9/22/2020: Updated after listening to the audiobook.
After a surprise assault on Task Force Ember’s secret compound in Virginia by Russian covert operators, John Dempsey and his teammates are mourning their dead and trying to put the pieces back together. But in the ever-evolving world of shadow warfare, there is no respite for heroes or victims. Russian spymaster Arkady Zhukov, the mind behind the attack on Ember, is at it again – directing false flag operations to destabilize Ukraine and enable Russia to seize control of the Black Sea.
The American president designates Arkady and his Zetas a clear and present danger to the United States. Dempsey and his team are tasked to systematically eliminate each and every Zeta agent around the globe. But when American and Russian covert operations collide in Kiev, the “new Cold War” goes from a simmer to a boil. Escalation ensues, bringing America and her allies to the brink of world war. Unless Dempsey and Task Force Ember can derail Russia’s secret plans, the collateral damage could bring the world to its knees.
This is the 6th book in the Tier One series. While each book can technically be read/listened to on its own, readers will definitely enjoy this more if they’ve read the whole series – minimally books 4 & 5 (American Operator & Red Specter). As such, there may be spoilers from those books in this review.
Collateral opens with the remaining Ember operators trying to find cohesiveness after the loss of many beloved teammates. However, there is work to do – and we’re immediately thrust into a non-stop thriller that I found impossible to put down. There were so many perspectives and moving parts in this book yet Andrews & Wilson brought it all together in a cohesive and satisfying way. That’s not to say that I wasn’t surprised, because many of my hunches on where the story would lead me were proven wrong. With the world potentially on the brink of WWIII, Collateral is edge-of-your-seat action, intrigue, espionage, political maneuvering, and operational engagement.
One of the things that I love about this series is how consistent the characters are while still experiencing personal and professional growth. Dempsey, Munn, Grimes, Baldwin, Wang, Jarvis, etc. have their own distinct personalities and mannerisms that give the Tier One books true cohesion. That said, many of them will be taking on new & surprising roles in this book and with more chapters from each character’s POV – we get even more insight into how they think and the decisions they’re making. As always, I appreciate the authors’ commitment to writing strong, intelligent, competent female characters. Grimes & Petra continue to stand out as valuable and respected members of the team.
While the book has a satisfying conclusion – Andrews & Wilson have definitely left the door open for more Ember stories. They’ve recently announced a new series, Sons of Valor, featuring the beloved Tier One secondary character “Chunk” Redman. I’m looking forward to more of both Ember & the SEALS in 2021.
Ray Porter is superb as always. His voices throughout the entire series are consistent and yet distinct. It’s a HUGE cast of characters and personalities that Andrews & Wilson have created and Porter is a master. It’s a terrific book on its own – the audio just brings it to a whole new level.
While I received a free advanced review copy of the ebook from the authors, I purchased the audiobook.
About the authors:
Brian Andrews is a US Navy veteran, Park Leadership Fellow, and former submarine officer with a psychology degree from Vanderbilt and a masters in business from Cornell University. He is the author of three critically acclaimed high-tech thrillers: Reset, The Infiltration Game, and The Calypso Directive.
Jeffrey Wilson has worked as an actor, firefighter, paramedic, jet pilot, and diving instructor, as well as a vascular and trauma surgeon. He served in the US Navy for fourteen years and made multiple deployments as a combat surgeon with an East Coast–based SEAL Team. The author of three award-winning supernatural thrillers, The Traiteur’s Ring, The Donors, and Fade to Black, and the acclaimed faith-based thriller War Torn. He and his wife, Wendy, live in Southwest Florida with their four children.
You can connect with Andrews & Wilson here:
My Favorite Quotes
Zeta may have knocked us down but Ember will never be out of the fight… So long as I have this crew, I can do anything. – Collateral @LexicalForge @JWilsonWarTorn @bAndrewsJWilson #Audiobook narrated by @Ray__Porter #TierOne #Military #ThrillerTweet
The key, Lieutenant, is to swallow the fear but harness the adrenaline. – Collateral @LexicalForge @JWilsonWarTorn @bAndrewsJWilson #Audiobook narrated by @Ray__Porter #TierOne #Military #ThrillerTweet
I have yet to encounter a scenario in which John believes he cannot execute his mission. – Collateral @LexicalForge @JWilsonWarTorn @bAndrewsJWilson #Audiobook narrated by @Ray__Porter #TierOne #Military #ThrillerTweet
Good leaders knew when to ask questions, when to give orders, and when to shut the hell up and let people work. – Collateral @LexicalForge @JWilsonWarTorn @bAndrewsJWilson #Audiobook narrated by @Ray__Porter #TierOne #Military #ThrillerTweet