An attorney finds himself hunting down an elusive, violent con artist in the suspenseful but far-fetched debut thriller from Zeta.
Jason Justice, the story’s first-person narrator, is such a “women want him, men want to be him” stereotype—down to his too-on-the-nose name—that it challenges readers’ suspension of disbelief almost immediately. Though Justice is clearly modeled on a James Bond-esque prototype, Zeta never clearly identifies what makes his somewhat blandly drawn character so alluring in the first place. A West Point graduate and Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan after 9/11, Justice now works as a high-profile divorce lawyer in West Palm Beach, a career he more than once describes as “just something I did to earn a living.” In this book, he reluctantly agrees to help a young woman find her stepfather who bankrupted and may have murdered her mother. Along the way, our hero’s investigation leads him to other damsels in distress who have been similarly wronged by the same man. As a rookie mystery writer, Zeta has good ideas and instincts that frequently fizzle due to unpolished execution. Location is key for the South Florida-based author, with the weather and dank Florida landscape playing equally important roles as the central characters. The dialogue at times feels strained, with characters often speaking lines that sound as if they were pulled from a bad TV movie script. Some of the puzzle-unraveling coincidences feel forced, if not outright clichéd, and a tie-in to a secret CIA program is confounding. The climax, while thrilling, is overlong, and there is little doubt as to whether good or evil will triumph. One of the central mysteries, however, is left frustratingly unresolved, seemingly more of an oversight than a cliffhanger.
An entertaining airplane read; by no means a chore to get through, but not exactly a gripping page-turner either.