Book Review: Veil of Deception, a Military Thriller by Michael Byars Lewis

The Bottom Line: This supremely satisfying military thriller hits all the right notes while establishing Lewis among the best in the genre. Highly recommended.

Veil of Deception by Michael Byars LewisThe new F-2000 fighter jet is the most secretive project the Air Force has developed since the B-2 bomber. Featuring advanced stealth capability, vertical takeoff/landing and RPA, the ability to fly the aircraft remotely in the event that the pilot becomes incapacitated, the plane is slated to be a game changer for American air superiority. All is well with the F-2000’s tests in the Mojave Desert until the RPA contractor discloses that the sale isn’t necessarily a done deal. Unless their price is met, technology may be sold to a group from Saudi Arabia.

But why exactly are the Saudis interested in remote piloting technology? That depends on who you ask.

Meanwhile in Florida, New York Times investigative reporter Sherri Davis narrowly escapes from a small arms attack, and in Manhattan, she meets an informant who tells of a group of Saudis traveling to the Mojave desert just moments before being gunned down in the street. Sherri’s quest for truth soon leads her to the Mojave, where she goes undercover. There she meets F-2000 pilot Jason Conrad, whom fans of Lewis’ first book will remember fondly. Can she earn Jason’s trust in time to discover the truth and avert disaster?

We hear a lot about “post-9/11 fiction” in relation to the thriller genre, but Lewis has taken a huge risk by setting Veil of Deception several months before the attack, ending the book’s final chapter on September 10, 2001. It’s a gamble that pays off handsomely, as the dangers and technologies depicted in the book feel both fresh and relevant.

With his second novel, Lewis proves to be a master puzzle maker. The opening chapters give equal attention to several seemingly disparate characters and plot lines – each of them fully engrossing in and of themselves – before fusing them into a cohesive story that is impossible to put down.

As with Surly Bonds (see our review here), Lewis’ experience as a combat pilot in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan pays off with a remarkable dogfight. Such authentically written scenes set Lewis apart from his peers. With no disrespect to the talented ghostwriters that continue to write for the late authors Tom Clancy, Vince Flynn and Robert Ludlum, it’s time that genre fans stand up and pay attention to one of the most talented living writers in the genre today.

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Bella Wright

Bella Wright blogs about books, film and media.

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