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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
Without Reserve: A Novel of the War on Terror by Steven B. Howery is a military fiction and suspense thriller that follows lawyer and reservist intelligence officer, Captain Chris Gates, in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attack in New York. Initially, Gates is followed to Hawaii. But on arrival, he is quickly informed of the role he will play in Singapore, where he is sent in a race against time to try to subvert another planned attack against the United States in the region. He is assigned to work with a local intelligence officer, Captain Jessica Ling, a partner who—as he soon discovers—appears to be as driven and dedicated as he is, especially when it comes to her fascination with apprehending a bomb maker named Khalid...a mission that comes at an incredibly heavy cost.
Without Reserve is a deeply engrossing adventure into the world of counter-terrorism in the earliest days (as far as the general public knew of, at least) of the war on terror. Steven B. Howery writes a narrative that is intelligent and witty, bringing Chris Gates to life almost the moment he is introduced. It's impossible to read this book and not draw comparisons to another famous fictional intelligence hero. That said, Howery writes in a style all his own, and the parallels end almost as soon as we begin to try forming them. The plot and subplots here are thick and the characters are so well developed and human that they might well be having a conversation right in front of you. What makes this book special and sets it apart from the rest in the military thriller genre is that Howery, while clearly knowing a great deal about the mechanics of intelligence, war, and espionage, keeps the story firmly character-driven, and not bogged down by an author showing off their technical chops. This is a phenomenal book. It's absolutely brilliant.