Mr. Carter’s Sword by Ken Webb

I found Ken Webb’s Mr. Carter’s Sword (Amazon Digital Services, 262 pp., $3.00, e book), a post-Vietnam War caper novel, entertaining. It caught my attention right at the beginning with references to two of my biggest interests: Lutherans and golf courses.

After the Lutheran funeral of Mr. Carter, who had been an Army Ranger in Vietnam, the surviving members of his Ranger Team meet again. The legacy of a box of secrets triggers a desire for vengeance against the two men who changed the team’s destination in Vietnam to protect their drug and smuggling operation. This change led to the deaths of several Rangers. The bad guys, Colonel Cain and Colonel Ha, are now very rich and own corporations that mask their criminal origins.

Our Ranger heroes figure a way to get even by separating the colonels from their millions through a kidnapping scheme. As one of them puts it: “This scum needs to be punished.”

Another phrase that rang in my inner ear was, “The war that never quite went away.” No, it has not. The millions that the vengeance team intends to get from the kidnapping is destined to go to needy Vietnam veterans. A worthy cause.

Caper, revenge, and kidnap thrillers are not thrilling unless things go wrong. That’s the formula and this book doesn’t disappoint in that arena.  There also is the requisite cast of colorful characters, all carefully introduced so if they are killed or maimed, we’ll miss them, and perhaps even shed a tear at their loss.

This respectable thriller does hit the occasion clinker. For instance, Webb refers to the Medal of Honor as the “Congressional Medal of Honor,” and the city of sin in the Nevada desert as “Las Vagas.” But mostly Webb does a decent job of storytelling. I was pleased that during the Rangers’ attempts to get “payback for those lost boys” there was an appropriate reference to iconic “John Fuckin’ Wayne.”

Author Ken Webb has a son who served with the First Ranger Battalion and provided insight. Webb has a degree in journalism, but evidently no military experience.

I consider this book a good investment for reading on my Kindle, and I recommend it to those who can’t get enough Vietnam War-connected thrillers. This is a worthy addition to that genre.

—David Willson