Left for dead in the Sahara Desert beside two corpses, Matthias Callaghan—with no money, ID, or meds—finagles his way to his doctor in Switzerland and then to London.
In this sixth installment of his series, Ekemar (The Callaghan Tetralogy, 2018, etc.) continues to breathe excitement into his face-changing, vengeance-filled, Jekyll and Hyde premise. As soon as the unflappable Callaghan reaches London, where he is wanted for jumping bail on a murder charge, he starts juggling the pieces of his fragmented life in his classic, inimitable style. His intricate personal history includes mutilation by Russian gangsters and two face transplants. Now the machinations of the FBI, the Russian mob, and a crooked cop add complications, which Callaghan is not yet aware of. He just happens to still have the keys to his old flat, which is currently owned by head Russian mobster Vasily Ivanovich. Callaghan breaks in, finds photographs of his own supposedly dead body in the desert, and snaps pictures of stolen artwork. By turning it all over to the police, he essentially cripples the mob and buys himself a measure of credibility with the authorities, not to mention incurring the psychopathic wrath of Ivanovich, who is now set on revenge at any cost. This is one of the few negatives of Ekemar’s series. Not only do some major plot twists (like the flat and the keys) turn on coincidences, but there are also less important but no less extreme flukes such as the oddly entwined histories of Callaghan’s wife and ex-wife. Such flaws, however, are easily overlooked amid all the solid prose, action, plot turns, and conniving among the fully developed protagonists and antagonists alike. Callaghan haggles for an early hearing in his murder case using a picture of the mysterious Ivanovich as a bargaining chip. As in previous installments, the author nicely sets up his readers for the next episode with a grand finale, leaving various threads hanging.
This tale’s well-drawn characters move like clockwork through a series of wild, suspenseful plot twists in a danse macabre of greed, murder, and revenge.