Forth keeps the action at a boil. Action scenes are choreographed with meticulous detail and are populated with hard-edged killers who bring down their opponents without hesitation. Indeed, some scenes—the graphic rape of a child and torture with a blowtorch—might be too grim for some readers. But overall, action aficionados will delight in well-staged shootouts and imaginatively described violence: a quickly dispatched guard "now sported a red badge on his forehead and another on his face."
The author doesn't neglect characterization: Chase is capable of terrifying violence but prefers to avoid firearms, and D’Aubrisson smoothly moves between gunplay and love for Chase, perhaps her only loyalty. Their associate Wolf stands out as a seriously disturbed soldier—he is disappointed when he loses a chance to kill. Especially well-drawn is Russian security chief Popov, an unmoored ex-KGB agent who has a complex frenemy relationship with his opposite number in the CIA—a metaphor for the dynamic between the U.S. and Russia. The beautifully paced scenes, full of red-meat action, and the well-developed characters will keep readers turning pages to the satisfying denouement.
Takeaway: Vividly described fight scenes and an engaging cast of well-detailed and coldly effective black ops agents make this book especially rewarding for fans of spy thrillers.
Great for fans of: Ian Fleming, Robert Ludlum.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B+