Monday, June 29, 2020


With the publication of “Savage Son,” the third novel in the series that features former Navy SEAL James Reece, Jack Carr has become an established top-notch thriller writer.

“As a former Navy SEAL. Reece had recently proven himself particularly skillful at adapting; he’d outwitted a national security apparatus set on killing him and then unraveled a plot that put the president of the United States in the crosshairs,” Jack Carr writes in the beginning of “Savage Son.” 

“A man named Vic Rodriguez led the paramilitary branch of the Central Intelligence Agency as the director of the Special Activities Division. He’d then recruited Reece for the mission that had saved the president’s life and spared Ukraine from a chemical weapons attack. Vic recognized Reece’s aptitude for aggressive problem solving and wanted to bring the frogman further into the fold.”  

Jack Carr is the pen name of a retired Navy SEAL. He served from 1996 to 2016 and he went from an enlisted SEAL sniper, to a junior officer leading assault and sniper teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, to a platoon commander practicing counterinsurgency in the southern Philippines, to commanding a Special Operations Task Unit in the most Iranian influenced section of southern Iraq throughout the tumultuous drawdown of U.S. Forces.

As Mr. Carr notes in the preface of “Savage Son,” he was first introduced to Richard Connell’s great short story, “The Most Dangerous Game,” in junior high school. The short story, which appeared in Collier’s Weekly in 1924, was about a mad hunter on an island who hunted men.

“Upon that initial reading the story, I was determined to one day write a modern thriller that paid tribute to this classic tale, exploring the dynamic between hunter and hunted. Fast-forward thirty years. As I prepare to leave the SEAL Teams, I laid out my ideas for what would become my first novel, ‘The Terminal List.’” 

I reached out to Jack Carr and asked him how he would describe his character James Reece and his three thrillers; “The Terminal List,” “True Believer” and “Savage Son.”

“James Reece is a man on a journey. He is a likable guy you’d want to have a beer with but who can also flip a switch to get the job done. He has the training and experience to do the things he does in the novels. He is a student of war and of the hunt,” Mr. Carr replied. 

“At its base, ‘The Terminal List’ is a story of revenge without constraint. A deeper read will reveal that it’s about the transformation of loyal soldier to insurgent as James Reece brings the tactics and techniques of the enemy to home soil. Deeper still, it is the story of a man who brings the wars from Iraq and Afghanistan to the front doors of those who have been sending young men and women to their deaths for close to 20 years.

“‘True Believer’ is a novel of violent redemption with a protagonist learning to live again as he searches for purpose. ‘Savage Son’ pays tribute to the classic short story ‘The Most Dangerous Game,’ by Richard Connell. Like all of us, James Reece is going to get knocked down, and just like in real life, his character is revealed through how he gets back up and keeps moving forward.

“‘Savage Son’ explores the dark side of man via the dynamic of hunter and hunted through the eyes of Navy SEAL sniper James Reece.”

Jack Carr said he has wanted to be a thriller writer since he was a child. His mother was a librarian, so he grew up with books and reading. He also said he wanted to be a Navy SEAL since he was 7 years old. 

His grandfather was a Corsair pilot who was killed in World War II. He said he grew up with his grandfather as his hero and he knew he wanted to serve in the military, but he wasn’t sure in what capacity he would serve until he read about the Navy’s frogmen. He was also reading Nelson DeMille, David Morell, Tom Clancy, Ian Fleming and other thriller writers. He knew that he was destined to serve in the military and then he would write thrillers.

“My time in combat was but one chapter in my life. I am now an author,” Jack Carr writes in the preface of “Savage Son.”

“Though I’ve passed the torch to the next generation, my time in uniform will always be a part of me; those memories, lessons, and reflections are now finding their way into the pages of my novels.”

• Paul Davis’ On Crime column covers true crime, crime fiction, mysteries and thrillers.

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