Cover Fire
Karen Booth
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Cover Fire

Karen Booth
Peach Blossom Publications
312 pages
January 2003
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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If there are any fans of the old television series Combat! out there, this book will be right up your alley. This action-filled tale starts off with exploding shells and doesnít let up until the very last page, which makes it one of the most satisfying novels this reviewer has read in a long time. Thrust immediately into a life or death situation, this book at its heart is a story about loyalty and friendsh -- the type of loyalties that have developed between squad members during every war ever fought by man or machine.

This one happens to take place during World War II and follows the tale of one such small squad made up of six members. Lieutenant Morgan, slightly injured during a shelling, is sent to the field hospital with a concussion, leaving his second-in-command, Sergeant Randall, to lead a group of English commandos into the hills looking for a German heavy cannon that they have named "The Screecher". The Screecher is devastating the Allied lines, and the brass wants the cannon found so it can be destroyed. Problem is, H.Q. loses contact with the sergeant and his English companions, and the lieutenant and the rest of his squad are sent to find him and retrieve the information about the lethal weapon. What they find behind enemy lines is the site of a massacre. The commandos are dead, and there is no sign of their sergeant.

Determined, Morgan and the team members continue their hunt. Among the members of the squad is the medic, called "Doc" and a half-breed nicknamed "Grease" who acts as a scout for the squad. Also along is their BAR man McCrea, and another private nicknamed "Bouncer". They finally find their sergeant, buried alive. Digging him out, they discover that heís been tortured. They find help with the Underground and are taken to a keep deep in German territory and hidden in one of its towers.

Here the novel turns toward the psychological aftermath of the torture suffered by Sergeant Randall. His men are at a loss as to how to help him, and though his physical wounds heal, his mental wounds are festering. The plot turns inward as the squad attempts to keep its presence among a castle full of Waffen SS secret and stay one step ahead of capture and death. But their safety and well-being is tenuous at best, while Sergeant Randallís sanity rests within the hands of his squad members.

Karen Booth has penned a riveting action novel with a strong psychological subplot. Each of the members of the squad takes turns telling the story, giving the tale a unique and many-faceted approach. Though this tale is not for the weakhearted, it certainly offers one exhilarating ride and a very fast read to boot.

© 2003 by Denise M. Clark for Curled Up With a Good Book

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