My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Renegade was a very engaging book and I could barely put it down! I was not sure how I would receive it personally since I had never read a military fiction book before but I was happily surprised.
Through the book you see the struggle of a man trying to find his place.
As a Christian reading this book I was able to fully appreciate the subtly of what being a true witness for God is by the characters involved in this this young man’s life.
Pike Morgan was a foster kid and an ex-biker gang member, who is in the witness protection program for witnessing the murder of his longtime friend, Petey. He is now working in a garage while also serving in the Marine reserve. He is still a loner and drifter by nature but is beginning to feel some of the emotions that comes with settling down. Pike befriends a young boy named Hector, who has no father , and his mother is working two jobs while his older sister is going to college. Hector looks up to Pike as a father figure of sorts but Pike is not sure that he is ready for anyone to become to close to him.
The witness protection program wants Pike to testify against more of Petey’s killers, the Diablo biker gang, to put an end to them but Pike is not sure he wants to. All the years of his “protection” has not given much fruit and Pike is growing tired of it all. He is wanting to hit he open road again but the Marines have called him and it is back to active duty…Afghanistan here we go.
Pike has said his goodbyes and is now in Afghanistan. He is placed with Corporal Bekah Shaw and two raw recruits, Zeke and Cho. They are almost immediately threw in the fire and bullets are blazing. Pike proves once again that he is courageous and a good marine, as he had been on one tour before. They infiltrated a building that was housing bomb making materials and were able to capture a Russian arms dealer working with the locals. While having the Russian in custody, the captain of the local police kills the prisoner. Pike is furious but has to restrain himself because the relations with the local police are fragile at best. Upon inspected the Russian, Pike notices a pocket is turned inside out and insists the police captain took something from it but the man insists the prisoner had pulled a knife out and was going to kill one of the Marines.
The Russian is brought in for examination and Pike is able to give clues into the dead man’s history because of his tattoos. While eating dinner in a local restaurant, he notices the police captain, Zarif, is sitting nearby and receives a phone call. Pike is able to understand some of the Russian which Zarif is speaking by reading his lips. Pike decides to follow Zarif because he believes Zarif has his hands dirty in a few things. He followed Zarif but was captured. Pike had guessed right but Zarif would not tell him anything and ordered him killed. Relying on his survival and military skills, Pike, kills Zarif and his two men. As Pike tried to escape he is captured by other Marines and took into custody. Major Hollister is not happy about what has transpired and Pike is placed in the brig ready to be the scapegoat of the incident. Lieutenant Heath Bridger visits Pike in the brig and tries to reason with him about not giving up. More information is exchanged and Heath begins to investigate Captain Zarif’s dealings with the black market.
A raid is setup on a building which housed another Russian dealer, the one Zarif had spoke with on the phone the night Pike had followed him. The raid is successful and the Russian is taken into custody. He admitted to providing Zarif with merchandise and that he was the one on the phone. Lieutenant Bridger goes to Major Hollister about this raid and capture of the Russian, and pleads the release of Pike from the brig. After a lengthy exchange the Major agrees to release Pike as long as he stays out of his hair.
Pike’s unit is then flung into a difficult task of traveling and searching a rough and snowy mountain in search of three CIA agents and a reporter, who had been kidnapped by Zalmai Yaqub. Yaqub is hoping to become the leader of this regions jihad movement by starting a series of events that would propel him to glory and assuredly give him the mantle of leader. Yaqub’s father, who was thought dead by the military, is hanging on to life despite losing an arm and leg in an US attack. Yaqub’s men build a fortification and plant explosives at key locations. As the Marines fight their way through the parameter and come upon Yaqub’s father, Pike realizes he has an electronic device and detonates all the hidden explosives. Pike’s unit and a backup unit of Marines take losses and all of Yaqub’s men are dead. Yaqub had left earlier in the morning down the mountain and back to Kandahar for his mission of glory, shooting down the planes with the Joint Chiefs of staff aboard.
As Pike and Lieutenant Bridger figure out Yaqub’s plan their unit is sprung back into action for another mission…find Yaqub before it is too late. They lean on their resourcefulness and find information on Yaqub’s possible location, a building not too far from the airfield. Upon arrival they had to fight their way into the building and Yaqub is confirmed to be there. Will Pike and his unit make it in time to stop Yaqub? I guess you will have to read it to find out!
I rated this book a 5 star because I thought it was a fantastic read. I can honestly say it was the best book I have read this year. Throughout the book different characters showed bits and pieces of being a Christian to Pike and those things always stuck with him. He was never able to shake all those things and get them out of his head despite his “wild” side always wanting to escape and run. He started the book a confused man with no real direction, a Renegade, but ended the book having a direction and finally finding a home where he knew he belonged.
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Mel Odom is a bestselling writer for hire for Wizards of the Coast’s Forgotten Realms, Gold Eagle’s Mack Bolan, and Pocket’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel book lines. His debut SF novel Lethal Interface made the Locus recommended list . The Rover was an Alyx Award winner. He has also written a scientific adventure of the high seas set in the 19th century entitled Hunters of the Dark Sea. He lives in Oklahoma.
I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.