The Dead Don't Sleep
by Steven Max Russo
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Pub Date 18 Nov 2019 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2019
Frank Thompson, a recent widower and aging Vietnam veteran is down from Maine visiting his nephew, Bill, and his family in New Jersey.
While at a trap range, he and his nephew have a chance encounter with a strange man who claims to remember Frank from the war.
That night, the windows in Bill’s home are shattered along with the quiet peaceful lives the two men had been living.
Three veterans from a special combat unit directed by the CIA during the Vietnam War have gathered to discuss what they are going to do about a man they claim killed one of their own over forty years ago.
Jasper, Birdie and Pogo were part of a team that called themselves the National League All Stars. They were a squad of psychopathic killers trained by Special Forces to cause death and mayhem during the war. Now, they have banded together to hunt down and kill the professional soldier who led them all those years ago.
Drawing on his military training and a resurgent bloodlust from his tortured past, Frank prepares for a final, violent reckoning that will bring him full circle with the war that never left him.
“The Dead Don’t Sleep is a skillfully plotted, fast-moving thriller brimming with a believable cast of characters, especially the indelible Frank Thompson, an old-school hero who I hope to see more of.” —David Swinson, author of Trigger and The Second Girl
“Russo’s The Dead Don’t Sleep is a pulse racing, chest thumper of a novel.” —Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of What You Break
“Imagine if Rambo had lived a quiet, undisturbed life in Maine until, many decades later, the ghosts of the Vietnam War came after him. That’s roughly the premise of The Dead Don’t Sleep, a gripping, highly readable contemporary thriller with a strong emotional undercurrent. Steven Max Russo has done a magnificent job rendering the unique hold Vietnam continues to claim on thousands of its veterans.” —Brad Parks, international bestselling author
“The Dead Don’t Sleep is a well-crafted, tense, suspenseful thriller in which hatred that’s lasted a lifetime explodes into violence with uncontrollable consequences.” —Thomas Perry, Edgar Award-winning author of The Butcher’s Boy
“A dark tale of vengeance and redemption, complete with mystery, secrets, and a longing for new adventure. A delectable and poignant read.” —Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Malta Exchange.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 8 members
Revenge they say is a dish best served cold. Here, we get a tale of unfinished business from the jungles of Vietnam and the players in Operation Phoenix, some dealing with the moral ambiguity of what happened, others thirsting to even up scores. It’s forty years later and we have not young warriors but old farts who in some ways pine to relive their glory days. You can’t escape the past and here it comes back in the darkness to haunt a suburban family. This is a men’s action story that takes place in modern-day world with hunters and the hunted. Although it’s got lots of shooting and explosions, it doesn’t feel rushed.
Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
ARC from NETGALLEY
I thought wait, Vietnam how old are these guys but the writer pulled it off well.
Plus it s not the age BUT THE EDGE!!!!!!! Enjoy!
Vietnam, 1969. A squad of hunter-killers is tracking a suspected VC courier. The hunters provide overwatch and the paired killers do what they are trained to do. The courier's throat is slit by one of the killers. A young girl exits a hut. The other killer grabs her and, to keep her from alerting anyone to their presence, slits her throat then turns to let her body fall. The first killer raises his .45 and shoots her partner in the head.
Current day. Northern NJ. Bill Thompson and his Uncle Frank are shoot traps. Frank is down from rural Maine taking some time to resolve the recent death of his wife. He is staying with Bill and his wife and 2 young sons. In the parking lot, Frank bumps into a member of this shooting club who seems to recognize Frank from somewhere, but can't place it.
That night, Bill's house is shot up by automatic gunfire. Frank and Bill give the police their statements, but really have no chance of finding who did it. Frank thinks that accidental bump may indeed be something from his past and elects to go back home early to avoid more incidental contacts.
The guy's call sign was Jasper. His local friends from his days in 'Nam are Birdie and Pogo. Jasper is certain that Frank is Bull, their team leader who suddenly disappeared after a patrol that left one of their team dead. Despite being armed versions of The Three Stooges, they track Frank back to Maine intent on evening the score for their fallen comrade.
Frank has figured it out, too and prepares for a possible attack. Bill is also worried about his uncle and drives up to Maine. When they finally connect at Frank's old hunting shack, the Stooges attack. Stunned by the intensity of the assault, Bill is seriously spooked. But Frank seems far too calm. He tells Bill, 'Remember when I said I wasn't Rambo? Just a grunt in 'Nam? Well, I lied."
I liked this one. I liked Frank especially. Maybe a relative of Bob Lee Swagger? Sure could be. A lot of this book was from the viewpoint of the Stooges as they plan, track, and kill their way to Maine towards their appointment with fate. That it's predictable isn't the issue. It was a fun summer thriller. You should find it. This is Russo's 3rd or 4th novel. I plan to look for his earlier books.
Thanks to NetGalley. Publication date November 2019.
In "The Dead Don't Sleep," the horrors of the war in Vietnam raise their heads and remind the characters that they never really went away. Frank is a Vietnam vet who was involved in some very dirty special ops. While visiting his nephew Bill, he bumps into an old-comrade-turned-enemy, who starts stalking him, determined to avenge what he sees as Frank's betrayal of another comrade.
This is kind of a "Rambo: First Blood" thriller, in that it features Vietnam vets stalking each other through the woods. The point of view switches back and forth between Frank, his nephew Bill, and the men hunting them, which means there's not a lot of mystery--although there *is* a mystery aspect--but a lot of tension as the different characters draw closer and closer to each other on their inevitable collision course. It's an enthralling read in that respect, and likely to appeal to fans of gritty thrillers/suspense novels who enjoy a good chase followed by an explosive final showdown.
The violence is not excessively graphic, but the body count is reasonably high, including flashbacks to some of the dirty ops the characters carried out in Vietnam. So again, fans of the genre will appreciate the realism, while readers who prefer something lighter and cozier should steer clear.
Although this is a fairly short, quick read, the characters are all sketched out clearly, each one with a distinct personality. So while this isn't a genre that you generally read for the character development, we do get a sense of each character as a person, including the antagonists, something that acts to heighten the tension further and raise the emotional stakes for the reader, as well as adding another layer of realism. Overall, this is a well-constructed, high-tension, and fast-paced thriller that is likely to appeal to fans of the genre.
My thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.