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Without Sanction

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After surviving a clandestine operation that went tragically wrong, Matt Drake escaped Syria with his life, but little else. Now, to save the life of another, he must return to Syria and confront his biggest failure. Defense Intelligence Agency operative Matt Drake broke a promise. A promise that cost three people their lives and crippled his best friend. Three months later After surviving a clandestine operation that went tragically wrong, Matt Drake escaped Syria with his life, but little else. Now, to save the life of another, he must return to Syria and confront his biggest failure. Defense Intelligence Agency operative Matt Drake broke a promise. A promise that cost three people their lives and crippled his best friend. Three months later, he's paralyzed by survivor's guilt and haunted by the memories of the fallen. Matt may have left Syria, but Syria hasn't left him. In the midst of his self-imposed exile, Matt is dragged back into the world of espionage and assets that he tried to forget. A Pakistani scientist working for an ISIS splinter cell has created a terrifying weapon of mass destruction. The scientist offers to defect with the weapon, but he trusts just one man to bring him out of Syria alive—Matt Drake.


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After surviving a clandestine operation that went tragically wrong, Matt Drake escaped Syria with his life, but little else. Now, to save the life of another, he must return to Syria and confront his biggest failure. Defense Intelligence Agency operative Matt Drake broke a promise. A promise that cost three people their lives and crippled his best friend. Three months later After surviving a clandestine operation that went tragically wrong, Matt Drake escaped Syria with his life, but little else. Now, to save the life of another, he must return to Syria and confront his biggest failure. Defense Intelligence Agency operative Matt Drake broke a promise. A promise that cost three people their lives and crippled his best friend. Three months later, he's paralyzed by survivor's guilt and haunted by the memories of the fallen. Matt may have left Syria, but Syria hasn't left him. In the midst of his self-imposed exile, Matt is dragged back into the world of espionage and assets that he tried to forget. A Pakistani scientist working for an ISIS splinter cell has created a terrifying weapon of mass destruction. The scientist offers to defect with the weapon, but he trusts just one man to bring him out of Syria alive—Matt Drake.

30 review for Without Sanction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Keeten

    ”Late autumn in Syria was a lot like late autumn in Austin--temperatures in the sixties during the day, while at night the air cooled down to the forties. But that’s where the similarities ended. Syria had a unique smell composed of equal parts car exhaust, stale smoke from countless open fires, and poverty. Its exact nature was hard to put into words, but was unmistakable all the same. For better or worse, I was back.” Defense Intelligence Agent Matt Drake managed to get out of Syria physically i ”Late autumn in Syria was a lot like late autumn in Austin--temperatures in the sixties during the day, while at night the air cooled down to the forties. But that’s where the similarities ended. Syria had a unique smell composed of equal parts car exhaust, stale smoke from countless open fires, and poverty. Its exact nature was hard to put into words, but was unmistakable all the same. For better or worse, I was back.” Defense Intelligence Agent Matt Drake managed to get out of Syria physically intact, but the psychological impact of the failure of his last day in-country is still haunting him. His best friend Frodo was left maimed and wounded and some people who counted on him for protection are dead...hauntingly dead. But he has to go back. My basketball coach always told me to never leave the practice court without hitting my last shot. Well, Matt Drake has to go back to the thunderdome chaos of Syria to hit that last shot. Going back isn’t all his idea. There is a burgeoning genocidal maniac scientist codenamed Einstein who insists that Drake has to be the guy to come get him and his latest lethal combination of deadly weapons. Think about how fucked up Syria has to be for a guy like this to want out? We all have a general idea of Syria which means we don’t really know shit about Syria. It has become a battleground for every disaffected terrorist and guerilla group in the world. There are thousands of them by some estimations. We can talk about who is on whose side, but with the changing dynamics of the volatile political upheaval of the region it is safe to say that the only side anyone unlucky enough or stupid enough to find themselves in Syria should be on... is their own. Syria is a perfect example of Hobbesian cutthroat competition. ”’Are we in trouble?’ ‘We’re in Syria.’” With the various factions recruiting foot soldiers from all over the world life is cheap. If you lose too many guys just put a new recruitment video up on Facebook to appeal for more willing participants from the ranks of religious zealots or kids just looking for an adventure. With no real national affiliations and with the number of mercenaries there trying to make a buck or just get in on the raping and plundering the Syrian people are just frankly screwed. As long as Putin is backing Assad there will never be viable solutions for Syria. This story is set against the backdrop of a presidential election with a somewhat belligerent president trying to win reelection. His top advisor Peter Redman doesn’t want anything to happen to slice into the slender lead the president is holding in the polls. When a marine is taken hostage by insurgents Drake’s already difficult mission to extract that pissant Einstein is suddenly made even more difficult by the added necessity of finding and bringing that marine home. We don’t leave our people behind. ”In the Ranger Regiment, we had a saying that no plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.” Soon Drake is a political football, a live grenade that could make or break a presidency and when one ambitious bastard in the White House issues a burn notice (remember the TV Show?) on Drake things go from nearly impossible to never having a chance. Needless to say, it is Syria after all, things are already going horribly wrong. Drake is going to need more than his skill set and his resilience to accomplish this mission. He is going to need luck and friends in high places. He can’t leave Syria until he has put some ghosts to bed. He can’t leave Syria until he has hit his last shot. Don Bentley flew Apache attack helicopters in Afghanistan (thank you for your service Don) and then worked as an FBI agent. He wrote three failed manuscripts and spent 17 years producing this novel, so he had to be as stubborn and as resilient as Matt Drake to ride out the disappointment and frustration. Bentley must have felt like he was shooting from the length of the court, but he finally hit his last shot. Tom Colgan from Random House Penguin Berkley caught the ball after it went through the net. By the time I finished reading this book my lap was covered with hot bullet casings, desert sand, and the fluttering remnants of a parachute. I was limping. I was thirsty. I was exhilarated. I was looking outside my window for the thump thump thump of a KA-52 Alligator Russian helicopter because I could swear that Syria had spilled over into Kansas. The plot sizzles along at a rapid trot with short, exciting chapters that make the reader feel like they are flying along in a CH-47F Chinook at 195 MPH. Bring a parachute and bring plenty of water because Syria is thirsty work. Do you have a long flight coming up? Without Sanction will make the hours seem like minutes. Need a vacation from everything else you’ve been reading? Without Sanction will bounce you out of that rut. I want to thank the people at Berkley who sent me a free copy in exchange for an honest review. If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    If you are going to pick up a black ops action hero story, it better be one with non-stop excitement and so filled with energy that it's impossible to put down. Bingo! Without Sanction hits all the right notes. Don't expect an introspective life analysis filled with romantic entanglements. Matt Drake is a firmer Army Ranger, now a former DIA covert agent and he's been recalled to return the morass of civil-war Syria to extract a captured agent and a deadly chemist. Between warring agency heads b If you are going to pick up a black ops action hero story, it better be one with non-stop excitement and so filled with energy that it's impossible to put down. Bingo! Without Sanction hits all the right notes. Don't expect an introspective life analysis filled with romantic entanglements. Matt Drake is a firmer Army Ranger, now a former DIA covert agent and he's been recalled to return the morass of civil-war Syria to extract a captured agent and a deadly chemist. Between warring agency heads back in D.C. And a mission destined to go awry and PTSD from his last "vacation" in Syria, Drake has his hands full. And once he lands in the war zone, all bets are off cause the action is virtually nonstop and the tension so tight, it's all going to pop.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susan Kennedy

    I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and easy to read. It is one of those books that gets me thinking about what I've read and trying to work it out. I get up to go to the restroom in the middle of the night and when I get back in bed I lay there thinking about the book. I guess that will be one sign that I am enjoying what I am reading. I did love the characters and the character development. Matt Drake was great even if he was haunted. His best friend Frodo is a fantastic character I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and easy to read. It is one of those books that gets me thinking about what I've read and trying to work it out. I get up to go to the restroom in the middle of the night and when I get back in bed I lay there thinking about the book. I guess that will be one sign that I am enjoying what I am reading. I did love the characters and the character development. Matt Drake was great even if he was haunted. His best friend Frodo is a fantastic character as well. Then there are the characters that are abhorrent. I definitely was drawn into the characters, which I love. I was rooting for them or in the case of the others, I was hoping for their demise. All in all, the character development was fantastic, which I find always makes the story better for me. The story itself was fantastic. It had a lot going on all at once and nothing ever seemed to go as planned, which kept everything interesting.There was a lot of action and intrigue and it was all really well written. I expected language due to the nature of a military style book, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was not saturated with bad language which just enhanced the story. This was a fun read that I have already told my husband to try. This is definitely a series that I would continue to read with great characters. I loved it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amy Bruestle

    I won this book through a giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Boy am I glad I did, too! I typically don’t reach for what I would call “shoot ‘em up” books. However, although this book had plenty of that and lots of other action as well, it was so much more than that! There was mystery. There was suspense. There was a great plot. There were great characters that made you want to know more about them! This was just a fantastic read altogether! I even passed it on to my Dad, who is currently I won this book through a giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Boy am I glad I did, too! I typically don’t reach for what I would call “shoot ‘em up” books. However, although this book had plenty of that and lots of other action as well, it was so much more than that! There was mystery. There was suspense. There was a great plot. There were great characters that made you want to know more about them! This was just a fantastic read altogether! I even passed it on to my Dad, who is currently reading it as I write this! I will definitely be coming back for more from this author! Amazing writing ability!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anne - Books of My Heart

    This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart   Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.   I didn't know anything about this author or series but it sounded different than my usual mystery / thriller books.  Without Sanction is more of a political thriller than a spy or military one,  and the first in the Matt Drake series. I felt a bit confused initially when getting to know the characters and the politics This review was originally posted on Books of My Heart   Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.   I didn't know anything about this author or series but it sounded different than my usual mystery / thriller books.  Without Sanction is more of a political thriller than a spy or military one,  and the first in the Matt Drake series. I felt a bit confused initially when getting to know the characters and the politics in this world. I wasn't sure who the good guys or bad guys were.  I thought they might all be good or bad. I found myself rooting for each character in the part with their point of view at the start.  Later, I realized some of them were not working together for the country, only themselves.  This political fighting to win by "spinning" the truth is the upsetting reality of today. In the end, there are people like Matt Drake, whose word means something, and he risks himself to keep it. There were many life and death moments in this thrilling adventure. There were plenty of gray areas with some seriously flawed characters.  I am sure I will want to read more about someone fighting for the factual truth as difficult as it may be. Narration: I've not listened to the narrator in the past. I enjoyed the easily understandable voices, mostly all male but many were distinct for the characters.  I listened at my normal 1.5x speed. Listen to a clip:https://soundcloud.com/penguin-audio/...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    By the time you finish this hell on earth wild adventure, Matt Drake becomes a battered man. Nothing can stop him as a Defense Intelligence Agent fighting for what he is determined to finish, bringing home one of his own from a hostile county, Syria. Can he do it? What price does one have to pay to accomplish this assignment? I'm glad I am NOT Matt Drake. I couldn't do what he was trying to do. So, what's the outcome? Just read the story and you'll find out.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kay

    A new thriller that I would continue reading. The thing that bothered me, and after finished reading I know it'll be back in book two, the politics! Arghh, I'm so tired of it. It's reelection year for Jorge Gonzales and much of DC story is about his evil chief of staff, Peter whatever his last is, running the show. I tried skimming some of this. I know there's got to be some politics, but this was more than I enjoy. I want action! There's action, but I wish there were more. Matt Drake was an Air A new thriller that I would continue reading. The thing that bothered me, and after finished reading I know it'll be back in book two, the politics! Arghh, I'm so tired of it. It's reelection year for Jorge Gonzales and much of DC story is about his evil chief of staff, Peter whatever his last is, running the show. I tried skimming some of this. I know there's got to be some politics, but this was more than I enjoy. I want action! There's action, but I wish there were more. Matt Drake was an Airborne Ranger and has been working for DIA in Syria. Without giving too much away, he was in Syria once and back again to rescue a captured CIA officer in unfriendly territory. While there he met a boy (this was my eye roll moment). But I very much enjoyed the second half of the book than the first. 3.5 stars

  8. 4 out of 5

    Abibliofob

    It may have taken Don Bentley a very long time to write this, but boy did he do it well. This book is one of the best ones i've read in a long time and since it is the first in a series we can only wait anxiously for the next. No pressure... I have to thank #Edelweiss #Berkley and #PenguinPublishingGroup for giving me the pleasure of reading Without Sanction. The first book about Matt Drake. It will be on the shelves on March the 3rd. I really strongly recommend this. Please @bentleydonb keep th It may have taken Don Bentley a very long time to write this, but boy did he do it well. This book is one of the best ones i've read in a long time and since it is the first in a series we can only wait anxiously for the next. No pressure... I have to thank #Edelweiss #Berkley and #PenguinPublishingGroup for giving me the pleasure of reading Without Sanction. The first book about Matt Drake. It will be on the shelves on March the 3rd. I really strongly recommend this. Please @bentleydonb keep them coming.

  9. 5 out of 5

    James Winchell

    Well the book lived up to the hype and more. Thanks to the RealBookSpy for the recommendation. Don took the story from the first pages thru the last page and never took his foot off the gas pedal. Definitely a great debut. I would recommended this book to the fans of Tom Clancy, Brad Thor, Brad Taylor or Mark Greaney. The fast pace action was spot on the underlying story was spot on. Without ruining the story I will say it was great and it’s a must read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Slaven Tomasi

    Debut author Don Bentley spent a decade as an Army Apache helicopter pilot, while deployed to OEF, he earned a Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal with “V” for valor. After his stint in the Army, Don got out as a Captain and joined the FBI. There, Special Agent Bentley focused on foreign intelligence and counterintelligence, completing his career with the FBI as a member of their elite SWAT. Without Sanction introduces to the world Matt Drake, an Army Ranger (RLTW) veteran and analyst for the Def Debut author Don Bentley spent a decade as an Army Apache helicopter pilot, while deployed to OEF, he earned a Bronze Star Medal and the Air Medal with “V” for valor. After his stint in the Army, Don got out as a Captain and joined the FBI. There, Special Agent Bentley focused on foreign intelligence and counterintelligence, completing his career with the FBI as a member of their elite SWAT. Without Sanction introduces to the world Matt Drake, an Army Ranger (RLTW) veteran and analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency or DIA. When we meet Matt, he’s a broken man. Unsure of what is happening to him, he has quit his job and became a recluse. Battling his demons every day, trying and failing to find a way back into society, to his friends, to his wife. For months he battles the same battle of survivor’s guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, tremors, nightmares, anxiety, and depression that many real-world veterans go through. An accurate type of description only an author that has been there and done that can express. Without Sanction has quite a bit of political drama, on par with a Vince Flynn novel, Bentley does a fantastic job giving these characters a purpose and meaning to where they think their way is the only way to handle a certain situation. Many are ambitious and use their power to get what most in politics want, more power. Amongst those characters is a politician that’s not a prick, President Jorge Gonzales. Nearing the end of his first term and trying to get re-elected. To shield him from all the chaos, Peter Redman, his Chief of Staff, is forced to deal with this mess created a mere few days before the Presidential election. A spy thriller, a political thriller, with a dose of espionage and hardcore military action, this novel has is it all. Some high praise worthy writing that deserve a mention is when Drake needs to insert himself into a denied area of operations without being detected by the many forces that call this battles space home, remnants of ISIS are everywhere, the Free Syrian Army, Assad’s Army, and of course the Russians to name a few. Drake enters this battlespace utilizing a unique method that will have you at the edge of your seat. Following the badassery there, the emotional surprises, the dangers, the determination of Drake to see this through, the humor, and the few allies Drake has left willing to help him complete his mission is few and far between. But when the Ranger Creed is driving you, the choice is an easy one, quitting is not an option. What we have is an absolute must-read debut novel from a very talented rising star. If I had to compare Without Sanction to prior debuts, I think Vince Flynn’s Term Limits and Jack Carr’s The Terminal List would be the most accurate comparison. As a new author, Don Bentley is standing out among the very best the thriller community has to offer. I very much look forward to more Matt Drake in the future. Earning itself a Lima Charlie Review rating of a DIRTY BOMB! A 9.25/10 Lima Charlie Rating.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tom Dooley

    Don Bentley's first book Without Sanction definitely sets the bar! The main character Matt Drake is a damaged man and he's trying to come to terms with the things he's seen and done. That's all about to change when a man with a chemical formula that is a world ender wants out of Syria. The only way he'll leave is if Drake comes and gets him. In the mean time POTUS's right hand man is trying to sabotage the operation from the inside. Thank god Drake has a old friend in Frodo. Question is can Drak Don Bentley's first book Without Sanction definitely sets the bar! The main character Matt Drake is a damaged man and he's trying to come to terms with the things he's seen and done. That's all about to change when a man with a chemical formula that is a world ender wants out of Syria. The only way he'll leave is if Drake comes and gets him. In the mean time POTUS's right hand man is trying to sabotage the operation from the inside. Thank god Drake has a old friend in Frodo. Question is can Drake and Frodo accomplish the mission or will everything go south? Read it and find out!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Soo

    Notes: Low end of 3 Stars I got this book because I saw the latest book released for the series in the bookstore. The narrator is not great & very stiff. The writing doesn't grab me and I find the whole plot/characters to be rather flat. Not at all exciting. Notes: Low end of 3 Stars I got this book because I saw the latest book released for the series in the bookstore. The narrator is not great & very stiff. The writing doesn't grab me and I find the whole plot/characters to be rather flat. Not at all exciting.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kashif

    Don Bentley has created a terrific new thriller series led by an equally superb protagonist, Matt Drake. WITHOUT SANCTION has been a topic of discussion amongst top names in the thriller genre long before its debut. Early readers had pegged it as a strong contender for the best debut of 2020, and after having burned through the entire book in a span of two straight days, I am absolutely in agreement that Matt Drake has the chops to lead his own thriller series, and WITHOUT SANCTION just might be Don Bentley has created a terrific new thriller series led by an equally superb protagonist, Matt Drake. WITHOUT SANCTION has been a topic of discussion amongst top names in the thriller genre long before its debut. Early readers had pegged it as a strong contender for the best debut of 2020, and after having burned through the entire book in a span of two straight days, I am absolutely in agreement that Matt Drake has the chops to lead his own thriller series, and WITHOUT SANCTION just might be the best debut thriller of 2020, a statement not lightly made. WITHOUT SANCTION sets Matt Drake as a no-nonsense DIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, operative, who is reeling psychologically from a botched operation in Syria, where his asset and asset’s family are tragically killed and Drake’s sniper-pal suffers gruesome effects of an IED. The emotional turmoil brewing within Drake is displayed in an insightful manner that allows readers to get a good understanding of what makes Drake tick. At first, I had imagined Drake to be less of an action guy and more of an intelligence guy. I salute Don Bentley for proving me wrong. Matt Drake, while possessing excellent skills as an asset handler, is not one to shy away from fisticuffs and gunplay. Drake makes use of his brawns and weapon-skills in fast-paced and tactically sound action sequences that had me cheering Drake on as he double tapped his opponents with his Glock 19. Without completely spoiling it, the climax explores Drake’s untamed side in a gruesome manner. This thriller is full of realistic adrenaline pumping moments that made me extremely happy as a thriller fan. As a big fan of fighter jets, I was treated to brief but wonderfully written and descriptive chapters involving F-22 Raptors and their supersonic flights, treating the fifth-generation fighter jets as living and breathing organisms. WITHOUT SANCTION not only hosts serious action, but also incorporates cut-throat and resonating politics that tie directly into the narrative without detracting from the high stakes of the thriller. Witty and fueled exchanges between heads of intelligence departments and White House members created the feel of a game of chess, where every move felt strategic and tense. No encounter felt filler in any manner. Every action led to serious consequences tied directly into the story. While Drake had no qualms about coming out on the top in moments of intense fight-or-flight inducing situations, his inclination towards being on the asset handling side of things made for an even more interesting read. Reading about the different spycrafts about handling assets and operational proceedings, learning about what Drake would do in different situations, felt fresh and exciting, adding to the authentic and grounded vibe of the thriller. The thriller never forgets to keep Drake in the center of things, with Matt’s desire for redemption being the driving force of the thriller. The golden rule of not losing focus of the protagonist is used wisely by Don Bentley. WITHOUT SANCTION is a top-notch crafted action thriller packed with ankle-breaking and throat-biting twists and turns (this will be a shared sentiment by the end of the thriller). Treat yourself with a copy and bask in the glory of this superb read. The ending absolutely hints at a sequel since some mysteries are left unresolved, to be cracked open on another day. Matt Drake will return.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Coleen

    I almost stopped reading before I got very far into the book...The 'Hero' was beaten senseless by a group of thugs, including having his head bounced off the linoleum floor, thugs who were sent by his Government chief who wanted him to go on yet another mission after he had resigned. Getting a beating would not be the way to persuade me to help anyone, at least not without noting that I was doing so under extreme duress. But NO. Matt Drake undertakes a risky and dangerous task... Truthfully, the I almost stopped reading before I got very far into the book...The 'Hero' was beaten senseless by a group of thugs, including having his head bounced off the linoleum floor, thugs who were sent by his Government chief who wanted him to go on yet another mission after he had resigned. Getting a beating would not be the way to persuade me to help anyone, at least not without noting that I was doing so under extreme duress. But NO. Matt Drake undertakes a risky and dangerous task... Truthfully, the action and intrigue in the book is great. At times, it was difficult to know who were the good guys and who were the bad -- and whether the good guys would be successful. But that's what makes a great plot and an interesting story! And thus I was happy that I read the book. I won this uncorrected paperback proof in a Goodreads giveaway.

  15. 4 out of 5

    June

    There's a new hero in town! Yes he's flawed, he has some issues, but if I were facing a situation where there seemed to be no hope, I'd want him in my corner. Burdened by the grief at the loss of an asset and his family along with the debilitating injuries of his best friend, Matt Drake is like a ship being tossed around the ocean during a hurricane. Plagued by the ghosts of those he couldn't save, he tries to walk away from everyone and everything only to get sucked back in with a phone call fr There's a new hero in town! Yes he's flawed, he has some issues, but if I were facing a situation where there seemed to be no hope, I'd want him in my corner. Burdened by the grief at the loss of an asset and his family along with the debilitating injuries of his best friend, Matt Drake is like a ship being tossed around the ocean during a hurricane. Plagued by the ghosts of those he couldn't save, he tries to walk away from everyone and everything only to get sucked back in with a phone call from his old boss. Not really wanting to go back but understanding why he needs to, he heads out for one last mission, and boy what a mission. Just when you think he's used everyone of his 9 plus lives, there's another challenge. There are so many twists and turns you just don't see coming. Make sure when you sit to read this book, your calendar is clear, your phone is turned off and there is a do no disturb sign on your door. Once you turn that first page, you won't want to put it down till the book is closed. The book doesn't tie up everything in a neat package but I have to believe those ribbons will be dealt with in a second book (at least I'm praying there's a second book). If you enjoy Brad Thor, Brad Taylor or Lee Childs, this is a must read author!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maddie Taylor

    One incredible debut! We meet Matt Drake as he is in the middle of an exile that he did to himself. He is struggling to cope with what happened to him in Syria. As much as he thinks he is off the grid and won’t be found, he still gets found and manhandled into going to do a job. He is drawn back in for this rescue mission, but there is a bigger player behind the curtain in the White House trying to stop him by all means. Even putting one of Matt’s enemies in his way. Syria is full of deception, R One incredible debut! We meet Matt Drake as he is in the middle of an exile that he did to himself. He is struggling to cope with what happened to him in Syria. As much as he thinks he is off the grid and won’t be found, he still gets found and manhandled into going to do a job. He is drawn back in for this rescue mission, but there is a bigger player behind the curtain in the White House trying to stop him by all means. Even putting one of Matt’s enemies in his way. Syria is full of deception, Rangers, enemies, new friendships, Russian helicopters, fighter jets, and almost no luck at all for Matt. I suggest reading to find out how poor Matt gets put through the ringer! Both mentally and physically! Well done, Don!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nate Milligan

    Great! Highly recommend!!! Best first novel since Jack Carr! Reads like a political thriller and spy novel all in one. 5 stars

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gabriel Sanchez

    What a phenomenal book! Every turn of the page kept me addicted and leaves me now wanting more. I believe we have a new classic badass main character in line!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    Without sanction by Don Bentley is no doubt one of the most exciting and vivid military suspense novels that I have read in a long time. Matt Drake is a Defence Intelligence Agent with a profoundly sad and haunting past, as befits a superlative intelligence operative in today's high-risk world. Matt is assigned to exfiltrate a Pakistani scientist who possesses valuable information that could be used to inflict massive worldwide damage. The scientist wants to defect to the U.S. but only with Matt Without sanction by Don Bentley is no doubt one of the most exciting and vivid military suspense novels that I have read in a long time. Matt Drake is a Defence Intelligence Agent with a profoundly sad and haunting past, as befits a superlative intelligence operative in today's high-risk world. Matt is assigned to exfiltrate a Pakistani scientist who possesses valuable information that could be used to inflict massive worldwide damage. The scientist wants to defect to the U.S. but only with Matt's assistance. The mission is high risk and potentially lethal. We get an inside view of military operations that leave us properly afraid of what a crazy world it is. Highly recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    At about half-way through this book,I decided that it deserved 10 stars. Because five stars is all i’m able to give it, l’ll also give it the “wow” factor, which is the highest praise that I can give a novel. Wonderful writing,excellent character development, and fabulous storyline. The only problem I had with this book, is that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pedro

    What a great story!!! Loved it!!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    The Crew Reviews

    Don Bentley’s debut novel Without Sanction has both a dynamic first person narrative and delivers blistering action. Add those elements together with Don’s background as not only an Apache helicopter pilot but also a FBI Special Agent and you’ve got a force to be reckoned with for future Matt Drake novels. Don joined us on The Crew Reviews podcast on 3.2.20. Watch our interview here https://youtu.be/NmP-Y2LXyPQ Don Bentley’s debut novel Without Sanction has both a dynamic first person narrative and delivers blistering action. Add those elements together with Don’s background as not only an Apache helicopter pilot but also a FBI Special Agent and you’ve got a force to be reckoned with for future Matt Drake novels. Don joined us on The Crew Reviews podcast on 3.2.20. Watch our interview here https://youtu.be/NmP-Y2LXyPQ

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I do not normally read thriller books. But, my son is National Guard so I gave this one a try. It was, for sure, one of the best damn books I've ever read! I could NOT stop reading it and then would need to remind myself, throughout the day, that Matt Drake was not a real person so i did not need to be worrying about him. I laughed a lot, was nervous at times, and can not recommend this book enough! Can't wait for more Matt Drake!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    I just liked this book, but I think I just do not love this time of thrillers. I do not think this is a bad book. I won an arc of this book from a goodreads giveaway.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bint Arab

    ** I received an ARC copy from Goodreads Giveaway ** [Addendum ‎9/‎15/‎2019: I posted my review yesterday and gave my copy of Without Sanction to a friend after talking the book up to him. He didn't get very far into the book before complaining about all the clichés and mixed metaphors. Okay, so maybe this book is not as well-written as I claim in my review -- like I said, spy thrillers don't have to be well-written to be a good spy thriller. I wrote my review right after finishing the book, and ** I received an ARC copy from Goodreads Giveaway ** [Addendum ‎9/‎15/‎2019: I posted my review yesterday and gave my copy of Without Sanction to a friend after talking the book up to him. He didn't get very far into the book before complaining about all the clichés and mixed metaphors. Okay, so maybe this book is not as well-written as I claim in my review -- like I said, spy thrillers don't have to be well-written to be a good spy thriller. I wrote my review right after finishing the book, and I had the excitement of the book foremost in my mind, not the flaws. Sorry, but it should count for something that the "spy thriller" aspect of the book was good enough to make me forget the literary weaknesses. I still stand by my review!] I enjoyed this book very much, more than I expected to. Spy thrillers are not always well-written since the plot can carry the reader through the story to the end, but this book was fun to read. I tip my hat to the author, Don Bentley, and his editor, Tom Colgan, for paying attention to things like grammar and punctuation. This Advance Reading Copy (ARC) has about two dozen misspellings and typos in 370 pages of print, but I seriously hope the publisher will clean that up before releasing the book; this novel deserves better treatment. I can tell from the strong paper of the ARC that the publisher is committing good resources to the release of this book, and I hope that committment extends to proofreading! (Books with thin, easily torn paper are a pet peeve of mine, so the paper quality means a lot to me.) This story has a strong military component, with an attendant array of military acronyms (JSOC, AWAC, HAHO, and much more). The author manages to give out technical information slowly, in context, and so well integrated with the characters' "voices" that it isn't a drag to read through. (Yes, information dumps are another pet peeve of mine.) I appreciated all the information. I also appreciated that there was more to all the military characters than just acronyms -- there was also the code of honor, skill and pride in their work, patriotism, and believable doses of characterization so that I felt that even minor characters were not flat caricatures. Not only is the plot tight and the ending satisfying, but there are many good possibilities for future novels in this series (Matt Drake Thrillers), and I look forward to reading them! The thriller aspect of this book was good enough to leave me feeling that I know where the next book in this series will take off from, but I can't predict where it will go, which is perfect for a series of spy thrillers. I hope the next books in the series give a bigger and more developed role to two of the female characters: Laila Drake, Mat Drake's wife, and Virginia Kenyon, the "PhD chemist" temporarily working with the military to assess chemical weapons and whose involvement in this plot is so ephemeral that she might not appear in any subsequent books at all. To the author's credit, I'm very interested in seeing more of all the minor characters -- even the bad guys! -- because they seemed to be real people with icebergs of personal histories and personalities under the tips revealed in this book. Though the book is generally well-written, it does have some flaws. For one thing, the chapters that involved Matt Drake directly were written from a first-person point of view, that is, Matt Drake narrated these parts of the novel using the "I" pronoun: I said, I crouched, I pulled the trigger. All other chapters were narrated from a tight third-person point of view, that is, using "he" or "she" but with narration that is privy to these characters' inner thoughts. It was jarring to be constantly switching back and forth from one chapter to the next. These days, writers stick to one point of view throughout the book to avoid that kind of cognitive dissonance, and because Bentley's style choice is unconventional, it often had the effect of bumping me out of the "fictive dream." Furthermore, there were points when Matt Drake narrated things that he experienced but that he shouldn't have been able to narrate, like when he was just coming to after having passed out, or when he goes berserk with rage (how berserk could he have been if he can tell us exactly what he did in those moments?). There is one plot point that can render both problems forgivable (both the PoV issue and issue of narrating things he shouldn't be able to narrate): we find out at the end of the book that (view spoiler)[Matt Drake was poisoned by a psycho-active nerve agent before the events of this novel began, and so he is actually an "unreliable witness" throughout the book. I can see that it would have been awkward to narrate his psychotic breaks from a third-person point of view, and the constant flipping back and forth between Drake's PoV and the third-person narration of the other parts of the book generated some tension that didn't get resolved until this reveal about Drake's mental state at the very end of the story. (hide spoiler)] There are a couple of other stylistic points I didn't like. While Bentley has a talent for coming up with creative descriptions, but it became tiresome at times. Here's an example of an effective description: "Instead of fleeing, the car tooted an emasculated horn twice before making a sharp left turn toward us." p. 122 I could hear the high-pitched horn more clearly than if Bentley had described it as a "high-pitched horn," and this description made me laugh out loud. But some blocks of text got tiresome when they turned out to be a chain of mixed images all using the same simile structure. Bentley's creativity would have shined more if he spaced them out or if he'd reworded the metaphors so it wasn't one "like" simile after another. For example, "His flashlight's red lens moved up and down like an iridescent bobber against a sea of black." p. 224 could be reworded as "His flashlight's red lens moved up and down, an iridescent bobber against a sea of black." My advice: keep the imagery, Bentley, but vary the structures. Give your skills some breathing room. Bentley also overused a technique of creating "beats" in the text by setting one sentence in a paragraph by itself. This is a way to influence how fast a reader plows through the text, and it's a great way of driving a point home, of establishing leitmotifs ("wind is a fickle thing"), and of developing a character's "voice." Unfortunately, by overusing this technique from the beginning of the novel, Bentley undermined its effectiveness. Because both the first-person narrative by Matt Drake and the third-person narrative of the other characters were in this same style, it didn't come off as part of Drake's voice, it emerged as Bentley's voice, one that he used with every character in the book no matter how minor. It would have been so much more effective if Bentley had employed this technique sparingly, and only with Drake's narration. One last complaint: some of the site-specific aspects of the novel (some of the Arabic, some descriptions of places in Syria, some descriptions of the big political actors in Washington), didn't feel right. These were just small "hiccups" in the story, nothing egregious enough to ruin the novel. The bookflap description of the novel is on point: it doesn't give away too much, and it sets the stage nicely. All told, the good aspects of this novel -- exciting plot, engrossing characters, detailed background -- outweigh the flaws. For a debut novel, it is remarkably well-crafted! ~bint

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ross Sidor

    If you're a fan of espionage and military thrillers, you need to read this book. On the surface, the novel might seem to cover familiar territory, but Don Bentley throws in enough elements to stand out from the pack. Most notable are the realistic and human characters and the solid prose. The book does feature a WMD, double agents, special forces, and cool action scenes, but it's really a story about loyalty and redemption. The characters are mostly soldiers or veterans, portrayed as supremely de If you're a fan of espionage and military thrillers, you need to read this book. On the surface, the novel might seem to cover familiar territory, but Don Bentley throws in enough elements to stand out from the pack. Most notable are the realistic and human characters and the solid prose. The book does feature a WMD, double agents, special forces, and cool action scenes, but it's really a story about loyalty and redemption. The characters are mostly soldiers or veterans, portrayed as supremely dedicated to each other and their country, but they also carry physical and emotional scars from their years of service. Even the the double-dealing politician is not without human qualities that makes him at times sympathetic. Matt Drake is no Mitch Rapp copycat. He is a likable, believable, and damaged protagonist. He's also a former Ranger and a DIA case officer. Rather than just going around killing terrorists, he recruits and manages assets and collects intelligence. Bentley provides ample detail on tradecraft and technology as Drake goes about infiltrating Syria to make contact with an agent There are still plenty of action scenes and gunfights, and Bentley provides vivid tactical detail and brings these scenes to life. He also writes one of the most thrilling airborne insertions to be put to print. There's also an intricate aviation scene that likely demonstrates what Bentley will bring to the table as a future Clancy author. By far, though, the most compelling parts of the book are those relating to Drake's internal battles as he seeks to atone for a past failure that resulted in the death of an agent and the agent's family, and how this impairs him both physically and mentally. There is doubt throughout whether Drake will complete his mission. Even he expects failure, but his determination to persevere all the same is what makes him a compelling protagonist. Terrific and flawless first novel, and no doubt Don Bentley will stand out among the new crop of thriller authors.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bodo Pfündl

    The spiritual successor of I AM PILGRIM Don Bentley hooked me from the first sentence and didn’t let go til the very end. In today‘s world of daily new spy thriller releases, it’s not easy for an author to stand out. Bentley pulls of this feat by a combination of four: first his eloquence. Second the engaging first-person-narrative. Third the protagonist’s dark sense of humor. And last but not least the emotional heart which permeates the whole story. Every character feels real and relatable - ev The spiritual successor of I AM PILGRIM Don Bentley hooked me from the first sentence and didn’t let go til the very end. In today‘s world of daily new spy thriller releases, it’s not easy for an author to stand out. Bentley pulls of this feat by a combination of four: first his eloquence. Second the engaging first-person-narrative. Third the protagonist’s dark sense of humor. And last but not least the emotional heart which permeates the whole story. Every character feels real and relatable - even the so-called bad guy, if you take the effort of putting yourself in his shoes. The heart-wrenching struggle of Matt Drake brought me goosebumps at times. And the author portrays it in a way that not only those how served get what drives this brave man. Through in a plot with relevance, surprising twists and breathtaking action and you have on of the best thrillers currently out there. Don Bentley is a name to watch!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brad Parks

    This is the best debut I've read in a long time and one of the best military thrillers I've ever read. Don writes the military stuff with astonishing authority--you just feel like you're in great hands. His characters are wonderful. And the twists . . . my goodness! At every turn all I could think was, "Okay. HOW the heck is he going to get out of THIS one?" This one is really mind-blowing. If you like military thrillers even a little, don't miss this one.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Stacey Bridges

    The debut novel in the new Matt Drake series is a high octane thriller that I had great difficulty putting down. I especially commend Mr. Bentley on creating a character unlike the rest in the thriller genre - Matt Drake is the perfect combination of a deadpool-esque witty, non-egotistical badass that makes this book a breeze to read. I look forward to the sequel!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Prasanna

    Wow simply wow.. with American election around the corner, the President's re-election is hanging in balance due to CIA's failed mission in Syria. A DIA agent's journey to Syria and chemical weapons in play makes this a heart pounding thriller. Plenty of action to keep me engrossed with a bit of sentiments thrown in to the mix makes this an enjoyable read

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