Or why you should read Bravo
by Greg Rucka
BRAVO, a thriller novel about covert black ops commandos, is a direct sequel to the novel Alpha also by Greg Rucka (To read a *SPOILER* free review of ALPHA go here.) In ALPHA, a terrorist plot to detonate a dirty bomb in Wilsonville, a California themepark bearing a remarkable similarity to Disneyland, is barely foiled by Jad Bell and his team of Shooters. In the process Jad's ex-wife and daughter are caught in the park and traumatized, Bell and his team are beaten and bloodied, and Shoshona Nuri, another American agent, is killed saving Bell's daughter. Bell and his team also learn that the attack was funded by a cabal of wealthy Americans and that it was perpetrated by a group performing terrorism for hire. BRAVO opens with Bell and his team leading an assault in Tashkent that captures Vosil Tohrir, the terrorist lieutenant responsible for the events in ALPHA. This event brings Bell into contact with Elisabetta Villanova, the lover of Tohrir who is secretly a longterm deep cover agent named Petra Nessuno, AKA Blackfriars. Bell, Nessuno, and his team must protect and interrogate Tohrir to stop the contingency plan of the American cabal and to capture The Architect, the mastermind of the terrorism-for-hire organization.
As always BRAVO is a properly exciting novel that showcases Rucka's ability for constructing these meticulously engineered thriller novels. The prose in BRAVO is a machine, a well maintained rifle for storytelling where every component has been selected, lubricated, and lovingly assembled into an efficient device for unloading high velocity action sequences with intellectual accuracy and devastating emotional impact. When the trigger is pulled in this novel, it's deadly.
That said, BRAVO is also a novel that delivers a nuanced and deeply effecting meditation on love: love between a man and his family, love between a General and his mistress, love between a terrorist mastermind revolutionary and his agent, and love between a deep cover agent and her target. BRAVO explores the many ways love can work in the arena of espionage and power and violence. How love can be a source of strength and joy, but how it can also be the critical weakness that destroys the strongest soldier or most careful planner. How love can be a weapon. And it is this thematic portion of the book that provides the absolutely eviscerating blade at the core of the novel. As is the case for a Rucka novel, the flawlessly paced action is a vessel for a deeper emotional payload.
I really enjoyed this book!
(Incidentally, there is a fairly small reference to a French town called Narbonne in BRAVO. In a profoundly outlandish coincidence, I read this reference to Narbonne, while sitting on a train platform in Narbonne. I had never been to Narbonne before this or after, and hadn't heard of the town until that morning when my wife and I were working out the logistics of our journey. So, on the day that I first learn Narbonne is a place, and while actually briefly visiting Narbonne, I read a reference to Narbonne in an American thriller novel. What the fuck are the odds of that!? When I eventually have a paranoid break with reality, this is going to be one of the reasons why.)
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read an exciting and well written book. I would not recommend this book to a young reader as there is a lot of violence, shocking even by todays standards, and some pretty transgressive and problematic sexual content that I think is better suited to a mature reader. But, if you are a mature reader and looking for a book to read on an airplane or train platform in Narbonne, BRAVO is an engrossing page turner that I really enjoyed.
Post by Michael Bround
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