In short, Seaborne respects readers’ time, so that even an entry as lengthy as Ten Keys West takes flight quickly—though, this time, Seaborne opens with one of Will’s unceremonious crash landings. That series tendency toward humor and an upending of expectations persists as the plot seizes hold: Will's wife, police detective Andy Stewart, faces ginned-up outrage over allegations that she tried to assassinate a president whose life she in fact saved, and a white supremacist militia group is gunning for her—and so might be forces in the intelligence community.
Adding to the conspiratorial murk are a pharmaceutical CEO, a televangelist, rampant misinformation on social media, and the life of a young girl. The story sprawls in some surprising directions, touching on some past events and ongoing mysteries (like “the other thing” that is the source of Will’s power), but Seaborne keeps the chatter fun, the pacing fleet, and the tension urgent. His secret weapon is a tight focus on Will and Andy, a married couple whose love—and bantering dialogue—proves as buoyant as ever. Will’s drive to save lives and right wrongs in places like Wichita remains compelling ten books in.
Takeaway: The soaring 10th entry in this thriller series is as exciting as the first.
Great for fans of: Ward Larsen, Myke Cole.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
Seaborne’s thriller features the return of superpowered action hero Will Stewart.
In this 10th installment in his contemporary adventure series, the author continues the exploits of Will Stewart, an air charter pilot, and his wife, Andy, a detective in Wisconsin’s Essex County Police Department (characterized by her husband as “an equal opportunity juggernaut of justice”). Will and Andy are briefed by FBI Special Agent Leslie Carson-Pelham and her colleagues on the inner workings of a paramilitary insurgency group known as Company W (“The W stands for White and the military grade high-capacity semiautomatic rifles they carry promise supremacy of arms, if not intellect”). Will and Andy have had near-fatal encounters with Company W before and have always been stymied by the compartmentalized nature of the group. “It’s not an organization with a headquarters,” they’re told by Carson-Pelham. “It’s like a cloud or a fog moving across the landscape. Arch conservativism. Racism. White supremacy. Grievance. Fascism by a dozen different names.” The couple are swept up in a complex plot involving the desperate plight of children in a hospice program, with tendrils of corruption and evil extending from Galveston to the Florida Keys. The narrative includes a number of suspicious figures, some of them connected to an evil pharmaceutical company that will arouse readers’ suspicions right from the start. Though the narrative gives a generous amount of the spotlight to Andy, Will is a natural scene-stealer by virtue of his actual superpowers: He can both fly and vanish from sight.
Considering the outsized, comic-book premise, it continues to be downright amazing how grounded Seaborne’s world consistently feels. Yes, Will Stewart has some Marvel-style paranormal gifts, but both his abilities and personality are so thoroughly fleshed out and believable that, in no time at all, the reader matter-of-factly integrates these fantastical elements into the standard heroics-and-gunfire action without a second thought. “This isn’t one of your silly action movies where all the clues line up in the third reel,” Andy deadpans. “It’s hundreds of hours of boring investigative work, connecting dots, scouring phone records, scraping through emails and texts, building cases.” This latest entry in the series maintains the same grounded, workaday feeling, but both Will and Andy consistently strain against it—they’re full-fledged action heroes, always ready to respond with Hollywood-style quips and larger-than-life violence. The author effectively fleshes out even minor walk-on characters, and his portrayal of the loving relationship between his two heroes continues to be the most satisfying aspect of the series, the kind of three-dimensional adult relationship remarkably rare in thrillers like this one. The author’s skill at pacing is razor-sharp—the book is a compulsive page-turner right up until the obligatory exposition dump near the end. The descriptions of the actual workings of Will’s powers are uniformly gripping; it makes the book feel like the best possible combination of the Odd Thomas novels of Dean Koontz and the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child.
An irresistible, high-stakes, cross-country adventure about a man with amazing gifts.