If you’re the kind of thriller fan who craves gripping, nonstop military action, you’ll want to grab a copy of RULES OF WAR, the latest novel from Matthew Betley.
This novel kicks off with a bang—the Vice President of the United States is missing; the director of the National Security Agency has been assassinated; and there’s a mysterious organization that’s been orchestrating global instability, but it appears to be falling apart.
RULES OF WAR follows hard on the heels of its predecessor, Field of Valor. The protagonist of that novel, Logan West, continues his mission to bring the traitorous VP to justice, while dealing with the aforementioned mysterious group that’s still trying to make a powerful but deadly attempt to regain power.
Logan West is a fascinating character, one you’d probably like if you met him at a cocktail party. But he wouldn’t be standing at the bar with a drink in his hand—he’s been sober since he emerged from a blackout in Overwatch, the first book in this exciting series. And he’s less sarcastic and abrasive than his friend and right-hand man, John Quick.
“He’s a little more reserved and thoughtful,” Betley says, “unless you upset him. And since he has model good looks and captivating, deep green eyes, I’m pretty sure those of the female persuasion would be instantly attracted to him.”
While he is certainly the series protagonist, Logan definitely doesn’t consider himself a hero. He’s been forced into a position where he knows that he and his task force have no choice but to confront the shadow forces undermining the US. He knows it’s the right thing to do, no matter the cost, and truly believes it’s a righteous cause.
Although RULES OF WAR picks up just weeks after the conclusion of Field of Valor, Betley has written it in such a way that new readers can pick it up and not feel lost.
“I refer to previous events in ways that bring the reader up to speed right away without detracting from the blazing pace of the story,” Betley says. “In fact, I had an early reader—a TV producer—tell me he didn’t realize it was a series until he’d already taken a decent chunk out of it, and then he went online just out of his own curiosity to get some background. I was thrilled to hear this, as it meant I’d succeeded in creating another stand-alone-yet-part-of-a-series installment in the adventures of Logan West.”
Part of what makes a thriller great is a great villain. In this case, it’s Vice President Joshua Baker who is, to say the least, a complicated man. He’s also smart, arrogant, and strategic.
“He led an unsuccessful coup to take control of the Organization, the shadow network comprising the world’s behind-the-scenes power brokers and financiers,” Betley explains. “As a result of his treachery, he’s on the run after betraying his duty, his oath, the Constitution, and his president. He’s had to say goodbye to his son and his life as the second most powerful man in the US.”
In short, he’s desperate, and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure his own safety and survival, which makes him especially dangerous.
Betley’s previous novels have taken place all over the world, from North America to the Middle East to Africa. For this adventure, he had specific requirements for the setting.
“I wanted to head to South America and find a country full of instability and chaos that would be the perfect backdrop to the intense roller coaster ride that RULES OF WAR is,” he says. “And considering real-world events, there was only one, very easy choice—Venezuela.”
For that reason, the setting of this novel is very real—the misery and suffering of the Venezuelan people has been playing out in the news over the past few months. But like any good thriller, the story itself is the author’s creation. One he prays will never happen.
“I’ve often joked that the world has been on the brink of apocalyptic destruction hundreds of times a year if you amass all of the thrillers written,” Betley says. “God help us if even one of them comes true. Then again, it’s not like the world is currently a beacon of stability and growth, especially when you get on the other side of the big pond off the East Coast.”
Betley has already planned the next novel so he knows what’s next for Logan West and his team. He doesn’t want to give too much away, but he did say that he’s done much research at the University of Maryland at their School of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies for the backstory, which will be featured prominently. This will be a clue to those already following the series.
“What I can say is that it will be another intense, emotional, gripping, and painful ride that takes place after the events in RULES OF WAR,” Betley says.
Lovers of thrillers filled with action stay tuned—after you read RULES OF WAR.
Matthew Betley is a former Marine officer of ten years. His experience includes deployments to Djibouti after September 11, and Iraq, prior to the surge. A New Jersey native who considers Cincinnati home, he graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, with a B.A. in psychology and minors in political science and sociology.
To learn more about Matthew and his work, please visit his website.
Photo credit: Brian Schurman