Cover Image: The Recruit

The Recruit

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A small town, Rancho Santa Elena in 1987 looks like paradise.  It’s 1987 located in Southern California where there are violent hate crimes disturbing the peace.  Detective Benjamin wade starts investigating , he finds a secret that people are not telling to anyone.  With forensic expert Natasha Betencourt at his side, Ben uncovers a mysterious gang of youths involved in the town’s growing white power movement. What is his white power movement?  What Ben doesn’t know, is that this group is part of a larger group.  Ben zeroes in on the newest recruit of the gang hoping to find out who is the mastermind of this group.  Will he?  Ben finds himself uncomfortable about  some of the truths he has.  As he comes closer to finding the truth, he becomes a target.

The author has written a smart and chilling thriller that kept me turning the pages.  It’s chilling and timely, “The Recruit” follows one man's descent into the darkness lurking just beneath the respectable veneer of modern life.   It’s an excellent crime novel.
Was this review helpful?
A big thank you to the author Alan Drew, the publisher and NetGalley for providing me an ARC in exchange for my candid review.

This story takes us back to 1987 southern California where a series of strange crimes are happening.  It tells the story about white supremecists start recruiting via the internet and how any infusion of non-white population is cause for extreme action.

This book is somewhat retrospective in that it tells us how hate groups evolved and started using the internet to recruit and indoctrinate which we can view with 20/20 hindsight.

It was an interesting read.
Was this review helpful?
Not a light read, but one that seems more timely by the day. Set in the easy days of the internet, it's interesting how quickly those with nefarious intent have found a way to take a life n=enhancing technology to the dark side.
Was this review helpful?
Strange things are starting to happen in 1980's Rancho Santa Elena, California and Detective Ben Wade wants to figure out what is going on. Wade is called to a house where a young boy is having trouble breathing and at the same time his girlfriend Natasha, a doctor with the regional medical examiner's office is called to another jurisdiction on a murder case. Wade suspects something is off with the boy's case and believes that he ingested poison and finds some in the backyard. Only the next day does he discover why it is there when the family's missing dog turns up outside a Vietnamese grocery with it's throat slit. Are Ben's cases and Natasha's connected? if so how and why?

This was an enjoyable detective story that was fun partially because it was set in the 80s pre-modern technology. I say it is enjoyable even though the reason behind the actions are so horrible. This is the second book in the Detective Wade series and I have not read the first one and did not need to in order to enjoy and understand this one. I would suggest any reader of detective novels to give this one a try.
Was this review helpful?
Set in Rancho Santa Elena, California in 1987.  This book is a look at the dark side of the internet as it was just beginning.  Weird, seemingly unrelated crimes are occurring in town and Detective Benjamin Wade and forensic expert Natasha Betencourt have a hard time connecting the crimes.  When they uncover a link to the growing local White Supremacists', can they stop them?
Was this review helpful?
Detective Benjamin Wade and forensic examiner Natasha Betencourt work together in a professional capacity while maintaining a personal relationship.  The novel is set in the late 1980's in Rancho Santa Elena, a small Southern California town that has big city problems: murder, poisonings, and assaults. 
Ben soon discovers that the white power movement is gaining a foothold with the town's youth. As Ben does some digging into the unfamiliar technology that the group is using to recruit, will he be able to put the pieces together before someone else gets hurt?

Having read the first book in the series, the author did not capitalize on the strong start.  The character development is not substantial and the plot of the novel includes several expected cliches.  Although the story is timely, it also shows how little things have changed in this country over the years.  My biggest issue with the book is the lack of discovery, as the author gives the reader a first hand look into the perpetrators and bad actors.  The mystery is missing, leaving the book flat in my opinion.  Having read many books in the genre, The Recruit is an average read.

Disclaimer: I was given an Advanced Reader's Copy of The Recruit by NetGalley and the publisher, Random House.  The decision to read and review this novel was entirely my own.
Was this review helpful?
This is the second book in a series, which I did not realize, about Detective Ben Wade. The events take place in 1987 in Rancho Santa Elena, CA. A lot happens in the beginning of the book, with multiple stories intertwining. White supremacists is a key plot that is well done throughout.
The characters are well developed, and I liked the relationship between Natasha and Ben. The author did a great job portraying a woman working in the field in the 80s. 
I don't know that I personally liked this book enough to go back and read the first book, but that is of no fault of the author. It's just not of interest to me.
Was this review helpful?
This book is extremely topical for today's race issues, unfortunately.  That said, it was difficult for me to get through. The plot is very dense and the content is heavy.  I see the need for a book like this, but it is not necessarily something I would choose, especially with all the heavy issues going on in the world currently.  

Thank you NetGalley for an arc of this book.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed this suspenseful story.  This is a new author for me which I look forward to reading more from this series in the future.  This is a well written story where the characters not only pull you into the story but also kept me coming back for more.  I enjoyed being pulled into the story by the characters.  They are relateable and supportive of each other.  This is afast paced story that has twists and turns that you don't want to miss.  An engaging story that is hard to put down.  A story where you will question who you are and where you fit into the community.  A series of murders and hate crimes causes havik in a small town.  What happens next is something you will need to read this book to find out.  This is a great story and I highly recommend it.
Was this review helpful?
The Recruit
Alan Drew

This book most definitely leaves you hanging at the end!  I wished the story line would of been different,  when I requested the book I sure wasn’t expecting this.   It was a good read just not the type of books I am really interested in!
Was this review helpful?
Straight off current news headlines, this mystery crime novel dives headfirst into figuring out how so many people get radicalized into white supremacy and violence. From cult-like leaders building secret armies to violence-prone mentally unstable teens swept into the movement, the intensity of hate escalates into destructive racist actions.

Set in a small Southern California town in 1987, when the internet was just emergent, hate groups turn to private online bulletin boards to evade the federal government. There’s Jacob, a bomb-building young teen, swept by his older 20-something neighbor Ian into a gang of skinheads. There’s Bao, a Vietnamese grocery store owner, being terrorized by Ian, who’s older brother got killed in Vietnam. Jacob’s Dad, a PTSD suffering Vietnam War vet who abuses Jacob in his worst post-traumatic moments, turns out to be having an affair with Bao’s daughter. Jacob discovers this, propelling him in rage to join the neo-Nazi gang, and commit hate crimes against both the Vietnamese and Mexicans. 

Ben Wade, an LAPD detective who’s moved to the small town, embarks on investigating the hate crimes and uncovering a widespread White supremacy movement. 

Stand by for an explosive ending!
Was this review helpful?
The Recruit

A Novel

By: Alen Drew

Random House Publishing Group

Random House, Random House

Publish Date 14 June 2022

Mystery & Thriller


100 Book ReviewsProfessional Reader

I would like to first thank both NetGalley and Random Publishing for letting me read and review this book.

Good Reads Synopsis:

A series of murders and mysterious hate crimes rocks a quiet California town, leading a cunning detective into the crosshairs of a network of white supremacists in this can’t-put-it-down thriller.

Rancho Santa Elena in 1987 is the ideal Southern California town—that is, until a series of strange crimes threaten to destroy its social fabric. The body of a dog is left outside a Vietnamese grocery store. An encampment of Mexican strawberry pickers is savagely attacked with mysterious weapons. A wealthy real estate developer is found dead in the pool of his beachside house. When rat poison and red threads are found at these crime scenes, detective Benjamin Wade and his girlfriend, forensic expert Natasha Betencourt, begin to wonder if these brutal crimes are connected.

Soon Ben suspects that a gang of young locals, part of a vicious underbelly in town, might be the perpetrators of the​se crime​s. As Ben closes in on identifying the gang’s latest recruit, he discovers evidence that links the gang to a much wider terror network, one which uses the newly developed internet to lure young men to their hateful ideology and to plan attacks. And while he digs deeper into the investigation, Ben must confront his own realizations about himself, and his membership in a community where corruption and hate are wielded as weapons against his fellow citizens.

Book Review:

I so wanted to love this book because it sounds so good. After three weeks and only 34% through I knew it was time to call it. I gave this book 1 stars and DNF’D it.

The story line is good and is a story that needs to be told but it just wasn’t for me. There are a few things I just couldn’t get pass and struggled with that.

I need to give you warnings about racism, adultery, and animal cruelty. I can handle most of it, but the animal cruelty just did me in.

As I said before this is a story that’s needs to be told because it goes into the thinking and making of people like this. I didn’t realize how these groups got people and now I have a better understanding.

I do want to try more of works to give him another try because once I picked up the book, I was involved it was getting the desire to pick it up.
Was this review helpful?
From the Acknowledgments: “…the aftermath of the Vietnam War sparked a new white supremacy movement, one that coalesced in the 1980s around the fledgling internet and ultimately found legitimacy as a main stream political movement in the presidency of Donald Trump.”

This is the second book in a series. I did not read the first book, but the subject matter in the two books is completely different, and this book works fine as a standalone. In 1987, the police in a small California town are faced with several seemingly unrelated incidents - a poisoned child, a murdered real estate developer, a dead dog behind a Vietnamese grocery. But when detective Ben Wade and his pathologist girlfriend Natasha Betencourt look closer, they find the links, and once they see them it is obvious that hatred is all around them. 

Although this book is set in the 1980s the setting could be today. However, in the 1980s the use of the internet by white supremacist groups was just beginning. This book describes those early uses and how a group of mediocre white men bolster their self importance by proclaiming their superiority over everyone else on earth. They groom an insecure teenager through flattery, fake empathy and outrageous theories until he is willing to kill in furtherance of their cause. These are extremely dangerous people. This is a good police procedural with a very serious theme. It took me a while to get into the book because the early chapters skipped around among the characters so much. I liked the detective and may go back and read the first book in the series. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Was this review helpful?

First off, If Alan Drew is not on your radar, he needs to be. This is the second book in the Detective Ben Wade series and although I felt this book worked beautifully as a stand-alone, why not go back and read Shadow Man. So very good!!

Hate Crimes are horrific. The book begins with the discovery of the body of a dog outside of a Vietnamese grocery store, and the horrors go on from there. Migrant Mexican strawberry pickers are brutalized, and a wealthy man is found dead in his pool. Are these crimes related? This is the question that Detective Ben Wade and Forensic expert Natasha Betencour must answer.

White supremacists and the vulnerable youth it attracts are portrayed in this book. This is a gritty, gruesome, and intense book that looks at hate, brutality and how some are courted and recruited into a world of hate.

This book is so good but won’t be for everyone. The author shows the ugliness of hate. He does not sugarcoat anything. Whew!

This was a compelling, thought provoking and brutal book. I enjoyed being reacquainted with Ben and Natasha. They are a great couple, and I enjoyed the investigation.

Well written and powerful.

#TheRecruit #NetGalley.

Thank you to Random House and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know it was the second in a series until I was halfway through it but I didn't feel like I needed to read the first one to fully grasp what was going on. This is a character driven, police procedural novel about racial tensions and white supremacy in Southern California in the 1980's. Well written and well paced. Highly recommended

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an advanced reader copy.
Was this review helpful?
This is a very timely book even though the setting of the book takes place in 1987. There are multiple plot lines that all converge during the story. The author shows how racism spreads through the town and how each character plays a role. I think the author did a great job with character development and his ability to make it all come together in the end. Excellent book and looking forward to the next one!
Was this review helpful?
The Recruit is not an easy book to read.  A dark look into white supremacy in the 1980’s, Drew doesn’t sugarcoat, but opens our eyes to the grimiest of the grimy.  A police procedural set before the great advancement of technology, Drew writes of topics that are still relevant today.  Ben and Natasha are well drawn, flawed characters and worth rooting for!  At 430 pages, the ending still seemed a bit rushed.  A tough subject, but Drew takes you on journey you won’t soon forget.
Was this review helpful?
This is a novel about the recruitment of an angry young man into a white supremacy type church group.
It is written around the views of that young man, his neighbor, a detective and a church leader.
It is a great story, compelling and frightening . It is not a documentary, but rather a well written novel that integrates all of the characters views into an investigation involving  murder.
Enjoyed this one, but it is sad how much of this is accurate about the youth of America today.
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for allowing me this ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Set in Rancho Santa Elena, to the south of LA, during the eighties, this story is a murder mystery but, the brutal crimes against both animals and people are almost secondary to the motives. It is adult subject matter with a timely and relevant topic.
History usually means decades ago to me, not in my lifetime however; this is a part of the history of my country I knew little about. It was not easy to read, reading about hatred is uncomfortable.
The chapters alternated between characters and pieces of the disgusting crimes. Way back when the internet was a fairly new technology, "The Reverend" decides to use it as communication of secret messages for his followers living all over the US. They are promoting the creation of an Edenic Adamic Israelite Colony. 
Detective Benjamin Wade moved from LA to the small town for a quieter life. He has an ex-wife, Rachel, and daughter, Emma. Natasha, his girlfriend, is a medical examiner. He's  investigating a man found murdered in his pool. The detective soon discovers crimes much more evil and darker than he could have imagined. 
It follows a family's gut wrenching escape from South Vietnam in a helicopter trying to land on an American ship in the ocean. Bao, his wife, Ai, and Linh, his daughter escape to CA to have a better life. Natasha met the family at the refugee camp and they became fast friends. Over time they lose touch, only to cross paths again under the bleakest of tragedies.
Local city councilman, Paul Rowan, has a son Ian. He is a troubled, angry teen searching for a place to belong. He's fallen in with "The Reverend" and taken up the racial hatred mantra. 
The story addresses this hatred, racial injustice, inequality and compels introspection. It left me depressed, angry and filled with sorrow for those who have suffered. It challenged me to think, it imparted knowledge. The author's story will stay with me. I have never read his books before. I would highly recommend this one and will watch for anything he writes in the future. 
Thanks so much to NetGalley for this thought provoking advance digital copy of "The Recruit" by Alan Drew and to Random House. These are my honest and very personal thoughts and opinions given voluntarily.
Was this review helpful?
So much happens in the first 24 hours of The Recruit; a man is murdered in his beach front home, a child and a dog are poisoned, a Vietnamese community is threatened and an angry teenaged boy builds pipe bombs in his backyard. All this seems to happen in a time warp of sorts, as it all unfolds as lazily as a slow-moving river. This is life in middle class Orange County, CA towns in 1987.
This the campfire story of The Hook, but at the next campfire another horror story is being told, and so on. Until it becomes clear this is all one horror story. This is partially the story of how domestic terrorism groups such as Christian Identity, Posse Comitatus, Sovereign Citizens and many others started in the aftermath of the Vietnam war. Only the reader realizes those domestic terrorism groups became mainstream and supported by the President of the United States and most of his supporters by 2017. Albeit under other names, such as Proud Boys or Promise Keepers.
Professional and personal partners, Detective Ben Wade of the Santa Elena PD, and Orange Co. ME Natasha Betencourt, along with Huntington Beach detective, Joseph Vanek quickly discover all these crimes are connected through the rotting underbelly of Orange Co.’s white supremacists. Cynical adults high in their mountain compounds, or in their mega-churches control teenaged boys and have them to do their bidding. This is also the beginning of the internet’s huge influence over terrorists, when the domestic terrorists were just beginning to discover the heady joys of internet bulletin boards, promising anonymity and freedom.
The first day of this crime spree might have been the best day with even more deaths, more domestics terrorism and more heartbreak following. This might be one of the best books I’ve read this year, but it will most likely be the darkest.
Natasha is the caring ME introduced in Shadow Man, still trying to offer her words of comfort to the dead, so that they have known kindness at the end, because who knows when the end is really the end. Ben Wade, is confronted with some very uncomfortable truths about himself, truths that don’t make it quite so easy to feel superior to the Supremists.
The stories of Vietnamese refugees in Orange Co. of their escapes after the Fall of Saigon and the reestablishment of their lives are fascinating and inspirational. Bao Phan, the sensitive art teacher, becomes a store owner, happy to do so because he, his wife and daughter escaped and lived. Always fighting the hatred of those with resentment toward Vietnamese refugees, or just any refugee, or just any non-white.
The The Recruit is such a powerful story, the story of the dark side of the American Dream, the antithesis of everything America is supposed to stand for. I won’t be forgetting this book.
Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?