Osama bin Laden was not killed by a SEAL team in a Pakistani hide-out in 2011. He was captured 10 years before and secretly held prisoner by the United States until his death was convenient. Well, that’s a popular conspiracy theory, at least. In Predator Strike!, Australian writer Liam Saville wraps that conspiracy theory into a taut military mystery novella. Saville does not claim to believe the bin Laden theory, but he has succeeded in turning it into a plausible plot line.
Australian Defense Force Investigative Service officer, Captain Sam Ryan, is rushed to Afghanistan to investigate the apparent suicide of an Australian soldier who, only weeks earlier, had survived a blue-on-blue attack on his sniper team by an American Predator combat drone. Ryan leans that in the days leading up to his death, the young sniper claimed he and his partner had seen bin Laden in the custody of American soldiers in Afghanistan only days before he was reportedly killed in Pakistan. Ryan quickly finds himself targeted by unknown forces trying to thwart his investigation by bluff and violence.
An army officer turned police officer, Saville writes with a clean, thrifty grace. He doesn’t waste words, but brings the reader along with a clear and vivid narration. Sam Ryan is no Dirty Harry; he’s a realistic, professional investigator and military officer. He’s also someone you enjoy spending time with.
Saville’s depiction of the war in Afghanistan rings with authenticity, from his biting description of the overwhelming wealth of the American military compared to its poorer Aussie cousin, to his descriptions of combat action. But above all else, Predator Strike! Is an excellent example of a police procedural.
Predator Strike! Is the first of a planned series of mystery novellas. I, for one, am looking forward to reading about more of Captain Sam Ryan’s cases.