Hollow Vengeance: Jan Richmond
There are people in this world that are unable to forgive others when they feel an injustice has been committed whether to them or someone else. Many fall prey to their own failings and often enact violence on those they feel wronged them. When someone without any character or substance goes after another person harming him or her with violent revenge we can say that they finally avenged those that have been killed or wronged. But, what happens when one army Lieutenant falls prey to his own temper, anger and shortcomings and decides that the only way to get retribution for the deeds committed by others was to do it himself.
A chance meeting at Ft. Walton Beach would bring Lieutenant Frank Barrett and Ramsey Davis together. A short courtship and instant chemistry and these two young people decided on marriage and a life together. Within the prologue the author presents a shortened version of their meeting, their wedding and their hopes for the future as Frank’s stay would be short being called up to serve his country. Within the first chapter the author relates Frank’s experiences as an air force pilot, introduces his squadron, commanding officers and allows readers to understand his mission and what he and the newly formed 555th squadron would be expected to do. Listening to Captain Young, his commanding officer relate his instructions, explaining how they would interact with the enemy and learning how to deal with missions the reader begins to understand just how important these men were to winning the War in Vietnam. Within Chapter 2 and 3 the author allows the reader along with Frank and the other pilots to engage the enemy in battle, understand what happens when the radar and missiles were unreliable and the need for better weaponry would have saved more lives. Learning the terminology, fighting and coming up against MiG’s Frank and his squad fought hard, made a plea to the brass for better weapons and hoped before all was said and done they would complete what they were there for and more. But, each mission was dangerous and you could feel the tension mount, their hearts beating and the enemy closing in as lives were lost, missions were won and SAM’s were downed. But, with so much at stake and the war in full swing Frank was grateful to make is home for Christmas and here is where our story takes a different direction.
Returning home to his wife was the highlight of his life and wanting to make her happy his goal. Forming a tight relationship with another fighter pilot named Chad helped him to not only survive but would ease the transition between home and Vietnam as some harsh realities come to light when Ramsey begins to unravel. Wanting more out of life and a better place to live she gets drunk becomes depressed and Frank needs to work some magic on her to bring her around.
Nicknamed “Bee Sting,” Barrett his stinger during the war was quite sharp but not as sharp at the one he uses when fate takes her stab at him and turns his life into shreds. Within the docks of Port Tampa lives the mafia. As Little Eddy makes his way to a Panamanian registered ship his mission is clear. Hand over the money and get the drugs. Simple enough you would think. Little Eddy is cruel, unfeeling and often too strung out to know be aware of his surroundings, handle a deal or even communicate at times. But, entering the cabin of Captain Diaz he manages to complete what he came for but what happens next will change the complexion of not only his life but others too.
Ramsay and Frank were blessed with Chad’s friendship and meeting his wife Peggy made it even more special. Hoping that they would settle nearby as Pan Am was employing Chad and so much Peggy, they became more than just fast friends. But, one rainy evening would change it all for Frank. But, first let’s meet Santo Bonocante and join him for his meeting with his henchmen and find out what happens when the Mafia is involved. Enter Little Eddy and learn what will happen if he encounters the wrath of this man. Frank enters his home and finds Ramsey strung out on her bed crying. Unhappy with their life what will it take to make her smile? Hoping that buying a home, continuing their friendship with Chad and his wife would endear her to him. But, one swift movement of a car, one false move as Ramsey, pregnant and having trouble moving runs after their dog in the dark and gets hit by a car. Happening in a split second and not really understanding the end result at first, Ramsey waddles after the dog to capture him, finding herself lying in a heap on the wet pavement. But, Little Eddy did not stop and knew that the right judge could be bought and what happens next will embroil the reader in a story of murder, mystery and intrigue. The dialogue at times seems quite different as the character addresses the reader, a narrator and then a commentary at times. Told in the third person for most of the novel the character’s actions are described as the many incidents occur. Throughout chapters 10- 11 we learn more about her condition, her dramatic letter and message to Frank and then her death. But, the end is far from near as the culprit is caught but the sentence he gets will not only anger Frank but the reader too. A judge that was on the take and a man who was deported to Panama instead of sentenced on some type of murder charge inflaming Frank and putting into action a chain of events that would change his life, make you question his morals and put his friendship with Chad on the line.
Frank makes his way to Panama in order to take care of Little Eddy with the help of Chad but along the way he meets Toni. Thinking he is home free and will be able to avenge his wife’s death he befriends her but with caution. Finding out where Little Eddy was proved not too difficult, as he was able to convince some of the locals that he was there for other purposes. But, what he does will surprise readers and leaving him for dead might be his downfall. Frank has anger issues and cannot seem to control his rage when he feels an injustice has been done. No one seemed to realize the change in his personality and his determination to right wrongs in a violent way.
Vengeance can be defined as a “downward spiral of pain and betrayal.” When one person decides to take action against another and hurt them you might say they are enacting some type of vengeance. But, Frank’s manner is so intense that at times he seems irrational and unfocused whereby becoming one and the same with his rage devoid of realizing what he is doing or where he is going. As he follows a downward path he decides to go after the judge next but with an unsuspecting helper. Getting to know Toni he finds out that her father is a retired General and uses her friendship to foster his plans against the judge, which leads to disaster.
With Frank thinking Little Eddy is out of the way and enacting his own form of retribution on the judge he begins training for his second tour in Vietnam. Promoted to Major and asked to remain to train newer troops, Frank things he’s about to start a new life making sure he keeps his promise to Ramsay and make it worthwhile. The author continues to explain the many facets of training a fighter pilot, the missions but Frank is not that lucky the last time and winds up captured and placed in a POW camp. The graphically depicted scenes will help readers understand our military men had to endure at the hand of the enemy. But, when freed and meeting someone that might change his life what he does should make everyone realize that he needs some type of help but will it? Someone cuts him off a chase begins and Frank is in heavy pursuit of an unknown driver. What happens at the end will surprise readers and let you know that this is just the beginning for Frank. Someone new is in his life but will she remain? Will he keep his promise to Ramsay and create a life that is worthwhile? Will what happened to him in Vietnam haunt him forever? What will happen if he faces off with Little Eddy? Will the judge come after him? Just what will he get from enacting revenge on so many? Hollow Vengeance: Hollow: an empty cavity with nothing in it. A place where that is lower than the area around it or in this case a man whose spirit and anger has taken control of him so deeply he has no place to go but down. Will Frank feel victorious or will it be a hollow victory achieving his goal but losing something important along the way? A mystery that unravels the within the mind of one man as Frank takes us deep within the jungles of Vietnam, to the docks of Panama and back to Florida trying to console his anger, live with his deeds and find a way to redeem himself for his actions. But, does he and will he? This is the first of many Frank Barrett mystery/thriller novels. Using his knowledge of the Vietnam War and research added about fighter pilots and the weaponry and plans used author Jan Richmond takes us back to a war that most have forgotten.
This book gets four stars.