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The Terminal List

A Thriller

Book #1 of Terminal List


A Navy SEAL has nothing left to live for and everything to kill for after he discovers that the American government is behind the deaths of his team in this ripped-from-the-headlines political thriller that is “so powerful, so pulse-pounding, so well-written—rarely do you read a debut novel this damn good” (Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

On his last combat deployment, Lieutenant Commander James Reece’s entire team was killed in a catastrophic ambush. But when those dearest to him are murdered on the day of his homecoming, Reece discovers that this was not an act of war by a foreign enemy but a conspiracy that runs to the highest levels of government.

Now, with no family and free from the military’s command structure, Reece applies the lessons that he’s learned in over a decade of constant warfare toward avenging the deaths of his family and teammates. With breathless pacing and relentless suspense, Reece ruthlessly targets his enemies in the upper echelons of power without regard for the laws of combat or the rule of law.

“Told with a deft hand and a keen eye for detail, The Terminal List…is explosive and riveting” (Kevin Maurer, co-author of No East Day) and is perfect for fans of Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Stephen Hunter, and Nelson DeMille.

The Terminal List CHAPTER 1
Three months earlier

Khost Province, Afghanistan

0200 Local Time

NOT ONE OF THE GUYS on the ground had liked this mission. Now, moving to within a klick of their target, they had pushed that distraction from their minds and were solely focused on the deadly challenge before them. Glancing at the GPS attached to the stock of his rifle and scanning the terrain ahead, Lieutenant Commander James Reece called a quick perimeter. Snipers were already moving up to the high ground as team leaders joined Reece for a last, quick update before the final push to the objective. Even with all the technology at their disposal, things could go wrong in a heartbeat. Their enemy was cunning and highly adaptive. After sixteen years at war, the Afghan saying, “The Americans have all the watches, but we have all the time,” rang a bit more true than it had in the early days.

“What do you think, Reece?” asked a huge beast of a man, looking like a creature from another world with his AOR1-patterned camouflage, body armor, and Ops Core half-shell helmet with NODs firmly in place.

Reece looked at his most seasoned troop chief. The light green glow of the NODs illuminated through the beard on the other man’s face a slight smile that could not be mistaken for anything other than the confident look of a professional special operations soldier.

“It’s just over that rise,” Reece replied. “Predator shows nothing moving. No sentries. Nothing.”

His troop chief nodded.

“All right, guys,” he said to the other four men in the circle. “Let’s do it.”

They rose with resolve and moved with the poise of men who were comfortable in chaos, moving up the rocky ridgeline to get their Teams in place before approaching the target to make entry.

This is too easy. You are thinking too much again. It’s just another mission. Then why this feeling? Maybe it’s just the headaches.

The headaches had plagued Reece for the past several months, finally prompting a visit to Balboa Naval Medical Center before this deployment for a series of tests. Still no word back from the docs.

Maybe it’s nothing. But maybe it’s something.

Reece had learned a long time ago that if something didn’t look right, then it probably wasn’t. That judgment had kept him and his men alive on many a deployment.

Everything had lined up a little too easily for this target: the intel, the offset infil, the current state of the objective area. And why the pressure from higher authority to go after this target? When was the last time a flag-level command injected itself into a tactical planning process? Something wasn’t adding up. Maybe everything’s fine. Maybe it’s the headaches. Maybe it’s a bit of paranoia. Maybe I am getting too old for this. Focus, Reece.

This wasn’t the first time that they had approached a target they suspected was a possible ambush. At one point in the war, when intel had pointed to the high possibility of an ambush, corroborated by multiple sources both human and technical, Reece would have knocked on the door with a thermobaric AT-4 or a few 105mm rounds from an AC-130 gunship. This was the first time that actual tactics had been dictated from higher, from men who would not be on the ground. Focus on the mission, Reece.

One more check with the Tactical Operations Center, a forward-based command also called the TOC, and a look at the Predator feed. Nothing. Another check with the sniper teams. Nothing moving.

Reece glanced up at the military crest of the hill in front of him. Through his NODs he could see the assault teams set and ready to move. He couldn’t see the snipers, which gave him cause for a thoughtful smile. Best in the business.

Reece keyed his radio and opened his mouth to give the order to move.

Then it all went black.

• • •

The explosion knocked Reece back ten yards and ripped his helmet from his head as the entire military crest of the hill in front of him erupted in a concussion of violence and death. Teammates, friends, husbands, and fathers who one moment earlier had represented the best special operations force the world had ever known were gone in less than a second.

Reece never realized that he was momentarily knocked unconscious. The pain in his head brought him back into the fight before the dust began to settle and the reverberations from the explosion had drifted from the hills.

The professional in him immediately ensured he still had his weapon. Check. Next was a mental rundown of his body. Everything appeared to still be in the same place and working.

They knew. How? Later, Reece. Always improve your fighting position.

His eyes darted around looking in vain for his helmet and communications headset, eyes adjusting to the dark, hands moving in a frantic search until finally coming across it in the dirt.

Yes. Wait, too heavy to be my helmet. That’s because it’s not your helmet. It’s someone else’s. And the head is still in it.

Even in the darkness it was clear to Reece that he was staring into the face of his longtime friend and Teammate, the big man with the huge beard and confident smile, and that his head was no longer attached to his body. Reece couldn’t stop the tears from welling in his eyes but quickly brushed them aside. Focus. No time to mourn. Exploit all technical and tactical advantages. Check. Reece unsnapped the chinstrap, letting his friend’s head fall to the ground, and quickly put the helmet on his own head. Miraculously, the NODs still worked. His radio operator was facedown, twenty yards away. Reece could tell from the contorted position of his body that he was dead. Moving quickly to his side, Reece turned him over, checked for breathing and a pulse, knowing that the shrapnel sticking through his right eye and out the side of his head had killed him instantly. Removing his radioman’s helmet, Reece ripped off the MBITR radio and headset to reestablish communications with the supporting aircraft and his TOC.

Nothing moved on the hillside. It was as if the sword of death had swept over the entire force. Reece heard footsteps behind him and spun, weapon up, off safe, infrared laser activated, searching for threats. He immediately checked up his M4 5.56mm rifle as he recognized three of his operators running up to him from their rear security positions.

The temptation to run up the hillside was a strong one but another thought was at the forefront of all their minds: win the fight.

His rear security found new positions without saying a word, forming a tight perimeter around their leader.

Reece shut the carnage and death of the ambush from his mind. It was time to act.

“SPOOKY Four Seven, this is SPARTAN Zero One,” said Reece into his radio while looking at the Gridded Reference Graphic attached to his arm. “Request fire mission on building D3. 105s. Level it.” Worn in a similar fashion as a quarterback’s wrist coach, the GRG was instead an aerial image of the target area that allowed him to coordinate and maneuver forces who all used the same graphic.

“Good copy, Zero One. Six mikes out.” The AC-130 gunship had been loitering ten minutes away so as not to give away the coming assault in the still Afghan night.

“Break—RAZOR Two Four, RAZOR Two Four. Request QRF and medevac on my position, ECHO Three. Stay off the hillsides. We have multiple personnel wounded from buried IEDs.” One never mentioned the dead in a radio transmission.

“Roger, Zero One. Headed in for a hot extract on grid ECHO Three. Ten mikes out.” The QRF birds were two CH-47 helos packed with fifteen Rangers each.

“MAKO,” Reece said into the headset, “anything on that Pred feed?”

“Nothing, Zero One. Nothing moving on target.”


Reece turned his attention to his four remaining operators.

“Who do we have?” He asked.

“Hey, sir. It’s Boozer. I have Jonesey and Mike with me. What the fuck happened?”

“Ambush. They knew we were coming. Bastards. We have an air strike about five minutes out and QRF en route.”

“Sir, we fucking told them this was an ambush. What the fuck! Sure as hell didn’t expect this, though. Anyone alive?”

“Not sure. Let’s go find out.”

“Roger, sir. But take it easy. There could be hundreds of IEDs or mines set up and buried up here.”

“Jonesey, you and Mike stay here to bring in those birds. Boozer and I are going to go check for survivors. Boozer, stay about fifteen yards behind me. Step only where I step. We will work our way up there slowly. TOC says nothing is moving on the other side of that hill but stay alert.”

“Got it, Reece.”

“Let’s go.”

The pair moved together up the hillside, though mountainside was a more apt term. Rocky and steep at altitude, and weighed down by forty pounds of body armor and gear makes for slow going, especially when moving through a suspected minefield.

“SPOOKY, we are moving up from GRG ECHO Three to ECHO Eight. Anything on the north side of the hill is fair game.”

“Roger, Zero One, still nothing moving.”


“Good copy.”

Reece and Boozer inched up the hill, the smell of cordite, blood, dust, and death heavy in the air. Movement to the left.

“B, I have movement. Don’t rush up. Continue to follow me,” Reece whispered into his radio. Boozer responded by keying his mike twice, signifying good copy.

Reece moved in the direction of the movement and what he now identified as moaning. Donny Mitchell, one of the youngest members of Reece’s team, lay dying among the rocks of eastern Afghanistan. His body missing from the waist down, he reached for Reece.

“Did we get them, sir?” Donny said weakly. “I’ve still got my rifle.”

“Yeah you do, buddy. Yeah you do. Air strike is coming in now. We’ll get them.” Reece sat down next to Donny and moved to cradle his head in his arms. As the first of the 105s began to hit the compound, Reece caught the hint of a smile on Donny’s lips as he drifted off to Valhalla.

Reece looked up, watching Boozer slowly work his way among the boulder-strewn hillside. Behind Boozer, Reece first heard, then saw the blacked-out 47s begin their descent into the valley where Jonesey and Mike now guided them in.

We will pound the hell out of that compound with air and then move in with the Rangers to conduct battle damage assessment and sensitive site exploitation.

It was then that the gravity of what had just happened began to sink in.

I’ve lost my team. It is my responsibility.

Reece’s eyes began to mist over for the second time that night. He had no idea how bad things were about to get.
Photograph by Clay Goswick

Jack Carr is a New York Times bestselling author and former Navy SEAL. He lives with his wife and three children in Park City, Utah. He is the author of The Terminal ListTrue Believer, and Savage Son. Visit him at and follow along on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook at @JackCarrUSA.

"Absolutely awesome! So powerful, so pulse-pounding, so well-written – rarely do you read a debut novel this damn good."

– Brad Thor, #1 New York Times bestselling author of SPYMASTER

"Told with a deft hand and a keen eye for detail, THE TERMINAL LIST . . . is explosive and riveting."

– Kevin Maurer, co-author of the #1 Bestselling NO EASY DAY and AMERICAN RADICAL

"An extremely unique thriller! Absolutely intense!"

– Chuck Norris

"Like a bullet from Jack Carr’s custom built sniper rifle, the story arrives on target with devastating impact. Trust me, you won’t be able to put this one down!"

– Mark Owen, New York Times bestselling author of NO EASY DAY and NO HERO

"THE TERMINAL LIST is a thrill from start to finish! Let's all hope this is the first of many from Jack Carr."

– Chris Cox, NRA-ILA Executive Director

"Bravo! Jack Carr is the real deal!"

– Sean Parnell, New York Times Bestselling author of OUTLAW PLATOON

"Crackerjack plotting, vivid characters both in and out of uniform, and a relentless pace. to a worthy finish. It's a great start!"

– Stephen Hunter, #1 New York Times bestselling author of G-MAN

"If you are a fan of Vince Flynn or Brad Thor, make room on your nightstand - Jack Carr has arrived!"

– Eric Blehm, New York Times bestselling author of FEARLESS, LEGEND, and THE ONLY THING WORTH DYING FOR

"THE TERMINAL LIST bleeds with gripping authenticity . . . Think Vince Flynn's TERM LIMITS meets Mark Greaney's BACK BLAST."

– The Real Book Spy

"Hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read!"

– Brent Gleeson, author of TAKING POINT

"Absolutely riveting! Carr's experience and expertise shine on each and every page."

– Phillip Tomasso, Award Winning Author of Absolute Zero

"Not since Stephen Hunter have we seen an author who so accurately captures the essence of the gun–Jack Carr is a shooter."

– Clint Smith, Founder of Thunder Ranch Shooting School

“Impossible to put down. I read it cover to cover and can’t wait for the next one. Although fictional, it's very obvious that it's written by someone with 20 years of firsthand experience on the battlefield leading high pressure missions. Jack Carr knows what he’s writing about!!”

– Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Team USA America’s Cup Skipper and author of CHASING THE CUP: MY AMERICA'S CUP JOURNEY

"The author blends his unique perspective having ‘been there and done that’ into a writing style that pulls no punches. A must read and a no nonsense writer to watch."

– Larry Vickers, Master Sergeant (Retired) US Army SOF Combat Veteran

"Jack Carr is an amazing author! As a former Navy SEAL himself, Jack has created the main character, James Reece, to be a modern day American hero and dissolve a conspiracy that runs to the highest level of government!  It’s truly a thriller."

– Gebben Miles, World Champion Sporting Clays Shooter

"An intoxicating thriller that cautions against the seduction of absolute power and those who would do anything to achieve it, THE TERMINAL LIST is perfect for fans of Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Stephen Hunter and Nelson DeMille."


"The Terminal List is nothing short of a runaway train on fire, heading down a steep hill with no brakes, and as the very eager reader, I did not want to get off. Worth 5 sniper-precision stars!"

– The Wit & Wonder Agency


– Publishers Weekly

"Jack Carr's The Terminal List is a page turning thriller you won't be able to put down. The detail-focused writing, personal characters and heart pounding plot line will keep you coming back for more. An absolute must-read!"

– Katie Pavlich, New York Times Bestselling Author

"Any fan of the novels by Brad Thor and the late Vince Flynn will realize that Jack Carr will soon be joining their ranks. THE TERMINAL LIST is sure to be the best debut thriller of 2018."

– The Washington Times

"There have been many inspiring books by SEALs about their life and career. With The Terminal List, readers get the inspiring story within an action-packed plot."

– Black Five

"Without question, Jack Carr's The Terminal List is the most daring, controversial debut political action thriller since Vince Flynn's iconic novel, Term Limits."

– The Real Book Spy

"Carr's novel is a strong cocktail. The Terminal List combines a shot of Vince Flynn's Term Limits with a dash of Stephen Hunter's Point of Impact, tosses in a sprinkle of the movie The Fugitive, and mixes it all together with the visceral vengeance of David Morell's First Blood

– Jon Crunch Book Review

"The best ending to a novel I've ever read!"

– Matt Locke, Conservative Cartel, Blaze Radio

"This is one of the best thrillers of the year and highly recommended."

– The Free Lance Star (Fredericksburg)

More books from this author: Jack Carr

More books in this series: Terminal List