I received a copy of this book from The Story Plant in exchange for my honest review.
I’m always nervous about thrillers, particularly thrillers in series. It’s very easy to forget to bring in potential new readers. And while I was offered a chance to read THERE WILL BE KILLING before I read this on, I was also assured that this book could stand on its own. Given how my timing has been lately, I ended up taking the Powers That Be by their word and delved into this Book 2 sight unseen.
(TL;DR blurb version: Hart and Rupprecht have created a multi-faceted and fascinating world filled with intricate and believable characters, ones who we will miss when the pages end. Characters this psychologically complicated rarely make it this fully onto the page, but J.D. Mikel and his compatriots make it look easy. A definite keeper for the bookshelf, and two authors to keep an eye on. ****)
While I think reading the first book might have helped, I also think it wasn’t strictly speaking necessary. We are introduced to our main focal characters very quickly: Kate Morningside and J.D. Mikel. While the exact professions of most of these characters is still a little fuzzy in my head, Kate I believe is a government official of some kind, and J.D. is a CIA assassin-spy-jack of all trades. J.D. is very much an enigma wrapped in a mystery and sprinkled with questions and obfuscation–but they make it easy to like and (for the most part) trust him very early on.
The main plot of the novel revolved around Kate being abducted, and how her abduction may be related to J.D. and his apparent connection to the one they call the Poppy King, a drug lord ringleader that some forces would like to see deposed. (I promise, it’s a lot easier to follow than anything I just tried to explain.) The point of view bounces around a little, but we keep mainly with the same people: Mike “Mouse” Gallini, a classic mobster kid in over his head–and out of his head a bit too; Israel “Izzy” Moskowitz, a friend and Army child psychologist; and Kate & J.D. of course.
What I find interesting is that after connecting the reader as closely as they do to J.D., they then spend the rest of the book trying to make us doubt him. I find this irritating–as well as the tendency of several of the main characters to believe any new information they receive from even a potentially valid source as true, without questioning. On at least two occasions, Kate does this, usually making her life unnecessarily difficult. Yes, there is an element of this that keeps the plot moving, but I’m fairly certain that there could at least be a few moments of questioning, at least for the sake of the relationships at stake.
Out of all of them, J.D. is the most fascinating character in the book. I really did like (almost) everyone, even Mouse, but J.D. caught me first and held me longest. No amount of shaking could have led me away, and I don’t think I was led astray. It is intensely obvious in his character that there is some serious psychology research put into this book. He has layers and layers, levels of coping mechanisms and obfuscations, things hidden from the world and from himself. I absolutely love it. And while a small piece of me is sad his plot line ended the way it did, I truly don’t think it could have ended any other way.
The book is a thriller but relies more on psychological suspense and intrigue than a body count to keep their readers’ interest. It’s a fantastic tack and one I enjoy a great deal more. I do wonder if reading the first book before this might have helped me connect with some of the sideline characters, but I’m still willing to go back and read it now. I’ll be interested to see if my dear J.D. decides to make an appearance in a new book, or Izzy…and I’ll be more than happy to follow them along on that adventure too. They’ve certainly left it open for a book 3.
Rating: **** (Recommended)