Don Brown’s novel Treason is the opening installment in his Navy Justice series, which follows Lieutenant Zack Brewer, a young JAG (Judge Advocate General) officer in the United States Navy. Some may regard this as a literary rip-off of the television series JAG. But Brown himself is a former JAG officer, and his book reflects a great understanding of the United States Military Justice system.
Treason opens with a meeting in Zurich between two wealthy Muslim men who discuss the creation of a new terrorism cell called the Council of Ishmael, which will infiltrate the United States military, creating cells within. Fast-forward seven years: a lawsuit against the military results in the Navy being forced to admit Muslim cleric into the Navy Chaplain Corps.
A petty officer in San Diego releases grenades at a church Bible study, killing eight people and injuring several others. A marine staff sergeant assassinates the Israeli ambassador to the United States during his visit to a USMC base in California. And in North Carolina, a fighter plane explodes over a lake, and some of the residue found in the wreckage indicates the use of plastic explosives.
While investigating the explosion, NCIS (Naval Criminal Investigative Service) agent Harry Kilnap discovers that the three incidents are all connected, and Islamic chaplains within the Navy incited all three. Lieutenant Brewer, coming off a huge win in a high profile rape case, is assigned to prosecute the three chaplains and to seek the death penalty for all three. The media begins to bill this case as the “court martial of the century.” When Wellington Levinson, a well-known civilian trial lawyer, is hired to defend the chaplains, Brewer enlists the assistance of his longtime JAG rival, Lieutenant Diane Colcernian.
Don Brown is a born-again Christian, and this book does have some instances of characters wrestling with faith issues. But this novel is largely about the case of the Muslim chaplains and their connection to the Council of Ishmael, making this a story that both Christians and non-Christians can enjoy. Treason is a thoroughly enjoyable read, and I would love to see this book adapted for the screen as a movie. Brown offers a lot of detail without becoming overly technical. This is a very fast-moving story with short chapters which are easy for the reader to digest.
I am now reading and enjoying Hostage, the second book in Don Brown’s Navy Justice series. If you love legal thrillers, I suggest you give the Navy Justice series a read, beginning with Treason. I look forward to more great novels in the future from Don Brown.