Peter Nealen's Hunting in the Shadows—Powerful Military Fiction
Upon finishing Hunting in the Shadows by Peter Nealen, I was, at first, a bit conflicted. There were elements I didn’t care for as I went along—following the acronyms the military is known for was a real challenge for a civilian like myself; there were dozens of characters to remember, which was especially difficult being new to the series (it would definitely be worthwhile to read the first book in the series—Task Force Desperate—before embarking on this read); and it was a long read at 476 pages.
But the more I thought about the read, the more I recalled the parts I really, really liked.
First, this novel was refreshingly clean. Professional-caliber writing and editing the whole way through. Second, the battle scenes were incredible. You can tell Nealen’s been there and seen and felt what it’s like to be a part of such conflicts. Third, although the characters were difficult to feel attached to in any profound capacity, as they were all rather cold (see professional soldiers), reading the chapter following the death of one of Jeff Stone’s (the protagonist) teammates utterly turned that perception on its head. The chapter that followed—going through the mind of someone who had experienced such profound and sudden loss, seeing the toughest of the tough experience a complete breakdown through the first person perspective—was breathtakingly poignant. It made me take a ragged breath, and I’m not one to get emotional over writing, particularly fiction.
Lastly, Nealen seldom wasted time on flowery language. I appreciate that. He got straight to the point, yet still made sure to include the smells, tastes, and sounds of Iraq to lend authenticity to the writing.
So I’ll say this: For fans of military fiction, order up both of Nealen’s books in the American Praetorians series, read them in order, and enjoy the hell out of them.