A former Marine and U.S. governor is pitted against a fellow ex-soldier on a global, revenge-fueled murder spree in Vermillion’s (It’s Not Dark Yet, 2017, etc.) thriller.
Everything is copacetic for former Marine Gen. Simon Pack. His friend James Dahl is a worthy successor to his Montana gubernatorial seat, and Pack plans on marrying girlfriend Keeley Eliopoulos, complete with a Greece honeymoon. But a train derailment in Idaho begets personal tragedy and sends Pack into a depression. This may be why he’s unprepared for Blaise Paschal, who stops by Pack’s Montana cabin, claiming to have been part of his military unit. The Pentagon already has Paschal in its sights. He’s been murdering people around the world—anyone he believes is responsible for an ambush years ago in Iraq that killed Americans but that Paschal evidently survived. When it’s clear that Paschal’s vengeance entails abducting Pack, the general’s friends, from his right-hand man, Tetu Palaita, to Sheriff Joe Mollison, are determined to bring him home. Paschal is a formidable foe. He skillfully adopts new identities and continues to target various individuals. Pack, however, has the tenacity to stop him, notwithstanding his status as a kidnap victim. Though the fourth novel in Vermillion’s series sports some action, melodrama rules much of the story’s setup. It effectively establishes the protagonist, particularly for readers just joining the series, and makes him a sympathetic character even before his abduction. Still, the best scenes involve Paschal, whom the author gives a rich, disturbing background. And it’s especially unsettling to watch the villain stalk potential victims in different U.S. states. For example, he shadows a target’s wife and her friends to a gym and casually sits at the juice bar for a coffee and bagel. The inevitable showdown near the end between Pack and Paschal is a terrific payoff and unsurprisingly violent.
A steadfast pace makes for an increasingly intense tale of a malevolent, evasive baddie.