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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
If you’re itching to read yet another book written by someone who survived the Vietnam War, read The Consequence of War by Brian Oldham, and you will come away glad you never had to fight that war. Oldham has nailed the real consequence of war when it comes to a war that is ongoing even when a vet returns home. For that vet, this war can be every bit as horrible as the one he left behind, as Oldham’s protagonist, Elijah McCoy clearly shows in The Consequence of War.
When we meet Elijah, he is a solitary and lonely figure with only one true friend, Juno, a fellow soldier who fought alongside him. Thanks to therapy, Juno has been able to fit back into society. He has a wife and child and a successful business. Elijah, in contrast, is plagued by vicious nightmares and still in full kill mode. Where he encounters injustice, bullying, brutality or evil, he responds with brutality, even death. He is, after all, a trained killer, but he hates himself for what he still feels he must do. He’s constantly fighting himself, his rage and murderous urges. He longs for peace and, above all, love. But he’s afraid no one could love someone who’s done what he’s done. Then, to make matters worse, he encounters the sinister B.A. Lamb. This smooth talker says he could use and is willing to pay a fortune for Elijah’s killing talent. Elijah wants nothing to do with him or his money, but Lamb pops up and disappears mysteriously at unexpected moments. Just who the hell is he? Elijah tries to ignore him until Lamb suggests that by doing so, he may cost Juno and his family their lives. The timing is terrible as Elijah has just started therapy, found some new friends, and possibly even love. He is caught between a rock and a hard place. What is the right thing to do? What choices will he make?
Elijah’s tumultuous journey in this riveting novel captures our imagination and stirs our emotions on various levels. Oldham gives readers a fast-paced plot, sensitive characterization, realistic dialogue, and much to think about. The Consequence of War is far more than thrilling reading; it’s an emotional look at the ravages of PTSD, and an intellectual reflection on the injustice of sending young men off to fight wars from which they may never fully recover. It begs us to pay more than lip service to returned veterans. They are worth so very much more. A brilliant book and highly recommended. Thanks for writing this novel, Brian Oldham.