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The Recruit

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A series of murders and mysterious hate crimes rocks a quiet California town, leading a cunning detective into the crosshairs of a network of white supremacists in this can’t-put-it-down thriller. Rancho Santa Elena in 1987 is the ideal Southern California town—that is, until a series of strange crimes threaten to destroy its social fabric. The body of a dog is left outside A series of murders and mysterious hate crimes rocks a quiet California town, leading a cunning detective into the crosshairs of a network of white supremacists in this can’t-put-it-down thriller. Rancho Santa Elena in 1987 is the ideal Southern California town—that is, until a series of strange crimes threaten to destroy its social fabric. The body of a dog is left outside a Vietnamese grocery store. An encampment of Mexican strawberry pickers is savagely attacked with mysterious weapons. A wealthy real estate developer is found dead in the pool of his beachside house. When rat poison and red threads are found at these crime scenes, detective Benjamin Wade and his girlfriend, forensic expert Natasha Betencourt, begin to wonder if these brutal crimes are connected. Soon Ben suspects that a gang of young locals, part of a vicious underbelly in town, might be the perpetrators of the​se crime​s. As Ben closes in on identifying the gang’s latest recruit, he discovers evidence that links the gang to a much wider terror network, one which uses the newly-developed internet to lure young men to their hateful ideology and to plan attacks. And while he digs deeper into the investigation, Ben must confront his own realizations about himself, and his membership in a community where corruption and hate are wielded as weapons against his fellow citizens.


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A series of murders and mysterious hate crimes rocks a quiet California town, leading a cunning detective into the crosshairs of a network of white supremacists in this can’t-put-it-down thriller. Rancho Santa Elena in 1987 is the ideal Southern California town—that is, until a series of strange crimes threaten to destroy its social fabric. The body of a dog is left outside A series of murders and mysterious hate crimes rocks a quiet California town, leading a cunning detective into the crosshairs of a network of white supremacists in this can’t-put-it-down thriller. Rancho Santa Elena in 1987 is the ideal Southern California town—that is, until a series of strange crimes threaten to destroy its social fabric. The body of a dog is left outside a Vietnamese grocery store. An encampment of Mexican strawberry pickers is savagely attacked with mysterious weapons. A wealthy real estate developer is found dead in the pool of his beachside house. When rat poison and red threads are found at these crime scenes, detective Benjamin Wade and his girlfriend, forensic expert Natasha Betencourt, begin to wonder if these brutal crimes are connected. Soon Ben suspects that a gang of young locals, part of a vicious underbelly in town, might be the perpetrators of the​se crime​s. As Ben closes in on identifying the gang’s latest recruit, he discovers evidence that links the gang to a much wider terror network, one which uses the newly-developed internet to lure young men to their hateful ideology and to plan attacks. And while he digs deeper into the investigation, Ben must confront his own realizations about himself, and his membership in a community where corruption and hate are wielded as weapons against his fellow citizens.

30 review for The Recruit

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Alan Drew writes a smart and intelligent historical novel set in the US in the 1980s, but I found it really hard to read because of it's chillingly disturbing ability to get into the minds of white supremacists and make them feel so very real. There is the sickening ideology and vision espoused by the powerful elusive leader, the 'Reverend', head of America's Divine Promise Ministeries, and his followers that contribute to the spread of the poison, like Richard Potter Wales, the creator of the h Alan Drew writes a smart and intelligent historical novel set in the US in the 1980s, but I found it really hard to read because of it's chillingly disturbing ability to get into the minds of white supremacists and make them feel so very real. There is the sickening ideology and vision espoused by the powerful elusive leader, the 'Reverend', head of America's Divine Promise Ministeries, and his followers that contribute to the spread of the poison, like Richard Potter Wales, the creator of the hate network through the bulletin board on the emerging internet to nationally connect its members, through which brutal and horrifying acts of terror are organised and carried out by its disposable foot soldiers. They all believe unquestionably in the fiction that the superior white race is in danger from the inferior minorities, and they are prepared to fight the Zionist Organised Government (ZOG) which is facilitating this catastrophe. It is over a decade since the end of the Vietnam War in 1987 and in the seemingly idyllic South Californian town of Rancho Santa Elena, there are dark, corrupt, racist and sinister undercurrents, intent on maintaining the existing white power structures. Detective Ben Wade saves a poisoned baby, where the family dog is missing. Vietnamese refugees Bao Phan, his wife Ai and daughter, Linh, have managed to survive and thrive, owning and running their store despite the challenges that have come their way. Bao finds a dog with its throat cut in the alley and a message meant to intimidate and spread fear pushed into its mouth, Ben investigates. Ben's girlfriend, Natasha Betencourt, is a medical examiner, she is at the scene of a homicide with Detective Joseph Vanek, the murdered victim is a wealthy white real estate developer, Walter Brennan. The cases have some curious connections such as red thread, and all leads point to a group of violent young neo-nazis, but they struggle to find any proof. The eponymous recruit, is the unhappy and vulnerable 15 year old Jacob Clay, desperately needing something to believe in and to belong. This well written and riveting read highlights the power and insanity of hate, portraying the beginnings of the use of the internet by white supremacists to connect and spread their divisive ideology, a cancer in the body of white America, laying the groundwork years later for the election and support of Donald Trump. The tragedy of Jacob Clay underlines how the white supremacy movement grooms children and young men to use and abuse for their own toxic agenda. Alan Drew is a outstanding writer, his talent lies in the disparate characters he creates and develops, they are complex, flawed and have a truth that resonates, often uncomfortably so. A superb novel that I highly recommend. Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4.5 stars. The Recruit is a powerful, chilling book about white supremacy's dangerous beliefs and actions, set in southern California in the 1980s. In the late 1980s, the internet is just getting started. Racist propaganda is being spread on message boards and is attracting bigoted people by urging attacks on minority groups as the beginning of a battle to strengthen white power. The story is made even more disturbing when one realizes that this poisonous ideology has been increasingly spread an 4.5 stars. The Recruit is a powerful, chilling book about white supremacy's dangerous beliefs and actions, set in southern California in the 1980s. In the late 1980s, the internet is just getting started. Racist propaganda is being spread on message boards and is attracting bigoted people by urging attacks on minority groups as the beginning of a battle to strengthen white power. The story is made even more disturbing when one realizes that this poisonous ideology has been increasingly spread and expanded with present technology making the internet available to almost everyone. The result has led to very recent, horrifying attacks. This is a well-written book with intriguing characters and displays their inner thoughts and feelings, sometimes in an overwrought, emotional manner. Some unpleasant truths are explored about how subtle racism is downplayed or ignored. The author explores a range of thoughts from anti-racists who believe that the mixing of races is acceptable to those exhibiting violent racist views. How the real estate and business community shuts out hard-working and talented minorities is explored. There is an elusive Reverend who recruits dissatisfied, rebellious youth to a secret hideaway in the mountains. They are trained as foot soldiers in the fight to destroy minority rights and ferment dissent. A preacher, Richard Wales, has launched a bulletin board on the new internet to recruit racists across the nation to commit horrific acts of terrorism. The discussion groups have confirmed and reinforced their hatred of minorities, spreading twisted, fabricated beliefs, including distortions of Old Testament passages and stories and the necessity of opposing the ZOG (Zionist Organized Government). A poisonous foundation of their ideology is that the supreme white race will soon be overrun and displaced by the growing number of minorities, the Blacks, Asians, and Mexicans frequently referred to by the derogatory 'mud people.' A political leader who angrily ranted about the criminality of Mexicans and who used demeaning and disparaging terms about African countries showed that these malicious statements were tolerated at high levels, further validating hatred and suspicion towards minorities. A potential recruit to these malignant beliefs is a vulnerable 15-year-old, Jacob Clay. His home life is unhappy. His father is a Viet Nam vet who has bouts of PTSD. An older neighbourhood boy is filling him with racist propaganda. Jacob discovers that his father is having a love affair with Linh, the educated daughter of Vietnamese refugees. Her father, Bao Phan, runs a successful grocery store despite obstacles. Bao finds a dog in the alleyway by his store. The dog has been poisoned and its throat cut. An intimidating note was stuck in the dog's mouth. Detective Ben Wade saves a poisoned baby and discovers the poison was ingested by the dead dog. A wealthy white real estate developer, Walter Brennan, has been murdered, presumably for renting and selling to minorities. Detective Ben's girlfriend, medical examiner Natasha and Detective Vanek attend the crime scene. A red thread connects both crimes, and it is part of the costume of a violent group of youthful neo-nazis. Soon more crimes are terrorizing the area. A group of migrant workers are brutalized by youths with homemade weapons, and there is a terrible crime committed against a member of Bao's family. This reign of terror cumulates with a mass bombing within a crowd, killing three and critically injuring others. Other attacks were coordinated to take place in other parts of the country on the same day. This happens in the 1980s, but we see similar violent attacks are ongoing to the present day. This was compelling, informative literary fiction that details the grooming and training of vulnerable, dissatisfied youth to commit crimes when influenced by leaders in spreading virulent racist ideology. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the ARC.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    The Recruit demands that you pay attention. The story starts with multiple plot lines - a dead real estate developer found floating in a pool, a toddler somehow poisoned, a dissatisfied youth making pipe bombs, a dog with his throat slit behind a Vietnamese grocery store. Slowly, they come together as Detective Ben Wade begins to target a group of young white power militants. Drew does a great job of painting 1987 Southern California. This small, middle class community doesn’t have a crime probl The Recruit demands that you pay attention. The story starts with multiple plot lines - a dead real estate developer found floating in a pool, a toddler somehow poisoned, a dissatisfied youth making pipe bombs, a dog with his throat slit behind a Vietnamese grocery store. Slowly, they come together as Detective Ben Wade begins to target a group of young white power militants. Drew does a great job of painting 1987 Southern California. This small, middle class community doesn’t have a crime problem. In fact, people move here to escape the crime of the big cities. Ben Wade was one of those people. But still, there’s a Vietnamese sub-community that isn’t welcome by all. “This kind of thing didn’t happen until they got here.” The parallels to today are frightening. This is the first book I’ve read that explains all the religious BS that the white militants believe make them special. It goes a long way to explaining how the vulnerable can be sucked into these beliefs. This is a well written book that grabbed me immediately and kept me engaged. I found the characters, both major and minor alike, to be realistic and thoroughly fleshed out. It’s not the typical thriller. One by one, the main characters each have a light bulb moment of seeing the racism in their community. And of acknowledging their own complicity. It’s the rare police procedural that I believe could make a good book club selection. This is the exception. The Author’s Note also provided the background that led to this book and gives even more meat to the story. Warning - this is a graphic book and Drew doesn’t shy away from describing the violence, including against animals. My thanks to Netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    NILTON TEIXEIRA

    If a book that you are reading makes you angry, would you continue reading or would you read it in small doses and read something else between? I’m that kind of person that only read one book at a time, but with this one I thought that I should read another book between, because this one was a tough read. But I decided that taking a break after a couple of chapters would help me go through it, and it did, but there were moments that I thought about quitting because the main emotion that this book If a book that you are reading makes you angry, would you continue reading or would you read it in small doses and read something else between? I’m that kind of person that only read one book at a time, but with this one I thought that I should read another book between, because this one was a tough read. But I decided that taking a break after a couple of chapters would help me go through it, and it did, but there were moments that I thought about quitting because the main emotion that this book triggered was rage, serious rage, scary rage, because everything sounded so real, so believable and current. It has nothing to do with the writing, which in this case is excellent, but the topic (white supremacy). The storyline is very powerful and skillfully developed. There are lots of triggers: racism, graphic violence, killing of a dog and a cat… The setting is 1980’s, in the Southern California. The access to Internet is about to start (1987). The story includes teenagers full of anger, recruited and motivated by one delusional man who thinks that the white race is superior to all and would like to see a world without mixed race. This is not a book that I could easily recommend to everyone. I didn’t think I could finish it, but this author knows how to tell a story and was able to hold my attention. Now I ordered the first book because I want to learn more about the main character, the detective Ben Wade.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    From the Acknowledgments: “…the aftermath of the Vietnam War sparked a new white supremacy movement, one that coalesced in the 1980s around the fledgling internet and ultimately found legitimacy as a main stream political movement in the presidency of Donald Trump.” This is the second book in a series. I did not read the first book, but the subject matter in the two books is completely different, and this book works fine as a standalone. In 1987, the police in a small California town are faced wi From the Acknowledgments: “…the aftermath of the Vietnam War sparked a new white supremacy movement, one that coalesced in the 1980s around the fledgling internet and ultimately found legitimacy as a main stream political movement in the presidency of Donald Trump.” This is the second book in a series. I did not read the first book, but the subject matter in the two books is completely different, and this book works fine as a standalone. In 1987, the police in a small California town are faced with several seemingly unrelated incidents - a poisoned child, a murdered real estate developer, a dead dog behind a Vietnamese grocery. But when detective Ben Wade and his pathologist girlfriend Natasha Betencourt look closer, they find the links, and once they see them it is obvious that hatred is all around them. Although this book is set in the 1980s the setting could be today. However, in the 1980s the use of the internet by white supremacist groups was just beginning. This book describes those early uses and how a group of mediocre white men bolster their self importance by proclaiming their superiority over everyone else on earth. They groom an insecure teenager through flattery, fake empathy and outrageous theories until he is willing to kill in furtherance of their cause. These are extremely dangerous people. This is a good police procedural with a very serious theme. It took me a while to get into the book because the early chapters skipped around among the characters so much. I liked the detective and may go back and read the first book in the series. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Debra

    WOWZA First off, If Alan Drew is not on your radar, he needs to be. This is the second book in the Detective Ben Wade series and although I felt this book worked beautifully as a stand-alone, why not go back and read Shadow Man. So very good!! Hate Crimes are horrific. The book begins with the discovery of the body of a dog outside of a Vietnamese grocery store, and the horrors go on from there. Migrant Mexican strawberry pickers are brutalized, and a wealthy man is found dead in his pool. Are the WOWZA First off, If Alan Drew is not on your radar, he needs to be. This is the second book in the Detective Ben Wade series and although I felt this book worked beautifully as a stand-alone, why not go back and read Shadow Man. So very good!! Hate Crimes are horrific. The book begins with the discovery of the body of a dog outside of a Vietnamese grocery store, and the horrors go on from there. Migrant Mexican strawberry pickers are brutalized, and a wealthy man is found dead in his pool. Are these crimes related? This is the question that Detective Ben Wade and Forensic expert Natasha Betencour must answer. White supremacists and the vulnerable youth it attracts are portrayed in this book. This is a gritty, gruesome, and intense book that looks at hate, brutality and how some are courted and recruited into a world of hate. This book is so good but won’t be for everyone. The author shows the ugliness of hate. He does not sugarcoat anything. Whew! This was a compelling, thought provoking and brutal book. I enjoyed being reacquainted with Ben and Natasha. They are a great couple, and I enjoyed the investigation. Well written and powerful. #TheRecruit #NetGalley. Thank you to Random House and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. Read more of my reviews at www.openbookposts.com

  7. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Carden

    So much happens in the first 24 hours of The Recruit; a man is murdered in his beach front home, a child and a dog are poisoned, a Vietnamese community is threatened and an angry teenaged boy builds pipe bombs in his backyard. All this seems to happen in a time warp of sorts, as it all unfolds as lazily as a slow-moving river. This is life in middle class Orange County, CA towns in 1987. This the campfire story of The Hook, but at the next campfire another horror story is being told, and so on. U So much happens in the first 24 hours of The Recruit; a man is murdered in his beach front home, a child and a dog are poisoned, a Vietnamese community is threatened and an angry teenaged boy builds pipe bombs in his backyard. All this seems to happen in a time warp of sorts, as it all unfolds as lazily as a slow-moving river. This is life in middle class Orange County, CA towns in 1987. This the campfire story of The Hook, but at the next campfire another horror story is being told, and so on. Until it becomes clear this is all one horror story. This is partially the story of how domestic terrorism groups such as Christian Identity, Posse Comitatus, Sovereign Citizens and many others started in the aftermath of the Vietnam war. Only the reader realizes those domestic terrorism groups became mainstream and supported by the President of the United States and most of his supporters by 2017. Albeit under other names, such as Proud Boys or Promise Keepers. Professional and personal partners, Detective Ben Wade of the Santa Elena PD, and Orange Co. ME Natasha Betencourt, along with Huntington Beach detective, Joseph Vanek quickly discover all these crimes are connected through the rotting underbelly of Orange Co.’s white supremacists. Cynical adults high in their mountain compounds, or in their mega-churches control teenaged boys and have them to do their bidding. This is also the beginning of the internet’s huge influence over terrorists, when the domestic terrorists were just beginning to discover the heady joys of internet bulletin boards, promising anonymity and freedom. The first day of this crime spree might have been the best day with even more deaths, more domestics terrorism and more heartbreak following. This might be one of the best books I’ve read this year, but it will most likely be the darkest. Natasha is the caring ME introduced in Shadow Man, still trying to offer her words of comfort to the dead, so that they have known kindness at the end, because who knows when the end is really the end. Ben Wade, is confronted with some very uncomfortable truths about himself, truths that don’t make it quite so easy to feel superior to the Supremists. The stories of Vietnamese refugees in Orange Co. of their escapes after the Fall of Saigon and the reestablishment of their lives are fascinating and inspirational. Bao Phan, the sensitive art teacher, becomes a store owner, happy to do so because he, his wife and daughter escaped and lived. Teh Vietnamese community seems to always be fighting the hatred of those with resentment toward Vietnamese refugees, or just any refugee, or just any non-white. The The Recruit is such a powerful story, the story of the dark side of the American Dream, the antithesis of everything America is supposed to stand for. I won’t be forgetting this book. Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I was enjoying this story about racial animus and a nascent White Power movement in Southern California until it was ruined by overbearing woke characters.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    A surprisingly good thriller that focuses on the power of white supremacy in a small California town. I think that what makes this book so engaging is the interactions of the characters and the development of their relationships. Though set in the 1970s, there's nothing happening here that couldn't be happening today, so it is also a cautionary tale for the reader. I was totally absorbed and almost didn't want it to end. That's always a sign of a very good book! A surprisingly good thriller that focuses on the power of white supremacy in a small California town. I think that what makes this book so engaging is the interactions of the characters and the development of their relationships. Though set in the 1970s, there's nothing happening here that couldn't be happening today, so it is also a cautionary tale for the reader. I was totally absorbed and almost didn't want it to end. That's always a sign of a very good book!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bam cooks the books ;-)

    *4.5 stars rounded up. This is my first taste of author Alan Drew's work and I found it to be quite well-written. I accepted an arc from the publisher via NetGalley not knowing it is the second book in his Detective Ben Wade series, but had no trouble jumping in here. I will definitely make a point of reading book one now and any others to come. Set in California in the late 1980s, the story is about 'an interstate conspiracy of hate to terrorize and kill minorities.' The story shows that the ro *4.5 stars rounded up. This is my first taste of author Alan Drew's work and I found it to be quite well-written. I accepted an arc from the publisher via NetGalley not knowing it is the second book in his Detective Ben Wade series, but had no trouble jumping in here. I will definitely make a point of reading book one now and any others to come. Set in California in the late 1980s, the story is about 'an interstate conspiracy of hate to terrorize and kill minorities.' The story shows that the roots of such racism began shortly after the Vietnam War and found legitimacy under Donald Trump's political agenda unfortunately. The recruit of the title is a young, impressionable teen who gets drawn into a gang of white supremacists because of his longing to belong. Gang members earn their chops by spilling blood. Need I say more? Ben and the other characters are remarkably well-depicted. My favorite character is Ben's lady love, Natasha; I was quite moved by her experiences towards the end of the story. So dramatic! If you are looking for an exciting summer read, I highly recommend this one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darcy

    I didn't realize this one was a second book until I was far into this one and invested, so didn't want to stop and go back to read the first one. I'm not sure if I will go back to read #1, I feel like I got enough of what went on. What really struck me about this book was how despite being set in 1987, the story line is very relevant 35 years later and we are still fighting this shit. It was easy to see how Jacob was led astray, easy to see how Ben was oblivious and how his eyes were opened. I ha I didn't realize this one was a second book until I was far into this one and invested, so didn't want to stop and go back to read the first one. I'm not sure if I will go back to read #1, I feel like I got enough of what went on. What really struck me about this book was how despite being set in 1987, the story line is very relevant 35 years later and we are still fighting this shit. It was easy to see how Jacob was led astray, easy to see how Ben was oblivious and how his eyes were opened. I hated how Natasha had to fight for more at work, just because she was a woman. I liked how Ben and Natasha worked to figure things out, hated the price that they and those that they cared about had to pay. Things will be very different for them going forward, it will be interesting to see how they react to things.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Nearly five years ago, I read and reviewed Shadow Man by Alan Drew, and I said it was “the best kind of novel: one that truly entertains the reader while making us THINK. Ben Wade is a great character, and I hope Shadow Man is the first in a series.” Then my (long) wait began, and finally I was ecstatic to receive a copy of The Recruit from Random House and NetGalley in exchange for this honest review. Like Shadow Man, The Recruit is set in the fictional Rancho Santa Elena in 1987. Having grown Nearly five years ago, I read and reviewed Shadow Man by Alan Drew, and I said it was “the best kind of novel: one that truly entertains the reader while making us THINK. Ben Wade is a great character, and I hope Shadow Man is the first in a series.” Then my (long) wait began, and finally I was ecstatic to receive a copy of The Recruit from Random House and NetGalley in exchange for this honest review. Like Shadow Man, The Recruit is set in the fictional Rancho Santa Elena in 1987. Having grown up in Southern Orange County, I have loved Drew’s ability to capture the setting so well: When detective Ben Wade responds to a call, he goes to “...a nice street…every house painted a shade of beige, little squares of mowed green grass, sprinklers draining the Colorado to keep that green.” As Ben looks over the town, “...it struck him, suddenly, that South Orange County looked like the kind of place Nazis might have built if they had occupied California. The cultivated perfection…felt, well, fascist through a seductive facism, a type of authoritarianism that made you feel like you wanted to be controlled. Behind the “orange curtain” for sure.” Ben seems like he may be getting ready for a life away from law enforcement: “Body surfing and tacos, that’s the retirement he wanted.” But there is something going on in paradise: a series of strange crimes that are seemingly unrelated until the seemingly unrelated clues of poisoning and red threads left at the scene are connected by Ben and forensic expert Natasha Betencourt. Rancho Santa Elena has a growing white power movement, and it seems to be linked to a much wider terror network, using a new technology (remember, it’s 1987) called the internet. The pioneers in using this new tool find it can be helpful to spread their ideology, plan attacks, and lure young men (always young men!) into committing crimes. As Ben digs deeper, the parallels between the fictional Rancho Santa Elena and present day U.S. suburbia are chilling. The plot twists and turns are terrific, and Drew’s writing is amazing. As the crimes and their perpetrators are revealed, I found the story VERY unsettling, as deep-seated hatred, violence, and racism emerge. I often wonder how it is that the current U.S. has become so angry and filled with scary crazy people, often young men “...in transition to manhood, that in-between place of confusion.” Ben understands how living in the rough parts of L.A. might contribute to violent behavior, but the reasons for the white power movement in Rancho Santa Elena aren’t so obvious to him as he goes deeper into the movement. When he is in the courtroom as one of the leaders faces justice, “...it struck Ben how small he looked, so lost in his own sense of genetic superiority that he was blind to his mediocrity. ..It struck Ben then that racism – the violent kind Rowan traded in and the kind that lied beneath the surfaces of places like Rancho Santa Elena–was a sort of suicide…a whole lot of white people in this country would be willing to burn it all down, democracy, America, the whole damn thing, to maintain the fantasy of their superiority. “ Holy crap, that writing is perfection in so many ways. As for how the news about the movement is presented, “...reporters and the anchors couldn’t quite wrap their heads around the idea that these nice-looking white people could do such terrible things.“Just as Shadow Man told a great story while looking at two social issues (the plight of farmworkers and the effects of child abuse), The Recruit does a masterful job looking at the disturbing and growing issue of the white power movement. I truly can’t say enough about how great this book is. Why do I only get five stars?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for sharing the 2nd book in Alan Drew’s series. I thought this was much more engaging than the first book. It was interesting how the author kept the vibe in the 1980s, yet it still felt very of the moment with its focus on white nationalism and immigration. Recommend this for those that like a little more depth in a police procedural.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michael Martz

    Alan Drew's "The Recruit" is a well-written, solidly plotted thriller that managed to tick me off to no end. I'll explain later.... The protagonist, Ben Wade, works as a detective in way-suburban LA after a stint on the mean streets of LA proper. Beneath the surface of idyllic Santa Elena bubbles a cauldron of white anger which has manifested itself in hate crimes, offensive graffiti, and violent crime. The time is the late 80s and, according to the bad elements in town, SoCal is being overrun by Alan Drew's "The Recruit" is a well-written, solidly plotted thriller that managed to tick me off to no end. I'll explain later.... The protagonist, Ben Wade, works as a detective in way-suburban LA after a stint on the mean streets of LA proper. Beneath the surface of idyllic Santa Elena bubbles a cauldron of white anger which has manifested itself in hate crimes, offensive graffiti, and violent crime. The time is the late 80s and, according to the bad elements in town, SoCal is being overrun by Asians, Mexicans, and blacks and the white race is in jeopardy. Ben and medical examiner and forensic guru Natasha Betencourt are busy trying to solve a recent murder case when the racial stuff hits a little too close to home. Competent investigative work (the timing is pre-DNA, pre-video, and mostly pre-Google) brings the early 20s son of a local big-wheel under their microscope, along with his coterie of similarly decked-out (jeans, Doc Martens, short hair, tats, etc.) white guy apprentices. The race is on to not only solve the existing murders and assaults but to also stop what seems to be some sort of larger-scale terrorist-type attack facilitated by the use of early 'internets' bulletin board programs by a loosely organized national association of white supremist groups. The Recruit is really a notch above most thrillers of its ilk. The writing is rock-solid, the characters have some depth, and I like the fact that the time frame is well in the past but not so long ago that no one can relate to it. Additionally, it's fiction but I don't think anyone would deny that the described action would be impossible to imagine. Which brings me to what ticked me off. The previous presidential administration, with a nod and a wink (and sometimes more overtly), has signaled to a certain segment of the population that the thinking that energized the criminals in The Recruit is acceptable and we're now left with a country where a significantly larger percentage of the population feels they can 'act out'. What follows is Charlottsville, mass-murders in El Paso and at a Pittsburgh synagogue (among others), and spikes in hate crimes of all types at a time when the internet has proven to be a medium for spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories among like-minded nutcases. Additionally, encryption has made the job of law enforcement more difficult and apps have made communication between groups much easier. So yeah, The Recruit pissed me off not because of its quality (it's quite good) but because it got me thinking about the state of this country and the possibility that the genie is out of the bottle and it can get even worse.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    Originally published on my book blog, TheBibliophage.com. Alan Drew creates a thoughtful mystery with multiple viewpoints in The Recruit. It’s set in 1987 and happens around a small city in Orange County, California. Drew uses a smart approach to his suspenseful story. He’s unafraid to confront the big issues of the day, like refugee realities, white supremacy, Christian nationalism, and how the police interact with the disparate communities they serve. As you can see, the topics are equally rele Originally published on my book blog, TheBibliophage.com. Alan Drew creates a thoughtful mystery with multiple viewpoints in The Recruit. It’s set in 1987 and happens around a small city in Orange County, California. Drew uses a smart approach to his suspenseful story. He’s unafraid to confront the big issues of the day, like refugee realities, white supremacy, Christian nationalism, and how the police interact with the disparate communities they serve. As you can see, the topics are equally relevant today. The primary character is Detective Benjamin Wade, who returned to Rancho Santa Elena hoping to get away from the tensions in Los Angeles. But as the story develops, he and his girlfriend, medical examiner Natasha Betancourt, work on various cases. At first, everything seems separate, but they begin to see a common thread tying the cases to extremist views. They soon realize that even the idyllic parts of our world have dark, ugly underbellies. Next, they have to find a way to stop them. Drew also tells part of the story from other viewpoints, even though Ben and Natasha are central. We hear from a new, teenage member of a skinhead gang. And alternately from both father and daughter in a Vietnamese-American family. Although sometimes the variety of voices was overwhelming, ultimately Drew ties everything together into a cohesive whole. My conclusions The Recruit is intense and never shies away from the nastiness of racism. At times the story feels ponderously heavy, but that’s more because of the topic than the writing. Drew employs considerable detail in explaining both the crimes and the criminal mindset behind this story. That gets tough to read, especially when real-life news parallels the fictional plot. Still, I give Drew credit for approaching this story with eyes wide open instead of whitewashing the grimiest behaviors. Ben and Natasha are likable and realistically flawed characters. Natasha’s got a good heart and an even sharper mind. And Ben is working hard to wake up to his own faults. If Drew wrote another book about these two, it would be on my reading list. At just over 400 pages, I still felt like Drew rushed the book’s ending. The balance between set-up, main story action, and the resolution was heavy up front compared to the final section. However, it’s ultimately satisfying if a bit forced. I recommend The Recruit if you appreciate police procedurals set before the age of cell phones. Just plan to steel yourself for darkness, knowing that the main characters are worth cheering on towards the conclusion. Pair with something nonfiction about the topics Drew discusses. Options include: The Power Worshippers by Katherine Stewart or Everything You Love Will Burn by Vegas Tenhold. Acknowledgments Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group, and the author for a digital advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review. The Recruit debuts June 14, 2022.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Jackson

    The Recruit Alan Drew ⭐️⭐️⭐️ This book most definitely leaves you hanging at the end! I wished the story line would of been different, when I requested the book I sure wasn’t expecting this. It was a good read just not the type of books I am really interested in!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robyn_reads1

    What a crazy book! So much of what happens and what is revealed is terrifying to think about. Drew gets into the heads of all the characters and some of the ideologies will make your brain hurt. The plot is extremely strong and allows the reader the ability to follow along easily. At times, this wasn’t an easy read but it was worth it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Vivian Harrington

    The Recruit is a disturbing novel that focuses on white supremacy during the years following the Vietnam conflict when certain people in California and throughout the US were wrongly concerned about being displaced in society by immigrants. While I know there are person with such offensive ideology in the USA, the degree of hate and vitriol was hard to realistically accept. The story involves bigots who hated the thought of Asian immigrants buying property, opening businesses, dating while peopl The Recruit is a disturbing novel that focuses on white supremacy during the years following the Vietnam conflict when certain people in California and throughout the US were wrongly concerned about being displaced in society by immigrants. While I know there are person with such offensive ideology in the USA, the degree of hate and vitriol was hard to realistically accept. The story involves bigots who hated the thought of Asian immigrants buying property, opening businesses, dating while people and integrating into society. At times I felt the author was preaching. At other times it felt like truth. Having been on planes that transported Vietnamese refugees to the US many years ago, I could visualize some of the experiences of the refugees. My parents volunteered as grandparents at school for a Vietnamese immigrant, who we today consider family. Overall, this book was intriguing. It is a reminder of the oppression experienced by many legal immigrants to our country as well as the resistance of people who cannot accept change, diversity, acceptance, appreciation for fellow human beings because of preconceived notion or family bigotry. While the book disturbed me, I couldn’t put it down. The overall lesson for me involved the way families pass down their prejudices to next generations. We want to believe it doesn’t happen, but it does. I would encourage all Americans who want to be compassionate, empathetic, engaged citizens to read this book as ask if they recognize themselves or a family member in the narrative.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Judy Odom

    The Recruit is a compelling and yet disturbing read that delves into the minds of White Supremacy in a small California town. Even though it takes place in the 1980's it is so very relevant to today which gives you pause for thought. It is both a mystery and a thriller and the pages turn themselves. The characters of Ben and Natasha are well written and so real I felt I knew them. So much happens in The Recruit that kept me reading and turning those pages after the lights should have been out. Altho The Recruit is a compelling and yet disturbing read that delves into the minds of White Supremacy in a small California town. Even though it takes place in the 1980's it is so very relevant to today which gives you pause for thought. It is both a mystery and a thriller and the pages turn themselves. The characters of Ben and Natasha are well written and so real I felt I knew them. So much happens in The Recruit that kept me reading and turning those pages after the lights should have been out. Although it is the sequel to Shadow Man, you can read it as a stand alone . I did but will now go back and read

  20. 5 out of 5

    Melody Morris

    The Recruit – Alan Drew The year is 1985 and computers are just beginning to come into vogue. Richard Potter Wales is on his way via jet to an undisclosed location to meet the ‘Reverend’ – the head of America’s Divine Promise Ministries and also a cover for a national white supremacy movement. Wales is hoping to gain the Reverends favor with his plan for computerized bulletin boards to begin networking with other groups. With levels of password protection, these boards would enable conversation w The Recruit – Alan Drew The year is 1985 and computers are just beginning to come into vogue. Richard Potter Wales is on his way via jet to an undisclosed location to meet the ‘Reverend’ – the head of America’s Divine Promise Ministries and also a cover for a national white supremacy movement. Wales is hoping to gain the Reverends favor with his plan for computerized bulletin boards to begin networking with other groups. With levels of password protection, these boards would enable conversation with like-minded groups across the country in hopes of preserving what they see as a dying culture. Fast forward to 1987, where Detective Benjamin Wade answers a call for a sick child in the So. Cal town of Rancho Santa Elena. As he arrives the toddler is in cardiac arrest, and the family dog has gone missing. Ben successfully resuscitates him, but afterward, noticing a strange taste in his mouth, he returns to the scene, where he finds a strange patch of green coloring in the snow. He bags it up and sends it for analysis, wondering if this may be the source of the child’s malady. Meanwhile, Natasha Betencourt, a county medical examiner and Ben’s girlfriend, is on a scene of her own, where a wealthy real estate developer has just been found dead in his pool. At first glance, a drowning is questioned, but as Detective Joseph Vanek and Natasha work the scene, there appears to be evidence of head trauma. Bao Phan, his wife Ai and daughter Linh Phan are Vietnemese refugees who have settled in Rancho Santa Elena, operating a small grocery store. Having fled their country in 1975 during the Vietnam war, they have found peace and acceptance in the community. So it comes as a surprise to them when they find a dead dog in the alley behind their store. Pinned to the dogs ear is a note that states, “Kill them all”. Jacob Clay is a young man who finds himself slowly immersed in a violent teen-aged white supremacist group. Impressionable, and already experimenting with violence on his own, Jacob allows himself to be groomed by the group’s leader, Ian Rowan. He must shed blood to gain full acceptance into the group and be rewarded with the coveted, red-laced boots. The victim he chooses will shatter a family but will ultimately pull these storylines together with devastating results as Ben, Natasha & Vanek work to find those responsible once and for all. Wow! This was a suspenseful & terrifying read!! Set in the post-Vietnam war era, where acceptance of other cultures was just gaining momentum, this is a fictional glimpse (but is it, really?) into the mind and hearts of white supremacists - and the lengths many will go to protect a legacy that they feel is rightfully theirs. The characters are colorful (although it took me a minute to keep them straight), the events are horrifying, and the clandestine meetings and mediums used to disseminate hate will linger long after the last page is turned. One can’t help but contemplate recent world events and how they came to fruition after reading this novel…. I sure hope to see Ben and Natasha again in future writings! What a dynamic duo!! I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from Netgalley & Random House in exchange for an objective review. Do you love to read?? Visit netgalley.com and start reviewing books today!! (Will publish to blog on 6/12/22)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Crimefictioncritic

    The Recruit by Alan Drew opens with a foreshadowing that gives us texture and backstory that helps readers understand the book's theme and what is to come. Drew wrote the novel primarily from the point of view of Detective Benjamin Wade. Wade, a former LAPD detective, has moved to a smaller suburban department are tiring of the L.A. gang violence. But the author uses multiple points of view from other key characters at times to add additional layers to the story. Thematically, the novel's focus The Recruit by Alan Drew opens with a foreshadowing that gives us texture and backstory that helps readers understand the book's theme and what is to come. Drew wrote the novel primarily from the point of view of Detective Benjamin Wade. Wade, a former LAPD detective, has moved to a smaller suburban department are tiring of the L.A. gang violence. But the author uses multiple points of view from other key characters at times to add additional layers to the story. Thematically, the novel's focus is racism, particularly that directed towards Vietnamese and Hispanic immigrants and white supremacy. Though the author doesn't state the specific time of the story, he offers ample clues that help us understand it takes place in 1987 (and it's mentioned in summary), about twelve years after the fall of Saigon and the formal end of the Vietnam War. It begins with Wade investigating a racial harassment crime where someone left a mutilated dog and printed racial slurs in an alley behind a store owned by a Vietnamese refugee, Bao Phan. As Drew develops that story line, he breaks into the B story of a murder investigation that eventually intersects with the main story. Candidly, after reading the foreshadowing intro, I didn't expect to like this book much. I read fiction for entertainment and a brief respite from the generally unhappy state of the world today, not for a fiction writer to expound their moralistic worldviews. The book seemed headed toward becoming a little too Steinbeckish for my liking, a modern-day Grapes of Wrath. And to be fair, there was a good bit of purposeful moralizing. And the author's candid acknowledgment at the end removed any doubts about it. "...I was trying to dramatize in The Recruit: that the aftermath of the Vietnam War sparked a new white supremacy movement, one that coalesced in the 1980s around the fledgling Internet and ultimately found legitimacy as a mainstream political movement in the presidency of Donald Trump." But thankfully, the quality of the writing, the compelling story, and the richly-drawn, realistic characters helped the novel overcome what I felt was its only serious flaw. Of course, serious literary works of fiction should have a theme, but in fairness to fiction readers, advocating of personal worldviews is best left to non-fiction books. Overall, I enjoyed the book, which offers a tight and suspense-filled plot that keeps the pages turning. I'd characterize it as a suburban police procedural as the story revolves around detectives solving crimes after it's already clear who the perpetrators are. I received an advance review copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley used for this review, representing my honest opinions.

  22. 4 out of 5

    CaraDico

    *Thank you to Random House, NetGalley and Alan Drew for an ARC in exchange for an honest review* Previously published at https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/th... “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela (1994) One of the wonderful things about being a reviewer is t *Thank you to Random House, NetGalley and Alan Drew for an ARC in exchange for an honest review* Previously published at https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/th... “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela (1994) One of the wonderful things about being a reviewer is that sometimes you get to pick up books that are out of your wheelhouse and discover an amazing author you can’t wait to read again. Alan Drew is that author. The Recruit is told from the point of view of Detective Benjamin Wade, who has moved to a smaller town, Santa Elena, after tiring of Los Angeles gang violence. The novel’s focus is racism towards Vietnamese families who have moved to California to start over after the Vietnam war, but also discusses hate towards Hispanic immigrants, particularly from white supremacy groups. Drew uses multiple points of view, including Ben, the Vietnamese grocer who is targeted by a white supremacy group, the young teenager, Jacob, recruited into the supremacy group, and Ben’s girlfriend, Natasha, an asst. coroner. The Recruit takes place about 12 years after the fall of Saigon, in 1987. Wade has been called to a house where a little boy has been poisoned. The investigation finds Ben in the back of Bao Phan’s Vietnamese grocery, where the dog belonging to the little boy has also been poisoned and his throat has been slit. They left the dog behind Bao’s grocery store with a warning. There is also the murder of a local real estate agent that connects to the story later on. Ben and Natasha piece together the murder of the dog and the murder of the agent with a local white supremacy group, led by a young man who is the son of the town councilman, Ian Rowan. The recruit refers to Jacob Clay, the disturbed young teenager building bombs in his garage whom Ian recruits into white supremacy. Before long, Ben has discovered a large cult living above Big Bear, led by a reverend determined to cleanse the world and create an Aryan race. I did not expect to love this book as much as I did. It speaks to the anti-racist movement happening in our current time and feels timely to read right now. Some felt the book moralized too intently, but I didn’t feel that at all. The story is entertaining; the characters are well-developed and layered and the suspense really keeps the reader engaged. I hope Drew has another book with Ben Wade. I enjoyed his character and sometimes morally gray actions. Wait for the ending. Spectacular!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Payne

    The Recruit A Novel By: Alen Drew Random House Publishing Group Random House, Random House Publish Date 14 June 2022 Mystery & Thriller #TheRecruit#NetGalley 100 Book ReviewsProfessional Reader I would like to first thank both NetGalley and Random Publishing for letting me read and review this book. Good Reads Synopsis: A series of murders and mysterious hate crimes rocks a quiet California town, leading a cunning detective into the crosshairs of a network of white supremacists in this can’t-put-it-down th The Recruit A Novel By: Alen Drew Random House Publishing Group Random House, Random House Publish Date 14 June 2022 Mystery & Thriller #TheRecruit#NetGalley 100 Book ReviewsProfessional Reader I would like to first thank both NetGalley and Random Publishing for letting me read and review this book. Good Reads Synopsis: A series of murders and mysterious hate crimes rocks a quiet California town, leading a cunning detective into the crosshairs of a network of white supremacists in this can’t-put-it-down thriller. Rancho Santa Elena in 1987 is the ideal Southern California town—that is, until a series of strange crimes threaten to destroy its social fabric. The body of a dog is left outside a Vietnamese grocery store. An encampment of Mexican strawberry pickers is savagely attacked with mysterious weapons. A wealthy real estate developer is found dead in the pool of his beachside house. When rat poison and red threads are found at these crime scenes, detective Benjamin Wade and his girlfriend, forensic expert Natasha Betencourt, begin to wonder if these brutal crimes are connected. Soon Ben suspects that a gang of young locals, part of a vicious underbelly in town, might be the perpetrators of the​se crime​s. As Ben closes in on identifying the gang’s latest recruit, he discovers evidence that links the gang to a much wider terror network, one which uses the newly developed internet to lure young men to their hateful ideology and to plan attacks. And while he digs deeper into the investigation, Ben must confront his own realizations about himself, and his membership in a community where corruption and hate are wielded as weapons against his fellow citizens. Book Review: I so wanted to love this book because it sounds so good. After three weeks and only 34% through I knew it was time to call it. I gave this book 1 stars and DNF’D it. The story line is good and is a story that needs to be told but it just wasn’t for me. There are a few things I just couldn’t get pass and struggled with that. I need to give you warnings about racism, adultery, and animal cruelty. I can handle most of it, but the animal cruelty just did me in. As I said before this is a story that’s needs to be told because it goes into the thinking and making of people like this. I didn’t realize how these groups got people and now I have a better understanding. I do want to try more of works to give him another try because once I picked up the book, I was involved it was getting the desire to pick it up.

  24. 4 out of 5

    V

    Set in Rancho Santa Elena, to the south of LA, during the eighties, this story is a murder mystery but, the brutal crimes against both animals and people are almost secondary to the motives. It is adult subject matter with a timely and relevant topic. History usually means decades ago to me, not in my lifetime however; this is a part of the history of my country I knew little about. It was not easy to read, reading about hatred is uncomfortable. The chapters alternated between characters and piece Set in Rancho Santa Elena, to the south of LA, during the eighties, this story is a murder mystery but, the brutal crimes against both animals and people are almost secondary to the motives. It is adult subject matter with a timely and relevant topic. History usually means decades ago to me, not in my lifetime however; this is a part of the history of my country I knew little about. It was not easy to read, reading about hatred is uncomfortable. The chapters alternated between characters and pieces of the disgusting crimes. Way back when the internet was a fairly new technology, "The Reverend" decides to use it as communication of secret messages for his followers living all over the US. They are promoting the creation of an Edenic Adamic Israelite Colony. Detective Benjamin Wade moved from LA to the small town for a quieter life. He has an ex-wife, Rachel, and daughter, Emma. Natasha, his girlfriend, is a medical examiner. He's investigating a man found murdered in his pool. The detective soon discovers crimes much more evil and darker than he could have imagined. It follows a family's gut wrenching escape from South Vietnam in a helicopter trying to land on an American ship in the ocean. Bao, his wife, Ai, and Linh, his daughter escape to CA to have a better life. Natasha met the family at the refugee camp and they became fast friends. Over time they lose touch, only to cross paths again under the bleakest of tragedies. Local city councilman, Paul Rowan, has a son Ian. He is a troubled, angry teen searching for a place to belong. He's fallen in with "The Reverend" and taken up the racial hatred mantra. The story addresses this hatred, racial injustice, inequality and compels introspection. It left me depressed, angry and filled with sorrow for those who have suffered. It challenged me to think, it imparted knowledge. The author's story will stay with me. I have never read his books before. I would highly recommend this one and will watch for anything he writes in the future. Thanks so much to NetGalley for this thought provoking advance digital copy of "The Recruit" by Alan Drew and to Random House. These are my honest and very personal thoughts and opinions given voluntarily.

  25. 4 out of 5

    John McKenna

    The novel begins in a place called Rancho Santa Elena—a new planned community and housing development south of Los Angeles—where a former LAPD detective named Ben Wade, who’s now working for the nascent community police department, is responding to a call about a missing dog. At the same time his significant other, Natasha, a county medical examiner, is looking into the drowning of a local real estate investor in his swimming pool. The two events seem ordinary, but when Wade arrives on scene he The novel begins in a place called Rancho Santa Elena—a new planned community and housing development south of Los Angeles—where a former LAPD detective named Ben Wade, who’s now working for the nascent community police department, is responding to a call about a missing dog. At the same time his significant other, Natasha, a county medical examiner, is looking into the drowning of a local real estate investor in his swimming pool. The two events seem ordinary, but when Wade arrives on scene he finds a mother in anguish, holding a toddler in her arms. As it turns out, the little boy has somehow ingested rat poison and both crime scenes, although miles apart, are somehow related. The family dog is found in the alley behind a Vietnamese grocery store run by a man named Bao, with its throat cut. It’s a hate crime, and an attempt to intimidate the immigrant family. As Wade begins investigating the drowning that Natasha has labeled as suspicious, the pair come to the realization that the developer was targeted because he was leasing properties to immigrants from Vietnam. It puts them on the trail of a young and growing white supremacist movement based on right wing Christianity. Told from various points-of-view, the conflicts between groups grows more violent with each chapter in this well-plotted and disturbing read that has so many, many parallels with today’s events. Like it or not, this novel will make you take a long hard look at . . . and think about . . . your values. It’s a twisty and worthy read all the way to the exciting finish!

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sallie

    I wish to thank NetGalley and Random House for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book. I have voluntarily read and reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This is a story that grabs you from the very beginning and holds your interest to the very end. It is not a “read-in-one-sitting” type of book but is masterfully written. It is a mystery and thriller that you will enjoy. The setting is mostly in a small California town in 1987. It could have been in today’s society. A group I wish to thank NetGalley and Random House for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book. I have voluntarily read and reviewed it. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This is a story that grabs you from the very beginning and holds your interest to the very end. It is not a “read-in-one-sitting” type of book but is masterfully written. It is a mystery and thriller that you will enjoy. The setting is mostly in a small California town in 1987. It could have been in today’s society. A group of violent young men recruit teenage gang members and train them to murder non whites with special emphasis on the Vietnam community. Detective Ben Wade and Medical Examiner Natasha Betencourt are on the case which begins with brutal slaughter of a dog and then a murder of a young girl. His case is full of twists and turns and the author involves the reader in all of them. The reader gets total background on all of the different characters explaining why they do what they do. I found this a refreshing way to tell the story. Since today’s news is so full of violence this is a story that continues through the years into our world. The story involves PTSD after the war in Vietnam, it’s aftermath within a family unit, unhealthy family dynamics and nonwhite people trying to survive in a small town filled with hatred and corruption I recommend this book and look forward to his future books.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Darian

    ⭐️4.5 📚For readers who enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere and The Red Dragon. 🛍️ ARC from NetGalley. Thanks to Random House. Pros: Alan Drew eases you into this book and the world so effortlessly. I did not realize until I came to review that it is actually the second in the series. It is told from a handful of perspectives that are easy to follow and makes you root for certain individuals. The action and experience is very compelling. I found myself re-reading parts of the climatic arch because it wa ⭐️4.5 📚For readers who enjoyed Little Fires Everywhere and The Red Dragon. 🛍️ ARC from NetGalley. Thanks to Random House. Pros: Alan Drew eases you into this book and the world so effortlessly. I did not realize until I came to review that it is actually the second in the series. It is told from a handful of perspectives that are easy to follow and makes you root for certain individuals. The action and experience is very compelling. I found myself re-reading parts of the climatic arch because it was truly gnarly. This series is going to back some stellar movies one day. Cons: My only critique is that because there are differing perspectives that switch every few pages, I found myself rushing through some of the fluffier parts near the end to get back to the action. This only happened a couple of times in the back third of the book and I did end up going back to read comprehensively the parts I’d glossed over. Other: The book is set right after the Vietnam war and there are some instances of officers needing to call something in and going to a business or home to do so that was a reminder that “oh this isn’t now”, but the major conflict (unfortunately) makes this story quite timeless. I don’t want to say much about the plot because I want people to read it and to get to talk about it, so that’s going to be all for now.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shoshana

    The longshoreman-philosopher, Eric Hoffer, some years ago wrote a book called "The True Believer." In it he posits that fanatics are all alike; that the different flavors of fanaticism are almost chance. A true believer, a fanatic, for whatever personal inadequacies, needs something bigger than her/himself in which to believe, and belonging to this cause gives him/her a sense of purpose. I kept thinking of Eric Hoffer while reading this book. Although there are murders, (this is a real police pro The longshoreman-philosopher, Eric Hoffer, some years ago wrote a book called "The True Believer." In it he posits that fanatics are all alike; that the different flavors of fanaticism are almost chance. A true believer, a fanatic, for whatever personal inadequacies, needs something bigger than her/himself in which to believe, and belonging to this cause gives him/her a sense of purpose. I kept thinking of Eric Hoffer while reading this book. Although there are murders, (this is a real police procedural), the overarching theme of the book is about organized white supremacist terrorism. There are evil leaders of the movement, just as in real life, but there are legions of followers, dedicated to the cause, true believers to the last man. The recruit of the title is the archetype of Hoffer's philosophy. The book itself is terrific. The writing is excellent, the characters are interesting, and the pacing draws the reader along. "The Recruit" is the second in a series, but if you haven't read the first one, as I haven't, you will not have a problem keeping up. The setting is southern California in 1987, but the parallels to today are unmistakable. This is a book worth reading, both for the story itself, and for the lessons it has to teach. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the ARC.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Detective Benjamin Wade and forensic examiner Natasha Betencourt work together in a professional capacity while maintaining a personal relationship. The novel is set in the late 1980's in Rancho Santa Elena, a small Southern California town that has big city problems: murder, poisonings, and assaults. Ben soon discovers that the white power movement is gaining a foothold with the town's youth. As Ben does some digging into the unfamiliar technology that the group is using to recruit, will he be Detective Benjamin Wade and forensic examiner Natasha Betencourt work together in a professional capacity while maintaining a personal relationship. The novel is set in the late 1980's in Rancho Santa Elena, a small Southern California town that has big city problems: murder, poisonings, and assaults. Ben soon discovers that the white power movement is gaining a foothold with the town's youth. As Ben does some digging into the unfamiliar technology that the group is using to recruit, will he be able to put the pieces together before someone else gets hurt? Having read the first book in the series, the author did not capitalize on the strong start. The character development is not substantial and the plot of the novel includes several expected cliches. Although the story is timely, it also shows how little things have changed in this country over the years. My biggest issue with the book is the lack of discovery, as the author gives the reader a first hand look into the perpetrators and bad actors. The mystery is missing, leaving the book flat in my opinion. Having read many books in the genre, The Recruit is an average read. Disclaimer: I was given an Advanced Reader's Copy of The Recruit by NetGalley and the publisher, Random House. The decision to read and review this novel was entirely my own.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stacy DeBroff

    Straight off current news headlines, this mystery crime novel dives headfirst into figuring out how so many people get radicalized into white supremacy and violence. From cult-like leaders building secret armies to violence-prone mentally unstable teens swept into the movement, the intensity of hate escalates into destructive racist actions. Set in a small Southern California town in 1987, when the internet was just emergent, hate groups turn to private online bulletin boards to evade the federal Straight off current news headlines, this mystery crime novel dives headfirst into figuring out how so many people get radicalized into white supremacy and violence. From cult-like leaders building secret armies to violence-prone mentally unstable teens swept into the movement, the intensity of hate escalates into destructive racist actions. Set in a small Southern California town in 1987, when the internet was just emergent, hate groups turn to private online bulletin boards to evade the federal government. There’s Jacob, a bomb-building young teen, swept by his older 20-something neighbor Ian into a gang of skinheads. There’s Bao, a Vietnamese grocery store owner, being terrorized by Ian, who’s older brother got killed in Vietnam. Jacob’s Dad, a PTSD suffering Vietnam War vet who abuses Jacob in his worst post-traumatic moments, turns out to be having an affair with Bao’s daughter. Jacob discovers this, propelling him in rage to join the neo-Nazi gang, and commit hate crimes against both the Vietnamese and Mexicans. Ben Wade, an LAPD detective who’s moved to the small town, embarks on investigating the hate crimes and uncovering a widespread White supremacy movement. Stand by for an explosive ending!

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