A powerful, dark, and morally provocative debut novel about a U.S. Special Forces unit operating in the Middle East, written by a former soldier—No Easy Day meets Redeployment…
It’s hot and getting hotter this summer in Afghanipakiraqistan—the preferred name for the ambiguous stretch of the world where the U.S. Special Forces operate with little outside attention. Team Leader Dutch Shaw is missing his late grandmother. She was the last link he had to civilian life, to any kind of world of innocence.
But there’s no time to mourn. After two helicopters in a sister squadron are shot down, Shaw and his team know that they’re going to be spun up and sent back in, deep into insurgent territory, where a mysterious new organization called Al Ayeelaa has been attracting high-value targets from across the region. As Shaw and his men fight their way closer to the source, mission by mission, they begin to realize that their way may have been prepared for them in advance, and not by a welcoming host.
The Knife is a debut novel of intense authenticity by a former soldier in a United States Special Operations Command direct-action team. As scenes of horseshoes and horseplay cut to dim Ambien-soaked trips in helicopters and beyond, Ritchell’s story takes us deep beneath the testosterone-laced patter into the lonelier, more ambivalent world of military life in the Middle East. The result is a fast-paced journey into darkness; a quintessential novel of the American wars of the twenty-first century.
Former U.S. Special Operations Command direct-action soldier Ritchell mines his own experiences on the ground in the Middle East in this debut novel about a close-knit squadron deployed to hunt down and eliminate members of al-Ayeelaa, a secretive and increasingly volatile terrorist cell in Afghanistan. Now on his 10th deployment in "Afghanipakiraqistan," team leader Shaw no longer pines for normal civilian life, especially because he's romantically unattached and the grandparents who raised him are dead. Instead, he prefers horsing around with the guys in the oppressive desert heat, listening to fellow soldiers Hagan and Dalonna's stories (the former obsesses over women with "huge tits" and the latter has G-rated memories of his wife and kids back home). The soldiers' crass jokes and chummy banter verge on stereotype, but tension-filled scenes of raids on enemy combatants offset the stale mood. When Shaw loses men in an especially brutal confrontation, the questions he asks himself in the aftermath (Does he feel like a murderer? Were his kills worth it? Would anything ever change?) despite being old hat and too rushed resonate. Overall, however, the novel lacks cohesion: a few pages supplying background on the al-Ayeelaa leader, for instance, are inadequate and read like an afterthought.
Tough To Put Down
This book is good, it paints the picture of brotherhood one would expect of those brave few who sacrifice their lives for peace in a country that doesn't want them. Not an action packed read, but you feel a part of the team and it's tough to put down.