Ruppert (The Seven Watchmen, 2009) delivers a fast-paced, intelligent thriller about a police detective’s journey into an intricate underworld of religion and politics.
Gallagher, a hardened, sharp cop from Washington, D.C., investigates the bloody death of a Jesuit priest. Although it was first ruled an accident, Gallagher believes the priest was murdered and, as the story goes on, risks his career and reputation to prove his suspicion. He teams up with a helpful fourth-grade teacher, Laura Miller, and uses tough investigative tactics, and a bit of larceny, to finds what he needs—plunging into a shady, intricate netherworld of Jesuits, South American revolutionaries, Vatican and CIA officials, Cold War secrets and more. Ruppert expertly sets his characters on the trail of intrigue and adventure, and his prose is consistent and straightforward, offering guidance to the reader when necessary. That said, it sometimes offers long, unnecessary exposition and explanatory dialogue, during which some readers may become lost. At times, the narrative tells instead of shows, instructing readers about a character instead of providing subtler character development (as when it refers to one character’s “sharp mind.”). Readers will likely enjoy the mystery at the heart of this thriller, but repeated, vague references to “a giant man” and a “well dressed man” plotting from positions of power may frustrate some readers. However, these minor flaws are, in the end, forgivable. Overall, the author has a clear knowledge of his engaging characters, settings, plot and ideas, and most readers will appreciate the attention to detail in this complex, well-planned narrative.
A solid, often engaging thriller that will likely appeal to fans of conspiracy theories and high adventure.