In Godfrey’s debut thriller, a private special ops group on a mission to rescue hostages confronts terrorists who are gunning for a biological weapon.
Californian college student Christie Jensen and her friend Jackie Dawson have been missing for more than 24 hours by the time Christie’s attorney father, Mark Jensen, gets the news. The two young women were enjoying their summer in Denver when they mysteriously vanished. The local police focus on Jackie’s significantly older boyfriend, Robert Sand, who originally reported his girlfriend’s disappearance, but they’re getting nowhere. So Jensen calls the Brecht Group, a private security and threat-assessment company whose owner has a strong tie to the lawyer’s father. Meanwhile, readers know that a man named Arthur Beeman and his accomplice, Antonio Pessoa, abducted the young women at a Denver mall. Arthur is a scientist who’s planning a rather disturbing experiment involving Christie, Jackie, and an oblivious Antonio. Meanwhile, Arthur’s deadly, synthesized virus, code-named “Black Sunrise,” sparks the interest of North Korean terrorists, and they’re willing to pay millions to get their hands on it. Brecht Group operatives, including Roady Kenehan, soon learn that American intelligence agencies have been surveilling Arthur and the North Koreans. The agencies know that two kidnapped young women are alive, but they’re unwilling to mount a rescue that could jeopardize their operation. Roady and others, including military-trained Mark and Robert, are determined to save Christie and Jackie, even if it means going up against deadly foes.
Although Godfrey’s novel definitely has its share of action, there are just as many enthralling scenes of investigation. For example, as Brecht Group operatives look into the young women’s disappearance, they use sophisticated technology, including equipment that recreates the mall abduction by drawing on radio transmissions, among other data. Several characters share similar skills, which make them somewhat less distinct as individuals; Mark and Robert, for example, both have very useful combat training, as does Roady, whom the two eventually join in a gunfight. There’s also a pronounced theme of fatherhood that involves multiple characters; Mark, for example, is a father who gets help from his own dad; most view Robert as a sugar daddy; and aging Albert Brecht, the head of the Brecht Group and “one of the last remaining fathers of the Cold War,” is preparing to pass down his company. The story’s villains, however, are more remarkable and memorable; Antonio is decidedly repugnant, Arthur is highly intelligent but likely psychopathic, and Jimmy Kim, who most often represents the North Koreans, is unusually charming. Overall, Godfrey’s narrative proceeds at a deliberate pace, thanks to hefty but often riveting backstories of several characters. Still, the story boasts a few surprises when it comes to the specifics of Arthur’s experiment and more than one unexpected death. The conclusion provides a thorough and convincing wrap-up, but Godfrey has a sequel planned, which will surely appeal to readers looking for more exciting stories of Brecht Group operatives in peril.
A rousing tale with fine action, engaging villains, and series potential.