While visiting his nephew Bill in New Jersey, Vietnam War veteran Frank Thompson has a chance encounter at a trap range with a familiar face. Later that night, following an attack on Bill’s home, Frank is thrust into a reckoning with his past. Frank’s former troupe, The National League All Stars, are looking to exact revenge against Frank for the killing of one of their own when they were back in “the shit”.
It’s often believed that those who serve never truly leave the war behind them. In Steven Max Russo’s The Dead Don’t Sleep, that belief is truer than ever. The collection of psychopaths that make up the remnants of The National League All Stars set themselves on a collision course with a one-man army in that of Frank Thompson in the wilds of Maine.
The book is split pretty evenly between Frank and his adversaries, which surprised me. It’s not often you really get to learn this much about the antagonists. In Jasper, Birdie and Pogo, Russo has crafted some truly deranged villains. It would have been easier to put all the focus on Frank and give us generic, run-of-the-mill baddies for Thompson to mow down like Rambo with a machine gun in the back of a jeep, but Russo allows the reader to really get into the heads of the three butchers.
Things get pretty wild near the novel’s conclusion. Lots of blood, explosions and violence. Steven Russo’s The Dead Don’t Sleep is like a popcorn movie on the page. These are some old dudes, but that doesn’t mean you should take their abilities lightly. It just goes to show you age is just a number when you have enough of a desire to survive.