The Bottom Line: Guaranteed to please Brad Thor fans, this terrific military thriller finds Moscow hardliners plotting to assassinate the next U.S. president.
Moscow, 1995. A small group of communist hardliners, intent on overthrowing the existing Russian regime, gather to discuss operational details. Confident that their plans will work, there’s just one problem – Senator Jonathan Bowman, the man who seems destined to become the next U.S. president, is a Reagan-esque figure who might be willing to risk military intervention to prop up the struggling Russian democracy. At last, the KGB’s Nikolai Gregarin stands to announce his solution: “Gentlemen, within twenty days, we will assassinate the man favored to win the Republican nomination.”
Meanwhile in the U.S., Senator Bowman’s estranged son, Jason, is a student pilot at Vance Air Force Base. Jason keeps the identity of his biological father to himself: “I want to make it through this program on my own. I don’t want anyone saying I made it because I’m a senator’s son.” Through a series of unlikely events, he soon learns of the Russian conspiracy and finds himself in a unique position to help foil the plot to kill his father.
Thanks to author Michael Byars Lewis’ gift for creating well-drawn characters, Surly Bonds is more than a story about espionage and geopolitics – it’s also a coming of age story with a touch of romance. Himself an 18-year veteran of Air Force Special Operations Command, Lewis flew combat missions in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. As a result, every piece of Jason’s story – and all military aspects – feels both earned and authentic. What’s more, given the aggressive geopolitics played in today’s Kremlin, the plot feels remarkably timely. Read it.