Sniper's Moon
By Carsten Stroud

< 1999
By Condor

It took a while to find this book, since it was published in 1990. Everywhere I went, bookstores were able to find it in their computers, but none of them were able to order it successfully. I was finally able to get a copy from someone I met via the Internet. I'm forever grateful, because the book is a solid and gripping masterpiece. Indeed, it won the 1991 Arthur Ellis award for Best First Novel. That, in itself, should tell you that the book is worth finding... if you can.

I'll admit, the book isn't full of technical descriptions that someone who "lives" for ballistic tables and reloading manuals might desire. Also, the novel is heavily slanted toward the law enforcement profession, so the jargon was just a bit too much for me to deal with at times. However, this in no way should be taken as an excuse not to read the book. Certainly, policemen who are assigned to SWAT units - and, most assuredly, those who are duty-slotted snipers in SWAT units - will get the greatest enjoyment out of this book. There is a Vietnam "flavor" to the story, since the lead character, Frank Keogh, was also a sniper in that war. Yet, it is the series of individual stories within the book that will keep the reader riveted into their favorite reading chair. Don't make the mistake of thinking that this will be a book that you can set down after only a few chapters; be prepared to spend some serious time with Sniper's Moon.

Without giving away any real details, the story spans a period of several years, and involves a serial killer who really enjoys his work. Also, throughout the course of the book, is a very bad individual, one Sonny Beauchamp. Sonny has also seen time in "the 'Nam." Unfortunately, though he is someone who is quite educated, Sonny seems to be more adept at being a bank robber than someone who works at a nine-to-five type of job. In an odd turn of events, Sonny loses someone very close to him to one of Frank Keogh's bullets... which, by the way, Frank fired without being given a "green light." Though he is a criminal, one who isn't afraid to kill when he feels the occasion warrants it, I really took a liking to Sonny - probably because of the "code" he lives by. Sure, he's a bad guy, and he knows it... but he's got limits to what he'll do and won't do. He also believes strongly in doing what he feels is right, to honor the people he cares about, and this is a quality I think most readers will admire.

So, while Sonny is hunting down Frank, looking for some pay-back, Frank is searching for the serial killer - clearly, there are two separate stories within Sniper's Moon, and both of them are highly intriguing. And, just as important to developing Frank's character in the book, are the troubles he is having with other aspects of his life... the relationship he has with his wife and with his son. Frank Keogh is a flesh-and-blood kind of guy, someone who has "real" problems. He makes mistakes, and he's definitely no hero in the tradition of Superman. Frank has some ethical and moral issues that he struggles to deal with, both with his job and with his family. And all the while, he still has to do his job. He's still a cop. He's still a sniper.

Carsten Stroud is a superb writer and I hope to read more of his work if he continues to write in the same vein as he did in Sniper's Moon. I found very few technical, gun-related/shooting errors in the book... in fact, off hand, I can't remember finding any at all. Again, though, the book is not heavily into "technical details." However, those that are discussed are offered in such a way that really enhances the flow of the story.

Two of my favorite scenes which involved Frank Keogh, that really revealed to the reader the kind of stuff he is made of, are when he has an interesting discussion - at gun point - with a guy named Pike, and another - later in the book - when he is reluctantly put in the position of stopping an armed robbery at a restaurant. In both instances, his thoughts and words were entertaining, amusing, candid, and captivating.

All things considered, Sniper's Moon is one of the best books I've ever read. If you can get your hands on a copy, I highly recommend you do so. When you get to the last several chapters, you will NOT want to stop reading - the ending is THAT good! So, make sure you won't be interrupted, and be prepared for all those "loose ends" to get tied up. This book is exciting!

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