I recently got my hands on an advanced copy of Dalton Fury’s new novel, One Killer Force, and was very pleasantly surprised. In a genre that is saturated with tame, boring, white male protagonists and flag-waving, this novel had some serious balls behind it. It was exactly the type of book I would expect to read from someone with the depth of experience former Delta Force officer Dalton Fury brings to the table. Filled with technical details, special operations culture that only an insider would know, and plenty of hair-rising Delta Force operations, this is a novel worth picking up.
The book opens with a joint training exercise between SEAL Team Six and Delta, foreshadowing one of the sub-plots of the novel. Handwringing, bean-counting bureaucrats in Washington have the bright idea to merge Delta and Six into one killer force. On the surface it makes sense: co-locate resources, assets, and personnel, saving the taxpayer millions of dollars. The novel’s protagonist, Kolt Raynor, on the other hand, knows that the reality of it is far more complicated.
With Kolt due to go in front of a review board and potentially become a squadron commander in the unit, the action of the novel takes the reader from the North Atlantic, to Syria, to Ukraine, and ultimately on to the ultimate denied territory in East Asia. What really caught me off guard was some of the improprieties that Kolt is confronted with within his own unit. Not just petty politics, but matters of corruption and even war crimes.
Issues like shady illegal killings, looting cash from objectives, and even a cash-for-enemy-KIAs incentive system offered to operators is discussed as Kolt becomes a squadron commander when the previous one is relieved. To be clear, this is a fictional novel, but for someone who has heard whispers of things over the years, it is hard to tell whether or not some fact is mixed in with the fiction. Let us hope not.
While Kolt and his Delta teammates are out kicking some ass, several espionage plots unfold. One of them involves Cindy Bird, the daughter of a deceased Delta operator who is now on her way to being vetted as the first female fully fledged Delta operator. Cindy is a cool character with a lot of potential, but the book does fall into the trap of spending too much time talking about her shoes, underwear, and even her “firm 34Cs” at one point. I don’t know about Cindy, but I’m more like Kolt in that I’m usually not thinking about my boots, my gloves, or my junk in the middle of a firefight. That said, she will be a interesting character to see further developed in future Dalton Fury novels.
After Kolt escapes Ukraine and Syria by the skin of his teeth, his mission to shut down WMD proliferation merges with what should have been Cindy’s final training exercise prior to joining the unit. Instead, they both find themselves up against mission impossible, a mission that will not only impact the future of U.S. national security, but one that will shape the very identity of Delta and SEAL Team Six.
Overall, I think Dalton Fury has hit his full stride with One Killer Force. It delivers the goods and hits you in the face like a blast of buckshot.