In Giebels’ (Tier Six, 2014, etc.) thriller, an agency that buys and sells abilities does nefarious deeds to ensure the secrecy of its business dealings.
The Davis Agency specializes in purchasing people’s abilities, extracting them and placing them into others at a substantial profit while keeping it all a secret from the world at large. More than two decades ago, it offered millions of dollars to college football star Salvatore Greco for his considerable quarterbacking abilities. With help from a Davis employee named Wagner, Salvatore managed to back out of the deal, which led to a gunfight and both men going into hiding. In the present day, a tech-company CEO becomes a musical sensation overnight; Salvatore, who’s now using the name “Mauro Giordano,” realizes that Davis is still active and decides that it’s time to take the agency down. Meanwhile, popular artist Thad Newcombe’s suicide shocks the world and results in unexpected repercussions for his family. Thad had made a deal with the Davis Agency but didn’t follow through; now, agency goons are tracking his grandson, Matthew, believing that he inherited Thad’s talent. Salvatore and Wagner pose as prospective buyers, while Matthew inches ever closer to danger. Giebel’s thriller offers an offbeat touch of sci-fi, concentrating on the real-world consequences of the talent-oriented tech. For example, Kelly Bailey, another character, sells his superior musicality to help his sickly mother, but he ultimately comes to regret his decision, and the buyer won’t willingly return what he paid for. The book’s plot revelations are slow but steady—the wealthy and highly intelligent Cassandra Marcot’s significance isn’t immediately clear, for instance—and the agency’s villainy is engaging. There are intermittent grammatical errors, though, as well as apparently inadvertent name changes (a character named “Newcombe” later becomes “Newton”). However, these are ultimately forgivable thanks to the plot’s consistent momentum and an ending that readers won’t soon forget.
An often exhilarating tale featuring bizarre technology.