Veil of Deception
Pilot Jason Conrad thought he’d put all the intrigue and scandal behind him. For years, he’d kept his nose clean as an instructor at Vance Air Force Base, doing what he loved to do: fly. But the past has a long memory, and soon Jason finds himself thrust back into the middle of something much larger— and darker—than he ever anticipated.
First, there’s the accidental crash of his jet, which brings the attention of a nosy conspiracy-minded reporter with Jason in his crosshairs. And out of nowhere, Jason is recruited for a top-secret piloting gig, just as the love of his life reappears years after her disappearance.
As soon as Jason arrives for his new assignment, things grow even more complicated. The love of his life isn’t the woman he remembers, he’s caught between a lusty fellow pilot and a condescending commanding officer. To make matters worse, his new job makes less sense every day. When people connected to the project—and the shady contractor behind it—begin disappearing, Jason’s not sure who to trust. It’s a high-stakes game of cat and mouse, but with potentially global consequences.
Veil of Deception is a military thriller, but far from your average military thriller. First off, our hero is no master soldier or one-man wrecking crew. Jason is a pretty average guy with one particular skill: he’s a damn good pilot. That everyman quality serves him well, making him a more accessible character for the reader to get behind. There’s genuine tension when Jason is in a bad spot, because he’s not Jack Reacher or Batman or a member of Seal Team 6 . . . he’s a guy in over his head. Except with the girls, as Jason always has multiple women gunning for his attention.
In fact, in many ways, Veil of Deception bucks the trends of the military thriller genre. Sure, there’s plenty of tech-speak and military jargon, and the action sequences—particularly the dogfight and piloting scenes—are loaded with topnotch descriptions that clearly reflect the author’s familiarity with both the tech and the experiences. However, this is no mere “Yay America, boo foreigners!” jingoistic claptrap.
There’s a very real undercurrent of judgment about military oversight and government spending— much of the plot hinges on these two factors—and it’s interesting to see the bad guys exploit those weaknesses so blatantly. Lewis practically makes the U.S. government a collaborator in its own destruction here. That was a surprising and very intriguing touch that added a lot to what, in a lesser author’s hands, could have been a humdrum conspiracy plot.
That level of detail and forethought serves Lewis well here, as the motivations of virtually every character make sense, and there’s none of the plot-necessity character-breaking storytelling that many thrillers fall into. Characters are manipulated, but by other characters, not the author. That’s an important difference.
Although I was a little disappointed by how quickly—and undeservingly—some of the major players in the novel were written out, for the most part, I enjoyed the read, and I was impressed by Lewis setting the novel in the year 2001, but never exploiting 9/11 itself for cheap drama.
Lewis set up quite a tightrope to walk with Veil of Deception, and with relatively few wobbles, he makes it to the other side with style.
Michael Byars Lewis