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Shadow Catcher
Nick Baron Series #1
James R. Hannibal

Berkley Publishing Group
October 1, 2013 / ISBN 0425266877
Mystery / Thriller

Reviewed by Elise Cooper

Shadow Catcher, by James R. Hannibal, is a high tech military thriller that can compete with any Dale Brown or Tom Clancy book. It has action packed scenes that are very realistic and shows how intelligence and the military can interact to complete a mission against the Chinese threat.

What makes this novel noteworthy is that the author incorporates action-packed scenes with words of warning. He is hoping to make an impact on issues such as drunk driving, PTSD, and the generational gap between those in their twenties and those forty years plus. A powerful quote from the book, "How you left the Hog's Breath Saloon stumbling drunk, how you allowed your teammate to drive despite his extreme intoxication, and how you lay passed out in your own vomit while Staff Sergeant Haugen breathed his last." The author noted, "Hopefully parents with teenagers will encourage them to read this book since it is an action thriller that includes warnings throughout the plot. I did not put foul language and sex in it. By doing this parents can share my books with their children and can use it as an opening to discuss certain issues."

In addition, the author gives a realistic description of PTSD by showing how main character Nick is unable to sleep, has uncontrolled anger, and nightmares where he grips his wife to the point of almost breaking her arm because he thought of her as an attacker. Underlying this is the anger Nick feels towards a young twenty-year-old, Ethan Quinn. Typical of some of the younger generation, Ethan is shown as arrogant, a know-it-all who seems to lack respect and social skills yet becomes the hero. Hannibal stated, "My hope is that people in their forties and beyond would not like Quinn initially, but my readers in their twenties would take his side. This is a theme in my book, old versus new."

At the core of the action-packed plot is Nick Baron, a leader in the Triple Seven Chase team, a clandestine Special Forces unit that deploys on orders from the Joint Chiefs and the President. After the CIA intercepts a call signal from an American operative in China, long thought dead, this team is given the perilous task of retrieving the captive soldier from the Chinese wilderness. The only chance for the mission's success is to use the latest type of plane, Shadow Catcher, a small stealth airplane that can be dropped from a larger stealth airplane. Because it can only hold a few people, only Nick and his team are dropped into harms way.

Hannibal draws upon his own experiences as a stealth pilot to ensure a realistic plot line. He stated, "I wrote it to give readers an alert about those hawkish Chinese military figures and how they are dangerous. They are expanding in the Pacific and attacking us in many ways. I was part of the 'show of force' exercise in the Pacific that was supposed to say we are still a power to be reckoned with. China is a rising threat and is absolutely an adversary. I believe they have no US interests at heart and their main goal is dominance. We are beholden to them since they have bought up 23% of our debt. We are not focused on countering China, nor do we stand up to their expansion in the South China Sea. I also put the quote in my book about politicians because they are just a bunch of blabbers who should be involved as little as possible regarding military operations."

In addition to the book there is a Stealth Ops App ( that includes a bonus story and hints about the secret codes hidden in the book. Shadow Catcher is not only an entertaining novel but it is thought provoking regarding a number of important issues. It has a riveting plot and characters that explores modern technology, the dangers of China, and the intelligence world.

Reviewer's Note:
Reviewed 2013