Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: Sold Out by Stan R. Mitchell

For many authors, the axiom of "write what you know" is probably better expressed as "write what you love to read". I mean, I wrote Nanok and the Tower of Sorrows because I love to read schlocky Sword & Sorcery fiction, not because I'm a post-apocalyptic barbarian swordsman who's always fighting sorcerers, demons, and mutants. A lot of us read and enjoy stories about things for which we don't really have any real world experience, and when we decide to try our hand at writing our own stories, I think many of us attempt to create something that emulates that which we love.

For Stan R. Mitchell of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, this concept turned into his novel Sold Out. Not only is Stan a former Marine, he has a love of books like Stephen Hunter's Point of Impact and Pale Horse Coming, and Sold Out could easily have been another book in the Bob Lee Swagger series of Hunter's novels. The story follows Nick Woods, a former Marine Corps scout-sniper who has found himself a life away from violence and bloodshed, although he's still more than a little paranoid, and definitely damaged goods. But when a top-secret assignment from his USMC days bubbles to the surface, exposed to the world's media, the architects of that assignment - and the failed cover-up that resulted in the death of Nick's spotter - move to take Nick out of the picture.

I won't go into too many spoilers, but let's just say, they make Nick angry. Really angry. Like, nothing to lose, no reason to live, from Hell's heart I stab at thee angry. So Nick goes on a crusade of vengeance and retribution to put paid to those who've made his life a ruin.

And when Marine scout-snipers go on crusades of vengeance and retribution against you...you're pretty much fucked.

Sold Out is a very fast, action-packed novel. There's a lot of chapter breaks as we shift perspective between Nick and his reluctant partner Allan, the disgraced reporter who inadvertently ruined Nick's life, as well as the bad guys trying to hunt Nick and Allen down. Some people dislike constant shifts of POV, but here I think it works very well - I consider it a more "cinematic" style of writing, where the camera and story line cuts back and forth between both sides of the conflict. It isn't the sort of technique that works great in a "thriller", where the motives and movements of the antagonist need to be shrouded in mystery, but in a more straight-up action piece, I think it's fine.

Speaking of action, Stan writes the fight sequences quite well. There aren't many big running gun battles, but as the story really focuses on one guy - a sniper no less - against a small army, a "running gun battle" would probably end in disaster for the protagonist. However, Stan deftly handles the tension and the pacing, making every battle a page-turner.

All in all, if you're a fan of Stephen Hunter's books, and "wronged man seeks bloody retribution against powerful asshats who deserve to die" stories in general, you're going to really enjoy Sold Out. Highly recommended.

8 comments:

Indyguy said...

Interesting book. I may have to check it out. It certainly does call to mind a good deal of Stephen Hunter's Point of Impact, which has long been one of my favorite 'guys with guns' novels.
Mitchell's book seems like a fun read.
Speaking of Hunter, his latest novel just hit the shelves. I finished The Third Bullet the other night. It's is interesting and I'll leave it at that as not to turn a comment into a review.

Jack Badelaire said...

Knowing your tastes in books dude, you'll really enjoy it.

Stan R. Mitchell said...

Wow. Just wow, Jack. I’m still reeling over the review and I'm still at a loss for what to say, even though this is about 12 hours after learning about it.

And while I'm trying to control myself from going all nutty over the review, I'm still as happy (or probably even happier) that we crossed paths in the world through the magic of the internet.

I look forward to following your blog and getting to know you better, and again. Thanks a million.

I've got much love for you for putting up that review and sharing it with all your readers and followers.

Jack Badelaire said...

No worries Stan. When I find something I like, I really do make an effort to push it out there and let others know what they've been missing. Sold Out was a great read, and I'll have to pick up Little Man soon.

Also, according to Amazon, my review there helped sell a copy of your book today...

twdittmer.com said...

Great review for a great book. I enjoyed it immensely myself.

Jack Badelaire said...

Hey Timothy, thanks for dropping by!

I'm adding your blog to my blogroll as soon as I finish typing this comment...

April said...

A writer who can write, reviewing a book by a writer who can write. I like it. :)

kay williamson said...

I know STAN, he's AWESOME TO READ!!, he is also our newspaper publisher in our little city of OAK RIDGE, TN, His newspaper is called "The Oak Ridge Observer", a great little town paper..