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A random recent photo of a man presumed dead following the 9/11 attack spurs an investigative team to try to determine the truth about his disappearance—by any means possible.

Kyle Royce lives a double life in the manner of Bruce Wayne. He is the frontman for his family’s fabulously successful currency trading firm and nonprofit Royce Foundation. But his actual work is “cloak and dagger stuff,” tackling missing person cases “no one else can solve.” One such endeavor—which kicks off the novel in high gear—is rescuing a man’s son who had been kidnapped by a powerful Brazilian family. Royce and his team’s newest case, Phillip Peterson, formerly worked in fraud and security for a credit card company with offices in the World Trade Center. Was he killed in the terrorist attack, or is something more sinister afoot? Royce reassures Peterson’s sister that he and his “devoted staff with some unique skills and connections” will get results. “Our methods are sometimes unorthodox and, at times, controversial,” he admits. Or, in the words of Shakespeare, “To do a great right, do a little wrong.” But the hunters become the prey as their investigation uncovers the credit card company’s questionable doings. “There are some very powerful people and institutions that will not want the world to know this information,” Royce is warned at one point. Meanwhile, the Brazilians are stepping up pressure to retrieve the boy that Royce reunited with his father. But Royce has a simple lesson: “If you fuck with me, you will lose.” That kind of bravado makes the hero an enjoyable figure to follow around the world. He deserves future adventures that will hopefully further flesh out his colleagues. Only two, his best friend and former NFL player, Cleat Williams, and Jennifer Parks-Hudson, an investigator with whom Royce may have more than a professional interest, get major page time. Dahler (Water Hazard, 2010, etc.) lays on Royce’s badass attitude a little thick (“I can be a real grade-A asshole when I want to be. It’s a gift”) and character banter is strained, but the author keeps the plot moving with plenty of action.

A fun diversion with a bracing hero and sequel potential.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 2017
Page count: 209pp
Publisher: Fairfield
Program: Kirkus Indie
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