RED SKY MOURNING – The 007th James Reece Adventure (Spoiler Free Review)

Red Sky Mourning 007 James Reece

RED SKY MOURNING – the 007th James Reece Adventure

Students of history, current events, and pop culture will all find Red Sky Mourning to be a dangerously captivating, bloodsoaked love letter to everything they hold dear.

On the heels of Only the Dead, the 007th James Reece adventure places Carr’s protagonist in the middle of yet another high octane adventure. The stakes have been raised even further, with the quantum computer/AI “Alice” only answering to Reece, the war-weary hero, eager for a peaceful life is once more thrown into the breech. Will this be the last of his adventures? That’s an answer you must find yourself, on the final page of this incredible thriller.

A Celebration of Bond & Beyond – the 007th Reece

Jack Carr GoldenEye
Jack Carr at the Fleming Villa at Goldeneye. It was at this desk Ian Fleming wrote each Bond novel. For Carr’s 007th novel, this was the perfect time to make the pilgrimage the the birthplace of 007.

As an ardent fan of everything established above, every page of Red Sky had me smiling for one reason or another. Fans of Fleming and the cinematic 007 will be thrilled with the clever nods to Bond. Carr, a fan himself, spent time at the birthplace of Bond, Goldeneye, while writing this thriller, and this passion for Fleming is richly sprinkled throughout the manuscript.

Carr builds a captivating world, because it is truly our own, with only the whispers of fiction breathed into the story. Nothing is held back, the book is equally soaked in blood as it is in complex geopolitical nuance, making James Reece once again, the hero of the moment.

In a singular sitting, I was compelled to devour this book, cover to cover, only taking a brief moment every so often to flip a LP or move to the next one. At the first sign of violence, I quickly swapped a Bond album out for AC/DC’s BACK IN BLACK, a decision I did not regret. The swift and ruthless violence of James Reece can only be matched by some of the best in 1980’s rock and roll. 

Red Sky Mourning 007 James Reece
Carr, signing copies of RED SKY MOURNING, with a Walther PPK 7.65mm and Winkler Sayoc tomahawk at his side.

Time and again, I am nothing but amazed by Carr’s ability to successfully weave an up to the minute thrill-ride that defies logic. The geopolitical analysis is sharp, the action is a bloody good time, and the weaponry is exceptional.

Carr once again concludes the novel in a manner that is completely unexpected, yet absolutely perfect for the character that he has developed over the course of seven thrillers. So often the question is raised, how long can a man like Reece survive in today’s society? He’s a somewhat wayward soul you can’t help but love, despite the actions he must take to defend his friends and country from harm.

James Reece is the perfect blending of the spirit of Thomas Magnum infused into the world of James Bond. It’s this that makes Reece such an endearing and dangerous character, a dangerous man of action, who is just as quick with a blade as an easy smile to his friends.

Carr’s celebration of pop culture, from nods to icons of his childhood screen to those of the page, feel organic. Never do these moments feel like they are jarring you out of the story, nor do they feel shoehorned in, they just belong. This is due in part to the fact that like so many of us, Carr first found these heroes and authors as a fan. Don’t believe me? Spend only a few moments listening to The Danger Close podcast, or on his social channels, and you’ll immediately feel his passion for reading and 80’s films and TV radiating from his easy smile and excited tone.

A Weary Hero, A Story of Loyalty

Red Sky Mourning 007 James Reece

While this is a thriller laden with well curated referenced and nods, Red Sky Mourning is still a powerful political thriller. Carr holds absolutely nothing back in his criticism of our current world, a place where platitudes replace real values, and once again casts an honest light on those in power, and those who grovel to the throne.

Reece, like Carr, is not of that world. He is a relic of the past, a time where men could be men without fault, a time when such things would be considered virtuous, instead of villainous. 

Again, Carr’s writing reminds me so heavily of Fleming’s, and his hero’s purpose, a stand-in for the questions of politics in that time, is yet another striking similarity. The difference is found in Carr’s war weary, disillusioned hero.

James Bond was Fleming’s medium to fictionally hold onto the Pre-War Great Britain of his past. A world in which James Bond, a blunt instrument of Her Majesty’s government, saved the Western world from the specter of Communism time and again. In reality, the 1950’s and 60’s in Britain were clearly the beginning of the end for the empire. The United States walked away from the Second World War, the great power war of our time, as the clear hegemon. British relevance on the world stage was beginning to fade. Fleming clung to the old world order he knew, and Bond was his answer to British decline.

Carr, on the other hand, harbors no such delusions about American prowess. Reece is a man who has witnessed 20 years of bleak warfare, death, and failed nation building. He’s seen into the hearts of those who have clung to power like the leeches on the public they are, and has become disaffected. The institutions are crumbling, and he knows it. Red Sky Mourning, like all of Carr’s novels, hinges on a single value, this time, it is loyalty. Why must Reece continue to be loyal to a system that has cast him aside time and again? A system that parades around the reeking corpses of American institutions like a macabre redux of Weekend at Bernie’s, demanding the respect those institutions used to command, all while desecrating their graves – is that who Reece is expected to defend?

In a world where so many Americans feel the very same way, these are questions that once again make Carr’s latest thriller a perfect time capsule. This is the question faced by my generation, the question that, in some part, has been so visible in the public sphere because of the low recruitment rates to the military. Why should young men choose, willingly, to serve masters, after growing up in a 20 year war, after witnessing the most botched withdrawal in American history? And how can Reece, a tired man who lived through all of that, be expected to answer the call once more? The dynamic and nuanced definitions of loyalty, service, and integrity all hinge on the people calling the shots, but also those who may get caught in the crossfire. Is it better to serve weakened institutions if it means still providing safety for those you love?

Carr writes a thriller, but it would be dishonest to insinuate that thrills are the only thing captivating the reader. His passion for depth in political dialogue is prevalent. Ayn Rand isn’t just name-dropped to score some points of pseudo-intellectualism, but the theories described in her tomes are deeply woven into the message of this book.

Our generation will pass this book down, and those who come after us should learn well from the lessons taught on the pages of this primary source fiction.

I want to briefly thank Jack for his kindness and generosity as always. At his core, he is such a thoughtful and kind person, and someone I am honored and proud to call friend. It is my privilege to have one of the first 007 copies of RED SKY MOURNING in the wild. Truly, no one in the space does it better. Thank you Jack.

From the thrills, to the extremely intense action, to the political mayhem, Red Sky Mourning is THE book of the moment. Be sure to pick up a copy when they land on June 18, or pre-order today.


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