'Special Operations Command' was a six-volume series of men's action-adventure novels authored by James N. Pruitt and published by Berkley. Pruitt was a former U.S. Army Green Beret master sergeant and winner of the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars and five Purple Hearts. The Vietnam War veteran also wrote three stand-alone novels of military fiction as well as a short-lived series of NASCAR fiction paperbacks. My first experience with the author is the eponymous series debut “Special Operations Command” from 1990.
In this series opener, the author introduces the two core members of “SOCOM”, Major B.J. Mattson and Lieutenant Commander Jacob Mortimer IV. In backstory segments, readers learn that Mattson is a career soldier with multiple campaigns as a Green Beret in Vietnam. Mortimer is a distinguished Navy Seal with a majority of his battle experience in Latin America and the Middle East. The two have united under General Johnson's plan to create a diverse, superstar team that can analyze, lead and execute international missions for the U.S. military. While Mattson and Mortimer will perform a supervisory role, they are both willing to suit up for the team's first mission.
In the oil-rich, Ecuadorian town of Lago Agrio, Cuban commie fighters penetrate a dictator's fortress in hopes of kidnapping Juan Garces, the Minister of Finance. In a frenzied (and extremely perverted) exchange, the fighters end up killing Garces and instead foolishly kidnap the U.S. Counsel General. Later, in an attempt to return the Counsel General unharmed, the group of fighters are setup by Ecuador’s dictator who hopes to capitalize on the kidnapping. By creating turbulence between the U.S. and Havana, he hopes to enrich his pockets with more criminal funds while the spotlight is firmly on the hostage ordeal. Once he detonates one of his own oil fields, SOCOM is called in to negotiate.
Unlike other team-commando based entries such as 'Eagle Force' or 'Phoenix Force', Pruitt showcases a hint of techno-thriller writing. Most of the book's action is presented as board room meetings and briefings from a high level. Eventually the boots hit the dirt, but for the most part they remain unsoiled as planning and execution remain the narrative's focal point. Due to the author's vast military experience, occasionally some sequences were lost on me. This wasn't a major disconnect, but still distracted me from the story.
“Special Operations Command” was an enjoyable debut for a series that I look forward to exploring periodically. With only six novels, I may read one a year just to preserve the enjoyment. If you are a men's action-adventure reader looking for something to split the difference between Chet Cunningham and Tom Clancy, this series and author may be exactly what you're seeking.
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