S. & S. Audio. Feb. 2024. 6:07 hrs. ISBN 9781797168258. $19.99. F
At loose ends nearly a decade after an ill-fated tour in Afghanistan, U.S. Army veteran Luke Paxton seeks redemption and purpose in Ukraine. It’s the winter of 2022, after the Russian invasion; along with fellow vet Han Lee, Luke travels to the war-torn country, offering his services on the front lines. Unbeknownst to Lee, whose sights are set firmly on the conflict at hand, Luke also hopes to connect with his former lover Svitlana, a Ukrainian woman he met between tours. Narrator James Anderson Foster provides a nuanced portrait of Luke, a man haunted by memories of past missteps and losses. Foster deftly balances the book’s compelling blend of interiority and action as Luke tries to quell his increasingly disordered thoughts amid Ukraine’s equally unsettling landscape. Listeners will be on the edges of their seats as the book reaches its harrowing conclusion—a tense and tragic rescue mission that draws together the threads of the past and allows listeners a glimpse of Luke’s former self.
VERDICT Listeners seeking a layered portrait of war and soldiering won’t want to miss veteran and former war correspondent Gallagher’s (Empire City) affecting latest.
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