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In the deep, shadowy forest of New York's Adirondack mountains, CIA Agent Dave McClure will meet his most horrific nightmare and face his greatest challenge ever! The CIA and its top agent, Dave McClure, have their hands perilously full. Franz Altmann, a vicious killer and a member of the German terror group, Red Storm Movement, has slipped unseen into America. He intends to bring the U.S., the world's epicenter of capitalism and finance, to its knees in the most horrendous attack possible. If that isn't enough, Vassily Krasnoff, a Russian believed fatally wounded in the Alaskan wilderness by McClure's rifle shot, didn't die as intelligence indicated. Krasnoff emerged from a coma, and he wants revenge for the death of his brother, Leonide. Someone McClure loves dearly must die and die by the most gruesome means imaginable. McClure knows he must find and kill Krasnoff first.
Ceroni (Meridian) offers a meat--and-potatoes spy thriller with a plot that focuses on personal vengeance more than international intrigue. The hero, CIA agent Dave McClure, is a nearly superhuman force of nature. He's faster, stronger, and smarter than his opponents. Tasked with assisting the FBI in tracking down a German terrorist group aided by Russia, he is forced to take on a rogue Russian agent who blames McClure for his brother's death. McClure and a team first have to deal with the German terrorists, who are plotting to kill a number of Olympic athletes in Colorado Springs. Then McClure has to go after the rogue Russian agent who kidnaps and threatens to behead someone the hero loves. It all builds to a gripping chase in unforgiving terrain, with an unconventional final battle scene.

McClure is a Jack Ryan-style superspy in that he's a guy just trying to do a job who gets pressed into more and more difficult situations. He's also not unlike an 80s action movie hero in that he's slow to anger but quick to gain revenge for violence visited on his family. The good guys in this thriller are unambiguously square-jawed heroes who shout exhortations like “Let’s be ready to kick some ass for the US of A,” while the bad guys are for the most part sneering, swearing avatars of international menace.

Ceroni does provide some nuance in the CIA chief who is more concerned with the rules than rescuing McClure's wife. There's also a Russian agent who accepts McClure's explanation as to why and how another Russian was killed, and backs off from trying to assassinate him. Settings like Colorado Springs and upstate New York were clearly well-researched, with vivid detail that enhanced the action in each scene they appeared in. This well-paced spy/action-adventure is a no-frills experience designed for fans of the genre.

Takeaway: Fans of action-driven spy thrillers with square-jawed heroes and sinister villains will enjoy this adventure.

Great for fans of: Andrew Grant, Adam Hamdy.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: B