Berserker: Green Hell – Lee Franklin
Reviewed By J.A. Sullivan
Looking for adventure? Well lace up your combat boots and prepare yourself for the carnage awaiting as author Lee Franklin takes you deep into the jungles of the Vietnam War in Berserker: Green Hell. And you really do need to be prepared because Franklin’s writing is so visceral, I felt more like a participant rather than just a passive reader.
You’ll be joining Lance Corporal Terence “Pinny” Pinfold and the rest of the special Australian team called “The Reapers” as they follow behind active lines of fire, collecting dog tags of fallen soldiers and intel on suspected war crimes. Atrocities run rampant in Vietnam, and this being Pinny’s second tour he’d thought he’d seen it all, until they come across a burning village. Mutilated bodies litter the ground alongside footprints through the mud – footprints larger than any humans should be. Then something huge and lightning-fast abducts one of The Reapers. Before the rest of the team can save him, U.S. troops charge in, haul the creature away, and extricate the survivors.
At first Pinny is thankful for the rescue – a hot shower, fresh clothes, and a safe place to sleep in the U.S. underground bunker seem like a godsend, but Pinny soon finds himself in a new hell. As Dr Jacinta Harding shows Pinny her collection of monstrous creatures in the facility, she makes it clear there’s no way out for him. His Aboriginal DNA holds something she’s been looking for and he’s soon subjected to injections and experiments, including staged battles against the bloodthirsty berserkers. Even if he manages to live through mutations and attacks, will his humanity survive?
I don’t want to spoil more of the plot, so I’ll just say wow, this was a terrific read! Right from the first page I was hooked. This is one of those books where I’d recommend clearing your calendar so you can devour it in one sitting. With intense action and excellent pacing, this was hard to put down.
One thing I really enjoyed was the development of the characters. Sometimes in action-driven stories, the characters can feel a bit flat, but that was not the case with Berserker: Green Hell. Franklin deftly walks the line of providing background information without slowing the pace, giving Pinny depth that will have you rooting for him the whole way through. Even the side characters are multifaceted, with complicated relationships to each other, leaving me constantly on edge of what they would do next.
If you’re a fan of movies like Rambo, Predator, and Overlord, I have no doubt this is a book for you. Part action, part science fiction, all packed together with gory horrific details, Lee Franklin is an author to add to your favourites.
Post Review Q&A
JAS: The ending of this novel seems to be an invitation for sequels to come. What can you tell us about the continuation of Pinny’s story and when will the next book be available?
Lee Franklin: Well I certainly have plans for Pinny’s journey to continue and I am almost halfway through the first draft. This last year has been hectic for me, after getting married to my partner of 15 years and then returning to the workforce my time on the keyboard has taken a step to the side. But Pinny will definitely be back with some old and new friends. I love his character, though it doesn’t mean I’m going to make life any easier for him. Might be in time for a 2020 Christmas present.
JAS: How did your decade serving in the Australian Army help shape Berserker: Green Hell?
LF: They say write what you know, so that’s what I did. Serving in the Army, and having been deployed on operations to Timor Leste, gave me a great insight as to things work, and don’t work. Obviously, the Vietnam War was before my time, but there is such a strong culture surrounding it in the Australian Army it is impossible to escape it. Until recent times and the advent of drones etc. warfare hadn’t really changed too much. The same drills that when you under fire apply now to what they did in Vietnam.
JAS: Your latest release was the novelette Nang Tani, seems to lean further into supernatural elements than the science fiction of Berserker and your short story “Gilded Cage.” Did you find it difficult shifting genres?
LF: No, not really. I grew up reading such a wide range of genres and it never crossed my mind which one is sci-fi, fantasy or horror. I just read them. I think it is the same for my stories. Different sub-genres do stretch you to write slightly differently and I love the challenge of that. I never set out to write a military sci-fi horror it is just how the story evolved and I somehow evolved with it. I think the core of my writing is probably fast-paced action. Gilded Cage was definitely an experimental piece for me, something fun and different.
JAS: I first became familiar with your short story works in various anthologies. Are you still writing short stories, or have you changed focus to longer pieces?
LF: Yes, I am still writing short stories, though going back into the workforce this last year has slowed me down somewhat. I have quite a few projects on my list, not least the sequel to Berserker and I am chipping away at them.
JAS: Which authors have had the biggest impact in developing your own writing style?
LF: Definitely Australian author Matthew Reilly. In terms of fast-paced action-adventure and the horrors that run parallel with that; he is my go-to author. Indiana Jones on steroids and Red Bull. If you enjoyed Berserker: Green Hell you will love his Scarecrow series.
JAS: I’d sincerely like to thank Lee Franklin for taking the time to speak with me.
Berserker: Green Hell
A terrifying debut novel set during the Vietnam War. Australian Lance Corporal Terence ‘Pinny’ Pinfold and his squad find themselves in the midst of the living hell of the Vietnam War.
Known as Reapers, their job is to go in after the firefights, collect dog tags and any evidence of war crimes.
As each soldier tries to make some sense out of a senseless war, there are more questions than answers as mutilated, butchered bodies are discovered the further to the North they venture.
Pinny soon finds himself at the very core of the real war – in a secret underground facility amongst hybrid creatures which belong only in the very worse nightmares.
With Pinny’s aboriginal bloodline, the enigmatic Doctor Jacinta Harding believes she has found the perfect specimen…
Pinny might survive the war, but he might not save himself.
After ten years in the Australian Army, Lee Franklin has been a personal trainer, logistics officer and the mother of three boys. Recently moved from Western Australia to the Yorkshire countryside with her family, and with the full support and belief of her husband Marcelo, Lee is finally able to focus on her writing, exploring across genres with her words. This is just the beginning…
Amazon: Author Page