The Serbs behind them were preparing to attack, and in front of them lay open ground, flat and white as a shroud. We've run a hundred miles, Lang thought, to come up a football field short.
When a fellow Marine is kidnapped, Captain Mark Lang and his recon team, the Pepperdogs, disobey orders and cross into snowbound Serbia to rescue him. A leader who can't quit, Lang is urged on by his team members. Five New York City reservists -- a trader, a fireman, an auto mechanic, a fitness trainer and a computer geek -- set out on an impossible odyssey. Superbly fit and equipped, they employ speed, ambush and the Internet to close in on their target.
After a team member sends back e-mails describing their firefights, the Pepperdogs become front-page news. Once Weekend Warriors, by the end of their mission they are the most feared unit in Europe, fighting anyone who stands in their way. The press calls them "The Wild Bunch on technological steroids." Lang, haunted by memories of his missing buddy's dying mother, knows the horrific costs they are inflicting but won't turn back. Their rescue mission, condemned by the military, slowly escalates into a standoff between the Oval Office and NATO Europe with the world watching.
A razor-sharp storyteller and Pentagon insider, Bing West unleashes a blistering techno thriller that probes the limits of physical and mental endurance. Drawing on firsthand knowledge of combat, West fuses the grit of Blackhawk Down with the behind-the-scenes intrigue of The West Wing, showing how in the near future a squad can become wired to the White House, to the dismay of the traditional chain of command. The Pepperdogs is a gripping story about American reserves, conflicting loyalties and devotion to comrade. What price will a nation pay to save one life?
West (The Village), a former Marine captain and assistant secretary of defense, adds a cyber-age twist to the military rescue formula in his fiction debut, which follows a group of biologically enhanced Marine reservists as they attempt to rescue a colleague, Capt. Tyler Cosgrove, captured while on patrol in Kosovo by Serb renegade Saco Iliac. The rogue Serb promptly tries to capitalize on his capture by phoning in a ransom demand to Cosgrove's fianc e in Manhattan. Meanwhile, the Marine team nicknamed the Pepperdogs (because they "run like a dog with pepper up its arse") sets out in hot pursuit, taking advantage of the performance-enhancing drugs the military is feeding them to close the gap in a hurry. The fun begins when the team's communication expert, a computer geek named Harvell, uses their Web site, Pepperdogs.com (best known up to this point for offering a dating service that introduced U.S. and NATO military to "attractive, English-speaking, wholesome" Kosovar women), to post periodic progress reports on the rescue mission. Before long, the whole world is tuning in and the rescue becomes an international media spectacle. West introduces too many characters and gets carried away with his plotting: the Marines hurry to rescue Cosgrove in time for Christmas and before his gravely ill mother dies of cancer. Still, his military expertise is evident, the cat-and-mouse game offers gripping chase scenes and the cyber angle provides comic relief. There's plenty of intriguing adventure here for military action fans.