A little bit Colonel Kurtz and a little bit John Wayne, Aaron Gwyn’s enigmatic Special Forces captain Carson Wynne is a legend among soldiers. When a young ranger’s foolhardy attempt to rescue a horse from a firefight lands him in Wynne’s company — training even more horses for an off-the-books mission in the hills of Afghanistan — he discovers that the captain lives up to his larger-than-life persona. But as the operation progresses, the cowboy charisma starts to wear thin, and the captain and his murky personal motivations begin to more closely resemble Heart of Darkness than heart of Dixie.
A hard-eyed depiction of modern warfare leavened slightly by its Western spirit, Gwyn’s novel is rich in equestrian and military detail. (Occasionally too rich, as certain paragraphs read like they may have been taken out of a stable hand’s guidebook.) The story trots around slightly too long before it finally picks up into a gallop, but once it does, the pace is breakneck and it’d take wild horses to pull you away. B+