Today Mulholland Books is proud to publish Book 4 in Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo’s SEAL Team Six series, which plunges us into Guadalajara, Mexico, where the lawless streets are ruled by drug cartels. Captain Thomas Crocker and the rest of SEAL Team Six have been sent there to rescue a senator’s wife and daughter from the clutches of The Jackal, a drug lord who may bring to mind El Chapo. But Pezzullo and former Navy SEAL Don Mann remind us that serving one’s country isn’t just about taking down the bad guys—it’s also about facing death and taking responsibility. In this short excerpt from Hunt the Jackal, we meet Crocker at a vulnerable moment.
Pushed by the same wild, relentless energy he’d had since he was a kid, Crocker rode his Harley south, winding through country roads, not really aware of where he was going or why, just enjoying the rural scenery, the sunshine, smells of nature, and fresh air. There was something liberating about being on the open road with no real destination. Edenton, Tarboro, Rocky Mount, Smithfield, Clinton, Whiteville, Marion, Lake City. Towns flew by, schools, churches, golf courses, junkyards filled with rusting cars and buses, lakes.
He was searching for an answer or direction. Was it time to retire, leave the teams, and start something new? Had his string of narrow escapes from tragedy run out?
As he rode, he thought about his mother and father, and the cycle of life and death.
His mother had died of emphysema several years ago, but his father was still alive and living in Fairfax, Virginia. Lately, he’d befriended a thirty-five-year-old Gulf War vet named Carla and her nine-year-old son. According to Crocker’s sister, their dad had been giving Carla money—possibly as
much as twenty thousand dollars so far.
Maybe the old man was lonely and she was taking advantage. Or maybe Carla was a good person and meant to pay him back.
When Crocker was eighteen and constantly in trouble with the police, his father had told him a Cherokee story about a man and his grandson.
The grandfather, seeing that his grandson was being self-destructive, said, “My son, there’s a battle between two wolves inside us. One is evil. It’s jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is good. It’s joy, hope, humility, kindness, and truth.”
The boy thought about it and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”
The old man replied quietly, “The one you feed.”
For the past twenty-some years, since joining the navy, Crocker had fed the good wolf. But now he could sense the bad wolf’s hunger. It was a big hole at the bottom of his soul carved out by the people he’d killed in the line of duty, and his anger at life’s injustices, and the wrongs that had been visited on the people he loved.
Last night he had stopped in Santee, South Carolina, and eaten blackened catfish for dinner, washed down with several Skull Coast Ales. Later he’d parked near the state park, watched the stars, and reminded himself that even they weren’t immortal. Everything in nature came and went. Stars died and broke up into asteroids. Trees felled in lightning storms rotted into mulch. People died and were consumed by worms. Maybe there was such a thing as reincarnation. He didn’t know.
What he understood was that life went on, mysteriously, hurtling toward something new, like he was now.
Don Mann (CWO3, USN) is the author of the national bestseller Inside SEAL Team Six and the SEAL Team Six series of thrillers and has for the last thirty years been associated with the Navy SEALS as a platoon member, assault team member, boat crew leader, advanced training officer, and more recently, program director preparing civilians to go to BUD/s (SEAL Training). Up until 1998 he was on active duty with SEAL Team Six. Since his retirement, he has deployed to the Middle East on numerous occasions in support of the war on terror. Many of the active duty members of SEAL Team Six are the same guys he taught how to shoot and conduct ship and aircraft takedowns, and trained in urban, arctic, desert, river, and jungle warfare, as well as Close Quarters Battle and Military Operations in Urban Terrain. He has suffered two broken backs, two pulmonary embolisms, and multiple other broken bones in training or service. He has twice survived being captured during operations.
Co-writer Ralph Pezzullo is a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning playwright, screenwriter and journalist. His books include Jawbreaker (with CIA operative Gary Berntsen).