Monday, March 28, 2016

Cold Barrel Zero, by Matthew Quirk

Who would want to read Cold Barrel Zero, by Matthew Quirk?  Anyone who likes novels with lots of action, lots of technical descriptions of weaponry, medical details, and elaborate fighting and battle scenes.  Cold Barrel Zero has all that and more.

Quirk loves plot twists, cliffhangers, and keeping the reader guessing about who's on whose side.  One key character, Thomas Byrne, starts and finishes as the good guy.  We know this because the portions of the novel that focus on Byrne are written in the first person from his perspective.  There are some unquestionably bad guys, as well as some more ambiguous characters.  Their portions are written in the third person.  I don't want to make too much of the shifting perspectives and voices, but I wasn't that big a fan of the style.

Byrne, a veteran who is working as an ER doctor and trying to forget about the trauma behind him in his time of service, has the bad luck of being close by when some of his former buddies rob an armored truck.  Byrne comes under suspicion and doesn't know whether to trust his buddies or the military officials who come after him.  Quirk's plot is twisted, unpredictable, and, depending on your perspective may be either hard to follow or satisfyingly complex.  Several points of resolution caught me by surprise!

I am reluctant to compare Quirk to other authors.  There are definitely some with whom he shares the genre of military suspense fiction.  But he has his own voice; you can read those comparisons elsewhere.  Quirk's writing is fast-paced and realistic.  He clearly gets a thrill out of keeping the reader in the dark and on the edge of his seat, making for a darkly entertaining read.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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