He looked up at the door at the top of the stairs, still sealed. Hoping the worst was over, he leaned down to whisper to Magali. Just as he started to speak, he heard the soft beep from above. He looked towards the door and watched as it began to slide aside. His spirits rose for a bit; only the guard would have code access to the door, and it would be retina scan only in times of lockdown. The terrorists would have had to blow it open.
The door opened fully, and he saw the hazy outline of the corporal at the top of the stairs, framed by smoke. Jeromy started to rise, feeling a huge sense of relief wash over him, when the corporal tumbled down the stairs, crashing to the bottom in a tangled mess of riot gear and limbs. His lifeless face was turned towards Jeromy. It only had one eye; where the other eye should have been was a bloody socket. Realization dawned on him instantly and he pressed Magali’s head back down into the crook of his arm.
Another silhouette appeared at the top of the stairs, and a voice boomed out. “Hello Eden University students and faculty. I am Captain Chaud, your tour guide for the day. Please join me on a little field trip. A special guest has requested your presence.”
Action without purpose isn’t worth much in my mind. Sure, it’s flashy and interesting to watch or read about, but it’s a lot like eating candy; it tastes good, but it still leaves you needing more. Steve Umstead does a great job in his latest book, Gabriel’s Return, paring action with purpose. In this follow up to Umstead’s Gabriel’s Redemption we watch Lieutenant Commander Evan Gabriel return to the site of his disgrace from five years earlier. Still haunted by nightmares of the world called Eden (which is anything but what its namesake implies) he must lead his squad of elite soldiers on a mission to rescue hostages from a group of terrorists more ruthless and more organized than anything the planet has seen before.
I enjoyed Gabriel’s Redemption when I read it earlier this year, so getting a chance to read and review Gabriel’s Return was more than welcome. The novel is written every bit as well as the first in the series and I found myself finishing it almost as soon as I started it. The book flows and draws the reader along, moving from event to a event with an ease that more authors, myself included, should strive to duplicate. The action scenes are quick and realistic, not overly filled with gore but conveying the violence that is inherent in combat. You root for the heroes and hate the villains, but the world is never so simple as black the white of most action movies. Political intrigue and betrayal that spans star systems, clouds everything and keeps the reader guessing at what is going on right until the end of the book. Where the first book tied everything up in a nice little package by the end, this book leaves us hanging with a cliffhanger of substantial proportion and all I can say is, “Steve, buddy, get to work on the next book! I can’t take the suspense!”
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More information about Steve can be found on his blog here: www.SteveUmstead.com