A seemingly rudimentary business deal in Ukraine turns into a fight for survival for a New Orleans attorney in this novel.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Jonathan Brooks’ law firm is all but destroyed, and his two partners are “nowhere to be found.” But he has at least one remaining client, Cramer Banks, who has a job offer for Jonathan. It’s a software-related deal in Kyiv, Ukraine; as Jonathan doesn’t know the tech, Cramer also sends his chief technology officer, Kevin Wyatt. Surprisingly, Kevin is a no-show at the meeting in Kyiv. Jonathan soon finds evidence that Kevin made it to the airport, where someone likely kidnapped him. Accordingly, Cramer asks the lawyer to track down his esteemed CTO (and keeps Jonathan on the payroll). The reason for Kevin’s abduction isn’t initially evident, but it may be his past association with a government agency. Luckily, Jonathan has help, including someone from the Romanian Embassy. But his search for Kevin ultimately puts him in the cross hairs of menacing individuals. Meanwhile, Jonathan’s beloved ex-wife, Linda Fabre, on a journalism assignment in North Korea, is in potential danger as well, and he believes those targeting him will take her for leverage. In this third volume of a series, Frieden’s (The Serpent’s Game, 2013, etc.) protagonist remains a fresh, convincing character. For example, his involvement in international espionage is believable, and his enduring love for Linda is admirable, even if she doesn’t reciprocate. The plot sometimes feels convoluted, as Jonathan tries to identify villains and motivations (though readers learn a bit more information than the attorney). But it precipitates a few memorable set pieces, particularly Jonathan and his allies in the abandoned town of Pripyat, site of the Chernobyl disaster. The author aptly describes Pripyat’s desolation, from an empty bus-stop bench to “uncut yellow-green fields.” The often intense story is rife with characters in captivity, shocking deaths, and an ending that’s sure to linger in readers’ minds.
An exhilarating third installment of a consistently unpredictable and entertaining thriller series.