In Howard’s (It’s About Time, 2016, etc.) thriller, a longtime police investigator fights criminals by using hopeless cancer patients as suicide bombers.
In this book’s riveting opening chapter, a dying man fakes his way into a cocktail party for a recently exonerated criminal. He then ignites a vest full of explosives and blows himself and the entire hotel floor to smithereens. It turns out that August Bock, the CEO of freight company Worldwide Dispatch, is using desperate, penniless, terminally ill people to wreak revenge. After his company zeros in on an unjustly absolved lawbreaker, it strikes a deal with a dying patient, who must carry out a suicide-bombing mission in return for a $4 million payout. Hopeless and eager to leave a windfall for their families, the bombers are willing pawns in a “righteous war” of vigilante justice. Meanwhile, a tough, veteran Miami police detective and single father, Gabe Mitchell, and his feisty partner, Joanne Hansen, are busy fighting crime on their own turf, although Gabe’s health has seen much better days. When he’s diagnosed with a metastatic brain tumor, he falls into Bock’s cross hairs. The CEO swiftly offers him the aforementioned deadly deal. When Gabe refuses, Bock tries to blackmail him into it, which eventually leads to a breathless standoff on a yacht. The intriguing plotline elevates Howard’s sophomore crime thriller above genre expectations. The author’s talent for suspense and narrative momentum is on full display here. He recounts Gabe’s emotional journey as he comes to terms with his terminal diagnosis and his guilt over his surviving son’s welfare, and he cleverly follows it with the cop’s later crisis of conscience. The clock ticks down to Gabe’s forced act of vengeance—and the end of his life—while a few unexpected twists and turns make things even more interesting. There’s also an underlying theme of morality permeating the story; long after Howard’s exhilarating, skyscraper-set conclusion plays out, the question of the ethics of contracted retribution will linger in the readers’ minds. At more than 450 pages in length, Howard’s book could have used some pruning, but overall, this is an ambitious adventure—one that may seem preposterous to some and completely credible to others.
A taut suspense tale energized by a unique premise, dastardly criminals, and a resilient hero.