For two years—ever since his lights-out debut novel, The Terminal List (2018)—I’ve been telling everyone who will listen that Jack Carr is the next big star of the thriller genre . . .
And I stand by that now more than ever.
Whereas most authors in the genre stick to a type of “branded book” after tasting success, Carr tossed out the rulebook and has forged his own path. Each of his first three books are all very different. Make no mistake, they’re all very much part of a series and star James Reece in the leading role, but each title has its own theme. The Terminal List was all about revenge, while his second book, True Believer (2019), dealt with the idea of redemption, and what that might look for in a guy like Reece.
Falling somewhere between Richard Connell’s The Most Dangerous Game and David Morrell’s First Blood, Carr’s latest novel follows Reece as he’s pulled into a twisted game of human hunting, forcing him to go toe-to-toe with a former operator who’s taken to killing people for sport. It’s the ultimate showdown of Hunter vs. Hunted, and Carr delivers in a big way with another up-all-night reading experience.
A former Navy SEAL (just like his character), Carr brings plenty of been-there-done-that authenticity to his hard-hitting thrillers, but he also excels at coming up with creative storylines, forcing Reece into situations that’ll test him in more ways than he can imagine, and Savage Son is no exception. Even more than his last two books, Reece finds himself surrounded by danger with little to no room for error. One mistake could be the difference between life and death, and that tension helps make Savage Son the rare type of book that could be read over and over again.
For my money, Jack Carr is the next Vince Flynn or Brad Thor, and if you enjoy either of those guys, you’ll absolutely love this book.
by Jack Carr
I was, and remain, a student of war and of the hunt. Experiences in combat and in the backcountry helped shape me into the citizen, husband, father and writer I am today. The one has made me better at the other. I suspect it has always been this way. It is the feelings and emotions from those most primal of endeavors, coupled with a reading experience from my youth that form the foundation of my third novel, Savage Son.
I was first introduced to Richard Connell’s masterpiece, The Most Dangerous Game, in junior high school. Connell, a veteran of World War I, published his most celebrated short story in Collier’s Weekly in 1924. Upon that initial reading, I was determined to one day write a modern thriller that paid tribute to this classic tale, exploring the dynamic between hunter and hunted.
Providing for and defending my family and country are hardwired into my DNA. Perhaps that is why The Most Dangerous Game resonated with me at such an early age, or maybe those primal impulses are in all of us which is why Richard Connell’s narrative continues to endure almost a century after it was first published.
Fast forward thirty years. As I prepared to leave the SEAL Teams, I laid out all my ideas for what was to become my first novel, The Terminal List. The plot for Savage Son was among several of the storylines I was contemplating as I decided how to introduce the world to James Reece. For that first outing, I knew my protagonist was not yet ready for what I had in store. I needed to develop him through a journey, first of revenge and then of redemption, before I could explore the dark side of man through the dynamic of hunter and hunted via the medium of the modern political thriller. Is James Reece a warrior, a hunter, a killer? Perhaps all three?
One of the most intriguing passages in The Most Dangerous Game is this exchange between the protagonist, Sanger Rainsford, and the antagonist, General Zaroff, where the central theme of the narrative is revealed:
“I wanted the ideal animal to hunt,” explained the general. “So I said, ‘What are the attributes of an ideal quarry?’ And the answer was, of course, ‘It must have courage, cunning, and, above all, it must be able to reason.’”
“But no animal can reason,” objected Rainsford.
“My dear fellow,” said the general, “there is one that can.”
It is this most ancient and primal of contests I set out to explore in Savage Son.
As a student of the genre I am indebted to all those who, unbeknownst to them, were my early professors in the art of storytelling. In addition to The Most Dangerous Game, readers will recognize the inspiration of Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male, David Morrell’s First Blood, and Louis L’Amour’s Last of the Breed. It is with great humility that I stand on the shoulders of these giants who all moved the genre forward through their dedication to the craft. I see it as my responsibility to them and to readers to not only improve with each and every project but to carry both the odyssey of Navy SEAL sniper James Reece and the genre, forward.
Jack Carr is an author and former Navy SEAL sniper. He lives with his wife and three children in Park City, Utah. He is the author of The Terminal List, True Believer, and Savage Son. Visit him at OfficialJackCarr.com and follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @JackCarrUSA.