Sjostrom (Patriot X) keeps the action on full boil, as Penance solves virtually every problem with violence. To quickly interrogate a suspect, Penance shoves his head through a window. Even a disagreement with the local district attorney quickly gets physical. And when he finds a young woman being preyed upon by her boyfriend in his car, his first reaction is to smash glass. Even a meeting with an FBI psychologist about his propensity for violence…turns violent. Occasionally, we glimpse a warmer side of Penance, as when he shares an empathetic moment with an overwhelmed single father, and his relationship with local police officer Bubba comes across as genuine. But the various character-driven subplots, including his love-hate relationship with the Whatcoms, get overwhelmed by the continual fracases.
Indeed, most of the characters are either dishing out violence or defending it, including a local judge. When the cartel attacks, most of the town is willing and able to join the defense, and this includes the pastor, who is well-versed in the use of his AR-15. Sjostrom definitely has a flair for staging the brisk fight scenes: "… he sprung up to fire on the last visible guard only to see him knocked backward, a bullet shattering his skull." Action aficionados will enjoy the fast-paced conflict all the way to the satisfying conclusion.
Takeaway:: Fans of red-meat action will revel in the continuous stream of fight scenes.
Great for fans of: Stephen Hunter, Nick Petrie.
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: A-