Final Target, John Gilstrap’s 10th thriller about hostage rescue specialist Jonathan Grave, and the first to be published in both hardcover and mass market paperback, is a breakneck adventure. Grave and his partner must extract an imprisoned DEA agent from a Mexican drug cartel’s jungle HQ. They manage to rescue the hostage, but it turns out that’s not the hard part.
Gilstrap, who won a 2016 Thriller Award for Against All Enemies, is an unusually qualified thriller writer: he’s worked as a renowned safety engineer after spending 15 years in fire and rescue services. He speaks frequently at conferences, where he shares what he knows about explosives, hazardous materials, and how fire behaves, and also discusses how he’s folded that knowledge into his writing. “It’s an intense, high-stakes profession that required me to always manage what-if scenarios,” Gilstrap says, “and what is a thriller writer if not a master of the what-if?”
Gilstrap has clearly lived a lot of what he writes about. “I’ve investigated horrific accidents, I’ve delivered babies,” he says. “I’ve held people while they died, and I’ve pulled them from imminent, grave danger. Those life experiences not only play into every novel I write, but every day that I live.”
Gilstrap is not Jonathan Grave, but he’s not too different, and that’s got a lot to do with why the novels are unputdownable and beloved by readers. Jonathan Grave has become an enduring and popular character. Gilstrap believes that’s because, basically, “he’s just a great guy.” He adds: “As a freelance hostage rescue specialist, he is a man of unshakable character who lives by a moral code that focuses like a laser on bringing aid to those who have been victimized. He is not a vigilante and he’s not an assassin. He operates outside the law, but is always on the side of the angels.” Jonathan Grave is the kind of hero people want to believe in, someone they can look up to, someone they can count on for nonstop excitement and intrigue.
Final Target is the first title in the Jonathan Grave series to be released simultaneously in mass market paperback and hardcover. Gilstrap is excited for the change: “Will the hardcover bring a different crop of readers? I certainly hope so!” He is also thankful his longtime fans can also still find a mass market copy. “I’m pleased that there’ll still be a paperback edition available so loyal readers who have gobbled up Jonathan Grave’s first nine adventures won’t have to feel sticker shock at a big price increase.”
Gilstrap feels incredible gratitude to the fans who have made the Jonathan Grave series hugely successful. “Over the years, I think that readers have come to trust that Jonathan and his team will deliver a wild ride with characters who seem real and deliver emotion at a level that exceeds what they expect from a commercial thriller. I value that trust,” he says.
Final Target opens with Grave in a Mexican jungle: he’s “outnumbered and outgunned, so his only advantage [is] surprise.” Things get intense pretty quickly, and they stay that way for 380 rapid-fire pages filled with action, political intrigue, and raw heroism. Jonathan Grave has been thrilling readers since 2009, and Gilstrap has plenty in store for fans in the years to come.