Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Inside the Kill Box


Inside the Kill Box
by Michael W. Romanowski

(Foremost Press / 1-936-15419-6 / 978-1-936-15419-7 / April 2010 / 256 pages / $14.97 / Amazon $13.47)
Reviewed by Dr. Al Past for PODBRAM

We are all familiar with the police procedural, but is there such a genre as a military procedural? A police procedural is "a piece of detective fiction which attempts to convincingly depict the activities of a police force as they investigate crimes" according to Wikipedia. With only a few modifications, then, a military procedural might be "a piece of military fiction which attempts to convincingly depict the activities of military special forces as they perform missions." If we can accept that, then Inside the Kill Box is a military procedural, and not a bad one at that.

Set in the early 1990s during the first Gulf War and featuring a large cast of participants all over the globe, the basic story involves suspected betrayal a decade earlier, mysterious well-funded assassins wreaking death and destruction, a Saddam Hussain turncoat to be extracted, and an assortment of military personnel and civilians of several nationalities thrown together in various military actions. Gunnery Sergeant David Sweet, a participant in most of the conflicts, provides continuity throughout.

Organized in short scenes that switch from venue to venue, the story does not invite speed-reading, at least not to me. To derive the full effect, one must carefully keep track of who is who and what is what. The technological aspects are covered thoroughly and convincingly, from the procedures to the speech to the specifics of the gadgetry. I must admit, knowing the exact model of an AK-47, or the particular modifications made to a Beretta automatic did not help me enjoy the story, but those who are attracted to military procedurals might feel differently. I was gratified, at least, that all the technology and machinery did not always perform perfectly. The "fog of war" was definitely a factor, and every mission did not always end satisfactorily. That in itself was convincing. In this respect, Inside the Kill Box is an improvement upon the Tom Clancy-type tale.

Nor are well-rounded characters typically characteristic of military procedurals. Sergeant Sweet is an individual, several cuts above a Rambo-like automaton, and several other characters were fairly interesting as well. The writing style and editing were impeccable. All in all, this is an enjoyable action story that should appeal to a large readership.


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