Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running with the Enemy by Lloyd Lofthouse

Running with the Enemy is a suspense thriller set during the Vietnam War. A rogue CIA agent needs someone to blame for his crimes.

Recon Marine Ethan Card is the perfect patsy. As a teen, Ethan ran with a Chicago street gang, and he has a criminal record. He also has a secret lover, Tuyen. But Tuyen, who is half French, is a beautiful Viet Cong resistance fighter. Since she was a young child, Tuyen has lived under the brutal control of her older, sexually abusive half-brother, Giap, a ruthless and powerful Viet Cong leader, who has forced her to kill Americans in battle or die if she refuses.

When Ethan discovers he is going to be court-marshaled for weapons he did not sell to the Viet Cong and Tuyen will be arrested and end up in an infamous South Vietnamese prison, where she will be tortured and raped, he hijacks a U.S. Army helicopter and flees with Tuyen across Southeast Asia while struggling to prove his innocence.

The rogue CIA agent and Giap--working together with the support of an unwitting American general--will stop at nothing to catch the two, and the hunt is on. The star-crossed lovers flee across Laos to Cambodia's Angkor Wat; to Bangkok, Thailand, and then to Burma's Golden Triangle where Ethan and Tuyen face a ruthless drug lord and his gang.

In the rainforests of Burma, Ethan discovers that a massive assault has been planned to hit his Marine unit's remote base in South Vietnam with the goal of killing the man he admires most, Colonel Edward Price, who is the only one that believes Ethan is innocent. Ethan must risk everything to save Price and his fellow Marines. Will he succeed?

From start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this book. The story gripped me, and for good reason! Books that have fascinating, unusual characters always capture my interest – and this novel’s villain is the villain above all villains! He is an abhorrent CIA agent gone rogue – a ruthless killer who sharpens his teeth to bite and torment and torture his victims. I could not help but hate this man, and this only added to my enjoyment of this book. Of course, the protagonist is equally as captivating – a recon marine named Ethan Card who is as tough as they come. He is strong, a born leader, and will go to the ends of the earth to save his buddies, even if he puts his own life in danger. Wrongfully framed, with the military eager to capture and charge him, he is on the run, desperate to prove his innocence, intent on saving those who support him from danger. And then there are a whole cast of secondary characters, both good and bad, who add color and interest to the tale, creating additional conflict and tension.

The prose is written in a gritty, quippy way, enhanced by vivid, compelling descriptions that seem all too real at times. This is no surprise because the author himself is a Vietnam veteran. It is obvious that much of what he wrote comes from his own personal experiences, and this makes the story stand out as an exceptional military suspense/thriller.  

The fight/combat scenes are stunning, very realistic. The novel’s pace is quick, with tension building as the story progresses. There is some graphic violence, of course, true to the setting, era, and culture, educating the reader as to some of the horrors. Betrayal, revenge, murder, and desperation make this a must read! It is a well written, well edited novel that will keep you interested from start to finish. Very highly recommended. 

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