What would happen if we had to worry that drones were going to fly above us, take aim and even shoot at innocent people? What would happen if instead of guns these military drones would be used to destabilize political hot spots and instead of an arsenal of weapons they would be used to take down these hot spots, murder anyone in their way and eliminate humans from combat. Pruitt Kellerman is the man behind these drones and using secret teams that he controls using research that the reader learns about in the prologue stemming back to WWII and stolen research belonging to WWII cryptanalyst Alan Turing who devised, developed and created these drones that can think, hack into enemy computers, work alone or autonomously and even infiltrate social media with sending out the wrong information causing serious problems and much more. Enter Tucker and his military dog Kane who are about to enter into a difficult mission or journey when someone from his past reenters his life and requires his help to learn what happened to several of her co-workers. Someone is out to unleash terror, reveal old past secrets and take down more than our social media. Tucker and Kane are amazing duo and the commands that he gives Kane and the love and trust behind these two really sets the tone for the dangerous encounters that they both endure. Each one can read the mind of the other and the action is flawless. Alan Turing was a genius and his mathematical mind is partly responsible for what readers are about to learn when Tucker and his team of intelligence analysts need to stop what Pruitt has set in motion, hope to decrypt the drones and take away their rid them of their malicious code. Breaking the code that ended WWII Turing’s work seems to be at the heart of this novel as Tucker and Kane search for Sandy Conlon but someone does not want her found and is out to stop them both at any cost. When Jane Sabatello turns up at his motel with her young child asking him to find Sandy things begin to take on a dangerous turn and no one seems to know where she might be or others that were part of her unit. Tucker and Kane meet with an old buddy named Frank who works in Redford and has agreed to find out what he an about Sandy. As he hunts for her and others who might have been killed, he will finally come upon Pruits who is behind this entire conspiracy and hopefully came out alive. Pruitt has sent his head of security Raymond Lyon to join another member of the security team to track down Kane and Tucker and take them down.
Imagine what will happen if instead of bombers, planes and other aircraft robotic warriors are sent in the form of drones out to kill the enemy. Emotionless, no feelings and just acting on whatever program are programmed to understand this is scary and the possibilities astounding. Jane, is a former Intelligence Analyst and is now as the authors relate working for the Defense Intelligence Agency and she Tucker and Kane are referred to as The Three Musketeers. She adores Kane as you can tell from their brief encounter and she and Tucker have their own past. Convincing him to help her too some work but as Tucker reflects on many incidents and then is ambushed on the way back to his motel with Kane after speaking with Frank, he realizes that someone is tracking him but who and why? We understand when he related that he does have a form of PTSD that often hampers his movements and actions it’s called Moral Injury. Moral injury in was such as what Tucker has can stem from direct participation in acts of combat. For example killing or harming others, or indirect acts like witnessing death or dying, failing to prevent or stop immoral acts of others or even giving or getting orders that he or anyone else would consider or perceive morally wrong and have extensive moral violations. Moral injury, which also applies to Tucker, can be defined as a psychological trauma or moral injury that describes extreme and unprecedented life experience including the harmful aftermath of exposure to such events. Some evens are thought to be morally injurious and hold deeply held moral beliefs and expectations. The person’s actions transgress to violating a command or law. Author James Rollins brings this issue to light as a new form of PTSD that can no longer be pushed aside or ignored. Tucker has trust issues and experiences serious inner conflicts due to betrayal or behaviors that he encounters that are unethical or against his moral beliefs. Hearing Tucker talk with Frank and then Edith from the storage facility leading Tucker to believe that she might be the leak that sent someone after him. Working in the facility Sandy set up a bunker that would allow her to work alone without being watched. The plot goes back to the work of Alan Turing how he created this drone, which somehow Tucker got a model of and Frank is about to unravel some of the mystery. The issues of warfare, political coups and the use of drones are prime. Referring to a new digital battlefield scary using digital house of cards, three pronged electronic jamming and disruption through cyber attacks, which often spread the wrong information. War Hawk presents these issues and many more the frightening part is that are drones out there and some might be used for this purpose as outlined in this novel.
Tucker decides to hunt in a different place for Sandy after speaking with her mother and learning a new route to find her. Unfortunately he finds her hidden away in the trunk of a car that was submerged in the water. Is the a problem Pruitt who has created these drones that can hunt, adapt, kill, scan and attack at will or upon command? Jane elaborates about Project 623 at Redmond and why this project is linked to something Sandy created regarding the drones. As we learn more about these drones and the fact that they might be able to learn things on their own, communicate and attack without any emotion the authors present a new line of ways we and other countries can be attacked.
Saving some of the members of Tangent and hoping that with the help of Nora and Diana they could decipher the code and figure out what Turing was trying to do and complete his work brought about more danger but the authors go into what he tried to do and the information and the end result is startling. As the body of Sandy is found they are hoping that no one else close to her has the same fate but a video that explains it all surfaces and what is found might change it all as Nora and Frank get to work to complete what she started and possibly take it down at the same time.
The head of Tangent security fled and knew his days were marked and numbered as Karl Webster disappeared. Jane escaped his purge of Project 623, Tucker raided his encampment at Redstone, and then both Tucker and Jane slipped through the line of circle of guards preventing access to or from an area or building. He placed this barrier around White Sands. As Tucker squared off with Rafael and pretended to make deal with him to back off for money, little did he know that Tucker had Kane’s surveillance cameras on him and that he would have just enough to learn more about Rafael and Pruitt.
Pruitt Kellerman had a timetable that he created and expected his team of killers to follow it to the letter. But, Tucker, Jane, Kane, and Nora had other plans and with their individual expertise in technology, understanding of drones and how they work both Frank and Nora created and recreated REX a powerful drone to hopefully take down what Kellerman set in motion. I love the interaction between the reader and Kane as the authors cleverly allow Kane’s voice to be heard as they explain his movements, actions, feelings and understanding of the commands given to him by Tucker. When Kane is injured and has to deal with descending from a helicopter or small plane I can seriously identify with his fears and trepidations. He is a great character and I would wonder what he would say if he could speak to readers.
Kellerman is part of Horizon Media Corp and is the single largest owner of radio, television stations and newspapers plus other social medias sties. He is one powerful man and his power extends across continents like Europe and Asia. Stopping him was going to be difficult but with the help of Ruth Harper, Tucker’s boss they might be able to get contacts and resources that can stop him. But the technology described in this novel and the drones and their capabilities is mindboggling. Sigma director Painter Crowe gets involved and the video feed states that Pruitt Kellerman is their largest obstacle and his influence far surpasses our own government. White Sands is one of his locations and a lot of Soviet equipment was lost there plus he is a major stockholder in Skazis Mining which oversees the mining of rare earth minerals. With the President of Serbia in his hip pocket and other foreign leaders too, will his schedule be met as he bombs a high school, villages in Serbia and lives are lost without any feeling for the people who died.
The ending is electric as the final battles of the drones takes place with REX hoping to take control but the drones that are deployed will make our bombs, tanks, rockets and arsenals pale in comparison as authors James Rollins and Grant Blackwood bring to light the importance of military dogs, their uses, PTSD, moral injury, and reliving the work of Alan Turing in our time period. Drones are the newest weapon for in warfare and as author James Rollins states in the author’s notes and I quote: will the use of drones save lives or will the ease of their use-killing from afar- make us more likely to go to war? What happens when corporations go to war and use the same technology described in this novel in the author’s notes. One novel that you will want to read over and over again as we come face to face that someday we might all unfortunately be victim to the wrath of a WAR HAWK!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine