By: Jim Gilliam
Publisher: Abbott Press
Publication Date: February 26, 2013
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: October 21, 2013
Tanner and Goodman got a slap on the wrist in comparison to what Tim Kelly was going to get from Gunderson. Kelly was a no fear guy and life had been throwing him a few curve balls recently. His father, James, had been brutally beaten in a mugging and died as a result of it. Not that they’d ever been close, but there was one person Kelly had hopes for. Brenda Conrad had come into his life and he wanted her to stay there. He wanted that kind of closeness, something he could count on, someone who would always be there for him, but it looked like that relationship would be on hold for a while. Gunderson was going to make sure of that, darn sure.
“Congratulations,” Gunderson snarled, “I am delighted to hear that you have volunteered for combat duty with Patrol Squadron One Division Twelve based out of Da Nang. In the sunny Republic of South Vietnam.” Except for missing Brenda, that XO had no idea he just made Kelly a happy man, a very happy man. Gunderson had no sense of humor and his payback for a little prank didn’t seem to even disconcert his target. Destination: Point Deception, a patrol boat where he could be an ET and stay out of trouble ... maybe. Kelly’s “first taste of combat,” definitely wouldn’t be his last, but could prove to be his undoing.
How the heck could anyone be awarded the Silver and Bronze Stars and get clunked out of the Coast Guard with a less than honorable discharge? Easy if your name is Tim Kelly. His middle name was trouble, but in spite of the disgrace he’d survive and start that life with Brenda in Texas. It was a place he could call home, a place where he had good friends like Deputy Sheriff Dave Holt, who was going to marry his mother. Wedding bells were going to ring for Tim and Brenda. That was until she was “caught up in a turf war between two damned drug cartels.”
Seeing Brenda in a coma brought the fight back out in Kelly who exclaimed, “I’m going undercover to bust the cartel, or die trying.” It was no ordinary cartel, but rather the Campeche Cartel, one Kelly had tenuous ties to. Rudolfo Guzman, the kingpin of the organization, was like a father to him. In fact, Guzman had saved his life a couple of times. Colonel Garret, public safety guru and head of the Texas Rangers, could rewrite that discharge, but would it matter if Brenda didn’t survive? Could he avenge her shooting and would he be able to betray the very man who cared for him the most?
This action-packed thriller moves quickly as dramatic scenes explode in every chapter. Everything from the threat of bio-terrorism to nuclear attack creep into its pages. Modern-day issues such as human trafficking and drug running are real threats that Kelly wants to put an end to, issues that have touched his life. At times the transitioning from one scene to another was a bit difficult to follow, but the twist at the end pulls the seemingly disorganized events back into perspective. The light hand of an editor would have helped tighten up the work. Tarnished Hero is a tale you’ll want to read quickly in order to not miss any of the action and keep the storyline moving in your mind’s eye.
Quill says: If you want a fast-paced, dramatic thriller that knows no bounds, Tarnished Hero should be on your list of must reads!