A mousy scientist's knowledge of nuclear secrets puts her in the middle of a 72-hour game of kill-or-be-killed in Manson's debut thriller.
Katherine Richmond just wanted a trip to China to ease her job and marriage tensions; she ends up with post-traumatic stress disorder, an international scandal and an unfulfilled romance with a twisted double agent. An often overworked plotline sees Katherine kidnapped, tortured and subsequently rescued by super secretive Michael Sunday. Katherine is frequently confused, and readers will likely feel the same as they struggle to understand where Sunday is dragging Katherine, who they are talking to and whether anyone is telling the truth. Author Manson creates so many plot twists and turns, readers will have a hard time keeping up with which characters are good and which are downright rotten. Yet the conversations between Sunday and Katherine keep the narrative moving regardless of the evil political machinations going on around them. Two broken people, both suffering from lost love, find something human inside one another despite being surrounded by blood, gore and a Big Brother-like Chinese government. Their back-and-forth banter feels natural and fluid, making these two more interesting and relatable by the page. Manson’s clear technical knowledge of the work Sunday does, whether interrogation or inflicting pain, is impressive. But his portrayal of Katherine and the spy who loved her as complete people despite their flaws buoys the book's murky plot. The couple’s strange desire for success, unwillingness to compromise and sudden passion for one another all lend depth and nuance to this uneven look at today's political landscape.
A spy story that feels wordy but redeems itself with strong characterization and an impressive ear for dialogue.