ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Debros lives in South Africa with several very special cats, one of whom (he was taught that "whom" is the grammatically correct usage for people) is totally bald.
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- Too Wylde
on Jan. 16, 2012
Kick-ass action from characters who know what they're doing
As author Marcus Wynne explains in his opening notes to “Too Wylde”, his latest novel is a “continuation of the saga that began in “Johnny Wylde”. It's not really a sequel. It's a lengthy piece of what will be a story arc over five books - this is Part Two. So while this *can* stand alone, if you haven't read “Johnny Wylde”, you may want to." This latest ebook (I bought the .mobi version to read on my smartphone) from Wynne delivers exactly what his growing following of readers has come to expect, kickass CQB fight scenes by men and women who know exactly what they're doing.
In this sequel, which continues the Johnny Wylde story, the narrator and central character is haunted by a ghost from his past, a former comrade-in-arms he last saw engulfed by flames on a mountainside in war-torn Afghanistan. Mix that up with a murky government black-ops agency, a once-bitten-not-so-shy Russian arms dealer, Hmong gangsters and assorted guns-for-hire, cyber blackmail and layers upon layers of intrigue and you've joined the party. Wynne writes convincingly in a no-holds-barred style about the shadowy characters who inhabit the darker reaches of suburban America and inner-city nightlife. As the writer describes elsewhere, "The edge dwellers live in a world where strength, measured by the ability to do harm to others, was the prime virtue. Honour was a fantasy indulged in comic books and movies. The ones with honour were dangerous. The ones who lived by a code were even more dangerous."
You might well ask, who is Johnny Wylde? As the man himself explains, "Being low-pro is one of the criteria for being a competent door man/bouncer/cooler/security, whatever you want to call what I do in here. I like to think of it as exercising my interpersonal communication skills in a high-stress environment, as one of the psychiatrist-counsellor types I’d had occasion to interface with once said to me in a previous life."
Within the folds of “Too Wylde” we meet Wynne's usual menu of suspects and likeable rogues, including Lizzy (Johnny's drop-em-dead gorgeous exotic-dancing lover and sometime-muse), Deon (his South African gun-running buddy), Nina (a hard-as-nails cop who's also a gun-toting she-wolf in disguise), and Dee Dee (assassin for hire and a sexy, shapely, chameleon killer in form-fitting clothes). There are new surprises too, not least of all a juvenile-delinquent hacker called Neo Dark God aka KiKi, "a 13 year old girl in a severe Catholic school frock". As Wynne describes her, “Born Kitten June Warren (her mom loved cats, probably more than she loved her only child)”, she's reinvented herself in cyberspace, where a girl with “a deep pocketbook courtesy of her mother's carelessness with credit cards and bank accounts, and a deep and abiding desire to be somebody, could make a name for herself."
Thrown in with Wynne's articulate descriptions of running gunfights and sex-scarred survivors are moments of reserved humour. Inside the Trojan Horse, the stylish strip club where Lizzy dances, a new character looks over the owner's 'I Love Me Wall' and surveys the framed photos of wrestlers, movie celebs and well-known authors. The names dropped include: "David Morrell, the Rambo guy, Janet Evanovich, mystery gal, some others, hey, Marcus Wynne, thriller guy." It's this type of self-referring humour that spices Wynne's text with added flavour and frequent opportunities for inside jokes.
What knowing readers particularly relish are the other names Wynne drops, his throwaway references to guns, ammunition and knives that quickly mark the author as a man who knows his material. I was first introduced to Wynne's earlier work “Air Marshalls”, which deals with the hands-on business of close-up fighting with bladed weapons - not the bumph of action movies - but the real red-blooded stuff, where men and women with proper training slice and get sliced. The guy who recommended Wynne is himself an edged-weapons instructor - and he's a stickler for gory details.
A quick scan of “Too Wylde” reveals a host of insider names such as: HK-416s with the 10.3 inch barrel, Aimpoint Micros mounted up top, three London Bridge E&E bags, a Magpul magazine, loaded two down, ASYM Precision ammo, Glock 19s and 23s, the Beretta 92FS, Karl Sokol modified firearms and Comp-Tac Holsters. You'll also find Emerson and Spyderco knives (hats off to Sal Glesser and Joyce Laituri), Surefire combat flashlights, Bill Rogers and Massad Ayoob shooting and firearms training as well as Dennis Martin's CQB combatives. These names may mean nothing to the average reader but they read like an expert's guide to cutting-edge weapons and contemporary specialised training.
If anybody is unsure what sort of material Wynne covers, enjoy a taste of his confessional style: "Here’s a little secret about killing the virgins will never know. There is a Mark of Cain. It’s invisible to the civilians, all the polite sheep who wander peacefully through their day... I’m a wolf... We can smell the blood on one another... Killing a human takes you into another country. Killing dangerous humans for work, as a warrior, a soldier, a cop, a hired killer - that’s the ticket into a special fraternity... No matter how not-innocent you might have thought you were before you pulled the trigger or inserted the knife or tripped the switch or swung the blow... We’ll smell it on you. And you’ll know the secret we all know."
The only downside about picking up “Too Wylde” is that it all ends far too quickly. The pace is as dizzy as it is relentless and before you know it, the last page is staring you in the face. My fervent prayer is that Wynne is a man of his word and delivers on his promised "Three's Wylde" novel, expected in Spring 2012, which continues the Johnny Wylde journey.