Book review – Buried in Black: J T Patten

The review -

 Mr. Patten’s experience in the real world intelligence and covert warfare brings forth the grim and emotionally jarring experience in reading his book. I did expect dark and brutal black ops stuff before going into this one, but Buried in Black blew apart my mental foundations of the possibilities in storytelling.

   With numerous mind-blowing twists and a few climatic twists being a legendary mind@#$%, this book kinda traumatized me in an exciting way. The hangover after finishing this audio-book took me some time to recover. Mr. Patten clearly enjoys messing with the minds of his readers. And his success in doing so makes him one hell of an author to look forward to.

   The Taskforce Orange series beings with this book which breaks almost all stereotypes and cliches of black ops thrillers. During a podcast interview on the channel ‘SOFREP radio,’ Mr. Patten explains the easily possible dangers of serious threats that he has exposed in this book with the intention of tightening up security measures. I will not go into these security issues in this review but the book portrays this threat to the special operations community in a frightening manner.

   The protagonist Drake ‘Birddog’ Woolf is the first of his kind that I’ve read. He comes from a real but little known unit from JSOC known as ISA(Intelligence Support Activity), a group that focused on SIGINT(Signals intelligence) mixed with special operations fieldwork. The unique thing about Drake Woolf are his psychological problems, his medication, and his micro-dosing on LSD to operate in the field.

   Woolf is traumatized at a young age that damages his psyche beyond measure. But his uncle O’Toole, a senior officer at JSOC does everything he can to train Drake to be the best killer that he can be.

   The plot begins with an operation gone wrong which leads to everyone trying to fake Drake’s death so that he can be inducted into a realistic black ops program.

   But from one tragedy to another, Drake suffers chaos. A group of Iraqis, The Mohawks, who were trained by Drake in his past and betrayed by American diplomats, join forces with the Iranian IRGC to take out key targets in JSOC.

   When Drake is targeted, his remaining family gets caught in a tragic vile attack. With the help of Sean Havens, a character who is the protagonist from Mr. Patten’s previous series, Drake begins hunting down the men he once trained.

   But good stories like this aren’t so simple. Mix in some traitors, a complex financial conspiracy and nerve wrecking plot twists where people are light years away from what you think of them through most parts of the book, you’ll be reading this book at least twice to come to grips with trauma of the final twist.

   The action is realistic and yet interesting for the average reader of this genre. The interactions between Sean and Drake, and between O’Toole and Drake made the audio-book some fine good entertainment that kept me hooked.

   All the characters are realistic, fleshed out well enough with motivations that the readers can understand. Every character has a reason to do what they’re doing. The book does not make the cliched mistake in this genre of classifying characters as good or bad. Mr. Patten shows the grim reality of covert programs through this book where everyone is a gray character, that is, neither good nor bad.

   I’m eagerly waiting for the sequel The Presence of Evil that’s releasing in a couple of months. Based on the ending, I’m sure that this series has great potential to expand the limits of storytelling.

   A serious warning though, the average readers of books in general may find this book too brutal, grim, dark and traumatizing. Certain scenes and plot twists leave scars on you after finishing this story.

   One thing that I felt was the middle portions of the book moved kinda slower than the beginning and the end. I did expect all out action in this book but didn’t find it. The characters use brains and smarts in Mr. Patten’s book to solve problems than resolving to mindless action. I was not disappointed by this. The intellectual problem solving capacity of Drake and Sean broadened my perspective of how operators work.

   This is another thriller that thankfully avoids a needless romance subplot and that makes it more enjoyable. If you want something way different from the mainstream thrillers, this is a brilliant story that will traumatize you in a wonderful way.

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