Review: Price of Duty by Dale Brown

Price of Duty by Dale Brown is the 21st book in the Patrick McLanahan series, where the U.S. and its Western allies come under a diabolical Russian cyber warfare attack in this action-packed military techno-thriller.

The New York Times-bestselling author of Iron Wolf has come out with a scorcher in Price of Duty. The President of Russia, Gennadiy Gryzlov, is up to no good. In the best tradition of the coldest of wars with the heat turned up, he is planning a mess of trouble for Poland. He is looking to gain the upper hand and stick it to the West, good and proper.

A series of underground bases are built to house a fearsome weapon bristling with cyber technology, which starts to wreak havoc on the long-suffering Polish population. A web of intricate plots and subplots are designed to throw many off the scent, but few people believe anyone other than the Russians are responsible for the cyber attacks on the Polish banks, the crippling of Europe’s power grids, and the sickening assault on a commercial airliner.

Who is going to stop this mayhem? Who is going to bring the incredibly bad people to book for all this death and destruction?

Enter Brad McLanahan and his Scion team—backed up by a whole range of incredible cyber weapons and hi-tech beasties that rip, tear, and bash things to pieces in the name of the good and the right. They are ably assisted by Major Nadia Rozek: Polish, smart, highly skilled, and Brad’s new girlfriend. A kind of Lara Croft for the modern times. 

“The banks have closed up tight,” Martindale told him.

“What choice do they have? With what appears to be some really nasty malware running wild through all of their computers, they can’t make any transactions.”

“Which means our whole economy is going to be grinding to a halt,” Nadia realized.

“That’s about the size of it,” Martindale said gloomily. “Without operating banks, who can conduct business? Sure, there may be a few mom-and-pop stores that still deal mostly in cash, but everyone else relies on electronic transfers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a worker bee using an ATM card or a credit card or a big corporation relying on a line of credit to fund some new enterprise.” He frowned.

“It’s a damnably simple equation: without access to capital or credit, there’s no real commerce. Not above a primitive, barter-style economy, anyway.”

“So very soon no-one will be able to buy food. Or pay for gasoline. Or anything else.” Nadia said, looking deeply worried. “ Not once they’ve used up any cash they have left in their wallets and purses.”

Brad looked down at Warsaw’s streets. The crowds were growing fast. He could see thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of people, more streaming in from every direction. He glanced back at Martindale.

“You think people down there are going to turn violent, don’t you?”

The action comes fast and thick, and Dale Brown weaves a poignant moral tale in tandem with the death and glory. This is easier said than done when penning an action thriller against a gigantic theater of war such as Price of Duty

Brad has some really big boots to fill, as his father was General Patrick McLanahan, a man who put swash and buckling together in a way few, if any, could emulate or imitate. Sometimes memories are the best thing you can have of someone. One of the cleverest aspects of this book is that General McLanahan hasn’t totally gone and is still capable of changing the memory his peers and his very able son had of him. Exactly how that is done is something for you to find out when you get your hands on this epic. 

Dale Brown has written a book that is not one-dimensional. While I would still count my fingers if I were ever to shake hands with President Gryzlov, he manages to show that when you are at the top it doesn’t matter which side you step to, you still risk tumbling down, all the way to the bottom. If you want to stay where you are, better to step aside for no man or woman.

The ending is a cracker and almost Shakespeare-like in the way all aspects of the issues are dealt with, considered, and taken care of—even if it’s by being blown to pieces. No complacency ever creeps into the story, for which you can be thankful to Mr. Brown. He keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.


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Dirk Robertson is a Scots thriller writer, currently in Virginia where he is promoting literacy and art projects for young gang members. When not writing, tweeting, or blogging on the Mystery Writers of America website, he designs and knits clothes and handbags from recycled rubbish.

Read all Dirk Robertson’s posts for Criminal Element.


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