Series: Paladin of Shadows #1
Published by Baen on October 31, 2006
Genres: Erotica, Thriller
Retired after 15 years in special ops due to a myriad of physical ailments, Michael Harmon is having trouble fitting into his new role as a University of Georgia undergrad. Instead, Ghost (named for his uncanny ability to "blend") likes to stalk unknowing coeds and speculate on the carnal possibilities. But when a van-load of men suddenly abduct a blonde that Ghost had been following, he gives chase and follows the van to a deserted warehouse, where he uncovers a terrorist plot to kidnap and brutalize dozens of innocent American women. Ghost's military training kicks in, and after killing most of the jihadists within the warehouse, he tracks a truckload of sedated abductees to a 727 at an Atlanta airport and hitches a ride to Syria. In the action that ensues, Ghost unearths plots involving WMD production, rogue nukes, sexual slavery, and the assassination of world leaders -- all of which culminates in a breathtaking showdown at (where else?) a strip joint in Amsterdam, in the champagne room!
Alright, I’m going to start off with I like John Ringo’s writing. His military-thriller with a mix of sci-fi thrown in. And this book starts off strong with a worn hero, damsels in distress, and terrorists in serious need of killing. The hero isn’t superman, and needs rescuing himself with the aid of the US military to extract the surviving hostages. But, this just made the book feel more real to me and kept me on the edge of my seat.
However, in the second of the three sections of this book I felt he lost touch with the whole military-thriller thing and moved into the stage or erotica with a heavy dose of BDSM. Does he fight terrorists in this second part, yes but not until the end. And once again gets himself shot up in the process. I got nothing against erotica, just don’t expect to find it taking almost 1/3rd of the book. This was a pretty long book, and I feel some of this could have been cut. It felt unnecessary.
Ringo redeems himself somewhat in the third part. Once again, our hero is on the trail of terrorists with a WMD, he just seems to be a terrorist magnet. But in all seriousness, if he wasn’t would it be as interesting a read? There is some erotica in this third part, but I didn’t feel like it consumed the entire story as it did in the second part.
Overall I have to give Ghost a 3 star rating. It would have gotten higher if whole sections hadn’t focused on BDSM and erotica. I am not typically looking for that kind of book when I browse the sci-fi/fantasy section of a book store. But, pushing those parts aside the action was still an edge of my seat read that I couldn’t put down.