One of my favorite novelists that I’ve recently discovered is Steven Konkloy. His two books on California trying to secede in the near future, Fractured State and Rogue State, both are fun to read, exciting books that also explore complex topics in a highly readable and digestible way.
With those positive experiences from reading his other books in mind, I began a different series of his, the Ryan Decker series, with some excitement. Fortunately, the first book in the series, The Rescue, lived up to my expectations and might have even exceeded them.
Like his other books, the plot of Konkoly’s The Rescue is superb. A former Marine and CIA man turned private investigator/mercenary, Ryan Decker, is set up by shadowy groups when trying to rescue child sex slaves from the California Bratva. Months later, when he’s released from prison (much to his surprise), he’s in a no-holds-barred fight for his life against Russian mobsters, mercenaries, and the FBI. The story is exciting, engaging, and everything else I’ve come to expect from a Konkoly novel.
Yet better, it’s about serious topics: the growth of the private military contracting industry and child trafficking.
Because of the dark, secretive nature of those topics, few of us know much about them. PMCs stay in the shadows, waging war for their employers with no clear rules or governing authority. While some Western ones are generally forces for good, such as Blackwater (now owned by Constellis), and the first of the type, Executive Outcomes, others are full of bad actors and support dictators around the globe. The Wagner Group, a Russian PMC firm, comes to mind.
Konkoly, through a character named Harcourt and a company named Aegis Global, shows the dangers of allowing the formation of massive private armies and what might happen in an unscrupulous man were to own one such company and use it not to advance the interests of his nation but to make himself incredibly powerful. It’s interesting, and at times terrifying, to see Konkoly’s perspective on how such an organization would act, what its goals would be, and what capabilities it could bring to bear on potential threats to its power.
The other, darker aspect of The Rescue is child trafficking. In the book, the Bratva, the Russian mob, is involved with trafficking tens of thousands of women and girls throughout the US, especially California. Feeding the perverted desires of degenerate Americans, the Russians prey on, kidnap, and traffic young women. Ryan Decker, the hero of the novel, is there to fight them.
Best of all, while Konkoly does discuss those weighty topics, he does so in refreshingly original ways. The bad guys are various levels of evil, often acting unexpectedly, and the good guys convey real emotions rather than the same tired tropes. Additionally, the plot generally unfolds in unexpected ways. Nothing is certain, events happen rapidly, and who the “good guys” and “bad guys” are changes at the drop of a hat in later parts of the book.
So, if you’re looking for a fun to read novel that introduces you to real world problems such as sex trafficking and mercenaries, The Rescue is a book you should certainly check out. Konkoly is an exceptionally good writer, the book is exciting, and the topics/themes of note in The Rescue are ones of pressing concern that we should all learn more about. I highly recommend you order a copy and spend the few hours it’ll take to read it. It won’t disappoint.