Robert Mann thought he had left his days of carrying weapons behind him, but when his life long friend presents a plan to dole out justice to those who truly deserve it yet keep skirting the law John finds himself contemplating death in its various forms on a regular basis. The questions becomes, though, what is John willing to give up in order to make evil men pay?
What struck me about this book right away was the complexity. The characters themselves are well developed and carefully crafted. The main characters had backgrounds that helped create rounded characters, and they progressed throughout the novel with subtly I don't always see. I found myself interested in their lives from the very beginning. Even the cast of bad characters, even though each only made a brief appearance were memorable in one way or another.
The plot itself was also fairly complex in the depth of planning and development it entailed. It was obvious that Brantingham researched many aspects of this book. He managed to created complete scenes and believable situations. Robert's travels take him all over the world, making brief stops in places like London and Canada, and in each area the scenes drew me in. I was particularly intrigued by the stop in Canada when Robert begins to contemplate the neighbors of the criminal he is tracking and how the man's presence and then absence would impact them.
Throughout Robert's quest to rid the world of horrible people who have escaped the law, a romance attempts to side track him, and does a fairly good job of it at times. On Robert's second mission he meets Charlie, a waitress working her way through college. Charlie somehow draws Robert out of his solitary life. She affects him in a way no other woman has, but she believes he is someone else. Their relationship begins based completely on lies, and Robert soon finds that keeping up the lies is not as easy as he expected. When he realizes he doesn't want to lie to her, and that hurting her is really the only option, he has no idea what to do. I enjoyed the relationship between Robert and Charlie. It was really key to seeing the changes in Robert as he goes about his missions. There wasn't a lot of sexual tension, but that was fine because the relationship was not the main focus of this book. It was more about Robert looking at his life and really beginning to understand what he wants and where he wants his future to take him.
My only real complaint about about the book was that Robert handled the killing so well. Even though he was in the military, being in a wartime situation is much different than killing civilians. Robert even mentions this, but I thought he lack of internal struggle over the majority of his actions was a little unexpected. The men he was killing were bad men, so it wasn't so much a sense of guilt I was looking for, but more the effect it had on Robert personally. There are subtle changes as he jumps to thoughts of murder for everyday annoyances before reigning himself in. I just expect more turmoil about the actual act, but other readers may find Robert's reactions to be exactly what they should be.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable book. I am looking forward to watching these characters throughout the series and seeing the path Robert takes throughout his story.
Mann of War is available now from Amazon.
Connect with John online at his blog, Amazon, and Goodreads.