Books & Literature

Book Review: The Terminal List, by Jack Carr

POLITICAL THRILLER: On his last combat deployment, Lieutenant Commander James Reece’s entire team was killed in a catastrophic ambush. But when those dearest to him are murdered on the day of his homecoming, Reece discovers that this was not an act of war by a foreign enemy but a conspiracy that runs to the highest levels of government.

A highly-detailed and paced political thriller for fans of Vince Flynn or Lee Child.

Jack Carr’s The Terminal List is the first in his James Reece series. Originally released in 2018, the novel has been released in Australia, for the first time, through publisher Simon & Schuster. 

While on what is meant to be his final mission as a serving Navy Seal, James Reece’s entire platoon is massacred during what was meant to be a routine mission. Subsequently, the rescue team that flies in to repatriate them is also taken out and Reece is the sole survivor. He returns home to an even greater tragedy when his pregnant wife and daughter are brutally murdered in their own home. Lost and alone, Reece seeks out a reason for the snowball of tragedy.

As Reece searches for the truth as to why so many people he was close to had to die, he discovers a deeply hidden political cabal behind the attack, determined to silence him. He also discovers that he has a previously undiagnosed brain tumour. It is this medical condition that lies at the heart of the mass murder and spurs Reece to identify and eliminate those responsible, working his way through his terminal list.

The title carries multiple meanings, relating to those on Reece’s list and the circumstances that brought about the disastrous missions, relating to a failed drug trial and the potential ramifications of the current administration and its future electoral potential. Regardless of who they are, though, Reece channels his rage and focuses on his targets, utilising the skills he has honed as a Seal.

Carr, an ex-Navy Seal, used his extensive professional experience and understanding to put together a strongly detailed and genuine first novel. His knowledge is so deep, in fact, that his novels have had to be vetted by the Department of Defence and he has included the redactions within the novels, which adds to their authenticity. It is this level of detail and vetting that brings to mind the earliest novels of Tom Clancy, particularly The Hunt for Red October.

While The Terminal List is a detailed read, it is also a long book, which seems to overtly rely on the writer’s knowledge to add substance to this tale of political machinations and revenge. Reece spends a lot of time moving between sites and situations while identifying and eliminating those who took so much from him. This dampens the intensity of the action, at times, throughout the novel.

The release is also a timely one, as The Terminal List has recently begun filming for an upcoming television series release, featuring Chris Pratt as James Reece.

The second and third books—True Believer and Savage Son—are also currently available.

Carr’s fourth book, The Devil’s Hand, will be released in June, 2021. 

Reviewed by Glen Christie

Distributed by: Simon & Schuster
Released: 6 January 2021
RRP: $19.99

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