“Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur”
“The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived”
– Attributed to Petronius ~ First Century AD“Inter arma silent leges”
In time of war, laws are silent”
Attributed to Cicero in his published oration Pro Milone,
although Cicero's actual wording was "Silent enim leges inter arma."Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty.
~ George WashingtonTwo women, one child, a blind man, and a former good guy. Not exactly an elite task force.
~ Lieutenant Anderson, Albatross
What do you do, who do you turn to, when your government and your military are out of control? When, in the name of anti-terrorism, your country becomes the terrorist itself, slaughtering, imprisoning and torturing the innocent? When your military turns on its own citizens, slaughtering at will, in order to cover up their own atrocities?
Alexander Burns is a soldier to his bones. Deployed to the nastiest, most violent locations on the planet, he is handled by his superiors as an attack dog- cold, emotionless, and completely and utterly heartless in his drive to reach his goal, no matter what the collateral damage. Go in. Kill. Get out. Do it again.
Now, Burns has been given a goal – kill Oman Sharif Sudani. The president has given the OK, the Chief of Staff is on-board, and all lights are green for the takeout of one of “the key architects of domestic and foreign terrorist attacks.” However, there is a problem. Burns’ superior, Field Agent Anthony Maxwell, has other plans. Capture Sudani, kill all witnesses, innocent women and children, and bring Sudani back as a trophy.
To hide his actions, he arranges for Burns and his pilot to be shot down by friendly fire. The pilot dies on impact. Burns, however, while escapes – and he knows more than Maxwell would like. The only problem is, Burns has holes in his memory. And with him being found by the Red Cross, and treated in military hospitals across the globe, Maxwell can no longer just kill Burns to cover up what he has done. Too much paper, too many witnesses. Innocent American citizens – citizens who find their lives ripped away and their families destroyed as Maxwell and his boss utilize black operatives to protect themselves at all costs.
Thus begins Albatross, Birds of Flight by J.M. Erickson. And let me tell you – this is one scary book. Oh, not scary in the Twilight Zone or Halloween vein. No, this is a real, hard hitting look at a government and military out of control. Erickson displays a deft hand at maneuvering through the maze of governmental and police agencies, tearing at the veil of silence that shrouds the manipulations and murders authorized or committed by the upper echelons. Further, he delves deeply into the complete lack of oversight which allows the influencing and control of the American public to the advancement of the careers of a privileged few.
Broken, and with severe head trauma causing memory loss, Burns is brought to a prominent expert in psychopathology, David Caulfield, by a covert group, led by Maxwell, who are determined to find out what Burns knows about not only the Sudani situation, but also information critical to Maxwell’s own boss – information that could destroy not only Maxwell but others in positions of power. Others with no moral ambiguity regarding the murder of innocent American civilians.
When Burns regains his memories, and apparently loses the very sociopathy that made him a peerless covert operative, the deaths begin, as his psychologist’s wife is blown up in a car bomb meant for both David and Jenny. As David and Burns flee, others become victims of the shadow group bent on seeing Burns, and anyone who comes in contact with him, dead.
This is definitely a book requiring thought and attention, a true literary hard-hitter of covert operations, governmental cover-ups and senseless slaughter in the name of a shadowy concept of what constitutes national security. I truly enjoyed the fact that Erickson is educated and practices in the field of psychopathology, counseling & ethics and as a critical incident specialist for police and firefighters. The man knows of which he speaks, which was enormously refreshing! His military and police characters are believable, alternating between sympathetic and horrifying.
His main characters are immensely likable and understandable. Samantha, a nurse who cared enough to realize that Burns’ medications were being skewed and to try to obtain help for him – and who also has worked as a prostitute for many years, dealing with the trauma of abuse and torture in multiple foster homes. Becky, her frightened, anxious sister who deals with obsessive eating disorder and anxiety after she is forced to murder her cousin to protect Samantha, and now has rescued her brother’s baby daughter, Emma, from his murderer’s hands and is on the run with the child. And David, of course, blinded in the explosion that killed his beloved Jenny. Not much of a strike team – but with care, training, and dedication, they will do what they must to protect themselves, and see some small amount of justice.
As an aside, I see a lot of Erickson in the portrayal of David. Write what you know, right? I feel that Erickson and David truly know one another, and it adds a whole other layer to my understanding and enjoyment of the character.
This is a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat suspense/espionage/thriller that will take your breath away and leave you reeling. If this is your genre, please don’t overlook this fast-paced thrill ride. It makes the whole “Bourne” series look like a pale imitation of reality.
Highly recommended! I wanted to finish it last night, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open – but darn, I sure wanted to!