Indian Country by John T. Young

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John T. Young joined the U. S. Army in 1969, and served for a year in the Vietnam War with the Army Security Agency (ASA). After he left the Army in 1972, Young studied journalism at the University of Arizona and later worked as an instructor for Army Intelligence at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

The evil plot behind much of the thrills and chills in Young’s anti-terrorism novel, Indian Country (IngramElliott, 246 pp., $14.99, paper; $8.99 e book), is the intent to bomb Los Alamos. The hero of this fast-paced thriller is Wayne Kincaid, who is undercover and who is often in jeopardy. Of course, Kincaid’s cover is blown before he can expose this sinister plot.

The plot: al-Qaeda is smuggling weapons through our all-too-porous border with Mexico. The reader can’t help but think, “We must have a wall, sooner rather than later. Maybe it is already too late?”

Wayne Kincaid is an Iraq War veteran and an undercover DEA agent, but he seems to be mostly on his own in this battle against international terrorists, and everyone else seems to be a double agent. We are made aware of the “devastating global consequences” if Kincaid is not successful in thwarting a fiendish enemy. They hate us, and they make clear their reasons for hating us.

After the 9/11 attacks, John Young joined the FBI as a counter-terrorism analyst, and then went to work for the Defense Intelligence Agency. This novel is written out of that experience and also out of the time Young served in Iraq with the Joint Special Operations Command.

Young lives in Tucson, so the details of the Southwest United States landscape ring as true as does everything else in this well-researched and scary, portentous novel. If there is a message in this thriller, it is be afraid; be very afraid. It is a message that has fueled many novels of this sort, and it works well here.

Young includes some familiar details such as “a spitting bitch” in an airport and calling a combat zone “Indian Country,” a symbolic reference to “the U. S. Army’s battles against Native Americans in the nineteenth century,” as Young puts it.

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John T. Young

We’re told that Kincaid is a descendant of the ranchers who settled in Texas in the late 1840s and who fought Comanches. That’s a book I’ve read many times—until I started rooting for the Native Americans.

I have not reached the point where I’m rooting for al-Qaeda, however, and I don’t predict that is ahead for me.

On the other hand, if I live long enough and get sick enough of the plot clichés that prop up books such as this one, it could happen.

—David Willson