Thursday, November 17, 2011
A Sci-Fi Rumble in the Jungle
Gabriel's Return by Steve Umstead
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Power up your Oso-11 heavy assault rifle and join Evan Gabriel’s team as they face a new threat on an old battlefield in Steve Umstead’s second novel in the Evan Gabriel Trilogy, ‘Gabriel’s Return’.
Picking up the story six months after the conclusion of the first book, Umstead instills a false sense of security and normalcy so that he can leverage his plot and jerk the rug out from under you and his characters. This book is loaded with more than enough hi-tech action but Umstead finds balance and depth by presenting a more complex plot and delves much deeper into his characters and the forces working against them.
Against all odds
Evan Gabriel and his team of special operations forces have been cleaning up the streets of Mars. Gone are the criminals and the chaos, replaced by the pleasant smiles of pedestrians and laughter of children playing. Things are winding down for Gabriel and his crack unit but political forces are manipulating events around the galaxies that will put it all in jeopardy.
Learning that one of his men from the ill-fated Eden mission is alive but imprisoned, Gabriel takes his team back to where his nightmare began. As they prepare for this latest Eden mission, one team member falls to a traitor’s plot and they quickly realize the only people they can trust are each other. Ill-equipped and undermanned, Gabriel and his crew must fight their way through enemy territory and defeat an army of terrorists in order to eliminate the mysterious ‘Prophet’ and rescue their hostages.
Meanwhile, political machinations begin to play out as an anonymous mastermind, backed by the La Republica de Sudamerica, begins his coup on Mars while Gabriel and his team are light years away battling the terrorists and their own personal demons.
While there were no major surprises in the story, there was more than enough action and intrigue to keep me turning page after suspenseful page. In fact I enjoyed this book as much, if not more than the first novel for a couple of reasons.
First, we get a much better picture about the kind of man Evan Gabriel really is because he’s no longer a one-man show on the run.
Second, the mix between action and intrigue was much more balanced and definitely sews enough threads to make me excited about reading Gabriel’s Revenge (Book 3). Add it all together and you have a five-star read in Gabriel’s Return.
Tom Clementson (Kindle Book Review)