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Paperback Details
  • 08/2021
  • 978-1647043759
  • 358 pages
  • $14.99
Ron McManus
The Chameleon
Ron McManus, author
Jake Palmer, investigative consultant and former US Navy SEAL, has signed on as a contractor with a top-secret US Joint Special Operations Command team in Islamabad, Pakistan. Palmer and his JSOC partner work to uncover a suspected mole and gather intelligence regarding the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon arsenal as the country prepares for war with India over control of the disputed region of Kashmir. Fears regarding security of the weapons escalate when Pakistan decides to deploy its arsenal and rumors surface that a shadowy figure, the Chameleon, will attempt to divert a nuclear warhead during the deployment. With a nuclear war countdown clock at a minute ‘til midnight, Palmer and his partner risk everything to prevent the Chameleon from carrying out his plan for the world’s first act of nuclear terrorism.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10


Plot: The author has crafted an engaging storyline filled with intrigue, espionage, and danger. With verisimilitude and a clipped pace, the work explores the chilling circumstance involving a stolen nuclear weapon.

Prose: The author is clearly a professional-level writer and has crafted a ready-to-publish work. The prose flows smoothly with evocative descriptions and sound work choice.

Originality: The Chameleon is an original and distinctive work with memorable characters and believable, high-stakes circumstances.

Character/Execution: The author has a clear handle on character development, particularly with Jake and Fiona. Both are relatable and fully-formed individuals who humanize the more procedural aspects of this thriller. 

Date Submitted: May 03, 2022

American and British agents track deadly terrorists and try to avert a war on the India-Pakistan border in this fast-moving political thriller. Jake Palmer, former Navy SEAL, is sent to Pakistan on a special intelligence assignment. Parallel stories follow London-based Fiona Collins—MI6 staffer and Jake's occasional lover—and various Pakistani officers. Meanwhile, the disparate parties must contend with the "Chameleon," a terrorist of uncertain background who may be planning to leverage the confusion surrounding the incipient war for his own purposes. Jake and his team must unravel secret motivations and loyalties to prevent a nuclear holocaust.

McManus (Libido’s Twist), a combat veteran, displays a sure hand with the military-intelligence setting: a firefight in Islamabad is exciting and convincing, and McManus offers clear context for the complexities of India-Pakistan-China relations that are the background for his scenes of combat. These armament and political details lend a strong air of verisimilitude and elevate the story—it's not a simplistic "shoot 'em up." Indeed, the action is well-integrated with the plot, and there’s little gratuitous violence. McManus proves equally at home with comic relief, as when he shows a hard-edged U.S. general taking a break to practice golf in his office. Occasionally, the military and technical details can overwhelm, slowing the narrative, but overall the plot moves, jumping nimbly from one perspective to another.

Although the focus is on action, the characters are nicely developed. Jake is a tough guy, but the romantic scenes with Fiona are surprisingly tender. A Pakistani soldier being deployed gets a full background, with a family, and details of Pakistani culture. Jake's agent partner, Alona Green, is a sharp-witted match for him, and their banter lends a lot of color. Even an enemy agent gets a complete personality—albeit a horrifically chilling one. The fully developed characters and well-staged action make for a thriller that will keep readers turning the pages to a satisfying—and unexpected—wind-up.

Takeaway: Spy thriller aficionados will revel in the lively fight scenes, engaging cast, and vivid settings.

Great for fans of: Jack Carr, James Rollins.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A-
Illustrations: A-
Editing: B+
Marketing copy: A-

The hostility between Pakistan and India, both nuclear armed and on the verge of war, provides the backdrop for McManus’s solid fourth Jake Palmer novel (after Libido’s Twist). After rotating through the CIA and the NSA, Jake joins the Joint Special Operations Command as an independent contractor committed to a two-year hitch as a member of a secret group known as Task Force Orange. He’s assigned to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, where he and partner Alona Green have the job of keeping watch on the security of Pakistan’s nukes. An asset tells Jake and Alona a legendary terrorist known as the Chameleon is going to try and steal one of the weapons, and eventually nuclear weapons do go missing. Meanwhile, back in London, Jake’s love interest, Fiona Collins, who works for MI6, stumbles onto a situation that will prove instrumental to the resolution of the stolen nuclear weapon mystery. The plot of this by-the-numbers, stolen nuke procedural marches steadily forward amid plenty of action. Military espionage fans will want to check out Jake Palmer if they haven’t already. (Self-published)
Paperback Details
  • 08/2021
  • 978-1647043759
  • 358 pages
  • $14.99