This was a quick, fun read that comes across as equal parts Jack Bauer (TV’s 24), Charlie Castillo (W.E.B. Griffin), and Mitch Rapp (Vince Flynn). There’s even a bit of Jack Ryan (Tom Clancy) in there, minus all the technological minutia and flag-waving patriotism.
The story itself is a little bit over-the-top, with unnecessarily complicated schemes, and multiple overlapping plots, but that's part of the fun - and it all comes together very well. The pacing is very quick, with short chapters that take us from scene to scene, and not a lot of extraneous detail to bog things down. We (as the camera’s eye) stick with the main characters throughout, following them from one action-packed scene to another.
The reason it all works is the characters. There's a reason authors in the genre are synonymous with their characters, and I suspect the same will happen here. There isn’t a great deal of time invested in character development, beyond what’s important to the story, and that’s just right for the story being told. The greatest depth belongs to, of course, Melissa. Her history is key to everything that is happening in the present day, and the fact that we don’t get her full story until over halfway through is a nice change from the front-loaded prelude that is often used to establish the hero. Her history is perfectly suited to creating a hero, echoing that of so many others, yet is original enough to establish her as an individual.
For a character who is relegated to the role of puppet master, appearing primarily as a series of phone calls, Hannah is a very intriguing villain. She’s clearly been working on her schemes for a long time, and has the physical reach to make them a reality. How she is able to hold so much power over others, and what she does to gain the end, could likely comprise another novel entirely. Suffice to say, the suspense surrounding her character is one of the aspects of the novel that continued to drive me to just one more chapter.
This is a story that was so complicated, at times, that I had no idea what was going to happen next. Once again, that’s perfectly okay. There are times when you want the clues to solve the mystery, and there are times where you just want to be entertained by the surprises and bombshells as they come. This is a book that fits firmly in the latter.
Great summer escapism, this is a book that would make for a perfect popcorn blockbuster . . . but which serves just fine as a beach read until then.