When his pregnant wife is killed in the couple’s mob-torched Brooklyn business, an Iraq War veteran sets out on a mission for payback.
Nees’ (After the Fall, 2016) latest novel serves as the origin story of Dan Stone, former military sniper and current assassin. Six months after Dan and his wife, Rita, opened a neighborhood restaurant, made man Joey Batone shows up offering “protection” for a fee. After Dan turns him down, he and Joey punch it out, and the mobster gets whooped. In retaliation, Joey sends a flash-bang grenade into Dan and Rita’s restaurant, burning it to the ground. Working late, Rita and her unborn child become collateral damage. After the funeral, Dan disappears out West for several months to sharpen his sniper skills, purchase fake IDs and weapons, and master the art of disguise. When he secretly returns to New York, he interferes with Mafia shakedowns and kills some mobsters close to Joey but not the murderer himself. Dan wants Joey to sweat, and the sweat indeed pours out of him. He knows Dan is out to kill him and that the mob is turning on him too because he’s causing it problems. The Mafia wants Dan found, as do the cops, the FBI, and CIA operative Jane Tanner. Her task is to groom terrorist assassins to work for the agency. She needs to find killers who are “not so amoral that they would turn on her or the agency when a better offer” comes along. Jane calculates Dan is an ideal candidate, but locating and wooing him before anyone else gets to him is a challenge. Jane is one of several strong, smart women in this well-executed thriller. When an FBI agent suggests to her that not two people, but only one—Rita—died in the restaurant fire, Jane counters, “She was pregnant. We women think about that.” The dialogue is convincing and tailored to the characters. In addition, the storyline is intricate without seeming over-the-top. Dan’s a multifaceted antihero amid a group of intriguing characters on both sides of the law, with some walking the fine line between the two.
A thrilling start to a new series starring a complex assassin.