Featured Alone and Unafraid David Reeder August 12, 2014 0 COMMENT Truth may in fact be stranger than fiction, but sometimes you can’t tell the difference. That was the definitely case with Hunting in the Shadows, Pete Nealen’s sequel to Task Force Desperate and the pending Alone and Unafraid (the three of which will comprise the “American Praetorians” series, at least until the next one comes out). Hunting in the Shadows (HITS), published about a year ago, turned out be an eerily prescient work. So much so that Pete says, quite justifiably, “With the recent events in Iraq, as ISIS takes city after city and the Iraqi Army folds like a cheap suit, Hunting in the Shadows and Alone and Unafraid have solidly moved from ‘speculative fiction’ into ‘alternate history.’ It’s a risk that an author takes, writing fictional stories in real-world conflict zones, that events might very well overtake the story. In this case, they have, as a couple of my assumptions in setting up the story have proven erroneous: I figured ISIS would focus more on Syria until Assad was overthrown, and that the IA would show a little bit more spine than it has…Oh, well. That’s why it’s fiction.” It will be interesting to see if his next novel shows equal foresight. Pete sent me a draft of Alone and Unafraid a couple weeks ago to preview. Not surprisingly, it’s a great read. This is a Good Thing if you want to read awesome action sequences and good shoot-outs. It’s not so great if you are unable to keep up with (and differentiate between) the Abdul Qadir Brigade, the Jaysh al Mahdi, Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS (ISIL), the Asa’ib Ahl al Haq and other factions and murderous organizations. It’s a great story, all mags and frags and balls deep into killing bad guys, but if you’re looking for a traditional tautology with clear relationships this may not be for you. Like HITS before it, the relationships in this novel are a soup sandwich of tribalism, opaque agendas and tenuous certainties – just like the Iraq in which it takes place. Hunting in the Shadows could be read on its own. It would have been confusing to begin with but you’d have caught on eventually. This is not the case with Alone and Unafraid. You’ll want to read it in proper sequence. If you can keep track of it all (or gloss over what confuses you to focus on the action and the characters) you’ll be good to go. If not, you may find it a distraction. Keep in mind also the book, while realistic, is distilled realism, like a year’s worth of violence for a much larger unit condensed down to a span of day distilled. As the author (a former Reconnaissance Marine turned PSC contractor) puts it, “It’s not a true story presented as fiction. It’s more exciting than anything 99% of real gunfighters ever get to experience.” Thankfully. If you like good military fiction, you’re going to love Alone and Unafraid. It’s due out in a couple weeks. He’s just waiting on a cover and a physical copy to proof. You can read Pete’s American Praetorian blog (that’s him below, on the right) for more updates. In the meantime, pick up the first two books and read this excerpt from the third. Fighters were starting to pop out of the woodwork. Two appeared on on a balcony to our right, one of them with an AK pointed down at us, the other with a weapon I couldn’t see clearly enough to identify as anything other than a weapon. I didn’t have a very good shot at either of them, given that we were still moving at close to thirty-five miles an hour, and so I mad up for accuracy with volute of fire. My short-barrel M1A wasn’t automatic, but it didn’t need to be. I dumped about five rounds each, and saw both drop out of sight, either wounded, dead or just suppressed I didn’t much care. If the second hadn’t had a weapon, but just a stick or a camera, of something, well, that was tough shit. Whatever it was, he shouldn’t have been pointing it at a convoy under fire. A white micro-bus tried to rush out and block the street at the end of the block, but was just a fraction of a second too slow. The lead driver swerved to one side and slammed into the van’s front quarter panel, slewing it around and out of the way. The gunner and the men on the right side dumped a ferocious amount of fire into the van as they passed. I caught a glimpse of shattered glass, slumped, ragged corpses, and lots of blood as we scraped by. They had moved a little quicker as we got to the next block moving a copule of sedans and an old Toyota HiLux to block the road, with several fighters and a machine gun crouched behind them, shooting at us. Again, to our good fortune, they ascribed to the “Insh’allah” school of marksmanship. The lead truck took a hard right and we started moving north… Find Nealen’s author page on Amazon right here.