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Book Review: "Drone" by Mike Maden

The following book review is provided as a special to BlackFive readers by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the far right sidebar.

9780399167386_p0_v3_s260x420Mike Maden’s debut novel Drone is a very fascinating exploration, combining the War on Terror and the War on Drugs. Through captivating characters he examines how the techniques used in fighting terrorists can be used to fight the drug cartels. Drones and their related technology have given the President the ability to identify, locate, and surgically strike enemies of the US, being able to actively engage in warfare that poses an existential threat to peace and stability in the region. 

The most interesting character that the readers will wish was real is President Margaret Myers.  She is someone who does not look at the political polls when making decisions and her convictions lead her to do what is necessary to protect Americans.  Maden told that he based this character on Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir whose married name was Meyerson.  “I made Myers a President that I hope people will admire.  I based her on Thatcher and Meir because they were tough, visionary, and moralistic leaders.  I also wanted Myers to be an accomplished woman with executive experience in the technical field.  I see these women as practical, efficient, and economical in their thinking and how to find a solution.”

The male lead is Troy Pearce, the CEO of Pearce Systems, a private security firm whose expertise is drone technologies.  A former CIA SOG operative in Iraq Pearce decided to leave the clandestine field after seeing many of his colleagues sacrificed for political correctness.  Maden described him as “a Patriot, a premier warrior, and the first libertarian action hero.  He is also fierce, loyal, brave, cynical, angry, and frustrated.  He sees his challenge as wanting to serve honorably in a noble government that should be willing to use an Old West type of mentality: brutal and bloody justice.”

As with all military thrillers, technology also becomes a character.  In this novel, there are the spy cameras, robots, and different types of drones from the mosquito  to the RHEX. Maden wanted to use these because he found them fascinating with their many capabilities.

The plot has a pair of drug cartel hit men assaulting and killing a group of American students in El Paso, Texas.  As the violence escalates, President Myers is determined to use force combined with economic strategies to support the rule of law. She recruits Pearce to locate and destroy the drug cartel leaders while she uses economic means to promote Mexican leaders who want peace and security for their nation.  Maden explained, “President Myers deployed drones to decapitate Mexican cartel leadership and supported the removal of a corrupt Mexican presidency.  She wanted to promote meaningful, democratic change rather than ignore the emerging narco-state that was destroying Mexican society and poisoning America's youth.  I see them as a terrorist threat since the drug war has killed 1000s of America’s young people literally and figuratively.  Remember the Iranians tried to hire a Mexican drug cartel assassin to kill the Saudi Ambassador here in the US.  We need leaders who are not going to be gutless politicians but are willing to do the right thing which is always harder and more complicated than doing nothing.”

Maden transfers this mindset to his characters allowing for a very riveting and thought provoking plot.  Drone has an interesting mix of current US dangers, geopolitics, and how technology can be used in modern warfare.  The readers will find themselves wondering how issues can be settled while the book is only half finished.  That is because there are a number of twists and turns as well as an escalation of actions taken to ensure Americans’ safety.  Drone is a riveting thriller that is a definite page-turner.