The first volume of a two-part thriller series brings back Jake Bronson, who’s determined to find out why an unknown group has been abducting his family and friends, in Bard’s (Beyond Judgment, 2013, etc.) latest.
Jake has already saved the world using his superior mental abilities, like transmitting thoughts. But he’d rather sidestep any publicity drawn to him or his similarly gifted 7-year-old son, Alex. Someone, however, has targeted him: A text from his wife, Francesca—“NOW!”—means that danger has necessitated a contingency plan. When Francesca and their kids go missing, Jake realizes that none of the 13 people, including friends all around the world, have checked in at a website per their emergency-response plan. Spearheading the attack may be the Everlast Institute, whose most recent venture is the preservation of a human consciousness on a computer chip. Jake makes his way to Everlast in Holland, hoping the company’s founder, Frederik de Vries, can explain what the company wants from him—and where his family is. Readers unfamiliar with Bard’s previous trilogy featuring Jake need not fret: While the book heavily references the protagonist’s earlier adventures, it provides clear elaboration without saturating the story in plot details. For example, the origins of the “mini”—a miniature, magical pyramid—aren’t important, but it’s unmistakable that Jake’s mental powers are slowly waning without it. Once readers have caught up with returning characters, such as couple Marshall and actress Lacey, as well as the main villain, who has retribution on the mind, the story ignites pages with scenes of action and suspense. There are shootouts, car chases and even a pursuit on foot; meanwhile, Ahmed and Sarafina (Jake and Francesca’s other kids) are aboard a plane headed for an unwelcome crash landing. The baddies are just as diverse as Jake’s group—they have to be since they’re stationed globally, from Hong Kong and Rome to the U.S.—but standouts are Lin, Min and Zhin, triplet sisters known for their beauty yet in possession of much more. Zhin has an exceptional intellect, and Min is a skilled fighter, while all three have their own reasons for vengeance against Jake and company. Bard doesn’t give readers time to breathe, and while it’s unfortunate that not every good guy makes it to the end, there’s a solid cliffhanger.
High-speed espionage thriller with sci-fi touches that’ll have readers impatiently waiting for the next installment.