Review: Soft Targets by John Gilstrap

Soft Targets by John Gilstrap
Series: Jonathan Grave (# 5.5)
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Pinnacle Books
Pages: 127
Source: book provided by NetGalley for review
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Four children’s lives hang in the balance. A vicious criminal is on the loose. With law enforcement at a dead end, there’s only one man who can recover the hostages–Jonathan Grave.

FBI Special Agent Irene Rivers is horrified to learn that because of mistakes made by agents under her command, a murderer and child molester will walk free. When Irene’s own daughters become the monster’s next targets, she reaches out in desperation to an elite Special Forces operator. His name is Jonathan Grave. For Grave, results matter more than procedures. Together, they discover a new kind of justice–and a new breed of evil. . .

 

Review:  Everyone loves a good action story. Whether it’s a hunk killing some terrorists on the big screen, or a young wizard finally slaying the evil sorcerer who also slayed his parents, action grips us at our core. It excites, scares, and thrills us. Soft Targets by John Gilstrap is no exception.

This story follows an FBI Special Agent searching for her kidnapped girls. She gets introduced to two hulking special forces types who quickly decide that she is worth helping, and who lend a brutal aspect to the book. Early on, our main character is forced with a dilemma: do what is right, or uphold the law. Much of the book is centered around this.

The author definitely did not pull punches on this novel. It is face-paced, with not a dry moment in sight. Constant movement occurs and you will not find yourself bored. There are moments other authors would shy away from, such as the killing of a hostage by the good guys; but these moments only add to the story and lend credence to the supporting characters. There is a fair share of gore and bloodshed – not excessive, mind you – but it feels like the perfect amount for a book of this genre.

With that said, however, I have two large gripes about this book, both of which are related. The first is this: the characters remain very static throughout the whole of the novel. The only time it feels like a character bursts out of their static prison is when the main character is forced to choose between rescuing her daughters at all cost or upholding her oath to the law; this mostly happens towards the mid-beginning of the book, and she remains unchanged through most of it.

Also, it does read and feel like a prologue. This is the prequel to a series, showing how the protagonist met her two special forces friends, but if you just pick up the book off of a shelf you might be left feeling a little left out.

If you are looking for naught but action where the good guy wins in the end, this book is for you. If you aren’t willing to invest in the overarching narrative with the other books, and enjoy watching characters grow, I’d recommend you look elsewhere. If you are just looking for an action packed afternoon, while lazing about your favorite couch, I’d definitely say this is a great book to pick up.

 

Justin