Thanks to the lovely Noelle, representing publisher, Bookouture, for saving my place on this ‘Books On Tour’ journey.
Also to the team at NetGalley for their easy download option.
It’s the last thing Jake Parker expects to hear from an old friend from his military days at West Point, Lt Colonel Douglas McDonnell. Officially, Jake’s wife Mel was an unlucky bystander during a sudden terrorist attack, but Jake has always felt there was a missing piece of the puzzle. When McDonnell tells him that his team has been tracking the group responsible, it’s Jake’s opportunity to finally lay Mel’s ghost to rest.
McDonnell believes that the terrorist cell is linked to one of the big pharma companies operating out of Puerto Rico, and he needs Jake’s skills on his team for one specific task: find the link and take them down. But as soon as Jake arrives, the plan begins to crumble. Focused on targeting the group members one at a time, the team on the ground won’t listen to Jake’s insistence that they look at the bigger picture.
When Jake meets bio-chemist Veronique, they hit it off. But when she confesses her fears that her employer is manufacturing a drug for the US market with deadly side effects, Jake realises that the terrorists have raised the stakes, and more innocent lives are at risk if he doesn’t act fast. Then Veronique is kidnapped. Unable to trust anyone around him, Jake is pushed as never before to find Vero while taking down the evil organisation before they strike at the US population…
Often mentioned as a cross between Clive Cussler and James Rollins, his stories are written in a fast-paced, punchy style.
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“I can help you find the man who killed your wife’.
Jake Parker stared straight ahead, into the eyes of the man seated across the table from him. He didn’t move, and neither did Jake. For a moment, time stood still”
MEMORABLE LINES FROM THE BOOK
“They were dangling a promotion in front of him, but the cost of failure was dire. He would succeed, or he would suffer. His family would suffer”
“Jackson Holland didn’t dislike Jake Parker. He didn’t even know the man. But he had been trained by life and experience that things were easier if one didn’t get emotionally attached. It worked in relationships, in professional partnerships, and in life in general. He didn’t dislike the guy, but that didn’t necessarily mean he liked him either. Parker was simply a new variable, untested and therefore unable to be trusted”
“He had wanted to be a soldier, a man on the front lines of the victory coming to Dominguez. He had wanted to lead, to guide others into battle. Instead, he had been served a plate of humble pie, and it did not taste good”
“I mean, you were a soldier, too. I understand that part, however. My brother is sort of a soldier. In some ways, we all are. We fight for what we think is right. Some of us are better fighters than others, but that’s really what a soldier does.”
“But a detective – they are trying to find answers to questions no on even knows how to ask. Or who to ask. You are trying to find things that the rest of the world has stopped looking for.”
“He hung up and then turned to the mirror and examined himself for the second time that night, but for the first time in a long time, he actually paid attention. He saw a man who had seemingly aged years in the span of months. A man who could no longer, by anyone – superior or otherwise – be described as a “kid”. He wondered when it had happened. When the world had passed him by and he’d become his father, when he’d become “old”. People at the pub on the bottom floor of the building he lived in joked about his “old man” Corolla, as if it were some old-school ride and not just an efficient, affordable vehicle. He wondered when he’d stopped thinking of himself as youthful, eager, and driven and instead started thinking of himself as experienced, capable, and bold. Barely forty, he wasn’t old by the world’s standards, but he wasn’t young, either. He was reaching the early years of middle-age, but the career he’d had in both the military and then in law enforcement seemed to tack on a decade or two.”
“I can help you find the man who killed your wife.”
Jake Parker sets a storming pace in this, his second adventure and hits the ground running, this time in the drug fuelled, gangland swamp, of a hot and sultry Puerto Rico.
This stand alone story got off to a strong start with that single opening line; the inevitable action packed plot kicked in and never let me out of its clutches for a second; the ending which looked as though it was going to tie things up nicely and did – almost, then threw in a totally unexpected curved ball, which will inevitably make me come back for more when book #3 comes along. Oh! and Jake almost broke the fourth of my rules for a good book ‘you can’t be dead’!
The chapters were short and punchy, no wasted words or sentiment for this investigator, as actions definitely speak louder. However, far from disrupting the flow of the story, these breaks only served to heighten the tension, so there was a little time to digest the powerful narrative and dialogue, as I tried to keep up with the pace of the fast moving action and ever changing landscape of events. Author Nick Thacker, also took me on a tumultuous, whistle-stop tour, of some of the less salubrious, definitely non-tourist districts of Puerto Rico, in a one-of-a-kind experience. Great for an armchair traveller such as myself!
Jake is despatched on his ‘consultative’ mission by an old friend in the US, however knowing how desperate Jake is to uncover some of the lesser known facts about Mel’s death, which might ultimately afford him an inner peace with himself, McDonnell sets him away with the codicil that “I can help you find the man who killed your wife”, thus setting the scene for this multi-layered and complex chain of events, where nothing and no one are what they at first appear to be, and are definitely not to be taken at face value. Double-cross and double-double-cross, come as naturally as breathing to people on both sides, who are used to living and surviving on the edge. This intense and textured storyline, so skilfully choreographed by an author totally at ease with his cast of characters and chain of events, has the air crackling with tension, full of sadness and even with a little glimpse of heart and humour, as and when each is required.
Gangland life, love and ultimately often death, is the very air that they breathe, for many on both the margins of this society and also inside the upper echelons of several of the country’s largest business corporations, so I just knew that the outcomes were not going to be good, especially when the very lives of a US population the drug companies are purportedly helping to save, are in fact going to be made much worse, as part of their internal struggles for success and domination. Some of the ‘B’ list characters are I suspect, deliberately kept in the shadows and are, by default, sketchy in detail. However all of the star cast is well defined and developed, albeit in a disparate, distant, and pretty much dislikeable way, making me totally unable to connect or invest in any of them )including the seductive Veronique), except for Jake of course! But I’m certain that is exactly what the author had in mind for me all along.
After first becoming acquainted with Jake during his first case Containment, I had high hopes that his broken heart might have begun the healing process, when he teamed up with Eliza to solve the crime and bring the perpetrators to justice. However, I obviously misjudged just how badly damaged and broken both of them were, as it seems as though rather than growing closer, they are now pulling away from each other, maybe in fear of that ultimate commitment, or maybe because Jake has yet to draw a tangible line under his marriage, which ended so finally and devastatingly. Puerto Rico offers Jake another bite at the happiness cherry, but can the resourceful and strong-willed, Veronique succeed where Eliza is failing, or is Jake still so far from opening up and finding closure after his wife’s death, that the divide is as yet, just far too wide to cross? More importantly, will the prevailing forces allow the relationship room to grow, or is the hand of fate going to deal Jake yet another body blow?
I suspect that this is going to be a series of quite prescriptive storylines, as befits the nature of the character, however Jake is such an easy person to invest in, that I don’t really mind that at all, as there is always that unexpected vital twist in the story that I never saw coming, with author Nick Thacker managing to toss in that one final explosive grenade, which will leave me wanting more and eagerly waiting to get back into Jake Parker’s dark, divisive world!
When all the current madness in the world is over, it would be great to see this series optioned for television or film, as the storylines lend themselves so well to that format.
A complimentary kindle download of this book, for review purposes, was made available by the publisher and supplied by NetGalley.
Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.
I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 4 out of 5 stars!