By Stephen Hunter
Ray Cruz, former Marine sniper, is shopping with his girlfriend at the premier shopping center:America, the mall, a building designed, to somewhat resemble the shape of theUnited States. The date is the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday. The mid-afternoon trek is suddenly thrown into chaos as terrorists congregate from every ground floor hall, shooting and herding hostages. Thus begins a standoff between Islamist jihadists, the Minnesota State Police commander, and Ray Cruz. With the assistance of people inside and outside the mall, Ray fights his way toward the one man behind the siege and gets the surprise of his life.
The plot is a familiar one with typical surprises. Hunter unfolds it pretty well with the expected mistakes and heroics.
Rayes Fidencio Cruz: 42, ex Marine sniper, parents dead but biological dad still alive. Half Filipino
Molly Chan: Ray’s girlfriend. Department of Energy attorney. From the Vietnamese Hmong people.
Douglas Obobo: Black,Minnesotacommandant of State Police. Colonel. Harvard and Harvard law graduate. Former positions include:Bostonhomicide, Assistant Commishioner at theBaltimorepolice department, Chief of Omaha police department. Good speaker. Intelligent. Endears confidence, but his positions were ‘earned’ through no direct action from himself. Others did the job but he took credit.
These are three of a large cast of characters. This is a character driven book. Yes, there is action, yes, there is story, but you have to finish the book and reflect back upon it to realize what Hunter has done. He has given each character an overblown, stereotypical personality. Each character contributes in his or her way to the outcome. You have the ratings seeking news reporter; the gung-ho SWAT team leader; the protective mother; the fanatical Islamist, and so many more. Even the main bad guy is interesting because the person is based in reality. You could readily imagine somebody such as this person existing being this intelligent and yet so heinous. A+ on the characters.
Nothing exciting. Wonderful characters saying typical things. Spouting standard lines. You know what to expect with each character.
Lengthy sentences when it comes to action with a lot going on in paragraph long tirades of words. Some profanity. Deaths are described with exaggeration with ‘showy’ phrases. Long chapters with a lot happening. The chapters are headed by time frames. As mentioned this is a character driven story and a pair of supposed innocents surprised me near the end. I had to laugh out loud because they were what this story needed to be complete. I had originally thought to give this a ranking of blue, but reflecting back on the wonderful characters I had to upgrade it by one.