One of the most missed arguments against women in combat is that not only do men and women think differently, but their brains are different. Men have the capacity to turn off their emotions in such a way that they can handle protecting their families, fighting in combat, and defending themselves. That’s not to say that men don’t suffer the stress of these realities. This often comes later, but in the midst of whatever situation this is, men are structured in a way that helps them from becoming emotional and preventing them from doing what they have to do.
Now, this isn’t about starting a debate about women in combat. Far from it. In fact, it explains a lot about the main character, Brandon Colson, and what made him such an extraordinary Marine. Blessed by God is the best term that can be used to describe Brandon’s experiences, and when you read “The Devil’s Garden,” by Brady Christianson, you will see why.
In “The Devil’s Garden,” former Marine Brandon Colson is pursued by several Muslim hit squads for an act he committed in his past when he was in the Marine Corps. Brandon isn’t just any Marine though. He is a highly trained specialist, famous for inflicting cruel acts in the name of his country. He didn’t make his pact with the Devil either. He made it with God although we are never quite sure why.
Brandon teams up with Police Detective Sam Collier, a 6’10” former US Army soldier who wants to help Brandon and get to the truth about who is pursuing Brandon, as well as stop them before they murder Brandon and his family.
There are many elements that make this an absolutely fabulous read besides the fact that I couldn’t put it down after I started reading it.
First, is the pacing. There is an ebb and flow to the pacing in this book that works. The author takes you on a whirlwind of action through several scenes and then slows it down with masterful dialogue. The banter back and forth among the characters is sometimes outrageous and hilarious, and it makes it really hard not to fall in love with these characters. In fact, I fell so hard for Brandon I would love to see more!
Christianson demonstrates a skill not only with words but with his handling of the material. This book includes heavy duty Christian as well as military themes, and Christianson showed he could weave those details into the story well and make them interesting, credible, and relevant. Even if you don’t care for “Christian” fiction per se, you will enjoy this because the author knows his material thoroughly and knows how to share it.
Brandon is amazing. This a man who is fully convinced that he is blessed and love by God, and it shows by all of the events that happen to him in the book. What’s so amazing is that he truly is a man blessed and loved by God because he does some amazing yet credible acts most people could not even imagine doing. His skill as a warrior is unprecedented, but so is his ability to set aside his emotions and get the job done. Brandon shows his humanity and love of others over and over and demonstrates that he is not just the ultimate professional military machine, but he has a heart too.
The first 160 pages of the book cover a deep interaction between Brandon and Sam as they decide whether or not they want to become a team and find out who wants Brandon dead. It also includes the incident that gets Sam involved with Brandon in the first place. You meet the main characters in the early section of the book, and you continue to watch them develop as the book progresses.
Around page 200 we learn the reason Brandon is being pursued by these hit squads and what he did to incur the wrath of the entire Middle East. Brandon takes a lighthearted approach to the whole situation, but as the book progresses, we see how the situation wears on him and how he handles it. He is far from perfect and knows it but it doesn’t stop him from believing in God’s love and blessings in his life. It doesn’t stop him from doing what needs to be done.
The last half of the book covers the pursuit of the people who want Brandon dead. We see Brandon in full action, and it is both a fascinating and scary view as there are those who serve our country and have to perform such acts on a regular basis. It is a unique perspective into how the ultimate Marine is made and what he is capable of.
The characters are well developed, the plot is thick with action, and everything is deeply melded together in one satisfying read. It isn’t often that I hate to see a book end, but I hated to see this one end. What’s next? I would love to know.
Christianson demonstrates that he is a skilled wordsmith and understands his material. His abilities with pacing are his strong suit, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that he also handles character and plot development very well.
Even if you don’t generally read this type of fiction, I would recommend you make an exception. This one is worth the effort.
I found this book summed up nicely in the following section. When the Marines sent Brandon, they truly did send their very best. Brandon is a cut above, and he knows it, but he also demonstrates the unique humility of a true hero. For those who want to know what The Devil’s Garden means, you’ll have to read the book.
“When are the politicians ever going to figure it out?” the battalion commander asked. “You did this crap to us in Vietnam, you did it to us again in Beirut, and now here you are trying to carry on the tradition. If you don’t want to win, don’t call the Marines. If you don’t want your enemies to die, don’t send the Marines. If you don’t have the stomach for the results, don’t even bother to call us because battle is a brutal business. War is not a humanitarian endeavor.” Page 200
To get more details on the book, click here: The Devil’s Garden. To read the blog, click here: The Devil’s Garden Blog Tour.