This rag-tag gang of has-beens has never worked together before, but Dwight "Rocco" Cavarra has less than a week to train them and lead them on the hairiest operation of their lives. It's not bad enough that they have to plow through an African civil war, infiltrate a fortified terrorist encampment and steal a black market tactical nuke from a mob of fanatic sociopaths - there are Israeli wild cards in play: two death-dealing Mossad agents who don't necessarily share Cavarra's agenda. When the mission is compromised before it has even started, Rocco and his Retreads are caught between bloodthirsty local warlords and the genocidal government in a fight to the death. And this battle might be just the first in the next world war.
A good read
By Sudarshan on Aug 29, 2010
I don't go in much for thrillers, but I enjoyed reading this book. The author is probably ex-military - there were some very good details on covert warfare operations in general, and US military operations in particular. The details of a terror training camp in Africa were also chilling, and nicely done. The book kept me engaged, and despite the abundance of characters (twelve guys on the mission to stop a suicide bomber from detonating a nuclear bomb), I can distinctly picture most of the men as individuals. On the whole, a recommended read, especially if you're a thriller fan.
Great Military Thriller
By Ded on Nov 13, 2010
The plot is pretty straightforward: Muslim terrorists have a nuclear bomb. The CIA recruits a dirty baker's dozen of veterans and mercenaries to neutralize the threat. There are only a few questions: "Will they succeed?", "How high will the body count be?" and "Who's going home in a body bag?" Instead, Brown focuses his creative energy on the characters and the action scenes. In an action thriller it would be very easy for the characters to resemble cardboard props waiting their turn to become cannon fodder, but Brown doesn't go that route. Each of his characters has a story and Brown gives each one the time to tell it, although with the sheer number present some get more time than others. And they're a diverse, fractious lot. Yes, they're all dark-skinned (Caucasians would be a dead giveaway in the Sudan, where the action takes place) ex-military or mercenaries loaded up with testosterone, but the similarities end there. They're distinct individuals with their own sets of skills and shortcomings. They're men, not superheroes. You'll hate Mai for his arrogance and bigotry, but you'll admire Scarred Wolf's ability to execute his bloody job with honor and integrity. The villains in "Hell and Gone" are truly evil. I don't say that lightly. The manipulation that the Jihadist leader, Ali, and his Chinese consultant, Chin, put fifteen-year old Bassam through is nothing short of diabolical. The scary part is, none of it comes across as far-fetched. Brown, a veteran himself, uses his characters to address a range of issues. He explores veteran alienation through several men. We get to see how each dealt with feeling disconnected from friends, family and country once they were "back in the World." There's also the matter of American foreign policy. At his weakest point, Brown's characters sound like they're reading neocon talking points from the back of a cereal box. But at his best, he presents an intelligent examination of our relationship to Israel and the Middle East. You'll wish our leaders would have such a frank discussion with all the facts, rather than dishing out the rhetoric. The battle scenes are meticulously detailed. It wouldn't surprise me if Brown built scale models of the locales in his basement so that he could properly choreograph each step and shot. He'll have vets and military aficionados nodding their heads as he relates the pros and cons of various weapons down to their milspecs. Meanwhile, civvies will run to Wikipedia to look up the old planes that have been out-of-service in the Western World for decades. But he doesn't do it to impress anyone, he does it to stay true to his characters and himself. While the dialogue is great, I do have gripes though. For a bunch of leathernecks, they never curse! The "s word" doesn't appear until three quarters of the way through the book. The "D word" has been replaced by "doomed." Every variation of profanity involving another "d word" has been replaced by "Richard." For example, "limp Richard" and "Richard head." And there isn't a single F-bomb. This behavior is never explained and strikes me as disingenuous. [Note: Had to censor myself to meet Amazon's terms and conditions] As for the technicals, a few homophones slipped through the cracks. There are a few point-of-view shifts that might violate some rule somewhere, but honestly they don't disorient the reader at all. Towards the end of the final battle, the writing breaks down into short, choppy sentences, which impart the feel of a grocery list of action rather than a flowing narrative. Overall, "Hell and Gone" is a military thriller that delivers the goods on the action, has vivid, realistic characters who interact with great dialogue, and presents some food for thought. If enough people chew on it, maybe the all too plausible scenario presented here will remain fiction, assuming it hasn't happened already.
A man's book through and through.
By Jack Silkstone on Jan 05, 2012
I read Hell and Gone over three days on my Iphone. Every opportunity I had I read it, on the train, at the barbers, waiting for physio, sitting in the park whilst my do burned off energy even waiting for a meal in an expensive restaurant (oh my girl loved me for that). I couldn't put this action thriller down. Why? Because it grabbed me in the first few pages and didn't let go till the very end. It has it all, it's contemporary, it's well developed, the plot is solid, the weapons and tactics are spot on and the writing style is easy to read and doesn't bog down in to much detail. There is a lot of independent crap on Amazon but this ain't some of it. This is an exceptionally well produced piece of action writing that any major publishing house would be proud of. Not that I think that all of their work is worth being proud of. So why only four stars? Well I think that there was a few to many characters in the team. At times I found myself confused as to who was who and what background they had. I think the book would actually read better if the number of good guys was halved. All in all a great read that I recommend to any man who likes real action. Well done Henry!! Jack Silkstone Author of the PRIMAL Series
Thilling read, hard to put down!
By Vanitha Sankaran on Jul 12, 2010
`Hell and Gone' is the thrilling story of a 15-year-old jihadist planning to detonate a nuclear bomb in Tel Aviv and the 13 Spec Ops men sent on a mission literally from hell to stop him. This book grabbed me in from the very start, with characters that compelled and details that informed without burdening the story. The novel is well-paced, eminently believable, and draws you into a climax that does not disappoint. I don't normally read military thrillers but I recommend this one whole-heartedly.
By Tmtrvlr on Sep 13, 2010
Hell and Gone by Henry Brown is a top-notch military thriller. The author takes great care to create characters that are believable and unique. Normally I can get lost in a book with many characters, but the characters in Hell and Gone were introduced in such a way that it was easy to follow. This is a realistic story about a teenager recruited by a terrorist training camp for an attack, and a group of elite ex-military men sent to prevent the use of a nuclear suitcase bomb strike upon Israel. Great writing creates scenes so well crafted that I felt like I was in a strange land in the middle of the action. One of the parts of the story I found most interesing was the the author's descriptions of the physical effects on the men following a firefight. I think this author's work can compare with any of the more famous thriller authors today. I am very pleased to recommend this book to anyone that enjoys thrillers.
Above average military thriller
By Jack Murphy on Aug 30, 2010
As a fan of military fiction I have to admit that the genre is full of garbage: Boring Clancyesque white male protagonists fighting for god, mom, and apple pie. That's why "Hell and Gone" was so refreshing with its dirty dozen cast of real characters and real personalities. On the surface the plot appears to be standard-issue for the genre, Islamic whack jobs with a suitcase nuke, but characters carry the story and the plot turns out to be anything but what we expect from "techno-thrillers" or "men's adventure." As a former soldier I was also impressed with the authors attention to detail and general accuracy in regards to weapons and tactics. Every time I thought he slipped up I was proven wrong with what was described a few lines later such as the security situation when the protagonist arrives at his safe house in Sudan. I liked the descriptions of the mercenaries and found them accurate and true to life. This was particular true of some of the more unsavory characters who had a garrison mentality or bragged about ruining some lower enlisted kid's life. I've crossed paths with guy's like that to be sure. The disenfranchisement of some of the mercenaries also rang true, particularly Scarred Wolf's comment about officers viewing their soldiers as "assets at our disposal" rather then "warriors on our team." The protagonists comments about how shallow rich kids are exactly the type of fodder the military wants as officers was also dead on, thankfully a few good ones sneak through the cracks. The author does wear some of his politics on his sleeve regarding US-Israeli relations but that is his prerogative and generally his political views are well spoken throughout the novel without bashing the reader over the head with them. The novel had a awesome climax with a number of different parties vying for control over the ultimate prize. Even the ending was cast against type...still I hope to see a sequel sometime in the future. Jack Murphy Author of "Reflexive Fire"
By Susan C. Coventry on Jun 17, 2010
Bassam Amin is a 15-year-old extremist with no reason to live and a fierce desire to die a martyr's death. He's assigned a "martyr's" task: to detonate a nuclear bomb in Tel Aviv. If he succeeds, he will set off a war that may as well be Armageddon. If Israel or the U.S. try to stop him, they could well instigate the war they mean to prevent. The only hope is an officially "unsanctioned" group of retired Special Ops men under the command of Rocco Cavarra - men who have never worked together before. With an army of Sudanese rebels and some Israeli spies thrown into the mix, Hell and Gone is a tightly plotted, action packed, military adventure that will keep you riveted to the pages.
Hell and Gone is a great read!
By R. Harris on May 05, 2010
This was a great book. I like military techno thrillers, and this one kept me glued to the pages. After developing the main characters, the story quickly develops several disparate threads and weaves them together enroute to a thrilling climax. I found myself picking it up at every opportunity. The ending even left the door open for a sequel. If there is one, I'll definitely be picking it up!
An exciting action and adventure novel, highly recommended
By Midwest Book Review on Oct 08, 2010
The world sits on the brink of nuclear war, and no one is the wiser. "Hell and Gone" tells the story of a lost Russian nuke and how it may be aimed at an Israeli city and how the lost beliefs of a teenager may be the thing that starts World War III and a devastation to the unstable Middle East. The hopes for peace lie on Rocco Cavarra and his special operation troops who must crusade through the region and create some semblance of peace. "Hell and Gone" is an exciting action and adventure novel, highly recommended.
Hell and Gone Made Me Cry Tears of Sweet Violent Joy
By Jack Badelaire on Feb 16, 2011
First, I'm going to say something kinda mean. Then, I'm going to say a lot of good things. Let's begin. I have always been extremely leery of war fiction written by veterans. Not necessarily combat veterans, but just veterans in general. I don't know if it's because I see the whole "Written by a guy who's been there, so you know the realism will Jump Off The Page!" as something of a marketing gimmick, or if it's because all too often I find that the use of over-authenticated terminology and other military trappings actually annoys me to some degree. In movies and television, I feel that level of verisimilitude adds a lot because while at the time you may see something odd and say to yourself "Hey, why are those Delta Force guys wearing hockey helmets?", you can then look it up and say "Ohhh, hey, that's cool that they did it like that in the movie!". It can be taken in at a glance and appreciated almost as an afterthought while everything else is going on. Too often in the novels, the author feels the need to pointedly explain - almost directly to the reader - the "real-world" tactics the characters are using, or military terms, or whatever. And, God help any author who uses the phrase "Unlike what you see in the movies..." or "This is real life, not some action movie...", or some variation on that theme, either as character dialogue or in a descriptive exposition. It's actually more annoying in movies (since you ARE in an action movie, jerkwad...), but it's just as annoying in books; that's an automatic one-star penalty to any rating I'd give. So, when I set out to read Henry Brown's novel Hell and Gone, I approached it sorta like going on a blind date. I know Henry's a veteran, but I also know he was shooting very much for a "pulpy action novel" vibe when he wrote the book, so I wasn't sure how those two competing influences were going to blend, and what they would produce. Well, what they produced was an action novel that hits you like a brick through a plate glass window. Hell and Gone is, in every positive way possible, a literary cousin to Stallone's action opus The Expendables. A cadre of crusty "has-been" mercs sent on a supposed suicide mission, taking on an overwhelming number of bad guys and repeatedly kicking them square in the wedding tackle. There's a lot of conflict, both internal and external, and some of the guys you love to hate, and others you hate to love, but they're all interesting and fun to read. At 82K words, Hell and Gone isn't a particularly long novel, nor should it be particularly long; it's an action movie in written form, and thus there's no reason for it to look like every other Tom Clancy techno-thriller doorstop novel. I read the book over the course of three evenings on my iPad via the Kindle app, and it read very quick and clean; this was my first purchased eBook read entirely on an electronic device, and I was surprised at how easy it was to read the book. This isn't to say, of course, that I wouldn't have bought the book in paper form; I wanted to try buying an eBook for the first time, and Hell and Gone was my trial run. Having read it, I might just have to buy a hard copy to have on hand. The action is snappy and well-orchestrated, the dialogue is smooth and feels natural, the plot is tightly constructed; simple, but with a few good twists to keep it from being boring. I hope I don't ruin things by saying that not everyone makes it back home alive (and in this regard, I actually think this story trumps The Expendables), and thankfully the deaths were handled very well, with sufficient gravitas but lacking the typical groan-worthy war movie melodrama. And lastly, while I think you can tell that the book was written by a former serviceman, it mostly comes out in the interactions between the characters and a lot of their viewpoints on life, war, and camaraderie, and in a way that doesn't feel awkward and forced. There's never that "This isn't an action movie, bucko!" moment even though, especially regarding one particular character, that could have easily happened. In conclusion, I highly recommend Hell and Gone, either the print or the eBook version. If you're a fan of the military / para-military / action genre, you are going to enjoy this book.