Reviewer Steve Moore: Steve is a full-time writer and ex-scientist. Besides his many technical publications, he has written six sci-fi thrillers (one a novel for young adults), many short stories, and frequent comments on writing and the digital revolution in publishing. His interests also include physics, mathematics, genetics, robotics, forensics, and scientific ethics. Follow Here for his WEBSITE.
Review of Roy A. Teel Jr.’s Rise of the Iron Eagle…
Author: Roy A. Teel Jr.
Publisher: Narroway Press
It’s not often that I review a well-written book that just doesn’t work for me. The Iron Eagle is a serial killer who goes after serial offenders, mostly psychotic murderers and violent rapists. But does he also kill law enforcement officers who get too close for a collar? Our two protagonists, FBI profiler and Special Agent Steve Hoffman and LA County Sheriff’s Department homicide detective Jim O’Brian, are in hot pursuit.
The Iron Eagle isn’t Dexter—no TV show could be this gritty, grisly, and gory. This story is X-rated in many ways (the author even provides a content warning), but that’s not my main problem (I’ve read worse, in fact). One problem is I can’t relate to the main characters. Javier, the bartender, his son, Valente, and Reginald, the homeless man, all secondary characters, are exceptions. We’re used to flawed characters (I use them myself—most people have both flaws and good qualities), but the main cast here features characters who are stereotypes of people I don’t like. As I continued reading, I began to detect a few redeeming qualities in this novel, but not enough to like the characters.
Another problem is that the book is too damn depressing. That’s related to not liking the characters, of course, but there aren’t many glimmers of hope here. In that sense, this is a dystopian novel, but it’s not about the future—it’s about our present. There exist depressing books like this, of course, even famous ones (Margaret Atwood comes to mind), but I’m never entertained when I read them. I look for a few glimmers of hope, and reading genre fiction is entertainment, after all.
The author is advocating vigilante justice. While I’m the first to agree that our justice system is quirky, flawed, and often corrupt, some of its defects jump to the fore when we observe that men and women serve sentences or are even executed and then are exonerated by later evidence. And don’t think it’s only the Iron Eagle who condones vigilantism in this book. Every main character does! In fact, they admire the Iron Eagle. Yet, in the real world, vigilantes all too often represent a savage judge and jury who put a different and bloody blindfold on Lady Justice and make a mockery of due process. If my wife were raped and murdered, would I want to kill her assailant? Yes! Should I be allowed to do that? No!
There are a few editorial lapses (incorrect Spanish, confusing POV changes, and misused words), and I found some formatting glitches (I don’t accept run-together dialog as a style choice, for example). There’s clearly room for a sequel here, but I frankly can’t imagine how the author can continue with the Iron Eagle (I won’t write any spoilers here)—I’m not motivated to pick up the next book in the series. That’s a shame because this writer knows how to tell a story and do it well, with exceptions already noted. I just don’t like the theme behind the story. With all the arbitrary injustices going on in the Middle East, why would we permit our own country to sink into medieval injustice and violence? We should be above that as a civilized society.