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Friday, August 30, 2013

Dragonflies: Shadows of Drones (Book 1 of the Dragonflies Series) By Andy Straka

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Cynthia Chow

Check out details on how to enter to win an e-book copy of this book at the end of the review.

When Chief Warrant Officer, Raina Sanchez, is shot out of the sky in Afghanistan while piloting her Kiowa Warrior chopper, she thought that the resulting prosthetic foot would end her career and the adrenalin rush she so loved. However, her undeniable piloting skills soon had her sought out by Major Cameron Williamson for an ostensible private detective business, manning micro air vehicles (MAV) that would allow her to use the miniature and near-invisible flying drones to spy on unsuspecting targets. Raina is recruited, along with the soldier who pulled her out of her wrecked chopper, Tye Palmer. This cements their mutual trust as they attempt to bring down the date-rapist frat-president son of Nathan Kurn, a powerful media mogul more intent on hiring them to cover-up his son’s crimes than he is on protecting the victims. Kurn has the power and connections to make their mission to prosecute Derek Kurn near-impossible, but before Raina and Palmer can utilize his battle skills or her spy drones, Raina is kidnapped by Homeland Security for a project with even more secretive and invasive implications.

In possession of MAVs with unimaginable technology and fully weaponized, the movie-star handsome Homeland Security advisor, Lance Murnell, informs Raina that she has the opportunity to be involved in one of the most advanced and thrilling drone projects in existence. That it is possibly illegal and has the potential to violate privacy while being a virtually unstoppable weapon is a question out of their pay grades, but it does deliver the joy of flying that Raina thought she would never experience again. The secretive plot places both Raina and Tye at risk to unknown forces within the government and soon the two are dodging bullets and on the run, with no clue about who to trust or who is behind the attacks.

Image source: LLW Media

While drones being used in war are nothing new, every day it seems that we are being told more about how they are being used to observe and spy on citizens even while on American soil. The capability of their being ‘weaponized’ and becoming unseen remote devices of domestic policing is terrifying, and author Straka fully explores and reveals their unimaginable powers. I found their being used in Raina’s and Tye’s private detection endeavors to be most entertaining and intriguing, but their investigation is all-too-quickly highjacked by the espionage plot and its bloody battles and high body count. The beginning of the relationship between Raina and the enamored Tye has potential to become a strong plotline through what would appear to be a long series, and readers can hope that this will receive as much attention as the explosions and technological warfare.

Undeniably well-written and completely compelling, the most frustrating aspect of this short novel is that it ends on a note which will literally have the reader whacking the button for the next page, only to be informed that the next installment will be forthcoming. Argh! Visible Means, Book 2 of the Dragonflies Series had better be “Coming Soon,” or many readers will be left hanging for what is already for me far too long to follow the fates of Raina, Tye and the shadowy figures running the insidious drones. The author of several thrillers as well as the falcon mysteries featuring Frank Pavilcek, Andy Straka continues to explore his fascination with flight and our continual need to incorporate it into our daily lives.

To enter to win an e-book copy of Dragonflies: Shadows of Drones, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Dragonflies”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen September 7, 2013. U.S. residents only.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

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