The Devil’s Hand by Jack Carr. Photo by Mac Caltrider/Coffee or Die Magazine.
The United States has been fighting for two decades, the longest the nation has ever been at war. Twenty years of sustained conflict has left America vulnerable to observation. America’s great power adversaries — China, Russia, and Iran — have been watching the US fight its way out of the Middle East, taking note of all the troops, technologies, and tactics used to wage a never-ending war. This is the principal idea behind the latest installment of Jack Carr’s thriller series: The Devil’s Hand.
Carr kicked off his career as a successful writer in 2018 with the breakout hit, The Terminal List. The book followed James Reece, a fictional Navy SEAL sniper, who fights a one-man war to avenge his murdered teammates and family. The New York Times bestseller marked the beginning of a series in which Carr holds his own against giants in the genre like Tom Clancy and David Morrell. In the last four years, Carr has published a new book each year.
The latest installment serves up the same thriller action that Carr’s fans have come to love, but this time James Reece’s exploits play out against the backdrop of a global pandemic and unanswered questions about 9/11. As the world still deals with the repercussions of COVID-19, The Devil’s Hand explores the hypothetical scenario of a United States under attack from a weaponized disease. As the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Carr’s exploration of weaponized disease hits especially hard. In true Carr fashion, he doesn’t merely throw out a wild idea and run with it. Carr has done his research for this latest novel.
The Devil’s Hand uses real-world correlations, such as China’s first biosafety level-4 laboratory being located in Wuhan — COVID’s ground zero — and spins them into a fictional story that doesn’t require much imagination. He goes so far as to explore how biological weapons would have to be aerosolized and released at specific rates to mimic a respiratory-spread contagion. The plausibility of Carr’s imagined storyline makes it especially terrifying. The Devil’s Hand is not a far-fetched concept, it could happen, and that’s what makes the book so thrilling. Longtime fans of the series who are in it more for the zeroed-in action needn’t fret. James Reece finds himself in plenty of delightfully detailed fights.
“He stretched farther and unhooked the bungee holding his Winkler-Sayoc tomahawk securely in place. His hands choked up around the familiar wood just under the axe head and ripped it from his sheath. Time to kill.” From that moment forward, the story is classic James Reece. The retired SEAL puts his lethal skills to work, exacting justice from the men trying to murder him.
Like Reece, Jack Carr doesn’t pull any punches. The book doesn’t shy away from any hot-button issues. Of the war in Iraq, Carr writes, “Americans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, allowing themselves to be pulled into an insurgency of their own creation through an ineptitude born of arrogance.”
He goes on to criticize current efforts to make every tragedy a gun control debate, calling out “the irony of politicians calling to defund the police, while surrounding themselves and their families with armed security paid for by the taxpayers. More often than not, these were the same politicians taking active measures to ensure private citizens could not own firearms. The irony seemed to be lost on the mob.”
Carr goes even further and explores one of the most baffling mysteries surrounding 9/11.
On Sept. 10, 2001, two of the soon-to-be hijackers traveled from Boston to Portland, Maine. The 9/11 Commission Report provides no details about who they possibly met with or why they made the last-minute trip. The report goes on to say there is no definitive evidence that Iran was behind 9/11 but urges continued investigation into the question. Carr is able to gather these real mysteries and spin them into a plot that is equally as relevant as it is thrilling.
Every James Reece book has been great, but The Devil’s Hand proves Jack Carr is hitting his stride. He is a skilled author in the action-thriller genre. In addition to the detailed renderings of weapons, equipment, and vehicles Carr includes for gear nerds, he creates well-rounded and humanized characters. And for book nerds, there’s also no shortage of references to literature.
If there was ever any doubt about Carr’s ability to craft a great story, The Devil’s Hand eliminates it with the precision of a headshot. His latest book is one of his best. It delivers in every way that fans have come to expect while substantially widening the scope of James Reece’s adventures.
The first installment in the series, The Terminal List, is soon to be an Amazon original starring Chris Pratt. Filming is underway, and if the leaked snippets of footage are an accurate view of what’s to come, the screen adaptation will be as entertaining as the book. Let’s hope the rest of the series follows suit so we can watch The Devil’s Hand come to life.
Mac Caltrider is a senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He served in the US Marine Corps and is a former police officer. Caltrider earned his bachelor’s degree in history and now reads anything he can get his hands on. He is also the creator of Pipes & Pages, a site intended to increase readership among enlisted troops. Caltrider spends most of his time reading, writing, and waging a one-man war against premature hair loss.
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