Widowmaker by Charles L. Carson


From the "A McManus Thriller" series, volume 3
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Attorney Jack McManus’ new gig at the Department of Justice finds him at the Shaolin Monastery searching for the culprits behind airplane crashes in Carson’s (Palmdale, 2011, etc.) latest thriller.

The DOJ unfairly booted out Jack long ago, but now it wants him back. He leaves his San Francisco office and moves to Boston, with a new DOJ title, director of international operations. His first task is to locate those responsible for hacking navigational computers to crash planes last year, including hacker Ahmed Munuza and ringleader Ringo “Hyacinth” Rosselier. Jack and lawyer pal Ernie Aftergood get a lead on Ahmed at a monastery in China. Ahmed, however, may be doing more than hiding out: local Syrians in Chengdu are showing up at hospitals with fewer organs. Hyacinth, meanwhile, is also looking for Ahmed, believing the hacker and terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood, which played a part in the aircraft assaults, tried to kill him. The Brotherhood further complicates matters by sending a trio of assassins to Chengdu, hoping to get in on the organ-trafficking scheme. Jack knows that thwarting the organ harvesters will bring the DOJ closer to Hyacinth and Ahmed. But when a couple of SEALs, tagging along to protect Jack and Ernie, turn up decapitated, the two attorneys realize they’re not safe. The recurring protagonist takes a back seat for much of this series entry; he’s sometimes merely an observer, literally standing back and watching villains take out other villains. And while Jack’s predominantly clear of danger (other soldiers replace those SEALs), he’s unmistakably in peril by the rousing final act. There are likewise quite a few surprises, like the sudden disappearance of a character and a shocking incident near the end of the book. But the bevy of baddies remains the story’s electrifying centerpiece: some want revenge, others want to hijack the organ harvesting, and all are willing to deceive/kill to get what they want. The story’s likely aimed at readers who’ve perused the heavily tied-in series opener, but Carson provides enough back story for those unfamiliar with Jack’s previous exploits.

An influx of antagonists nearly upstages the hero, but it’s fun to watch crooks do what they do best.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 2014
Page count: 161pp
Publisher: KaleBoy Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2016


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