Book Review: Without Sanction – Matt Drake #1 by Don Bentley


After surviving a clandestine operation that went tragically wrong, Matt Drake escaped Syria with his life, but little else. Now, to save the life of another, he must return to Syria and confront his biggest failure.

Defense Intelligence Agency operative Matt Drake broke a promise. A promise that cost three people their lives and crippled his best friend. Three months later, he’s paralyzed by survivor’s guilt and haunted by the memories of the fallen. Matt may have left Syria, but Syria hasn’t left him.

In the midst of his self-imposed exile, Matt is dragged back into the world of espionage and assets that he tried to forget. A Pakistani scientist working for an ISIS splinter cell has created a terrifying weapon of mass destruction. The scientist offers to defect with the weapon, but he trusts just one man to bring him out of Syria alive—Matt Drake.

 

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Author Don Bentley bursts onto the thriller scene like a bowling ball!!!  Without Sanction, the first Matt Drake book is a THRILLER in every sense of the word. It has everything a thriller buff would want in a story. Great characters, high stakes, superb plotting, gripping conflict…It has it all. There’s good writing–and then there’s exceptional writing that jumps off the page into a blistering page-turner. That, is WITHOUT SANCTION.  I love how Bentley places the beginning of the story with Matt Drake contemplating his demons from the past. I believe it’s called, In media res, if I’m not mistaken. This immediately hooks the reader from the get-go and leaves us wanting more. This wasn’t a typical bare-knuckles brawl action adventure–it had superb plotting, with Matt Drake undergoing a complete character arc. Those are the absolutely BEST stories to read.

Without Sanction was aptly named given the circumstances DIA agent Drake was put in. Absolutely no mercy! He really gets put through ringer. On the verge of quitting, he gets called back into the game by hard-ass James Glass; and sent on a mission into one of the most dangerous places on the planet. Syria.

I have to say at this point, I consumed the audiobook version of Without Sanction narrated by Jack Armstrong. If you’re a thriller writer and haven’t invested in a quality narrator, you’re seriously missing out. Jack Armstrong nails it. He matches the tone, spirit of the characters and the entire book. It adds an edge-of-your thrill to the overall reading experience. If Don Bentley isn’t on your radar yet–you need to do some serious reconnaissance.

 

“Sensationally good—I want more Matt Drake.”
Lee Child, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“Don Bentley’s Without Sanction is seriously one of the most compelling debuts in recent memory.
Brilliantly crafted and written, this book is a thoroughly riveting read and Don Bentley is an exciting new voice in the thriller world.”
Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Without Sanction knocks it out of the park! His hard won wisdom and experience from time downrange grip the reader from the first page to the last. Sign me up for an early read of book two!”
Jack Carr, New York Times bestselling author of Savage Son


 

The Outside Man – Matt Drake #2 is out March 2nd, 2021!

 

The fight for freedom has sent Matt Drake to some of the world’s most dangerous spots. This time the war is coming to his front door.

Broad daylight on an Austin, Texas, street and DIA agent Matt Drake is fighting for his life against a highly trained team of assassins. Who are they? Why do they want him dead? How will he protect those closest to him?

The answers will take him into some of the most dangerous spots in the Middle East and will put him in the clutches of an old foe known simply as the Devil. It’s a world of double crosses, with no boundaries between the guilty and the innocent. It will take all of Drake’s wiles to get out alive.


Don Bentley spent a decade as an Army Apache helicopter pilot during which time he was stationed in South Korea, Germany, and Texas. While deployed to Afghanistan as a Troop Commander in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VI, Don was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal with “V” device for valor. Following his time in the military Don worked as an FBI Special Agent and was a member of the Dallas Office Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

Don is the author of the Matt Drake thriller series including WITHOUT SANCTION, THE OUTSIDE MAN, and two forth coming titles, as well as TARGET ACQUIRED, a Tom Clancy Jack Ryan, Jr. novel.

 

donbentleybooks.com

Book Recon: Pub Day The Buffalo Pilot by Lawrence A. Colby



Ford Stevens Military-Aviation Thriller #3


MILITARY FLYING–
THE RISKIEST CAREER OF THEM ALL.

 

More military pilots die in training than at war.

Air Force Reserve Major Ford Stevens is a veteran military pilot, upholding the prestigious family practice of service to the nation in the face of danger.

His younger brother, Charlie, a fresh Lieutenant out of pilot training, joins the family tradition seeking to prove himself.

With the rivalry still strong, all he wanted to do was follow his big brother’s footsteps…

Now, Charlie joins his brother Ford in the same flying squadron, both men putting their lives on the line each time they strap in the jet, whether in peace or war.

It will be an initiation by fire as they hunt a saboteur killing aircrew, uniting the competitive brothers in the ultimate test of life and death…

“Ford Stevens is giving Jack Ryan (the recurring hero from Tom Clancy thrillers) a run for his money for the title “coolest patriot on the block.” -Frank “Gus” Biggio, Author of The Wolves of Helmand

 

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW

LAWRENCE A. COLBY

 

 

  1. This caught my eye.  MILITARY FLYING–THE RISKIEST CAREER OF THEM ALL.

More military pilots die in training than at war. Is that really true?

 

 

Unfortunately, yes, it is true. The military reported just over 1000 major mishaps last year, a slight decline from 1,036 in 2018.  Regarding aviation loss of life, the military lost a total of 13 service members who died in mishaps last year.  The year prior, we lost 39 aircrew.  In a recent example, six Marines died in a 2018 aerial refueling collision when the tanker and fighter jet collided.  It is a dangerous and unforgiving business.

Sometimes aircraft maintenance issues cause the errors, other times it is the pilot or an aircrew error.  Causes can be all over the map, from weather to not flying enough.  This novel has many themes, and one of them is on the mishap investigation process and what it is like to help determine the cause of an accident.

My point in writing the opening line you’re asking about is that high-performance flying is very dangerous, whether you are in peacetime or wartime. The danger is real 100% of the time, day or night, sun or rain.  You have to be on your game, all the time, when you are in the aircraft.

 

 

  1. In The Buffalo Pilot, how does the family tradition affect the relationship between Air Force Reserve Major Ford Stevens and his brother Charlie?

 

Some people say that it’s lonely at the top when you’re in charge. Modern day management and leadership books discuss this very issue. It’s tough being in a leadership position, and what makes it tougher is when you have family members in the same organization. It’s a unique dynamic. The person in the leadership or managerial role can’t play favorites, and you have to enforce the rules and maintain the same standards as everyone else.

I thought it would be a unique look at the human condition to focus on this struggle for a story.  Our squadron commander, Ford Stevens, now has his younger brother, Charlie, in the flying unit. 

Many readers may not know that family members do serve in the same Reserve and Air National Guard units across our 54 states and territories.  

 

 

  1. Since this is your third book, has your writing process changed since penning The Devil Dragon Pilot?

 

I still follow the same process by scouring current events in the news, being curious about why certain decisions are made in the military, business or government, and devour books in a variety of genres. My personal reading load has increased to about 60 books a year and split maybe 75% non-fiction and 25% fiction. If I combine my reading load with long-distance running, the ideas flow. 

Generating a rough outline to give a good start helps, but I learned from author David Baldacci to never stick to it and not divert. I never really know where the characters will take me.  Observing and being curious is the special combo, and the ideas are everywhere for that certain character accent, piece of clothing or major storyline.  For “The Buffalo Pilot,” the connection to organized crime will catch people off guard. One just needs to look around to find the ideas for their own writing process.

 

 

  1. What’s the best thing about writing military aviation thrillers?

 

The military is just a smaller snapshot of American society. Working in human characteristics of topics like alcoholism, cancer, PTSD, unique family dynamics, and career success and failure, and linking it to a dangerous career such as flying, is what makes a story come off as authentic. These are real situations that many people are faced with in life, and sometimes dangerous professions have the same challenges as non-dangerous professions. Writing about the highs and lows of the flying professions, the people in them, and their families, is what makes the stories unique. While my stories do have heroes, I like to focus on their faults as well. The readers tell me that’s what keeps it real, and what I like to refer to as being authentic.  Because I wore the flight suit as a pilot, I write from personal experience.

 

 

  1. What’s one thing you’d like readers to know about The Buffalo Pilot?

 

“The Buffalo Pilot” focuses on the men and women of the Reserve Component portion of the U.S. military. You would never know by looking at someone uniform if they serve in the Air Guard, Reserves, or in the Active Component on full-time active duty.  These are the men and women in your communities who serve in a traditional, part-time capacity, but do a full-workload that’s not known to many neighbors.

These Reserve Component members work nights, weekends, and go away for weeks and months at a time, while maintaining the same standards. They also have entire separate careers in every job field imaginable, and leave their jobs and family to serve in the military when they are called. It’s a real sacrifice that often goes unnoticed in the media, film, and television works.

I wanted to highlight this sacrifice and give credit though this third book to my former flying squadron, the 914th Air Wing at Niagara Falls. A tremendous group of individuals from western New York, mostly Niagara Falls, Rochester, and Buffalo. I loved these fellow aircrew and this novel is a nod to them.