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Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. This is the code that John Bishop, one of America’s most decorated military heroes, teaches his men to follow whether they’re on a mission in the heat of the Middle East or in the jungle that is New York’s Lower East Side. To say his life is complicated is putting it mildly. In this second volume of the John Bishop series, several high-level assassins are hell-bent on killing him for his actions as a soldier. At the same time, he’s deep in his crime family’s military-style battles against various opponents’ groups. All these forces are closing in on him simultaneously, even as the United States government had hired him and his family to protect the country from bad guys using whatever means necessary.
Complicated? You bet. But if you crave non-stop action, ultra-violence, and high body counts in your novel-reading this fall, this is a great place to start.
Part Panamanian, part Jamaican with amber eyes, his face forever scarred in an assassin’s attack that killed his parents when he was nine, Bishop is related by blood to the powerful Valdez crime family. What he learned from them—the ability to act, to lead, to protect his men at all costs—served him well as a Special Forces soldier who fought in the Middle East against a host of bad actors. By the time the story begins, Bishop has returned from overseas, living with Maria, his childhood sweetheart, and about to become a father. He dreams of leaving his military life behind but instead finds himself helping the Valdez family in a significant military-style action against Russians on New York’s Lower East Side.
The complications are only starting. While setting up the military engagement with the Russians, he also finds out that his previous actions in the Middle East have earned him the wrath of some of the world’s most dedicated killers from Russia, Pakistan, ISIS, and even a corrupt U.S. billionaire. Not great if you want to stay alive.
While this book is clearly an action thriller, with deep roots in military-style combat, detailed weaponry descriptions, and sustained action scenes, there is also a human story that is kept front and center even as the mayhem continues. Bishop is no super-hero. His emotions are of a man who experiences sizeable loss and yet must keep his feelings bottled up as the beloved leader of his band of brothers. While he is wounded several times throughout the book, we feel his determination to continue doing his duty under the circumstances, few of us could sustain.
In other hands, a story of this complexity could have been cartoonish, a video game. But the book maintains a careful balance between the go-go action and the humanity of its characters.
Bishop’s Law is the second in a series on John Bishop. A third book is in development as of this writing. Readers may want to consider reading the first volume, Bishop’s War, before reading Bishop’s Law. While the book stands on its own, a richer reading experience might be had by reading the two books in sequence.