When it comes to novels, ones of the action genre are easy to find. "Jack Reacher," that sort of thing, are littered everywhere.
A rarity though is actually *good* action books- smart stories that are a step above what most I have read have leaned into headscratching cheesiness (looking at you Lee Child’s "Jack Reacher’").
I have been longing for a proper series to read to get my action fix, and it comes by way of former Navy SEAL turned writer Jack Carr’s "James Reece" series.
The first book, titled "The Terminal List" was released in 2018, but it wasn’t until a couple months ago that I finally sat down and read (well listened) and burned through it in a week or so. A sequel, "True Believer" followed in 2019, and recently, Carr released the latest in the series, "Savage Son."
The series is about James Reece, a SEAL whose unit is killed in Afghanistan under mysterious circumstances, with him being the sole survivor, or a loose end.
That is all I will spoil, but most recently, Reece is an in and out civilian, doing contractor work for the U.S. military. Reece, like many action heroes, has many enemies, so he is sent into the flood again, this time in a freezing Siberian island, in a "First Blood" style game of cat and mouse with the main antagonists.
An avid reader himself, Carr said some of his inspiration came from Richard Connell’s "The Most Dangerous Game" and David Morrell’s "First Blood."
What sets Carr’s series apart is the feeling of being concrete and tangible. I have listened to interviews with Carr and read three of his books, and I like how he puts in little details about things like the guns Reece carries or military goings-on. He also writes damn good action scenes that do not become overbearing or repetitive.
I will say that Carr’s methodical descriptiveness can sometimes become corny, especially when he leans into product placement territory by naming the obscure brand of coffee Reece drinks or the specific type of grill he uses. He has steadily gotten better about this with each book, but when it does appear in "Savage Son," it never fails to be off putting- his descriptiveness is only fun when it comes to Reece doing manly man stuff.
Other than that, the only real weakness I can give this story is the time it spends not on the island- most of it takes place in the U.S., mostly being a long winded build up to finally dropping Reece in Siberia.
I enjoy Carr’s writing and Reece as a character, but it was sad that the bulk of the story left you wanting more. However, much like pizza, Carr’s writing is still good even when it falters a little bit- and it never goes to ‘average’ territory.
I really can’t wait to see what Carr does next. There is a television adaptation starring Chris Pratt, with director Antoine Fuqua, who I find to be a mediocre PG-13 director, but I can definitely see this series becoming long-running, hopefully maintaining the bar Jack Carr has set.