cover image The Chosen One

The Chosen One

Walt Gragg. Berkley, $17 trade paper (512p) ISBN 978-1-9848-0633-8

Gragg follows his well-received debut, The Red Line, about a near-future war in Europe, with an uneven military action thriller that pits the U.S. and its allies against a massive Pan-Arab coalition led by Algerian cleric Muhammad Mourad (aka the Chosen One). As in the previous book, the focus is on various individuals as they fight their way through a brutal, all-consuming war. Marine 1st Lt. Samuel Erickson leads a platoon a hundred miles behind enemy lines in the North African desert. Lt. Cmdr. Bradley “Blackjack” Mitchell, a pilot who flies missions from a carrier off the Egyptian coast, more than once rescues Erickson and his men as they battle their way to Cairo. While the weapons are cutting-edge, the political background solid, and the military tactics on point, readers should be prepared for overwrought prose. When one of Erickson’s men is wounded, “The precious streams of life-sustaining liquid that dropped into the pitiful ground went on without pause. His distorted mind screamed from the unending angst.” Some fans of The Red Line may struggle to get through this one. Agent: Liza Fleissig, Liza Royce Agency. (Nov.)