Book Review: Baptism by Fire

Pascoe, David E. Baptism by Fire: the first book at the Edge of Faith. 2013 Kindle Edition

“Join the Navy, see the desert, fight three meter tall flaming monsters” said no recruiting officer ever. Corpsman James Lawrie is used to patching up Marines and fending off his little sister’s unacceptable (to her big brother) suitors. But a fire fight in Afghanistan turned into fighting fire, notably a giant flaming thing sic’ed on the Forward Operating Base by an Afghan. An Afghan with strange words written on his body.

Now Lawrie is home, resting from something that never happened. Until he assists a friend from high school and discovers a body. One that bears the same strange writing. And when a Navy corpsman, FBI agent, and Russian priest walk into a bar, anything can happen, and probably will.

David Pascoe’s novel, Baptism by Fire is about the making of a warrior, not just of the flesh but of faith as well. James Lawrie discovers hidden strength and talent, growing during the course of this short but gripping novel. Pascoe delivers a well-written, believable fantasy with a military twist, featuring well-developed and fascinating characters. The purely military section reads right, and the banter later in the book sounds very familiar – there’s no nerd like a firearms nerd.

In some ways the book reminds me of Katherine Kurtz’s Adept series. Supernatural forces exist, some are good, some are bad, and the protagonists (most of them) rely on Christian faith to give them the armor they need to fight evil. And make no mistake, the evil in this story is pure, serious evil that corrupts the body as well as the soul.

I’ll admit, when Lawrie first crosses paths with the FBI, I was bracing for the usual “hero-suspected-of-being-villain-false-accusation/arrest” trope. I was happily surprised by Pascoe’s handling of the scene and others.

The author makes no bones that faith in the Christian god is necessary to defeat these manifestations of evil (although applications of tincture of lead and steel with a small dash of high explosive, and a fire hose, also help). If this is something you don’t like in your fun reading, this isn’t for you. Pascoe doesn’t preach, he just shows how things work in his characters’ world.

I enjoyed the book. It’s a fast, fun read with a nice dash of humor to leaven the horror. I look forward to the next work in the series. Pascoe gives us a teaser chapter, and let’s just say when the most experienced person in the field says, “I’ve never seen that before,” you know this ain’t gonna be easy.

LEGAL NOTE: I purchased this book. I was not given any remuneration or payment for this review.