What Is the Secret of the 25?
It’s the year 2022. In Boston, Massachusetts, the FBI is battling the 25, a mysterious and deadly extremist group that’s targeting and assassinating the president’s alt-right supporters.
Young special agent Reggie Jennings is assigned to infiltrate the terror cell. But Reggie’s never been an undercover officer before, and his lack of experience shows. When sparks fly during a chance encounter with Gina Rozelli, the beautiful, but fiery, sister of one of the suspected terrorists, Reggie gets drawn into a dangerous game. He must play the part of the interested boyfriend, while constantly lying to Gina to keep his secret.
But as Reggie gets closer to his new love…and closer to piercing the veil of secrecy surrounding the 25…the tension mounts. Is the terrorist’s sister the person she says she is? Or is she part of the group? And even if Gina is innocent, will she figure out Reggie’s true identity in time to tip off her brother—before the FBI can capture him and stop the carnage?
In Ace Bryant’s pulse-pounding debut novel, almost nothing is as it first appears. It’s a chilling, post-Trumpian thriller with the year’s most shocking twist ending.
Bear Notch Road Press
Print: 978-0-9975704-2-7 $19.99
Ebook: 978-0-9975704-3-4 $ .99
The 25 is set in the near future in the year 2022, when terrorism in America has ramped up yet another notch and alt-right political supporters of the President are being targeted by assassins.
Unlike modern-day terrorists, these attackers seem like ordinary citizens until their suicide mission, and this fact bewilders and challenges the FBI's investigation until they identify a living member of the The 25 and send an operative undercover to locate him before he, too, becomes a suicide killer.
The first strength to note about Ace Bryant's choices in presenting this story is that it's not only narrated in the first person, from the investigator's viewpoint, but incorporates a series of candid assessments about his world that solidify setting, characters, and atmosphere: "For the umpteenth time, I wonder how Stephens manages to flaunt the Bureau’s rules regarding physical fitness, which aren’t just guidelines, but requirements. I figure he must have a bunch of secret files on the higher-ups. I wouldn’t put it past him. In fact, I wouldn’t put much past Stephens. He can be a shrewd son-of-a-bitch."
From Reggie's mixed feelings about conducting his undercover operation and his evolving relationship with Gina as they search for Danny as he builds a web of lies that threatens to unravel to the undercurrent of light humor that coats some of his interpersonal relationships ("...as my angry dates fumble into their clothes, while giving me the stink-eye like I’m some kind of perv, there’s a part of me that wants to shake them and tell them about the horrifying shit I see every day at work. The twisted websites that some guys visit…the gut-churning photos they try to hide on their computers, or phones. To my mind, I’m a Boy Scout by comparison, and I try to focus on that, as my latest paramour storms from the bedroom."), The 25 juxtaposes thriller tension with strong characterization and insights supported by the use of the first person point of view.
Political insights are nicely woven into the evolving terrorism as cops are videotaped shooting victims and political forces clash on either side. From police procedurals to the blowing up of statues and citizens, many of the events profiled in The 25 are presented so realistically that they could too easily seem reflective of modern times.
The 25 is hiding literally in plain sight; but most people are too blind to see them. In the process of ferreting out the group and its purposes, Reggie is forced to see his alter ego persona "die", to re-imagine his own life without the people he's recently become involved with under that disguise, and to ultimately face the consequences of a form of terrorism that challenges American ideals in a cautionary tale about this country's future.
Thriller fans seeking solid tension, satisfying twists and turns of plot replete with political and social reflections, and an attention to solid characterization that carries the story into areas too many thrillers neglect will find The 25 a riveting book that opens with all its guns blazing and keeps the action and tension high until the end, in a thought-provoking story of lies, truths, and the foundations of everyday terrorism.
D. Donovan Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
To celebrate the publication of Ace Bryant's exciting new novel, The 25, Bear Notch Road Press is selling the ebook version for 99 cents! The ebook is available exclusively through Amazon.com. KU subscribers can read for free. Download today!