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August 2015

Photo - Recovery Assisted Landing

Hires_150801-N-ZZ999-003cAn MH-60R Seahawk practices recovery-assisted landings during a team drill on the USS Lassen in the Philippine Sea, Aug. 1, 2015. The Lassen is patrolling in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility to support security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. The Seahawk assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 51. 
U.S. Navy photo by Chief Jesse Mommaerts 

Photo - VBSS Security

Hires_150720-M-PA636-039cA U.S. Marine provides security for his team and Navy SEALs while conducting a joint visit, board, search and seizure exercise during a composite training exercise in the Atlantic Ocean, July 20, 2015. The Marines, assigned to Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and sailors assigned to the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group are participating in the exercise to prepare for deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility this fall. 
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis 

Photo - Main Gun

Hires_150804-M-FZ867-803AAn M1A1 Abrams tank crew fires its 120-mm main gun during a live-fire gunnery at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., Aug. 4, 2015. The tank crew is assigned to Alpha Company, 4th Tank Battalion. The live-fire exercise tests tank crews on their ability to work together on target accuracy. 
U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Julio McGraw 

Book Review - "The Redeemers" by Ace Atkins

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9780399173943_p0_v1_s192x300The Redeemers by Ace Atkins highlights Quinn Colson, a former Army Ranger who has returned to his Mississippi hometown to become sheriff.  Action seekers should understand that this series is more than a crime novel.  It is also about the culture of the Deep South and the importance of family within that culture. 

Atkins intentionally chose Quinn to be an Army Ranger, because of “their backgrounds.  I grew up in a town not far from Fort Benning, Georgia, which is where I developed my long admiration for the Rangers and how tough they are.  I knew that a certain type of culture and individual are drawn to this unit. I specifically made Quinn an Army Ranger because he exemplifies the qualities of toughness and endurance.”

Atkins puts out two books a year. He writes the Spenser series made famous by the late Robert B. Parker as well as his own series with Quinn Colson.  Both series’ plots move along through the dialogue of the characters.  There is also a similarity in that the storyline is about how the characters live their life, invoking honesty, toughness, and trust.

Atkins told blackfive.net, “Writing the Spenser books is more of a challenge than writing the Quinn books.  I not only must write a really good novel, but must do so in the style of Parker. I am constantly thinking, ‘what would Bob do here.’ These two characters are similar in that they understand the world is made up of good and bad.

They do not have hypocrisy in any shape and form.  I consider them classic American heroes.  Where the series differs is that the Spenser books has an urban setting, while the Quinn books are based around a rural environment.”

This storyline begins with Quinn pondering his next move as he finishes up his term as sheriff.  He must help solve a case in which local lumber-mill owner Larry Cobb had his safe stolen, literally.  Besides money and jewels the contents of the safe contain ledgers of Cobb’s crooked dealings. The family element comes into play with Quinn trying to reconnect with his estranged father, helping his drug addicted sister, and contemplating his relationship with Anna Lee.  She is someone he has loved dearly since high school but is currently married to an old friend of Quinn, a serious obstacle for both.

The Redeemers has a richness of characters whose lives move the story along.  More than just a crime story these Quinn novels invoke morality, the enduring resilience of family and community, and someone to root for.

Photo - Rotor Wash

Hires_150804-A-XX999-008cParatroopers move to their loading zone as rotor wash from a UH-60 Black Hawk caused a dust cloud during Operation Red Fury on Fort Bragg, N.C., Aug. 4, 2015. The training helped to increase the unit’s interoperability between ground and aviation units. The paratroopers are assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. 
U.S. Army photo by Capt. Adan Cazarez 

Book Review - "Badlands" by C.J. Box

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.

9781466881501_p0_v2_s192x300Badlands by C. J. Box brings back the exciting character, Cassie Dewell, who can best be described as a female Joe Pickett.  Readers are wondering if Box is creating another suspenseful and riveting series.  As with all his books he allows the Western landscape to become almost a supporting character. 

The plot highlights Grimstand, North Dakota, a booming oil town similar to the Old West during the Gold Rush. Readers become acquainted with this town when Cassandra (Cassie) decides to accept the job here as the chief investigator for Sherriff Jon Kirkbride.  She is looking forward to starting a new life and to put behind the hurtful memories of Montana, and losing her husband, a soldier killed in Afghanistan.  The new job entails leading an investigation to find corrupt cops, while at the same time finding out what is behind a fatal car crash.  Along with these duties she must deal with a war between a motorcycle gang and the Salvadorian MS-13. She must navigate a murderous enemy, a key witness, Kyle Westergaard, and swarming single men. The details, about the oil shale industry (fracking), are intertwined in the plot through the various investigations. 

He noted, “I wrote Cassie’s husband as a soldier killed in Afghanistan.  I want Americans to understand the anguish of a war widow, and a son who never will have met his dad.  I think many times those fighting the War on Terror are overlooked.  Many of us can name battles of World War II, but I doubt many civilians can name a battle from Afghanistan.” 

With the Kyle character Box gives a shout out to mentally challenged individuals.  Kyle is a twelve year old who is considered slow, almost invisible to the rest of the town.  Having fetal alcohol syndrome he talks very little, and has a hard time pronouncing his words.  But he is the key to the plot with his tenacious and loyal attitude.  When the story is told through his point of view it gives the readers a different perspective. 

Box commented to blackfive.net, “Over the years I had a lot of kids in books and wrote from their point of view.  I realized in my stories I never had boys, only girls.  I guess that was because I have only daughters.  One of my daughters works for family services so I asked her for help about writing a character with fetal alcohol syndrome.  I found out there are children who suffer from mild to devastating symptoms.  I wrote Kyle with a mild case although he is still over looked by the townspeople.  Yet, in his own way Kyle is sharp and can connect the dots.” 

The main character, Cassie, is gritty, intelligent, tough, determined, and willing to take risks.  She is not the typical hero in that she is plump, a widow, and a mother.  But she is also very talented and will not hesitate to bend the rules to get answers. 

Badlands is part stand-alone, and part sequel to The Highway.  Although the main piece of Badlands has its own storyline, there is a continuation of the plot from The Highway.  Cassie is still after the serial killer known as the Lizard King who preys on girls at highway rest stops.

C. J. Box is one of those authors who turn all books into gold.  He writes thrilling and captivating stories that are fast-moving and riveting.  Along with his descriptive settings and compelling characters the plots are always page-turners that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. Fans might be able to see his characters and stories on the TV screen since David E. Kelly is taking the pilot script for The Highway to Amazon and/or Netflix while Robert Redford is shopping the Joe Pickett series to Hallmark and the National Geographic Channel.