Fresh Meat: Shock of War by Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice

Red Dragon Rising: Shock of War by Larry Bond and Jim DeFeliceThis book is the third in Larry Bond’s Red Dragon Rising series. I really appreciated the cast of characters listed at the front of the book because the story moves so quickly I often referred to it to keep up with who was doing what! The story of Red Dragon Rising began with Shadows of War and continued in Edge of War and though Shock of War is a good read alone, I think it’s wise to start of the beginning of any story.

It’s February 2014 and the realities of massive climate and temperature changes are tough to deal with all over the world. There is drought and famine in China and Premier Cho Lai decides the only way to handle this problem is to take over the world, starting with the rich soil, rice, and oil of Vietnam. While the bigwigs quarrel like school children on the playground, the Navy vessel McLane is playing a deadly game of tag with a Chinese cruiser and frigate, the protagonists of thelast book are facing media vipers, and the president is swimming against a tide of opposition. But it’s Major Zeus Murphy and Major Win Christian, the military advisors on the ground in Vietnam, who are the stars of this book.

Murphy and Christian are drawn into the action in the early pages, which is what made this book so entertaining for me. I had to put on my seatbelt to stay put throughout the book. I had loads of fun loving the good guys and their strategies and hating the bad guys, who want to destroy the freedoms and growth of Vietnam.

It was easy to believe in the ragtag Vietnam army. I found myself pushing for them from start, which felt very strange because I’m part of the Vietnam War generation. My boyfriend was drafted the same day my best friend’s brother was, so I’ve never had a real attachment to the area. But knowing what I know about the atrocities in China and the uncertainties in North Korea right now, it was easy to pull for the little, struggling country. Add to that the fact that I totally believe the climate changes are affecting the entire world, and this plot wasn’t so “out there” for me.

This is the kind of action that kept me reading even when I should have gone to bed:

Zeus slipped through the brush, slowly approaching the bridge. It had been built over a wide but shallow ravine, possibly a spot where water ran during the rainy season, or had run— the weather patterns were so hard to predict now. The Chinese hadn’t bothered to post guards, either because it was so close to the camp or because they simply didn’t expect the Vietnamese to be able to attack them from this direction.

They made their way to the bridge along the south side of the gully.

Zeus paused under the bridge, noticing a set of wires overhead. The bridge had been wired with demolition charges.

The ravine narrowed into a deeper cut, slicing back to the north.

They walked in the middle of it until they came to a pool of water. When they climbed up the side, Zeus saw a fence through the trees to his left.

He walked toward it, expecting that it was the border fence. But instead he saw green splotches and rectangles on the other side— they were still near the camp.

A field had been bulldozed from the jungle on the other side of the fence. It was filled with tanks— at least two dozen from what Zeus could see. There were other vehicles as well: personnel carriers, supply trucks.

All were arranged in neat rows, as if they’d stumbled upon a used-car lot.

“Wow,” said Christian. “Where the hell did these come from? There have to be two companies, at least. That wasn’t in any of the briefings.”

The engine noises they’d heard earlier were a little louder here, but didn’t seem to be coming from the tanks. Zeus put his head against the fence to try and get a better view.

What was going on in there?

He dropped to the ground.

“What are you doing?” hissed Christian, dropping beside him.

“I’m going to go get a better look.”

“Where?”

“Inside.”

“Are you nuts?”

The fence was staked every six or eight feet. Zeus couldn’t budge the first one, but the next one he tried came out easily.

“Zeus,” hissed Christian as he slipped beneath the fence. “Zeus! Stop!”

See what I mean? And these guys move from one scary situation to another so fast my head was almost spinning. The excitement was slowed down with quick looks at what was going on behind the scenes, which was nice because I enjoyed the romance between Murphy and the Vietnamese doctor he met when he was wounded.

This isn’t the type of book I usually read, but I found it enthralling. It was filled with danger and suspense, and it literally ends with a cliff hanger. I thought I hadn’t received the entire manuscript until I realized what the writers were doing. Like me, I suspect you’ll anticipate the next book.


Leigh Neely is a former newspaper and magazine editor. She currently does freelance work, blogs at womenofmystery.net, and recently wrote the short story, “A Vampire in Brooklyn,” which is in the anthology, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices.

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