“One of the best crime novels of the year.” — Jeffery Deaver
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)
[A] superlative sequel to 2021’s Steel Fear from bestsellers Webb and Mann… The balance of action and characterization is perfect, and Jack Reacher fans will find much to like in Finn. This complex, suspenseful thriller proves that the authors’ collaborative fiction debut was no fluke.
BOOKLIST (starred review)
As they did in Steel Fear, coauthors Webb and Mann expertly juggle multiple plot strands, as Finn works together with a Reykjavík detective, Krista Kristjánsdóttir—a compelling character in her own right—who can’t quite decide if her inadvertent helper is an ally or a murderer. Like Randy Wayne White in his Doc Ford series, the authors combine genuine talent for old-school adventure with a full-bodied portrait of an introspective, good-hearted yet deeply troubled hero.
THE BEST THRILLER BOOKS
There are no fillers in this thriller. From the investigative angle of Krista to the personal vendetta spotlight on Finn, the story progresses swiftly and smartly. Pay attention to the dialogues; a lot of key details are conveyed that help you crack the case as you marvel at Finn’s ingenuity to connect the dots through a haze of information, a trait remarkably similar to Jack Reacher’s high functioning reasoning mind with a new flavor. The descriptions invoke every scene so vividly in your mind that you can feel the chilly breezes on your face. The authors paid a great deal of attention to making Iceland a living, breathing character as opposed to a simple backdrop for their story.
Cold Fear is a remarkable blend of action and police procedural that highlights its characters and their distinctive personalities as they go about their own ways to crack the case, both with brain and brawn.
REAL BOOK SPY
Action (which is explosive and expertly crafted) aside, it’s the superb character development that makes this book work so well. Yes, Finn—who might best be described as a cross between Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne—is the undisputed star, but a local detective proves to be a solid addition to the cast, stealing every scene she’s in. The villains are well fleshed out too, with the backstory between Finn and the assassin chasing him adding to the overall tension of the cat-and-mouse plot. Bottom line: falling somewhere between a crime and an action thriller, everything here works perfectly together to create a reading experience unlike anything else on store shelves right now. Fast, unflinching, and full of surprises, Brandon Webb and John David Mann deliver a hybrid novel that’ll satisfy both crime aficionados and action lovers . . . making Cold Fear one of this summer’s must-read thrillers.
Barry Award nominee
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (starred review)
Bestsellers Webb and Mann (Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL’s Guide) effortlessly transition into fiction
with this nail-biter set aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, which is about to leave the Persian Gulf and
return to the States. The authors effectively integrate former Navy SEAL Webb’s military experience
into the plot, making every detail ring true. That more thrillers are to come from these authors will
be welcome news to readers who appreciate carefully plotted and intelligent suspense.
BOOKLIST (starred review)
Former SEAL Webb and coauthor Mann (they’ve paired on several best-selling nonfiction books) hit all the right notes in their fiction debut, which blends the high-tech trappings of a military thriller with the crushing claustrophobia of a locked-room mystery (if that locked room was home to more than 5,000 people, along with 90 aircraft and a handful of nuclear reactors). Like Lee Child in his Jack Reacher novels, the authors can do more than power a pulse-racing narrative. The taciturn Finn, like Reacher, combines introspection with bursts of head banging, and the numerous supporting characters, including helicopter pilot Monica Halsey, possess their own meaty backstories. For readers who can’t resist a bureaucracy-battling action hero, there’s a new kid on the block (or boat).
NEW YORK JOURNAL OF BOOKS
While Webb is the subject matter expert for this novel (having also served a tour on an aircraft carrier that experienced a series of mysterious crimes), Mann is the more accomplished writer of the pair, having co-authored more than 30 books, including four New York Times bestsellers. They make a good team, and their first venture into fiction is a successful one.
The mystery Webb and Mann create around Finn through his lack of a surname, his eccentric behavior, and his troubling blackouts effectively complements the broader mystery of the serial murders. He’s a character we’ll look forward to seeing more of in the future. The authors’ characters are surprisingly rounder than what one often finds in military thrillers, especially in debut efforts. Because they have many aspects to their personality to consider, the suspect pool remains pretty wide throughout the novel. The setting is also very well managed. The aircraft carrier is an appropriately claustrophobic and confusing environment for a murder mystery, a maze of decks and passageways that “splintered off in all directions with no discernable logic, like the back alleyways of a medieval town.” And with 6,000 people on board, potential victims and suspects might suddenly loom in front of us at any moment.
Although the pace lags a bit in spots and a few of the shifts in point of view appear unnecessary and distracting, the team of Webb and Mann is a welcome addition to the world of military thrillers, and Steel Fear is an excellent beginning.
MYSTERY & SUSPENSE
A high-octane military thriller (with elements of a locked room mystery) aboard an aircraft carrier at sea, as crew keep disappearing. Steel Fear is a character- and plot-driven mystery with mounting tension, anxiety, and terror. Webb and Mann expertly weave a complex and twisted narrative that is thoroughly authentic and chilling. Multiple possible characters are developed in convincing detail to cast suspicion on their true motivations and actions. Although Finn himself is considered a plausible killer, the twisted reveals cast doubt on many of the players. The senior staff and captain appear poorly prepared to investigate the possible presence of a serial killer. Finn, like a wandering samurai and bloodhound, tracks and stalks the ship for clues in his search for the killer amongst them. Only one who has experienced real-life action can provide the authentic cinematic smell, sounds, and terror of this situation.
The short chapters in multiple points of view provide for a propulsive read and page-turner. Daring the reader to not read the next chapter and miss an unexpected reveal. Although both authors are best-selling authors of non-fiction, Webb is a decorated Navy SEAL with multiple action-based deployments in his past. This well-suited partnership into fiction is a highly anticipated debut for both authors. Hopefully the enigmatic character and background of Finn will be developed further in future novels.
THE RED CIRCLE
SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE
A painstaking recounting of the hellish mental and physical tests required to earn a SEAL’s trident pin and the nitty-gritty of the course necessary to become a SEAL sniper . . . Webb and Mann do a good job of placing the reader on the mountain slopes [of Afghanistan] and in the Zhawar Kili caves, where the SEALs searched for bad guys and the weapons and information they left behind . . . The first-person narrative and casual tone of the book give the sense that the author is telling these stories around the campfire.
THE KILLING SCHOOL
Profound . . . As you read all the real-life accounts in this book you’ll find they feel so honest and read so well it is hard to put the book down. The Killing School is a bright window into the shadowy world of our elite snipers.
AMERICA’S FIRST FREEDOM
Calling The Killing School a “war book” is like saying Philip Caputo’s A Rumor of War is only about Vietnam, or that William Manchester’s Goodbye, Darkness is only a WWII memoir. The Killing School takes us deep into SEAL sniper training; it introduces us to the people who do these things for us; and it exposes the often-unreported realities of the battlefield. Most of all, it gives even those of us who haven’t served a deep look into what American warriors do.
Delivers a training-of-elite-forces narrative in full—and much more. The Killing School goes into gripping detail about the training needed to create a master sniper.
In this inspiring self-help book, entrepreneur and former Navy SEAL Webb (The Red Circle) and Mann (coauthor of The Go-Giver) skillfully direct readers on how to harness their fears and accomplish personal goals.
While most military memoirs are devoted to gritty battlefield scenes or geopolitical wrangling, Among Heroes spotlights the everyday men who push themselves to extraordinary limits as the US’s elite soldiers. It’s a fascinating, moving insider account of SEALs’ private lives — their backgrounds, off-duty passions, and the families who loved them.