Larew’s debut thriller, the first of a series, follows CIA agent Lee Carruthers as she’s sent to Morocco to find a missing woman.
Carruthers has just arrived in Paris from Baghdad, but her boss, Sidney, already has her next assignment lined up. She’s to travel to Fez, Morocco, to look for analyst Alicia Harmon, who vanished two weeks ago. Alicia monitors human trafficking for the CIA, and she may have stumbled upon a scheme to launder money for terrorists. Lee soon finds herself a target of assassins, and she quickly realizes that the people who made Alicia disappear may be the ones gunning for her as well. Larew establishes a pointed mystery, revealing that Alicia received death threats and was seen with an unknown man. It turns out that the analyst may have connected the money laundering to the well-respected Omar Rashid, the head of a foundation to assist boys on the street. The book’s revelation of Alicia’s whereabouts and who’s behind the abduction isn’t much of a surprise, but by that time, the story has shifted its focus to suspense, which is only strengthened when the villains’ identities become clear. Lee meets plenty of people along the way (including some old acquaintances), although few surpass Driss Bouchta of Moroccan Security—an accommodating but inscrutable man who occasionally serves as comic relief, grumbling when Lee needs his help in the early morning hours. Larew portrays Lee as an effective analyst who’s looking for a way out of the CIA, and readers will likely enjoy the frenzied action she gets into, as when she’s close to a suicide bomber’s blast or dodging a guard in an office late at night. Much of this thriller is emphatically old school, and as such, it has a certain charm. For example, the book uses classic detective-story jargon, such as “heavies” to describe antagonists, and at one point, Lee is kept in a basement for an indeterminate amount of time and asked the same questions repeatedly, in classic spy-novel fashion.
A solid introduction to a new thriller series.