Longtime readers are familiar with what we call a "doubleshot review." This is when two of our reviewers each review the same book giving our readers two different viewpoints. Today you get Judi Moore's thoughts on the latest in Seeley James' long-running Jacob Stearne Thriller series. Then on Friday you'll have a chance to checkout BigAl's take.
‘Gallant-yet-troubled veteran Jacob Stearne‘, is in Latvia for this, his 13th adventure. He’s in trouble from the off, as the book opens with him being transported to jail for a murder he didn’t commit. His situation appears hopeless. But then he escapes from custody because – you know – he hasn’t time to explain because he’s on An Important Mission, Time Is Of The Essence, and the story really starts. Once it starts it does not let up. The number of lies told (the novel is well named) is only outstripped by the number of violent set pieces utilising a gamut of spy stocks-in-trade ranging from car chases (in which Ubers figure prominently) to secret doors.
The plot is topical: a Hedy Lamarr-type movie star-cum-scientist is trying to bring together the three strands of a McGuffin (two of which are currently in other hands) which will give the world cheap, clean, energy forever. She wants to give it to the world. But there are those who want to sell it to the world for the squillions it is worth. The scientist has acquired a small team of clever postgrads and a potential investor, none of whom is who they seem.
Seeley James grew up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin, lucky man. What a kick start for creativity that must have been. But like the rest of us, James had to make ends meet, so he had a career in marketing before becoming a writer. One can see the influence: he likes to pack his novels full to bursting with content (if this one is a typical example).
If you haven’t (as I hadn’t) come across Jacob Stearne before, he is an odd mixture of sexy yet paternal US navy SEAL and introspective basket-case. He’s the man Jack Reacher would go to if he needed help. He just never stops. He prefers to disable rather than kill – which is just as well, because otherwise the body count in this novel would be through the roof and sympathy for Our Hero could be no more than scant. But then every so often he sits down (usually while stitching a wound, usually his own) and cogitates on the meaning of life the universe and everything, why his love life is in the toilet, and why nobody understands him. It is the only time the reader gets to draw breath. Be advised, the inside of Stearne’s head is a pretty convoluted plot all of its own. Oh, and he has an imaginary friend – a jive-talking god (Mercury).
If you like your thrillers to be like the Duracell bunny, I recommend you take a crack at this series.
As I say above, this is #13 in the series – but I had very little difficulty leaping right into it, and the action. And yet, to his credit, James does not employ big ol’ information dumps to get the reader up to speed. Just remember to fasten your seat belt …
Plenty of F-bombs
No significant issues.
Rating: **** Four Stars
Reviewed by: Judi Moore
Approximate word count: 115-120,000 words