A for Argonaut
Following a grisly prologue that hints at a very gritty thriller, Steadman's novel rolls out most of the usual tropes, albeit with an action hero who has an unusual pedigree. Lt. Mack Maran is a black American Jew raised "in irrepressible, two-fisted but decidedly fair Irish-Catholic Southie." Maran was in charge of Operation Taxi Home, a military plan to rescue hostages being held in Cabinda, Angola. But the mission went south: Maran's men were slaughtered, and he barely survived a serious head injury. After being scapegoated by the Army for the failure, the ex-soldier devotes himself to avenging his troops by tracking down their killers. Sadistic villains and a hero seeking redemption—these are all too familiar to engage readers without a charismatic lead, innovative action sequences, or mesmerizing prose.