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Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Severance - a review

Captain Jake Roberts is given the task of commanding a group of misfits, a ‘rehabilitation platoon’ a modern day Dirty Dozen as it where, made up of “bitter, unruly, former drunks and drug addicts, troublemakers and other misfits” who—while not an a suicide mission—are put in a place where they are not expected to succeed during the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In an intelligent plot Sawyer, a decorated officer himself, lets us tag along with these ‘short-timers’ as they contemplate their return the United States within a week. Although they are coming home as heroes with medals, they all face the reality of being unemployed, “disposable heroes”, and with their troubled pasts many of them will be unable to find work.

This is where the severance is ready to kick in. The platoon accidentally discovered five million dollars in unmarked bills in the back of a corrupt contractor’s car and discreetly purloined it for themselves. Now all they have to do is to find a way to smuggle it stateside so they all have a new leash on a financial start to civilian life. Unfortunately someone other than those ‘in the know’ has also discovered their secret and is quietly trying to muscle in.

In his debut novel Sawyer has found a way to paint a feasible picture describing life in the desert and mountains of Afghanistan. We become embedded with the platoon on their last mission, learn about the characters who make up the group of bad boys that are striving to succeed in the face of impossible odds and ultimately find ourselves pulling for this bunch of rag-tag soldiers to make it home with the loot. What with ex-girlfriends threatening blackmail, top-brass that stay out of harm’s way and each member of the platoon under special scrutiny from the Criminal Investigation Division, it’s a wonder the soldiers can get their job done, but Sawyer’s realistic portrait makes this an all too believable story

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