Navy SEAL Tom Paoletti knew it was going to hurt when the Seahawk he, his team and the object of their rescue mission had fled blew. He hadn't realised that the resulting concussion, combined with an ill-advised heated argument Rear Admiral Tucker, would result in a forced recuperation period away from his hand-picked team.
But maybe going home for a few days wouldn't hurt - except that, collecting his luggage at Logan, Tom saw a man who really, really reminded him of a terrorist he tracked for four months in '96. The Merchant was supposed to be dead, and Massachusetts is hardly a terrorist hotbed, but Tom couldn't shake the feeling that, with a couple of cosmetic surgery alterations, it was his man. Tom reported the sighting, then tried to put it out of his mind, focusing instead on the small town where he grew up. Seeing his niece, Mallory, would be worth the trip and forced time off, and catching up with his great-uncle Joe was always a pleasure.
Plus there was the possibility of seeing Kelly, the girl next door now all grown up, daughter of Joe's best friend Charles. And then he saw the Merchant again, this time in his tiny hometown of Baldwin's Bridge. Is this a product of a serious concussion, or is there really an international terrorist plotting, undetected, on the US East coast?
Well, of course it's the latter, but the uncertainty is beautifully written and comprises only one strand of a meticulously, seamlessly woven tapestry that involves plots about Joe and Charles' World War 2 history, two current romances, one long lost love, personal growth and coming of age, substance over style, the pettiness of small town bigotry and the triumph of rationality and intellect, and a celebration of fantasy/science fiction and graphic art. That's on top of convincing dialogue, realistic characters, strong women, and some really lovely sex scenes (including a hot, public places/near discovery moment).
The Unsung Hero is an homage to the men and women who fought in the Second World War and, unusually for an American novel, this includes the French and the Brits. Joe and Charles' history is woven through the contemporary text, as painful and immediate as the unfolding events Tom's experiencing.
The Unsung Hero is the first in a fifteen book (so far) series about a connected group of Navy SEALS looking for love. I find the books, which I've just discovered I haven't reviewed, particularly satisfying because of the overlapping, intertwining arcs - in each novel there are visits from past central protagonists, the beginnings of new relationships, and a harmonious, supportive, joyous relationship. The ending is neither unconvincingly tied up nor cliff hanger-y, and one of the many joys of this series is the knowledge that previous characters and relationships will appear in support of the larger cast and evolving big picture. I've thus far found this series without exception to be layered, nuanced, beautifully crafted, meticulously plotted, enjoyable and deeply satisfying. - Alex
The Troubleshooters series:
The Unsung Hero; Defiant Hero; Over the Edge; Out of Control; Into the Night; Gone too Far; Flashpoint; Hot Target; Breaking Point; Into the Storm; Force of Nature; All Through the Night; Into the Fire; Dark of Night; Hot Pursuit;Breaking the Rules