Onyx reviews: Devils in Exile by
Life isn't easy for veterans returning from Iraq. People appreciate the
sacrifice, but no one wants to hire a vet for fear that he'll go off
unexpectedly. This is what Neal Maven discovers when he gets back to Boston from
his tour of duty. He
starts out with a job in a convenience store and escalates to collecting
admission fees at a parking garage late at night.
This is where he is enlisted by Brad Royce,
who witnesses Maven's encounter with a bunch of would-be robbers. Royce realizes
how close Maven came to killing one of his attackers and recognizes the skills
of a trained soldier.
Royce has assembled a small posse of vigilantes who have Boston's worst drug
dealers in their sights. After deliberate and extensive preparation (reminiscent
of the robberies committed by the gang in Prince of
Thieves), they hit
during high-dollar deals. The merchandise they destroy, the money they divide
evenly (Royce gets two shares) like Robin Hood and his band of merry thieves. The supposed goal is to put a serious dent in
the supply chain and make the dealers nervous enough to ruin other deals. The
brilliant aspect of their scheme is that they never injure or kill any of the
drug dealers, which keeps their interventions mostly below the police radar.
One fly in the ointment is Royce's girlfriend, Danielle, who Maven knew from
high school. She was the unattainable goddess, a few years older than he was, a
classmate of Maven's late sister. Another is DEA agent Lash, who resents the
fact that someone else is doing his job—and better.
However, Royce's real motivation is not quite as altruistic as it seems. The
capers grow riskier and less poorly organized, putting the entire team at risk.
Maven's developing relationship with Danielle also jeopardizes the situation.
The book is a fast read, with the momentum accelerating as things go from bad
to worse to cataclysmic. Hogan doesn't treat any of his characters delicately,
bringing in a duo of white Jamaican killers (with a fondness for removing eyes
as souvenirs of their victims) to put an end to the Sugar Bandits' reign of
terror. The body count is high, and there is a lot of collateral damage—as
in any war.
Maven ends up with the short end of the stick, having to replicate the same
feats as his former team, except he's a lone wolf working against seemingly
insurmountable odds. A high-octane thriller with razor sharp dialog and a real
sense of location.
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