NPR logo
Book Review: Ross Ritchell's 'The Knife'
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/388520640/388520641" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Book Review: Ross Ritchell's 'The Knife'

Book Reviews

Book Review: Ross Ritchell's 'The Knife'

Book Review: Ross Ritchell's 'The Knife'
  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/388520640/388520641" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Alan Cheuse reviews Ross Ritchell's new novel, The Knife.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Last year, the National Book Award went to Phil Klay, a writer who used his experience as a veteran in his fiction. Well, now a new writer, also a veteran, is giving Klay a run for his money. Ross Ritchell's new book is called "The Knife." Our reviewer, Alan Cheuse, says it's the best yet in the genre.

ALAN CHEUSE, BYLINE: "The Knife" is slang for special operations. Ross Ritchell explains that they're a group of skilled soldiers expressly used to hunt down and eliminate terrorist networks - teams that are, as he puts it, out in the night doing their best to kill the right people. Ritchell eases us into this world in the opening pages, starting with the alert that brings the squadron together for their flight to an amorphous region they refer to as Afghanipakiraqistan.

We see it from the point of view of Dutch, the team leader. Dutch watches his men as they pack their kits in preparation for action. And in two pages reminiscent of Tim O'Brien's Vietnam novel, "The Things They Carried," we get an inventory of what Dutch himself carries in his kit. There are reams of gauze, stacks of wrapped bandages and cotton compresses, scissors, tape and a hollow metal cylinder with plastic wrap for sucking chest wounds. Ritchell packs this novel in the same way - the land, the weather, the men, their lives and, in some cases, their deaths, all in under 300 pages. Put this one in your own kit. The best novel yet about life at the point of the knife in these times of overlapping foreign wars.

SIEGEL: The book is "The Knife" by Ross Ritchell. Our reviewer is Alan Cheuse.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.