Since there’s a lot of inspiration from the SOBs series behind Brannigan’s Blackhearts, I’ve been slowly working my way through the series, in part as research to see how Gold Eagle ran a long-running action series.  I slowed down a bit, due to missing a few volumes in the middle, but since those gaps have been filled, I’ll be getting back to it.

Red Hammer Down is SOBs #6, following directly on from Gulag War.  In a very real sense, they form a two-parter; Red Hammer Down goes into the backlash from the mission to Siberia in Gulag War.

After being embarrassed by the SOBs rescue op, the GRU is out for blood.  Captain Balandin, who was mutilated during Gulag War, has his own personal revenge to see to in addition to professional vengeance, and is leading the op.  He is driven by a deep-seated, burning hatred, and is clearly willing to sacrifice everyone under his command to see it through.

We start off with attempted hits on several of the SOBs, who, as usual between missions, are off on their own.  The hits fail, but the message is clear.  There’s a target on their backs.  And they are on their own; despite Walker Jessup’s attempts, the senator who has bankrolled most of their missions so far won’t lift a finger.  He’d be just as happy if the Russians wipe the SOBs out.

(I’m too distant from the early ’80s–I was two when the first book came out–to be able to figure out just who “The Senator” was supposed to be.  He might be a stand-in for someone that the authors had a particular ax to grind with, or someone the target audience had a particular ax to grind with.  Or, he might simply have been created to be as corrupt and despicable a stand in for whomever in DC the audience hated.)

Understanding that the GRU is after them, the SOBs gather at Casa Hatton, on Majorca, where they’ve done most of their pre-mission training.  From there, it’s largely a guerrilla defensive action, as the SOBs prepare to sell themselves as dearly as possible.  They’re all resigned to dying, but they’re going to take as many Russians with them as possible.

The action is as good as it has been in general for this series, and even though badly outnumbered and outgunned, the SOBs stand stays generally believable.

Things do get weird in this one, though.  It’s hard to say, given what has happened to one character in particular, if the weird stuff he experiences is really happening, or just a sign that his mind has snapped.  We’ll have to see as things go on.  But parts of this book get as strange as a couple of episodes of The Unit.

Red Hammer Down

Peter Nealen

Peter Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in 2007, with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. After two years of schools and workups, including Scout/Sniper Basic and Team Leader's Courses, he deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, I MEF. Works by Peter include: The American Praetorians Series Task Force Desperate (October 2012) - ebook , paperback and audiobook Hunting in the Shadows (June 2013) - ebook and paperback Alone and Unafraid (August 2014) - ebook and paperback The Devil You Don't Know (June 2015) - ebook and paperback Lex Talionis (June 2017) - ebook and paperback The Jed Horn Series A Silver Cross and a Winchester (October 2013) - ebook and paperback Nightmares (January 2015)- ebook and paperback The Walker on the Hills (December 2015) - ebook and paperback Older and Fouler Things (September 2017) - ebook and paperback The Brannigan's Blackhearts Series/Universe Kill Yuan (Spring 2016) - ebook and paperback Fury in the Gulf (November 2017) - ebook and paperback Burmese Crossfire (January 2018) - ebook and paperback Enemy Unidentified (March 2018) - ebook and paperback Frozen Conflict (May 2018) - ebook and paperback High Desert Vengeance (August 2018) - ebook and paperback Doctors of Death (December 2018) - ebook and paperback The Unity Wars Series (P.L. Nealen) The Fall of Valdek (July 2018) - ebook and paperback The Defense of Provenia (August 2018) - ebook and paperback The Alliance Rises (September 2018) - ebook and paperback Short Stories Rock Meet Hard Place (Part I) - Baen Books Blog Non-Fiction Operation Redwings: The Rescue Story Behind Lone Survivor (December 2013) - ebook only The ISIS Solution: How Unconventional Thinking and Special Operations Can Eliminate Radical Islam (SOFREP) (November 2014) - ebook only

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