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
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.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-