Today I’m continuing with the Heroes and Villains Theme week hosted by Jen at Jen’s Book Thoughts

Who is Jonathan Grave? To some he’s a hero. To others he’s a vigilante. Some would consider him a philanthropist if only they knew the truth. There are only a handful of people who know the real Jonathan Grave.

No Mercy by John GilstrapJohn Gilstrap has written three books and has a fourth one coming out in June featuring Jonathan Grave. The books focus on the semi-secret side of his successful security company. While Security Solutions is a completely legitimate company there is a behind closed doors side of the business that operates as a freelance hostage rescue team.

When he and his team are on a rescue mission he doesn’t feel obligated to follow the same rules and the law-enforcement organizations. For Jonathan and his team the goal is to get the hostage (precious cargo) out alive. Even one of his teammates has to admit that “during her days with the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, the primary goal hadn’t truly been the liberation of the hostages. Rather, it had been to lawfully ensure that the bad guys did not get away, and that the legal case you built against them would withstand the scrutiny of the bad guys’ legal defense team.”

Hostage Zero by John GilstrapJonathan doesn’t let the legalities of building a case get in his way. “It never occurred to him to question whether a strategy for rescuing a good guy from a batch of bad guys might violate a law or two.”

Obviously the law-enforcement establishment doesn’t always agree with Jonathan’s methods even though they may be secretly applauding the results. The team has to accomplish their missions without getting mixed up with or caught by the cops or FBI when they’re working within the US. While the primary goal is always to retrieve the precious cargo, Jonathan has “ironclad rules against harming American law-enforcement personnel.”

How does a man get to be this kind of man and make his living this way?

Threat Warning by John GilstrapJonathan lived a privileged life. His father was a successful and wealthy businessman but his business was only a legitimate cover for his criminal activities. When it became clear that Simon Gravenow was headed to prison for the rest of his life he transferred all of his holdings to his son Jonathan. He didn’t expect his son to continue in his footsteps but he wanted to keep the wealth away from the government. Jonathan changed his last name to Grave and joined the army special forces. After his years in the military he turned the mansion that was his childhood home into a boarding school for children of incarcerated parents. Only a handful of people know that Jonathan is the source of the funding behind Resurrection House.

I like Jonathan Grave for just the contractions he embodies. Gilstrap has created a hero who has flaws and can be violent but also has generous and kind qualities.

Damage Control by John Gilstrap
In an article about the third book in the series (Threat Warning) Austin Camacho writes:

On the surface, Jonathan Grave is a private investigator but in fact he runs a covert company specializing in freelance hostage rescue. Gilstrap has created a fascinating character here, the son of a big-time criminal trying to do the right thing. When I asked if I’d want to invite Grave to my neighborhood barbecue, Gilstrap didn’t hesitate.
“Jonathan Grave is a great guy,” Gilstrap says. “An honorable guy. He could be your best friend. Or your worst enemy. He’s a gentleman and, at heart, a gentle man, but when violence is necessary, he won’t hesitate an instant to kill. How could you not want him at a party in your house?”

In a 2010 Bookreporter interview Gilstrap says

As wealthy as he is, Jonathan Grave has a huge hole in his life. He’s ashamed of his heritage as the son of a mobster, and, as we learned in NO MERCY, he’s ashamed of the mess he made of his marriage through his devotion to duty as a Special Forces operative. He craves family and lives to serve others. His community of Fisherman’s Cove, on Virginia’s Northern Neck, is a surrogate family of sorts. Resurrection House is his crowning achievement, built on the site of his childhood home, and funded from Jonathan’s very deep pockets.

Jonathan Grave is a man with a crystal clear sense of right and wrong, and an obsessive drive to help people who are in trouble. He happens to be wealthy, but his wealth has little to do with who he is. In fact, the money motivates him more in the other direction: It symbolizes what he will never allow himself to become.

He comes at his life from an interesting place. As a Special Forces operator, he spent the better part of two decades violating laws at the direction of the US government, performing missions that can never be publicized. As a civilian, he respects the rule of law in principle, but when individual statutes get in the way of him accomplishing his mission of saving a life, he easily pushes the law aside. It’s irrelevant to him. He tells people that he’s on the side of the angels; that while he may violate the law, he never really strays to the wrong side of it.

This is a series and a hero that both The Hubster and I enjoy. I hope you’ll get to know Jonathan Grave and his friends soon.

Please note that Jen has said that people who leave comments on any Heroes and Villains post will be entered in a daily prize drawing.