LAST MAN STANDING – Cindy Gerard
Men of Black Ops Inc ., Book 7
Freetown, Sierra Leone - Present Day
When “Mean” Joe Green comes to Stephanie Tompkins's apartment at midnight one night and has frantic sex with her, she knows something is wrong. Then when he says he doesn't love her just as he is leaving, she knows he's lying; she can always tell when he lies to her. They only had a short relationship, but because of his dangerous profession she is alone for long periods of time. Despite what Joe told her, she knows his leaving has something to do with her brother Bryan's death during a mission over fifteen years ago. Joe was there, and has been haunted by Bryan 's death ever since. Now what he could be doing surely involves putting his own life on the line.
Joe Green has everyone's safety on his mind as he's severing all contact with Stephanie and dropping out of his Black Ops group and going rogue. Black Ops, Inc. and its operatives work all over the world on independent missions to make the world a better place, but Joe is determined that what he is about to do doesn't reflect badly on Black Ops. Joe has some clues over who was behind Bryan 's death all those years ago and is determined to end the nightmares his death has caused him ever since.
Stephanie Tompkins works at a desk job as a cryptologist in NSA's Signals Intelligence Division. Sounds exciting, yes? But it's mostly work trying to find patterns and phrases in encrypted cyber chatter. A month after Joe leaves, her friend Rhonda Burns shows her a picture she just found of a beaten and handcuffed man being taken into what looks like a prison in Freetown , Sierra Leone for murdering a priest…and it's Joe. When Stephanie calls Joe's Black Ops Group, no one is available to help him, so what can she do? There is nothing to do but go to Sierra Leone with some not strictly legal (forged) documents. After she sees Joe in jail, beaten every day and near death, he yells at her to leave him alone and go away. But a fifteen year-old former child soldier whom Joe saved has been watching over Joe, and together they plan to break Joe out of prison and find out what he was after back there in Sierra Leone .
Suah Korama is a fifteen year old orphan boy in Sierra Leone . He was grabbed off the streets at twelve and trained by rebel soldiers through beatings, starvation, and military drills. The year before, the Black Ops Group overthrew the leader of the Revolutionary United Front army and Suah escaped certain death because of Joe Green. Since then, he and a ragtag group of other ex boy soldiers have lived by their wits, until he is contacted by Joe. When Joe ends up in prison, Suah spends each day outside the jail, trying to think of ways to free him. When he sees an American woman go in the prison, he knows only Joe would have a white visitor and makes contact with her after she leaves; he is about to be the only person to help Stephanie break Joe out of prison and help them escape back to the United States.
Cindy Gerard once again treats us to a story of the Black Ops Group, men centered in Argentina who come from every branch of the service and use their abilities to fight evil all over the world. Seen from Stephanie's and Joe's and Suah's points of view, each person's story is told, and the heartbreak in Joe and Suah's past has colored their lives, Suah's for only a short time so far, and in Joe's case for over fifteen years. It's so refreshing to read about men with values and morals, and the strength to put their lives on the line against evil men. Ms. Gerard brings each one's story to life for us, and we grow to love and care about them. Not many authors can draw you into a story and bring emotions to the surface that make you believe in the world they have created for you.
Some interesting secondary characters are Suah Korama and his group of young soldiers. We also meet up again with the rest of the Black Ops, Inc. crew and now their wives and babies. Stephanie's parents also come in the way of the main man intent on killing Joe or anyone else who gets in the way of his plans, a man who could be our next Secretary of State.
LAST MAN STANDING is another great addition to Cindy Gerard's Black Ops, Inc. series. Combining action, emotion, and the requisite evil man trying to line his pockets with money and uncaring of who gets in his way, we are drawn into the history of Joe and his feelings of remorse over Bryan 's death. Joe isn't the type of man to forget his duty, and for him “leave no man behind” includes making sure the right person is taken down for Bryan 's death. LAST MAN STANDING winds up this outstanding series about the men of Black Ops. Inc. who live to serve their country and destroy evil.