The Severance: A Novel

The Severance: A Novel

4.5 4
by Elliott Sawyer

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The Severance is a mystery set amid war, the war in Afghanistan. Its authenticity derives from the author's combat experience there. The protagonist is an officer who ran afoul of Army discipline, and was assigned to lead a rehabilitation platoon of similar troublemakers. While fighting the Taliban they discover a corrupt contractor's cache of dollars, plot to smuggle


The Severance is a mystery set amid war, the war in Afghanistan. Its authenticity derives from the author's combat experience there. The protagonist is an officer who ran afoul of Army discipline, and was assigned to lead a rehabilitation platoon of similar troublemakers. While fighting the Taliban they discover a corrupt contractor's cache of dollars, plot to smuggle it home- only to find themselves fighting a deadly unknown foe trying to highjack it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This flat debut novel from a former paratrooper tells the story of a group of screwup soldiers fighting insurgents both on the battlefield and within their own platoon in Afghanistan. Kodiak Platoon is made up of drug addicts, alcoholics, deserters, insubordinates, and other castoffs, and at the helm is Capt. Jake Roberts, who has his own dark secrets. Amid firefights and jocular card games, the men bond and become an elite, frequently called upon unit. But after the platoon discovers million in cash and a plan is formed to smuggle it back home and divide it among themselves (they come to call the money their severance), Roberts must maneuver battles, career-minded superiors, an affair with a nurse, and possible subterfuge from within his own ranks, all the while protecting his platoon and their secret stash of cash. The story can't quite figure out where it wants to be, neither catching fire as a full-on military thriller nor finding in its cast the material for a solid ensemble story. It clicks during the battle scenes, but loses its way once the safeties are back on. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Sawyer, a veteran of the 101st Airborne in Iraq and Afghanistan, tells the story of Capt. Jake Roberts and his Kodiak Platoon, a Dirty Dozen-like collection of washouts, screwups, and put-upons, hardened by Jake's leadership into a crack unit. Ending a deployment from which they will be released without honor, the Kodiaks have one ace in the hole, a multimillion-dollar stash—their "severance"—that has come into their possession. The secret horde will be theirs to split if they can escape Afghanistan alive and smuggle the huge pile of money back into the United States undiscovered. Blending war, heist, and mystery genres, this debut has some good twists and reads quickly, but it suffers from indistinct characters and an unsympathetic protagonist. The Afghanistan and Iraq settings are mostly window dressing for a plot that could be transported to World War II or any later following American conflict. That Roberts's two chief dilemmas are resolved largely by coincidence doesn't help either. VERDICT A good premise underdeveloped and poorly resolved makes this an optional purchase. [A better, although flawed, title about the Iraq conflict is David Zimmerman's The Sandbox.—Ed.]—Neil Hollands, Williamsburg Regional Lib., VA

Product Details

Bridgeworks - Warren Phillips
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

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Severance 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Ski-Bray More than 1 year ago
The Severance is about a “Dirty Dozen” type of platoon in Afghanistan. Captain Jake Roberts has the task of keeping these misfits in check, and, because of their past indiscretions, they are given the more undesirable patrol duties. They will be discharged from the military shortly without full benefits. Although they are returning home as decorated heroes, they are apprehensive about their return to the states and worry about their transition into civilian life. This is where what they call “The Severance” comes into play. Earlier the platoon accidently stumbled upon a large sum of money stolen by a crooked civilian contractor. This money will be for their return to the states, and the biggest part of the book revolves around how they will get it out of Afghanistan and to the states. The Severance was a quick, interesting read with the banter between the soldiers entertaining. I liked the story although it didn’t seem to be developed to its full potential. It did have several unexpected twists and turns towards the end. The characters seemed quirky enough although they, just as the storyline, could have been developed deeper. The female characters in the story especially seemed to be one dimensional. I found the characters to be rather unlikable, but I suppose that was what the author was striving for since they were a group of social misfits. I wasn’t able to critique the editing because the copy I read was an advance uncorrected proof. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it for those who enjoy military novels set in Afghanistan or Iraq.
markpsadler More than 1 year ago
Captain Jake Roberts is given the task of commanding a group of misfits, a 'rehabilitation platoon' a modern day Dirty Dozen as it where, made up of "bitter, unruly, former drunks and drug addicts, troublemakers and other misfits" who-while not an a suicide mission-are put in a place where they are not expected to succeed during the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan. In an intelligent plot Sawyer, a decorated officer himself, lets us tag along with these 'short-timers' as they contemplate their return the United States within a week. Although they are coming home as heroes with medals, they all face the reality of being unemployed, "disposable heroes", and with their troubled pasts many of them will be unable to find work. This is where the severance is ready to kick in. The platoon accidentally discovered five million dollars in unmarked bills in the back of a corrupt contractor's car and discreetly purloined it for themselves. Now all they have to do is to find a way to smuggle it stateside so they all have a new leash on a financial start to civilian life. Unfortunately someone other than those 'in the know' has also discovered their secret and is quietly trying to muscle in. In his debut novel Sawyer has found a way to paint a feasible picture describing life in the desert and mountains of Afghanistan. We become embedded with the platoon on their last mission, learn about the characters who make up the group of bad boys that are striving to succeed in the face of impossible odds and ultimately find ourselves pulling for this bunch of rag-tag soldiers to make it home with the loot. What with ex-girlfriends threatening blackmail, top-brass that stay out of harm's way and each member of the platoon under special scrutiny from the Criminal Investigation Division, it's a wonder the soldiers can get their job done, but Sawyer's realistic portrait makes this an all too believable story
harstan More than 1 year ago
To punish him for his attitude and disobedience, Captain Jake Roberts is placed in charge of the Army's worst unit the Kodiak Platoon. The soldiers are those dumped as losers by other platoons. Rather than early discharge for incompetency, these addicts, deserters, and dysfunctional humans are assigned the horrific missions in the Afghanistan Mountains because the brass believes each one is expendable. Surprisingly to the shock of even the troop, the soldiers bond and do well fighting the insurgents (and each other - can't have everything). .However, everything changes when on a mission they find a million American dollars, a contractor under the table stash. Jake and his subordinates agree to smuggle into the States the "Severance" loot to be equally divided by all of them even as they still fight the Taliban, their superiors, an unknown adversary who may be one of them, and each other. This is an entertaining military tale that is a sort of mix of Up Periscope with the Dirty Dozen, but never quite chooses between the two films. Thus, the story line is amusing yet loaded with action, but not fully gelled into a cohesive thriller. Still readers will root for the Kodiak Platoon especially Captain Jake to keep the Severance Pay as the rules of engagement include the "cost of doing business" in a highly contracted out war. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago