team of heroes falls deeper into the hole of the Mexican drug world, it becomes clear that the stakes are much higher than a simple border explosion. Although the book is essentially one long action sequence, it is tied together with rich descriptions and legitimate character development, something that many authors in this genre ignore. The shifting points of view also help readers immerse themselves in this bloody prose, seeing the story unfold from a number of interesting angles.
Lindberg is clearly a student of realistic language and brutal scenery; he wants readers to taste the blood between wounded teeth, sense the disorientation of a kidnapped man, and hear the bullets ricocheting in every shootout – of which there are plenty. The dialogue feels torn from real conversations, and the authenticity of the writing, despite the over-the-top story line, makes this book wildly enjoyable. There is also a patience to the writing, and enough variety in the sentence structure to effortlessly convey suspense; it takes a good writer to use syntax to build tension, but Lindberg does it with ease.
This is the kind of book where readers’ eyes will be leaping ahead, eagerly tearing through this book until they reach the shocking, gut-punch conclusion. Fortunately, Lindberg has already paved the way for another Rage-filled sequel, and with a main character as unique as this one, this is truly an exhilarating series in the making.
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