And that's what Levon Cade reminds me of: the Punisher. Minus Vietnam and the compulsion to fight crime, adding friends and family still alive. Both are Marines (the only Ex-Marines are John Murtha and his ilk), both are hard men, both are ruthless and efficient. But the character motivations are different so I'll leave the Punisher comparisons for my doctoral thesis or for a time I have too much time stuck in an airport.
What I liked best was that Levon's motivation was always clear to me. He was disinterested in the job offer (yes, you can make the Joseph Campbell comparison to 'Refusing the Call') because he wasn't in that line of work anymore. This is a guy who is not an adrenaline junkie. This isn't fun for him or a game or even a question of revenge. But he is strongly motivated by a desire to keep his daughter. And the threat posed by his in-laws was interesting and not cliche villainy.
The novel is fast paced, with short chapters ala James Patterson. It makes for a quick read. And for an addictive pattern of purchases, on my part.
We do not get much of Cade's internal thoughts and he's terse in speech. That laconism appeals to me. I like to be shown things, rather than have them told to me. Chuck Dixon gets that done here. Just like Levon Cade.
What worked: Good, believable action, clear motivations for all actors, a lack of luck or plot immunity to resolve the story and real consequences that start the whole book series careening off in unexpected directions.
What didn't: I can't think of a lot of negatives, this is more novella-length (like the old Don Pendleton Executioner novels)
This is not a Jack Reacher novel. This is actually good.
Also: note to self, buy marine model shotgun with sidesaddle