Monday, May 7, 2012

Redemption Day

By Steve O’Brien
Washington, A&N Publishing, 2011
300 pages     Fiction

Conspiracy theories, terrorist threats, plots against the government—these are the bread and butter of fictional thrillers, and all of these are active in Steve O’Brien’s newest book, Redemption Day. A government contractor and terrorism analyst, Nick James, is accused of being complicit in the kidnapping of a Supreme Court justice, but because he is familiar with a homegrown terrorism group, Posse Comitatus, he is sure that they are involved in the crime. He sets out to prove his theory, convince the FBI that his judgment is correct, and rescue the justice. 

Redemption Day is very fast paced and angry. The protagonist, James, is angry because he has been fired from his job; the Posse Comitatus is angry because the “redemption day” they seek is not coming fast enough; an FBI agent is angry because James is getting all the attention; and a former co-worker of James is just angry in general. All of this anger feeds into the plot along with the flickering romance James is having with a female FBI agent. A final warning lets the reader know that the battle against home-grown terrorism is not over when the Supreme Court justice is finally rescued. The conclusion is satisfying and complete.

This s a serviceable thriller and it serves as a reminder that there are a lot of fringe groups in our country—terrorism is just as scary when it is homegrown as when it comes from a foreign group. On our vacation, we drove up US highway 219 in West Virginia. Shortly before we drove up that gloriously beautiful but unpopulated road, I had eaten at Smitty’s Best Dang BBQ spot on Interstate 81 in Virginia close to the border of West Virginia. (BTW, Smitty’s BBQ was reviewed on the Down Home Foodie blog.  and truly it was “dang” good.) It wouldn’t have been a stretch to say that some of the guys I said hello to at Smitty’s Truck Stop could have been part of the Posse group hiding out on that very lonesome, mountainous highway. West Virginia is the perfect setting for homegrown terrorism, and it proved to be a perfect setting for the Posse Comitatus in Redemption Day

Several years ago when we had just gotten our first GPS for the car, my husband and I went for a drive down country roads near our cottage in Michigan. We were trying to see just how far into the wilderness the GPS would take us. As we traveled down a dirt road that ran parallel to the highway, we discovered ourselves at the end of the road. A wooden gate closed off any further progress. The gate was emblazoned with a No Trespassing sign with two crossed rifles across the center and a small Michigan Militia logo in the corner. We realized, then, that the possibility of homegrown terrorism is ever present. 

Redemption Day is self-published by the author’s publishing company and came to me from the publicist. I would consider it good airplane reading or a good beach read since it is face-paced, fun, and satisfying without being too taxing on the brain. You can find a review for another of O’Brien’s books, Bullet Work, here.
Steve O’Brien’s website:

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