JACK NOBLE

 
Full Name: Jack Noble
Nationality: American
Organization: None
Occupation Freelance Agent

Creator: L. T. Ryan
Time Span: 2012 - 2017
ABOUT THE SERIES

       Jack Noble is a freelance agent.
       He is a contract killer for hire with the people doing the hiring usually intelligence agencies who need someone removed without it getting out they were behind the hit. The operative word here is usually because he also works on the odd job for others. There was no decision on his part on day to become an assassin but when circumstances forced his hand, he showed he was very, very good at it.
       When his desire to be a football player did not work out, he joined the Marine Corps. This might not have been his smartest moves as in Basic Training he showed his ability to tick off just about everyone. Many of his fellow recruits at Parris Island took a dislike to him, probably because he was very good at everything. All of his instructors disliked him because he could take what they dished out and still smile. It looked very quickly like military life and he would not be a match. That's when the CIA stepped in.
       The powers-that-be had an idea of using Marines in conjunction with CIA operatives in hotspots all of the world. They needed men who could do more than just take care of themselves but they also wanted people who were not totally set in the ways of the military. The solution to this need was to look at the new trainees and pick out the ones that look promising. Further training at their own facilities would tell if the prospects measured up. If not, they were sent back to the Service without trouble. Jack Noble made it. So did his new-found friend, a giant of a man nicknamed Bear.
       For nearly a decade, Noble and Bear worked all over the globe backing up the Company's men. Then 9-11 happened and they were sent into Iraq ahead of the troops and someone somewhere got the idea that these two would watch an innocent family get massacred - or perhaps they were setting Noble and Bear up. Whatever the cause, the actions that the two took to try and save the people got them on someone's naughty list, a list whose members usually died. Noble and Bear did not.
       After the trouble that got them so unpopular was over, Bear and Noble went parted on friendly terms and Noble got a job working an American Intelligence group called the SIS (not the same as the British MI6). A couple more years of action around the world would pass before Noble decided he needed to part ways with the SIS and reunite with Bear to form their own company. Contracts came in once it became known how good they were. Soon a fair number of groups and governmental agencies wanted their help. A fair number wanted their heads on a platter. Sometimes the two groups were the same.
       As the series evolves, Noble will work for several different "employers". His allegiances will never vary, though. He is loyal to his friends. Everyone else just pay the rent.

BOOKS

Number of Books:13
First Appearance:2012
Last Appearance:2017

       The author has taken an interesting approach to the publishing style of this series - he has made it really two different tracks.
       The first is comprised of his Episodes. Much like a serialized television series where the storyline is extended beyond a single viewing, he extends the plot and the action to encompass 5. He sells online each new episode and they come out at a decent pace. He then wraps all 5 into a single volume and sells it that way. That is the way I present them here. He has stated on his website that these tales are told from various viewpoints, Noble's, of course, but also other characters such that we see what they are up to while we follow Noble.
       The second has his Novels. These are fully contained lengthy adventures that deal with matters 'outside' the flow of the Episodes. The first talks of how Noble got into the business he currently has. The second talked of his employment with the SIS and how he eventually went freelance. A third depicts what happens when he has to go home on an emergency. These tales are told almost exclusively from Noble's point of view.

       The numbering of the books I have given is totally my own for now. I am listing them in the order in which they occur, not the order of their publication. The sequence represents my suggested reading order.

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NOVELLAS AND SHORT STORIES

Number of Stories:1
First Appearance:2013
Last Appearance:2013

1 The Recruit The Recruit
short story
Written by L. T. Ryan
Copyright: 2013

This prequel shows how Jack Noble first meets and becomes friends with the man known as Bear even as his days in Marine Basic Training has him making enemies with virtually everyone else.

MY COMMENTS

       Many authors of a series tell readers they can read the books in any order. This is a series where you both can and cannot since it is really two series about the same guy and his friends. This is just IMHO, of course, but the reading order of one is vital for true enjoyment while the other can be more haphazard. Even then, though, I would strongly recommend reading the first half dozen in the proper order. The first two books let you get to know the characters very well. They are both prequels to the Episodes which have to be read in sequence unless you like ruining the surprises.
       And you will find a lot of surprises or, more accurately, find a lot of characters who you have met suddenly gone for good. Life is cheap when you deal with Jack Noble and not just on the part of his enemies. Noble has powerful enemies who do not think at all about collateral damage. Noble himself sometimes is a tad too cavalier with his eliminations but his adversaries are unbelieveably hearless. This does more than once detract from my enjoyment but there are so many good points that I put up with it.
       [In explanation, there are several scenes throughout the series when the bad guys will kill for no reason and, more imporantly, for no concern of the consequences. Obviously the scenes were written that way to let the reader see just how badass the baddies are but the suspension of disbelief was too hard.]
       With my gripe about the series over, I must tell you know about just how good the series is overall. The action is non-stop. If these were television episodes, you would see "to be continued" at the end of each one and would growl in anticipation. I solved that by buying the second and third Seasons before I finished the first, just in case. The author on his website ways he wraps up most of the action in a season and he is right on. I just wanted to be sure. Of course, that made it easier to just move to the next Season. Binge reading.
       
       Noble has some very enjoyable costars. Bear is fantastic. Little Mandy is adorable and considering how ofter good guys get killed, I really have worried about her on several occasions. Frank Skinner and Sinclair are bosses for different organizations and each are interesting and fun to like and dislike (more of the latter). And Clarissa Abbot is such a fascinating character and would-be love interest that the author went on to giver her own book. Noble has interesting companions.

       If you seek nail-biting suspense, you will likely be disappointed in the Noble series because the action never slows down long enough for it to build. But if a constant deluge of terrific action is something you crave, boy, is this series for you.

GRADE

My Grade: B+

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