This book was a bit tougher for me, because it introduces a whole new set of characters. The first book of Tom Paoletti's newly formed Troubleshooters Inc, a personal security (and more) firm, this book features Deck/Decker (Larry or Laurence) and his long-time partner Nash (Jim, Jimmy, James, or Diego). It starts with a real bang, as Tess, a computer specialist (aka compspesh) with the FBI is in a seedy bar with Nash trying to warn Decker that his undercover operation is blown - and to try to extract Decker without his being killed. Tess is there because her super skills picked up on the trouble; and goody-two-shoes, Miss Pollyanna Tess Bailey has to pose as a topless waitress in the seedy joint to get the message to Deck - something that neither Nash nor Deck ever thought she'd do. But she does, and with Nash "clearing" the roof, Deck and company get away. Tess even takes Nash home, where he falls hopelessly for Tess - something that has him running straight to Mexico.Flash forward, and Deck is now a team leader for Tom P, bringing aboard Nash for an op to K-stan, or "The Pit". A major al-Queda terrorist died in an earthquake there, and finding his laptop is essential. Deck's team is set to go... except they need a compspesh, and guess who? None other than Tess Bailey comes aboard.Nash is like and unlike the other "heroes" in Brockmann's books... he reminds me a bit of Jones, which is probably why he's so dangerous. But when he realizes that Tess isn't going to just roll over and pretend he's no longer there, when he realizes that Tess's feelings are real and true and exactly what he needs... well, something magical happens. And makes the unbearable bearable.Deck, who thinks he can fall for Tess, finds himself in an impossible situation with a mysterious Sophia. Who is this petite, blonde, blue-eyed Barbie? Is she a Mata Hari in league with the local war lord or is she really running from him? Deck is one of the upstanding, honorable, noble SEALS... and it's not just who he wants to be, it's who he is. So Deck has a tough time with some of what he says and does in this book, because it doesn't fit; but it's tough times and when no one trusts anyone else and can't afford to, what do you do?We also meet two other top ops: Dave and Vinh Murphy. Love both of these guys!This is a harrowing, dark look into some of the twisted reality, harshness, and grit that is the Middle East - even through Kasbekistan doesn't really exist. The author has clearly got sources who know their stuff... who've "been there" and who know the harsh realities of people and land torn apart by wars made of differences in religion and ideology. Not just Middle East versus West, but within tribes and cities and mosques. And it's sobering. Yes, it's fiction. But it's close enough for me.I salute Ms. Brockmann and the many brave men and women who endure these conditions daily... who fight for right and honor.