Red Sky at Morning

Red Sky at MorningRed Sky at Morning by Steve Wilson
Series: Michael Neill Adventure
Genres: Military, Political, Suspense
Published by White Feather Press on November 21, 2013
Pages: 288
Also in this series: Trinity Icon
Also by this author: Trinity Icon

 

Lieutenant Michael Neill grew up in Ukraine. As the son of missionary parents, Michael intimately understands the culture and the language. During his childhood, his parents developed several important friendships within Ukraine’s military. Those relationships now lay the foundation for Michael’s upcoming mission. Assigned to inspect a weapon dismantling facility supervised by Michael’s longtime friend, Colonel Ulyanov, his mission takes an unexpected turn when a US plane is attacked by what appears to be a new Russian aircraft. Now Michael is tasked not only with ensuring the proper dismantling of nuclear warheads, he also must try to uncover the Russian’s emerging technology and what appears to be an impending terrorist attack against Ukraine. With strong political drama and a complex plot, Red Sky at Morning is a very good debut novel from Steve Wilson.

Red Sky at Morning brings Ukraine alive.

I’m a fan of the military, political suspense genre. There’s just something about the lives of millions threatened by a few misguided individuals yet protected by noble men and women that always grabbed my attention. I love these types of stories; they make for fun, escapist entertainment. Red Sky at Morning falls into this category and for the most part, delivers an entertaining story that’s plausible, only slightly stretching one’s imagination.

Many books set in the former Soviet Union do not come alive for the reader. The words are there and the stage is set, but the books often feel too full of stereotype and recycled imagery from school history books to really be immersive. Red Sky at Morning brings Ukraine alive. It feels vibrant and the people and culture touchable. Not a lot of time is spent in lengthy descriptions of areas or the settings. Instead, with subtle details and internal thoughts, the area and the people are nicely captured so that the reader can really get to know the environment and better understand the characters.

Steve does a nice job of setting up the agendas of each side and balancing the politics with public relations.

Equally impressive is the political conflict within this story. Steve does a nice job of setting up the agendas of each side and balancing the politics with public relations. From the US to Russia to Ukraine, each side is presented in a way that shows their plans and allows the reader to understand the general gist without making things too convoluted.

While I very much enjoyed the political part of the plot and the glimpse into Ukraine, I struggled with Michael’s character. This is truly a personal preference, but the squeaky clean character doesn’t really work for me. Too much of the suspense is removed when the character is one dimensional—be it positive or negative. Michael is nice and while it would be wonderful if there were more people like him in the world, he’s not very relatable. He’s a straight up Christian and who really doesn’t seem to struggle with morals, his faith, or other things that the average ordinary Christian struggles with. He’s a very idealistic character and as a result, I admired him, but didn’t really feel pulled into the book by his character.

While I appreciate that many authors like to keep their work from feeling too heavy, a little evil from a character is oftentimes necessary to make him a threat and build suspense.

I struggled with the villains in this book as well. While I appreciate that many authors like to keep their work from feeling too heavy, a little evil from a character is oftentimes necessary to make him a threat and build suspense. I like suspense and the suspense is not there when more often than not, the reader can see the direction the plot will go based on the author’s reluctance to introduce true evil. There needs to be some doubt and the potential for evil in order for suspense to develop. When this is missing in the characters and the storyline, so is the suspense for the reader.

As is normal for books with Michael’s (and the villain’s) type of character, there is a strong evangelical presence. Again, this is a personal preference. I prefer the spiritual content to be blended into the story and not quite as miraculous and/or convenient in nature. However, the way the spiritual elements are presented in Red Sky at Morning is not at all unusually for CBA novels and most readers will probably not have an issue with how they are worked into the story.

I am surprised Red Sky at Morning has not been picked up by a major publishing house. It is in line with CBA guidelines and every bit as strong as other books I’ve read in this genre. Steve has a very readable and engaging storytelling style and with some minor editing to build suspense this book would be every bit as good as many of the CBA’s political, suspense novels currently on the market. Steve definitely has the potential to quit his day job and live the writer’s dream.

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