Review: The Valley by John Renehan

Review: The Valley by John RenehanThe Valley by John Renehan
Published by Dutton on March 10th 2015
ISBN: 9780525954866
Genres: Military Fiction, Thrillers
Pages: 433
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

“You’re going up the Valley.”

Black didn’t know its name, but he knew it lay deeper and higher than any other place Americans had ventured. You had to travel through a network of interlinked valleys, past all the other remote American outposts, just to get to its mouth. Everything about the place was myth and rumor, but one fact was clear: There were many valleys in the mountains of Afghanistan, and most were hard places where people died hard deaths. But there was only one Valley. It was the farthest, and the hardest, and the worst.

When Black, a deskbound admin officer, is sent up the Valley to investigate a warning shot fired by a near-forgotten platoon, he can only see it as the final bureaucratic insult in a short and unhappy Army career. What he doesn’t know is that his investigation puts at risk the centuries-old arrangements that keep this violent land in fragile balance, and will launch a shattering personal odyssey of obsession and discovery as Black reckons with the platoon’s dark secrets, accumulated over endless hours fighting and dying in defense of an indefensible piece of land.

The Valley is a riveting tour de force that changes our understanding of the men who fight our wars and announces John Renehan as one of the great American storytellers of our time.

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Disclosure: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


drey’s thoughts:

John Renehan’s debut The Valley is a gripping, engrossing story. Lt. Black is pushing paper in Afghanistan when he’s tagged to investigate an incident, one that’s supposedly fill-out-and-file-the-paperwork easy. Only thing is, he has to get to a remote outpost to interview the soldiers involved.

Once he’s there though, nothing’s as he expected, and this easy-peasy assignment turns into a whodunwhat that threatens to bring the wrath of the locals on the heads of the soldiers stationed in an inhospitable land.

The Valley‘s plot has more layers than an onion. The soldiers’ responses to Black’s questions send him down a trail that, as he peels back the layers, turns into quite the rabbit hole. The only question you’re left with is, will he be able to piece the puzzle together before it’s too late?

I could not put this book down, I had to know what’s going on! Renehan does an excellent job with the pace, the plot, the characters, and the backdrop. All of the pieces not only fit, they fit perfectly. I can’t wait to see what this author offers us next.

drey’s rating: Excellent!

Have you read The Valley? What did you think?

About John Renehan

John Renehan was born in Boston and raised in California. He worked as an attorney for the City and State of New York, and was a field artillery officer in the Army. He lives in Virginia with his wife and children. The Valley is his first novel.


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