Jeff Abbott
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN-13:  978-0-446-57517-1


Adrenaline certainly got mine pumping. Every time I picked up this Jeff Abbott novel, my heart beat a little faster as my eyes raced across the pages. Sam and Lucy Capra are CIA agents, married, and expecting a baby. They live and work in London. Sam worked as a field agent for a few years, infiltrating and bringing down criminal organizations like smugglers and traffickers in drugs, weapons, and women. These contemporary criminal organizations aren’t like the Mafia, which used the same players from top to bottom echelons. The new groups come together for specific purposes and break apart when the job is done—like Legos. Sam has gotten very good at figuring them out and bringing them down.

The day Sam’s world crashed started like most others. He went for a run, made love with his wife, and took the train to the London office where they both worked. Lucy had a scan scheduled and said she’d be in later. Just as Sam begins a presentation about a key financial player in Europe, Lucy calls him—not only away from the meeting, but away from the building—just before it explodes. Sam chases Lucy and the man who has kidnapped her, but he can’t keep up on foot.

Lucy’s gone, the building is gone, and Sam is the only survivor. Naturally, the CIA jumps to conclusions. Determined to prove Lucy and himself innocent of treason, driven to find his wife and baby, Sam takes everything the Company throws at him until he finds a way to break free of their surveillance and get to Europe with the help of a mysterious woman. Mila, who works for even more mysterious masters, promises Sam help finding his family if he brings down the organization that took them and bombed the London office. It’s time for Sam to do more infiltrating among some of the underworld’s scuzziest characters. As he wheels and deals, lies and manipulates his way toward his goal, Sam worries he’s losing his soul. But if he wants Lucy and his child back, there’s nowhere to go but down.

Along about page 250 I did not lose interest. However, I did look up and realize I had a major answer to the mystery and 150 pages left to read. I wondered how Abbott planned to sustain the suspense while solving the remaining mysteries. This complex and interesting novel wove a great many threads. During the last third of the novel, I was ready for a faster untangling. I skimmed through the unrelenting violence, the many hopeless perils Sam maneuvered his way free of, and strained toward the next resolution, the next answer, the next obstacle.

Abbott apparently took to heart the old advice that a writer has to take whatever situation his characters are in and make it worse, then worse still, and worse after that. In my opinion, Abbott ratcheted the tension a bit too high. Instead of a series of smaller releases followed by higher stakes, I rode the adrenaline wave, then experienced a big release at a crucial point. I did enjoy the rest of the book. Sam is worth spending time with. He’s tough, but human. He’s inventive, smart, and engaging. Abbott left room for sequels, and I wouldn’t mind spending more time with Sam Capra—but, please, fewer kicks to the face and hopeless situations from which our ingenious hero must work his way free.

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