Ex-Marine and damaged combat vet Peter Ash returns after his harrowing debut (The Drifter, 2016).
Peter hikes in a California redwood forest, and a grizzly bear chases him up a tree. He chances upon a series of ropes and scampers—hell, why not—300 feet to the top. There, on a sunlit platform, journalist June Cassidy is hiding from the G-men searching for her on the forest floor. Her mother, Hazel, had been killed earlier by a truck in a hit-and-run. Hazel had been a leading researcher in machine learning and knew she might be murdered for her work on computer systems that could “grow themselves organically.” Indeed, an “unnamed party” wants their mitts on the self-teaching algorithm that will soon have “unprecedented access to the electronic infrastructure of our world.” Hazel called the algorithm “Tyg3r,” and it’s become adept at using “neural networks” to constantly improve object recognition. June hires Peter to find out who her pursuers are, “who’s behind this.” Plenty of violence ensues once they’re back on the ground and on the road. Peter has a strong fear of being indoors that stems from his combat days—he calls the “white static” in his head “My war souvenir.” But he shows no qualms about killing to defend himself and June. Combat does something for him—“War’s dirty little secret,” he thinks, is “how alive it made you feel.” There are plenty of strong characters: Lewis returns from The Drifter as a talented career criminal who’ll drop whatever he’s doing to help Peter. Sasha Kolodny, aka “the Yeti,” is June’s mysterious father, who might have killed Hazel but keeps forgetting she’s dead. Readers can expect some good twists on the way to a hair-raising finish.
Another fine thriller in what's shaping up to be a hell of a series.