Greg Rucka

Attiucs Kodiak - Professional Bodyguard in New York City
Tara Chace - An Operative of the Special Operations Section of SIS

"Patriot Acts"

(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky OCT 4, 2007)

“It is unlikely that your decision is based on any moral argument, on a question of right or wrong, or good or evil.  You are what you are, what they made you to be…. Tools are not concerned with how they are used; it isn’t the gun that kills, it is the person who pointed it at the victim’s head and then pulled the trigger who does.  The gun is the mechanism.  The shooter is the killer.  They have worked very, very hard indeed to convince you that you are the mechanism, nothing more.”

Patriot Acts by Greg Rucka

As Greg Rucka’s Patriot Acts opens, former bodyguard Atticus Kodiak is involved in a shootout with his archenemy, Oxford.  Assisted by his partner, Natalie Trent, and a former assassin for hire, Alena Cizkova, Atticus survives the encounter and then briefly retreats to a safe house, where he plans to leave Alena and Natalie under the protection of a security detail.  Kodiak takes off, but before long he is surrounded by two teams of sharpshooters who intend to finish him off.  It takes all of Kodiak’s skill and a bit of luck to emerge from the ambush severely injured but alive, but he knows that the carnage is not yet over.  He is convinced that more gunmen will replace those he has neutralized.

Throughout most of the story, Kodiak and Alena, who have become lovers, move from place to place, trying to stay one step ahead of their pursuers.  The problem is that they have no idea who wants them dead and why.  They do know that a former colleague named Illya betrayed them to their enemies.  If they manage to find Illya, they may be able to identify the shadowy figure who hired teams of contract killers to eliminate them.  Alena, who values physical fitness, puts Kodiak through a strenuous training regimen.  They want to be battle ready for the inevitable confrontation with their adversaries.  “We lived with the knowledge that we were hunted, and that the hunter might find us at any time.” 

Patriot Acts is a bloody action-adventure novel that emphasizes combat skills, weaponry, and scenes of sadism and torture over logic and character development.  The dialogue is clipped and terse and the heroes are stoic, savvy, and tough.  No softies here.  Alena and Atticus use brains as well as brawn to get out of some very tricky situations.  The author’s explanation about the high-powered, immoral, and greedy government official who has targeted the protagonists is a bit far-fetched.  Still, Alena and Atticus make an attractive couple who want nothing more than to forget their violent past and settle down to domestic bliss.  They fear that the act of killing has taken away their humanity, and they would like to regain what they have lost. The reader can’t help but root for this beleaguered pair to find some peace at last.  Patriot Acts has a rhythm and energy that carries the reader along, much like a roller-coaster ride takes our breath away and leaves us little time to think clearly about the wild ride that we are experiencing. 
  • Amazon readers rating: from 3 reviews

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Bibliography: (with links to

Atticus Kodiak:

Queen & Country:



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About the Author:

Greg RuckaGreg Rucka was born in 1969 in San Francisco, California and raised on the central coast of California. He began his writing career in earnest at the age of 10 by winning a county-wide short-story contest. He graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English and from the University of Southern California's Master of Professional Writing Program with an M.F.A.

Besides his novels, he has penned several short-stories, countless comics, and the occasional non-fiction essay. In comics, he has had the opportunity to write stories featuring some of the world's best-known characters—Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman—as well as penning several creator-owned properties himself, such as Whiteout and Queen & Country, both published by Oni Press. His work has been optioned several times over, and his services are in high-demand in a variety of creative fields as a story-doctor and creative consultant.

He is married to fellow comic writer Jen Van Meter. They reside in Portland, Oregon with their two children. About Us | Subscribe | Review Team | History | ©1998-2014