The Quiet Professionals, Book 3
(Shiloh Run Pres)
May 2015/350 pages/$13.99
Special Forces operator Salvatore “Falcon” Russo vowed to never again speak to or trust Lieutenant Cassandra Walker after a tragedy four years ago. But as Raptor closes in on the cyber terrorists responsible for killing two of their own, Sal must put his life—and the lives of his teammates—in her hands. Despite his anger, Cassie is ill-prepared for his resistance and the fallout when she must protect the one asset who can end the attacks. As allies become enemies and hostiles become unlikely partners, Raptor fights for its very existence.
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Whew! Just when I think I can handle Ronie Kendig's Rapid-Fire Fiction, she unleashes another no-holds-barred novel that blows me away. Falcon is everything I've come to expect from Kendig and more: staccato-paced action, complex characters fiercely loyal to each other and the country they have pledged to protect, and a setting pulsating with authenticity. I couldn't put down the first two books in this series, Raptor 6 and Hawk (click the titles for my reviews). Somehow, Kendig has raised her own bar with Falcon, and the only time I didn't read with my heart in my throat was when my jaw dropped due to several unexpected twists. While I have always appreciated our military, Kendig's novels have raised my awareness and respect, particularly for Special Forces, tenfold. And I love that Falcon's cover picture does not portray a model but an actual Marine Sargeant, who is also a Purple Heart recipient and double amputee. Kudos to Ronie Kendig for another incredible novel. You don't want to miss it!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Ronie Kendig. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Read an excerpt of Falcon, followed by not one, but TWO cool giveaways!
Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan
25 March—1745 Hours
Do you see the shooter?”
Sal shifted, pressing his shoulder against the hull of a Jeep sitting in the parking lot of the burning CECOM building and scanned the distance. It wasn’t like Kandahar Airfield was small and jammed up against the city. There was distance—the airport sat ten miles southeast of Kandahar City. The base was massive, hosting a couple hundred aircraft. Maintained by the U.S. Armed Forces and the ISAF, it also had a smaller, dedicated portion to the Afghan Armed Forces’ base and an even smaller portion for the Afghan Air Force.
Whoever was firing on them had to be on the base—and was it his imagination or were those shots coming from the AAF’s location?
“I got nothing,” he said.
The man they’d caught lay dead in a pool of his own blood. CECOM was burning. American soldiers and Afghan allies were dying. This mess had to stop.
He shot a look to Knight, who had taken cover behind a portable building. “We need to end this.”
Knight nodded. “Ddrake and I will find them.” He turned to his intense German shepherd, who stood ready and willing to work. After his handler spoke a quiet command to him, Ddrake turned and started his methodical stalking of the scent. Weapon cradled in both hands but held down, Sal trailed the MWD team away from CECOM. Experience had sharpened his trust in the K9 units, in their ability to track down trouble and their fierce loyalty to protect their pack. It’s why he’d requested a team for Raptor.
Dirt crunched beneath his boots as they skirted one building after another, Ddrake systematically making his way toward what had once been a thriving center of downtime—the Boardwalk. Most shops had closed down, a few rebellious, stubborn ones lingering as the troop count had been drastically scaled back.
Ddrake trotted on, his breathing almost staccato as he hauled in air and processed the scents at the back of his throat, tasting as much as smelling what lingered in the air.
They were sitting ducks out here, with most of the base personnel embroiled in the chaos at CECOM. Sal slowed, his gaze sweeping back and forth. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled. What he wouldn’t do to have his M4A1 carbine with its modified trigger he’d done with an off-the-shelf kind and overhauled. That beat a handgun in a firefight any day and every day.
He rolled his shoulders and swallowed, telling himself the enemy wasn’t as well trained. They were more frantic. More desperate. They made mistakes.
Still. A carbine went a long way in making him feel more secure.
“Falcon!” came a hissed voice.
He pivoted, bringing his weapon up.
Dean and Todd “Eagle” Archer jogged toward him, both carrying weapons and a vest. Dean tossed him the tac vest. Sal threaded his arms through it and secured the straps before accepting the assault rifle.
“What’ve you got?” Dean asked Knight.
“Nothing yet. But he’s tracking.” Knight kept moving, following his dog.
Sal resumed his course, this time with Eagle and Dean in tow. That felt better. Right. Even though he had his issues with Dean. Friends could handle that though. And Dean was a bigger man than to let differences get in the way of doing the job or the mission.
Sal wished he could be like that.
At a juncture of two portable buildings, Ddrake suddenly backtracked. Lowered his snout and hauled in hard.
Hawk and Titanis caught up with them as the German shepherd sorted the scents. Sal scanned their surroundings, thinking through what could be in the area. “Less than half a klick to the airfield.”
“Even less to the Afghan Air Force base,” Titanis added.
Sal focused on that area. After the president had announced the U.S. withdrawal and scaled back efforts, there’d been a lull in attacks then there seemed to be a vicious uptick in Blue-on-Green attacks. What infuriated him were the innocent civilians who wanted the protection against the Taliban but were caught in the middle and suffering because of the swell of violence.
“He’s got something!”
Sal swung around as the two bolted down the darkened alley between the buildings. Ddrake went right. Knight followed.
“Stay with them!” Dean shouted.
Known for his gift of speed, Sal sprinted behind them, his boots digging into the half-dirt, half-pebbled ground. He rounded the corner just as Ddrake sailed over a barricade. Even as he watched Knight throw himself at the wall, Sal slung his weapon over his shoulder. Knight cleared it, but not as easily as the dog.
Sal jumped against the wall. His feet hit. He palmed the cement bricks and vaulted over. He landed with a thud and shifted to the side, going to a knee. Assessed. Knight and Ddrake were circling a small car.
“Back! Get back!” Sal could just see that thing blowing sky-high and taking the MWD team with him.
“Ddrake, heel!” Knight slapped his left thigh twice and the dog immediately circled back, turned, and sat against Knight’s leg, looking up at his handler happily. “I can see supplies, but it doesn’t look like a bomb.”
Sal kept his weapon trained out, staring down the sight as the others grouped up.
Dean dropped over the wall next, followed by Hawk and Eagle. Approaching cautiously, Dean eyed the interior of the car. Keyed his mic. “Command, this is Raptor Six Actual. We are just north of the blast well and found some chemicals. Let’s get Hazmat out here.”
“Shooters?” Hawk asked.
“Nothing yet. I can have him track.” Knight shrugged.
He can decipher between human and chemicals?”
“Ddrake tracks chemicals, but whoever carried those”—he pointed to the car—“they’ll have that scent on them. Ddrake can find them.”
“Let’s do it.”
The words had no sooner left Sal’s mouth than a wall of growling, snarling teeth and fur flew into the air. With a beastly growl-snap, Ddrake bolted into a dark sliver of space between a shack and the perimeter fence.
“He saw som—”
A primal scream howled through the night.
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