Lt. Col. (Retired) John Mangan has led an extraordinary life. His military career and missions are well-documented in several novels. His combat action is something I think we only can envision from the details in the pages and from the screen, but I believe it is much more heroic and courageous than we know.
Maybe you are familiar with documented works about his combat action: Not A Good Day To Die, Zero Six Bravo, or None Braver. He has been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor twice, the Air Medal twelve times, and the 2009 Cheney Award. (Mangan bio)
Recently, I read Into A Dark Frontier by the man himself. I find it difficult to describe the read in words. It is amazing. Right away I had admiration for the author because of his service, but then I found it in the pages. Into A Dark Frontier is smart. It is so technically correct. In fact, to the point I learned A LOT about military operations and jargon. But that isn't the best part. It's such an awesome plot.
There left no question Mangan knows what he is talking about and then he surprised me. Actually, at every turn the book kept my intrigue and was so descriptive in scene and character building that I felt I was right there. The characters are marvelously captured and their dialogue was a great compliment to the intensity of the story.
Into A Dark Frontier is set in Africa at a time where chaos and anarchy control the continent. Picture societal decay, rapid decline and reforming of moral values, and most all people disregard laws.
Civilization as we know it has transformed into an opportunity to criminals to rule the land and take for themselves. Slade Crawford, ex-Navy SEAL, is the perfect fit for this thrilling suspense to right the wrongs and bring some kind of order. Not really. He's complicated. Well, actually, he is perfect for this story, but he isn't in Africa to be Batman.
Slade's life is in transition stemming from a series of personal tragedies and flees from trouble to Africa. There, he is met with a series of very tense, suspenseful events leading to a fight for his survival. You can imagine with his background he is equipped to handle any demise. But is he mentally and physically ready for these challenges when the most evil of offenders surround his every move in a country of uncertainty? Why not?
Who do you trust? Where do you run? Will there be order?
He has a run-in with a man called Gary Kraven who is an unsavory character with a lot of authority and control over the region. I won't tell you what kind of run-in brings the two together; you will find out soon enough.
It really would make for an excellent movie.
But there Slade is, thrust into a terrifying storyline which leads the reader on a path of suspense. The issues are realistic and whether or not international matters reach these magnitudes of desperation where lawlessness rules, is really a futuristic possibility.
That in itself made me have some "reader fan anxiety" during moments of intense and rapidly evolving situations. Mangan perfectly writes with graphic detail a very scary but exciting ride. It's understandable how those predisposed to evil will continue that path without law and order to an enhanced state. Additionally, one can also understand how desperation and survival takes over society values and lawlessness begins to unfold rapidly into a collapsed society. Who can keep it together? Who turns? Is it everyone for themselves in a land of failed political structure?
Slade figures things out quickly and moves his way over land, assesses his surroundings, and determines friends or foes before Kraven turns him into his personal assassin. It's a little game of cat and mouse in a sense. I guess you can call survival a game. Slade uses his intelligence and military strategy to overturn his own misfortune, survive the danger, and unfold the mysteries behind what is real and what is perceived. Things are not always as they seem. Hang on to your hats because the ride is thrilling and the action is relentless.
I can only imagine the genius imagination coupled with military operational experience who drummed up this story and put it on paper for us to enjoy. Mangan wrote a brilliant piece. It is so different from anything I have read. You will definitely want to grab your copy of this debut novel. I can't wait for the next one.