In this debut thriller, Canadian authorities try to prevent the assassinations of African leaders in Ottawa.
Tom Karland, a supervisor at Miller Construction in Ottawa and a covert operative, knows almost immediately someone has drugged him. He gets help from Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Andre Fiset, who happens to be at the same mall as Tom. This is followed by sudden gunfire, ending with a mysterious body in the restroom. Andre subsequently checks out the sports complex—across the street from the mall—where Miller Construction has been working. Stumbling on a handful of suspicious thugs, Andre winds up in a gunfight. Now he wants answers, but Tom is evasive. That’s because less than a year ago, Tom was involved in a clandestine military mission in Africa that began in Gambala, and he fears the drugging incident indicates someone in Canada knows about it. But a more pressing issue centers on the African delegates in Ottawa for an upcoming conference. Tom’s boss, Deputy Director Williams of Canada’s Department of National Defense, assigns him to protect Gambala President Enzali Ntabi. Williams believes assassins have targeted Ntabi and the other African leaders to stop a planned agreement between Gambala and Canada regarding the former’s newly unearthed resource: oil. Tom, ultimately teaming up with Andre, confronts tenacious foes, including a particularly deadly, faceless killer called the Viper. Rowlandson sets such an impressive momentum that his story, despite its length (nearly 600 pages), is a quick read. Intermittent flashbacks, for example, cover both the Gambala operation Tom and Williams want kept secret and the protagonist’s romance with team member Joelle Violette. Various mysteries, such as where Joelle is in the present day, gradually unravel, although these reveals won’t surprise most readers. Nevertheless, the author’s pithy sentences make the action pop: “The soldier was on his knees, holding a large, razor-edged knife in his hand. Seeing the danger at the last second, Tom jerked back as the blade ripped past his face.” Characters, too, are dynamic, with Andre as a standout. He’s the most relatable, courtesy of scenes at home with wife, Miriam, and his anxious refrain when in peril: “Oh man, I hate this.”
An unwavering pace and noteworthy characters enhance this action tale.