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Gemini Cell: A Shadow Ops Novel by Myke Cole
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425269640
Date: 27 January 2015 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Jim Schweitzer is a SEAL, whose day job involves intercepting terrorists and preventing hostiles from reaching American shores. He's an artist with a rifle and a killing machine, with an artist wife and toddler son keeping him grounded. But when the war comes home--literally--Schweitzer becomes immeasurably more dangerous when bonded with a demonic entity. What his bosses failed to consider, however, is exactly how dangerous he would be.

In Gemini Cell, Myke Cole rewinds his Great Reawakening story to the very beginning. SEAL operator Jim Schweitzer's team stops a freighter with a very unusual and disturbing cargo, only to have Schweitzer himself become the target of hostile soldiers.

A horrifying firefight in his home leads to Schweitzer waking up to find he is now an animated corpse, sharing mental space with Ninip, a jinn conjured forth by Jawid, a Pakistani goatherd with genuine powers. The US military wants Schweitzer to be part of Gemini Cell, an organization that uses revenants like Jim for high risk missions. Schweitzer is adrift, certain that his wife and son could not have survived the firefight, and agrees to join this new group.

What he cannot know is that his wife Sarah and son Patrick did survive, but were told Jim did not. Jim's buddy and teammate Steve Chang does his best to learn the truth, but finds only that he was cremated under suspicious circumstances. With Chang, Sarah and Patrick all emotionally broken, they come to depend on each other to start healing and moving on without Jim.

Schweitzer has challenges of his own, especially the vainglorious and ruthlessly savage Ninip--the spirit of a brutal warrior made powerful by years in a post-living void. Schweitzer must struggle to rein in Ninip's bloodlust, lest his superiors think he is nothing but an uncontrollable engine of death. Given that he can sprout claws and enlarge his jaws and tongue into deadly weapons, they have reason to worry.

Matters come to a head as Schweitzer realizes that there is too much he has not been told. He comes to a moment of crisis: will he be a good soldier or a good man? And will he be the one calling the shots inside his own body or not?

Although Cole's hero represents a trope we've seen in SF and action thrillers--from Robocop to The Bourne Identity and more--Cole breathes military verisimilitude into Schweitzer and thus offers something fresh and different. Readers follow deep inside the work of special operators, learning the jargon and acronyms, and absorbing the ethos of these singular warriors. Hollywood may give us make-believe soldiers, but Cole delivers guys who feel like the real deal. (His military experience certainly doesn't hurt!)

This is some really good, exciting military/urban fantasy. Cole's style is fast-paced, immensely enjoyable, and delivers on both action and character in equal measure. Fans of his earlier Shadow Ops books will be delighted, and new readers can jump on board without fearing that there's a lot of backstory they'll have to know in advance.

Recommended.

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