Rating:

5 Small Stars
Direct Fire

Another great book and another terrifying battle or two! Not much rest between these battle for young Cameron Alvarez and his Drop Troopers. While he accomplished the mission in the last book, it cost him and his unit quite a lot. Gone is his Platoon Sergeant Scotty Hayes. He bought the big one in the last battle. It will near impossible for Lt. Alvarez to replace him, but as it happens, his replacement has already been assigned. Gunnery Sgt. Bernie “Bang-Bang” Morrel is now in that slot and the platoon is getting work done like they should.

That’s what happens in wars. You lose people and then you start to think about it too much. Some guys can’t handle the constant lost of friends and buddies, so they start treating the new guys like they don’t exist, except to be more targets for the enemy. It was bothering Lt. Alvarez so much so that he did seek out the Battalion shrink. It’s surprising they had one. Whether she did him any good or not has yet to be seen. And anyway, Lt. Cameron Alvarez doesn’t have time to think about a lot of stuff right now anyway.

He still has Vicky although she’s assigned to another company as a new Platoon leader also. They can talk once in awhile, but both are really busy getting ready for the next op and then the next one after that. The big push is on to reach the Tahni homeworld and end this war! That’s fine with Cameron, but it also means there’s going to be a lot of fighting in his and everybody else’s future.

This next operation involves clearing out a hardened bunker. It’s got some fixed gun emplacements that are tearing holes in a lot of Drop Troopers. Cameron comes up with a plan on how to end it and surprisingly his plan works. But, there are a lot of Tahni civilians around a particular warehouse and they prepare a pretty devastating IED that catches one platoon from Captain Cronje’s company by surprise!

That IED goes off and kills four Drop Troopers and the Lt. in charge kind of goes bonkers! He’s reported the incident to his CO, Capt. Cronje, and the Capt. then orders the Lt. to “take care” of the civilians. Now you can’t go around killing unarmed civilians; everyone knows that and so does this Lt. and his Captain. Yet, they start lobbing grenades into a crowd of Tahni civilians until Lt. Alvarez and one of his platoons steps in-between the civilians and the extremely upset friendlies.

So, Lt. Alvarez gets accused of protecting the enemy and failing to obey an order in that he was also ordered to open up on the Tahni civilians. Cameron knew that the order was an illegal one and he morally didn’t have to follow it and neither did the other Lt. But, he did and now someone is going to have to pay for killing civilians, maybe?

This book is pretty long. We go from one battle to the next and each one seems like it’s going to be the last for Cameron. Either the war is going to end or it’s going to end him, that’s for sure.

The book does come to a pretty good ending and there’s still another one in this series (“Home Front”) although I can’t figure out what it’s going to be about. You see, Cameron is now out of the Marines and no longer a Drop Trooper!