Book Review: “Trial by Fire” by Will Jordan

This is a military action-thriller novella. It follows a young woman named Keira Frost who, after escaping from an abusive step-father and living homeless in Chicago, eventually joins the U.S. Army and applies to serve in an elite CIA unit.

Keira’s backstory is told gradually through flashbacks, interspersed with the main plot arc which follows her first mission with the unit and its overbearing leader, Ryan Drake, who seems to relish every opportunity to berate and belittle his team’s newest member.

The story itself is rather interesting, as the premise is that the team is on a mission into the Chernobyl site in Ukraine, in order to extract a spy planted among Ukrainian separatist forces, who is warning of a Russian plot to seize Eastern Ukraine. (This book was published in 2018.)

But, things are not quite what they seem. (They never are in thrillers, though, are they?) And what seemed to be a straightforward mission turns out to be anything but.

I have mixed feelings about this book. It’s a quick read and a pretty good story, although I suspect the ending will prove to be divisive. Some readers might not be able to suspend disbelief enough to accept the dénouement. Others may find it ingenious. I can see arguments for both.

All told, it’s nothing ground-breaking, but if you enjoy fast-paced military thrillers, this one will certainly fit the bill.


  1. Another interesting review. Your consumption of books puts me to shame. Thanks for keeping me alert.
    I understand the world of Ryan Drake is a murky one. (Several books in I think by now the guy is predictably unhinged )
    Military / Espionage novels tend to have a layer of the writer’s beliefs or issues which concern them, so disagreements on endings can proliferate.

      1. It happens…Tom Clancy being the classic example; after two (maybe three) books the sub texts get irritating.
        Even in my humble little corner…. ‘Guilty as charged’
        I’m not keen on the books ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series but I have to admire George R R Martin’s detachment from his characters to make the story power along.

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