KILLING TIME – Cindy Gerard
One-Eyed Jacks
, Book 1
Pocket Books
ISBN-13: 978-1-4516-0683-6
February 2013
Romantic Suspense

Lima, Peru; Washington D.C.; Idaho – Present Day

Mike “Primetime” Brown is in a run-down cantina in Lima, Peru, drowning his misery in his yearly drunk, flipping his time-worn jack of hearts card between his fingers.  Eight years ago the military operation he was involved with, Operation Slam Dunk, went south, and friends died, along with his career.  Then he sees the dark haired woman with a red bustier and black spandex pants and four inch stilettos and follows her outside, thinking he might get lucky.  The next thing he knows, he's in a hotel room with zip ties around his wrists.  His captor, Pamela, wants to know about Operation Slam Dunk after all this time.  How his entire One-Eyed Jacks group was killed except for him, Taggart, and Cooper, and he was given a less than honorable discharge and has spent the following years flying cargo in South America.  What Mike wants to know is why Pamela is interested in his lousy life now and the heartbreak of what happened when his life fell apart in front of his eyes.  As the pilot of the helicopter to get his men out of their assignment in Afghanistan, it was his duty to keep everyone alive, and he failed miserably.

Pamela is really Eva Salinas, a lawyer with the CIA and Ramon Salinas's widow, one of Mike's crew members who died in Operation Slam Dunk.  Someone left a file about the Operation on her desk, and getting to the bottom of Ramon's death is now her goal.  It doesn't take a man like Mike long to get out of his zip ties, and as he's telling his story they hear a noise on the balcony.  With Eva's two guns, they narrowly avert getting assassinated, and they quickly decide to return to Washington D.C.  There Mike takes them to meet Gabe, an old friend with the Black Ops group who welcomes Mike back from his self-imposed isolation, or you could call it his exile.  While going over Eva's file, Mike recognizes the man who landed in another helicopter before blowing up the city in Afghanistan and his men as Joseph Lawson.  Mike and Gabe figure out the only way to take out Lawson is for Mike to pretend to be a recruit to his hate group, UWD, United We Denounce.  Gabe and the Black Ops group have influence to help Mike, and Eva insists on going, too.

Jane Smith has been sent to Peru to take care of Eva Salinas, and when her boss finds out Mike Brown is with her in the hotel room, he is added to the hit.  A small movement outside their window has Jane meeting two people with guns, and fortunately her bulletproof vest saves her life even as she lands on her back on a taxi in her fall out the window.   Disgusted with not completing her mission, she goes back to her boss and awaits her turn to redeem herself.

Cindy Gerard is a master at military stories with multiple characters we all grow to love, unique situations that are very true-to-life, and she leaves you hanging just a little bit with each book and eagerly awaiting the next in the series.  Told from Mike's and Eva's points of view, and even some from Lawson and the mysterious man behind everything that went on eight years ago and is still involved with the dark side, we are treated to a little something different from everyone.  It all coalesces into a story of redemption from the horror of not only the war, but the horror of the traitorous actions of someone else.

Because of all the action, you will think there are a lot more characters than there are.  First there are Mike's two comrades, Taggart and Cooper, separated for eight years because of what happened in Afghanistan.  Joseph Lawson is the head of UWD, United We Denounce, a hate group holed up in Idaho; his minions have no idea what else UWD is being used for.  Going back to Cindy Gerard's Black Ops series is Gabe “The Archangel” Jones, in a group of shadow warriors now made legitimate and skirting international law during all their escapades.  With all these delightful characters and even the more sinister ones, there are plenty of people that keep things thrilling and exciting.

I will warn you right now that reading KILLING TIME will suck you into the lives of these three men and have you patiently counting down the days until the next in the One-Eyed Jacks series comes out (no title or release date yet).  The men are true patriots, but more than that they are brothers under the skin, willing to put the past eight years behind them and take up where they left off when their lives were turned upside down.  The last chapters had my blood rushing, and yes, even tears in my eyes at the satisfying and emotional ending.  Do yourself a favor and snap this book up ASAP, and let's wonder who gets the next story and how his brothers will be beside him no matter what happens.

Carolyn Crisher