Steel Fear (Finn Thrillers: Book 1) by Brandon Webb and John David Mann

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Bantam

Date of publication: July 13, 2021

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Fiction, War, Military Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Crime, Mystery Thriller, Contemporary

Series: Finn Thrillers

Steel Fear—Book 1

Cold Fear—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

An aircraft carrier adrift with a crew the size of a small town. A killer in their midst. And the disgraced Navy SEAL who must track him down . . . The high-octane debut thriller from New York Times bestselling writing team Webb & Mann—combat-decorated Navy SEAL Brandon Webb and award-winning author John David Mann.

The moment Navy SEAL sniper Finn sets foot on the USS Abraham Lincoln to hitch a ride home from the Persian Gulf, it’s clear something is deeply wrong. Leadership is weak. Morale is low. And when crew members start disappearing one by one, what at first seems like a random string of suicides soon reveals something far more sinister: There’s a serial killer on board.

Suspicion falls on Finn, the newcomer to the ship. After all, he’s being sent home in disgrace, recalled from the field under the dark cloud of a mission gone horribly wrong. He’s also a lone wolf, haunted by gaps in his memory and the elusive sense that something he missed may have contributed to civilian deaths on his last assignment. Finding the killer offers a chance at redemption . . . if he can stay alive long enough to prove it isn’t him.


First Line:

Shivers rippled over Monica Halsey’s naked skin as she peered into the steel mirror and splashed water on her face.

Steel Fear by Brandon Webb and John David Mann

I DNF’d this book the first time I read it. I stopped reading at around 40%. The reason was pretty simple; I wasn’t a fan of how slow the book was. Fast forward to a couple of months ago. I decided to go through my NetGalley Will Not Give Feedback section and read/review all the books on that shelf. I am a little anal with keeping my NetGalley ratio on the higher side of 90. And since Steel Fear was one of those books, I decided it would be one of the first ones I read/review.

Steel Fear is a military mystery/thriller set on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Finn is a Navy Seal sniper who is being sent home for a debriefing after a raid goes wrong. With his memory of the events compromised, Finn settles for the voyage back. But soon, he is embroiled in a mystery when several seamen (and women) are found murdered in various areas of the ship. With the ship on lockdown and people beginning to think he is the murderer, Finn decides to take matters into his own hands and solve the murders. But with the body count piling up, can Finn stay one step ahead of the MPs and solve the murders? Or is he the one they are looking for?

Finn’s character was interesting to read. He was a very unlikely Navy Seal. He wasn’t tall, jacked up, or loud. Instead, he was average height, had an average body build, and was very quiet. He was so quiet that people often forgot he was there. What intrigued me the most about Finn was that he was an enigma to everyone, including the ship’s captain. No one knew why he was on board or where he was going. The authors chose to reveal almost all of Finn’s background slowly. His childhood, the horrific thing that happened, and what happened to his team were slowly revealed. And the more that was revealed, the more I needed to know.

As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this book was a DNF for me because of how slow it was. And, yes, it was still slow. But with the second reread, I noticed that the authors were weaving the story with several of the secondary characters. About halfway through the book, the pacing does pick up, and my interest in the plotline picks up with it. By the last chapters of the book, I was utterly hooked. It was more about the serial killer/murders than the ship.

The mystery angle of the book was well written. While I figured that Finn didn’t do it, I was at a loss for who it was. So when the serial killer was revealed, I was shocked. The authors did keep what happened to Finn on his last mission to the bare facts and what Finn remembered. So, there was nothing new was learned there.

The suspense angle of the book was as well written as the mystery angle. I was glued to the book, wanting to know who it was. I couldn’t hit my Kindle button fast enough.

This is a military book, and with it comes military jargon and talk. I wasn’t very interested in that and did skim over some parts of it. But, I did find it fascinating that the authors chose to highlight how women were treated in the Navy (and military). Let’s say that the women in this book weren’t treated very nicely by their COs. It goes with everything I have heard and seen on the news (rapes, coverups, etc.).

The end of Steel Fear was interesting. The authors were able to wrap up the serial killer/murders plotline in a way that I liked. I felt that person got what was coming to them. But I also liked where the author took Finn’s story. There was also enough left with his story for book 2 (which I will read).

I would recommend Steel Fear to anyone over 21. There is no sex. But there is strong language and graphic violence.


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