Traci Hunter Abramson
Covenant Communications, 2009
Traci Hunter Abramson wrote this book shortly after the Virginia Tech
shooting and while what ifs were running through her mind. As I started
to read, I was surprised to find familiar characters. She brings the
“Saint Squad” back. The Saint Squad is a Navy SEAL team that are all
members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Within this
emotionally charged book of what ifs -- the power and determination of
one person to help others avoid similar pain and horror -- is a story of
love found in unlikely circumstances.
Riley Palmetta is a week away from graduating from Oswell Barron
University and is battling senioritis. As she tries to pay attention
and keep her mind focused the unthinkable happens.
”...She turned her eyes back to the professor just in time to hear a
hammering noise and see him drop limply to the ground. A moment later
the noise repeated itself, and the boy in front of her slumped down onto
his desk as screams echoed through the room. Riley looked up to see the
slender, dark-haired man point his gun and shoot off another round.
This can’t be happening! Riley thought as the girl beside her fell to
the floor. Instinctively, Riley dropped down beside her. She couldn’t
believe her eyes. This man was actually shooting at them! Blood
dripped onto the floor in front of her from the lifeless form sprawled
over the desk – a lifeless form that had been planning to study with her
tonight.” (p. 2)
After living through a nightmare that is all too real, Riley is
determined to do all she can to find ways to prevent this from happening
again and for local law enforcement to save lives. In an effort to
heal, Riley stays and pursues a master’s degree in criminal psychology.
She is on the task force that will be designing a course for law
enforcement to deal with the nightmare of school shootings and hostage
situations. Oswell Barron University has offered to let the courses be
held on campus as the University is still trying to recover from the
tragedy. The Navy SEAL team that has been assigned to help develop the
curriculum and to help teach it is the “Saint Squad”.
“Only twice had she stepped foot inside Sedgely Hall since the massacre.
The first time had been just a month after the tragedy, a kind of
ritual she had gone through to prove she could do it. ...The second time
Riley had returned to the scene of the crime had been two days ago, when
she had forced herself to enter the building to check on the temporary
office for the SEAL team. She hoped working in that building day after
day surrounded by five Navy SEALs would help her overcome her anxiety,
but she knew only time would tell.” (p.7)
Tristan Crowther, a member of the Navy SEAL team assigned to the task
force, notices that Riley has a hard time being in Sedgley Hall and
begins to put together what happened that day and the part she had in
surviving. As the weeks go by he helps her to overcome the anxiety she
has and to build a future for herself. The time the two of them spend
together is revealing for each of them. Their feelings for each other
grow stronger and love blossoms.
The time for the first group of law enforcement officers to arrive grows
closer and some of the more arrogant members of the task force are
unhappy with having to work with the SEALs.
“Riley spoke before Kel could further justify his decision. 'Mr.
Mallard, you are aware of the reasons why we chose to have the military
develop this course instead of law enforcement officers. Police are
trained to handle common situations. The SEALs are trained to
anticipate the unexpected.' Riley’s voice was cool and professional.
'The course they have developed will give the participants a real taste
of the unexpected. Hopefully these participants will remember these
lessons when they are forced to use them in the real world.'” (p.91)
The first class gets a wake up that will never be forgotten and it makes
them mad. Chief Scarbourgh is livid and on the offensive. He finds
Riley in the office and lets her know that he believes that the SEALs
are a bunch of hotshots who are playing and not teaching them anything
“Riley stood up, unaware of the team members heading down the hall
toward her. 'If you don’t understand why they’re bothering, then
perhaps you are in the wrong line of work.'
He blustered, his face reddening. 'How dare you!'
'How dare you,' Riley returned, her voice vibrating with fury. 'Do
you think the people you’re protecting have a chance to prepare for
getting shot at? Do you think that they have a clue when they wake up
in the morning that someone is going to try to kill them? Mister, you
just got the best lesson anyone can get. You got a glimpse of what it
feels like to get that kind of shock. You’re just lucky you can walk
away from it.'” (p. 123)
While the SEALs are dealing with the training of law enforcement in
unexpected situations, the local law enforcement officers are dealing
with a gambling ring and several murders that are tied together. As a
hostage situation arises at the High School the SEALs are there to help.
Now everyone is trying to figure out how all the events are connected
and who the next target is.
This is a must read. On top of being able to find out more about the
Saint Squad, you are able to find heroes in unlikely places. In the
tradition of her other book you will get the perfect combination of
action and romance. I am looking forward to reading more about the
Saint Squad as they fulfill their duties as SEALs and find love.