For my birthday, my husband gave me an Amazon Kindle. It’s a sensible gift for me, since I read voraciously and often find myself waiting around in various places because of carpools. Since the Kindle fits in my purse, I always have something to read.
The only problem with the Kindle is the expense. Hardback books are 50% off, but I would never pay $10.00 for a book. Paperback books are barely discounted at all, and I would never pay $8.00 for a book. So, I do three things: I still haunt my library; I buy “disposabooks” at Goodwill (novels for about $1.39 each); and I download the free books that publishers put up at the Kindle site in hopes of sparking interesting in a writer. (You can see what I mean at the Kindle bestseller page.) A couple of weeks ago, I lucked out when I found a series of JAG Corp legal thrillers by a guy named Don Brown.
I’d never heard of Don Brown before finding his books, and quickly discovered why: The books are Christian themed and are from a Christian publisher. In other words, this is not a genre that would normally cross my radar. Not being a Christian myself, I don’t seek out Christian literature. The lure of free thrillers, however, was too much for me.
I just finished Brown’s first book, Treason, and am now reading his second, Hostage. Treason was an interesting book. Brown’s writing is a little wooden, but no more than you’d expect from a first time novelist. Despite the writing, though, there’s a lot to like about the books. First, as a lawyer, I found the courtroom scenes and the description of trial proceedings interesting. The twist of a military setting just added a bit of spice. Second, I liked his lead characters, who are moral people (in large part due to the Christian element), and who grapple with legal situations familiar to all lawyers. Third, I really enjoyed his abiding love for the Navy, which comes through in every word. Even the uniforms delight Brown.
Mostly, though, I liked the book because of Brown’s honesty about Islamic terrorism. Brown has no interesting in politically correct tropes about peace. He recognizes that we are at war with a fanatical element in Islam, which in turn is supported by passivity and political correctness. In Treason, published in 2005, Brown showed himself to be especially prescient. The plot involves Islamic members of the military who use their special access to commit acts of terrorism directly against the military — shades of Nidal Hassan. Brown also grapples with whether Islamic terrorists who are engaged in guerrilla activities against the United States should be tried in regular criminal courts or in military courts. That, too, could have been ripped out of today’s headlines. It’s no surprise, given that his protagonist is a JAG officer that Brown sides with a military tribunal, but he also makes cogent arguments for doing so — arguments that could be made, and have been made, with respect to Holder’s/Obama’s insane decision to try KSM in New York’s federal courts.
So, if you’re looking for an easy read, military thriller, with strong Christian themes, I can definitely recommend Don Brown’s books. They are fun, and they have a crystal ball element of prescience that I always appreciate.
UPDATE: Just finished Hostage. As I suspected it would be, it’s better than Treason. From one book to the next, Brown’s writing became more polished and smoother. The first book was a good debut effort, but Brown is now getting his writing chops.