THE SECOND LETTER by Robert Lane

THE SECOND LETTER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Lane’s crime thriller features a wisecracking Jacob Travis, a former member of the U.S. Army Special Forces with a penchant for breaking the rules.

Travis’ current job is to track down and retrieve a letter buried in the 1960s that may reveal nasty political secrets. The letter, however, falls into the hands of Raydel Escobar, a slimy Tampa strip-club and carpet-store owner who also happens to be connected to bigger thugs through his dealings with the blackmailing of a politician. Escobar is in trouble with the IRS, so he tries to use possession of the letter as a bargaining chip with the government. To help get the letter, Travis works with an old military buddy, a neighbor and a couple of locals for hire, all of whom are more than meets the eye, as well as his own smart, fearless girlfriend, Kathleen. The cast of characters is large, and Lane deserves credit for fleshing all of them out without long stretches of exposition. Kathleen, for instance, is just as strong a character, if not stronger, as Travis, and by the time the action heats up, Escobar develops into more than a two-dimensional, archetypal scumbag. Lane also handily maintains a level of intrigue throughout the book, at least partly because no one opens the letter for a good portion of the story. The delicate plot has a lot of moving parts: revelations about the CIA, smuggling, blackmail, trafficking, romantic entanglements and dirty politics, to name only the most prominent. The landscape does get a bit cluttered, however, especially with added subplots involving Escobar’s additional crimes and a twist regarding an FBI agent. But Lane keeps the story flowing and doesn’t get stuck in any of the little eddies that could snag the plot. There are some slight faults, though. The clever banter can get tiresome, and the language is sometimes awkward: In one scene, for instance, a character “flashed a smile” and then “kept it on his face to drive it in,” which would mean he didn’t flash it. But those minor hiccups don’t kill the rapid-fire story.

Doesn’t break the mold for crime thrillers, but it’s certainly worth a read for fans of the genre.  

ISBN: 978-0615841885
Page count: 337pp
Publisher: Mason Alley Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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