Book Review: Savage Death: Not Forgiven

Savage Death: Not Forgiven by Erich Penoff is the second book in The Savage Series. Penoff is a world traveler and has been to the mostly “untouristy” places such as Afghanistan, the Congo, India, and Pakistan. He speaks as someone who has been to and experienced wars and troubles firsthand. His biography does not explain what he did in the years preceding his retirement, but he does write with familiarity of the French Foreign Legion and mercenaries. What impressed me the most was he is one of the few non-Marines who capitalized the “M” in Marine. Thank you.

I really enjoyed the first book in the series, and was pleasantly surprised to see the request to review the next book. Like the first book, this is a thinking man’s thriller. It is much more nuts and bolts of the mission and character development than the “super spy” type books of the cold war. Much more Smiley than Bond. I was going to say it’s not about fast cars and beautiful women, but then there is a Jaguar XKE with curves like French intelligence agent Nixe. Even so they remain subdued in the story. The Jaguar is a retirement project. The main characters are aging and looking into the retirement they deserve; they have the scars to prove it.

Marco is happily retired in Canada when he is tracked down by a mountie with a short telegram: Michael Simon is dead. Michael was Marco’s long time friend along with investment banker Karl Wittgen. Marco and Michael recently finished a job for Karl in the Congo reclaiming investor’s gold. That was their retirement job. Michael, was brutally murdered with by people with connections to the Congo and the gold. He reported a counterfeit cognac smuggling operation that got him the attention of organized crime. Marco is set on revenge and calls in his old friends for help.

Many of the characters from the first novel play major parts in this book also. There is enough of an introduction to the main players that reading the first book is not necessary to understand the players or plot. Pennoff writes a very straightforward story and uses the substance of the story to sell his book. Reading there was not a single time where I said to myself “That could never happen.” Revenge, realism, and the power of the Euro are major themes in the story.
The story itself takes a few turns and things do not always go as planned. Marco has to adjust his plans to the realities of the situation. The story crosses three counties and reflects the culture and history of those countries. Marco will also teach you a thing or two about Austrian cuisine. The characters in the story are real people and have a strong sense of loyalty.

Savage Death (Not Forgiven) (The Savage Series) is extremely well written and flows well. The pace is fast enough to keep the reader’s interest and complex enough to keep you thinking. It is a thinking man’s adventure story. Like the cognac Marco used to drink, nothing is rushed in the story. A main character in his sixties knows not to rush into trouble but is still hell bent on revenge. An excellent continuation of the series.

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