This novel details what is essentially a pilot program run by select members of the CIA. The first Maverick Team is composed of former Special Forces operatives led by a intelligence contractor, Derek, who worked tactical intelligence for Tier-One Special Operations units, giving him the boots on the ground experience needed to lead such a team.
Derek’s team is under the radar and off the books, funded by the black budget and outfitted to be completely deniable. The author’s background in intelligence gathering brings a large degree of authenticity to this work. Having served eight years in Army Special Operations myself I didn’t find any goof ups or gaffes that lesser writers often fall into.
That said, I would question the tactical validity of some of the actions taken by the Maverick Team. For instance, why infiltrate via HALO into Pakistan’s lawless tribal area when the team’s primary Area of Operations is in Afghanistan? There are plenty of drop zones in Afghanistan, and one would need to be established near by for resupply anyhow.
I suppose this is where I have some mixed feelings about The Maverick Experiment. As a novel, I give it five-stars, no questions asked. As a non-fiction field guide I would disagree with much of it. I only mention this because we live in an era where our political leaders quote Jason Borne and Jack Bauer as if they are real people. There is no indication that the author has a similar disconnect between fiction and reality, but I would hate to see people read this book and think that this sort of thing is actually a good idea.
While off-the-books covert action teams are needed, and I completely agree with the author’s assessment that risk aversion is destroying our defense capability, the Maverick Team has an absolute license to kill and maim anyone in their way, to including innocent civilians. As a soldier I was often upset with political correctness, however, I never saw the rules against murder to be prohibitive to us accomplishing our job. There is a lot of middle ground between say, the Rules of Engagement levied on Europeans fighting in Afghanistan, and the kind of “weapons hot” attitude of the Maverick Team.
But as stated above, as a work of fiction, The Maverick Experiment stands out in this genre. The action is authentic and original, including assassinations and a pretty cool jail break from an Afghani prison. The characters could have been a little more fleshed out, but I think that this book is intended to be the first in a series, so perhaps we will learn more about them in the sequel.
If you are looking for a Special Operations or espionage thriller that is a cut above the rest. I’d recommend this work to people who are looking for something with a harder edge. The Maverick Experiment is gritty, hardcore, and brutal. Not for the feeble or weak hearted as they say.