In Marquis’ debut thriller, a man hoping to confront the author who plagiarized his unpublished work winds up in the middle of a CIA operation to take down Russian mobsters.
Unemployed geologist Nick Lassiter knows one thing for sure: the story portrayed in the new film Subterranean Storm is highly similar to his unpublished manuscript, Blind Thrust. Convinced that celebrated author Cameron Beckett, whose latest novel was the movie’s source text, pilfered his story, Nick and his pals head to New York. Nick just wants an apology from Beckett, but causing a scene at a book signing indirectly incites the Russian Mafia. They’ve got their hooks in Beckett’s agent, Anton De Benedictis, whose gambling brother has racked up significant debt. Nick’s CIA father, Austin Brewbaker, is working an operation involving De Benedictis and the Russians, but he struggles to keep his son, his son’s friends, and Nick’s ex-girlfriend—and CIA asset—Natalie Perkins safe. There’s a lot going on in Marquis’ book, as the author smartly builds off a solid premise. De Benedictis, for one, is also Natalie’s boss, while Nick has issues to work out with his ex as well as his estranged father. Nick’s initial goal seems over-the-top—he treks from Denver to the Big Apple just for Beckett to explain himself—but it’s actually quite reasonable. Nick is a realist and knows that a lawsuit against Beckett will likely go nowhere; readers, meanwhile, know without a doubt that Beckett indeed got his novel idea from Nick’s manuscript (courtesy of a slush pile). Russian thugs, with Alexei Popov at the helm, become a stronger presence in the story’s latter half, a decidedly more intense (albeit a smidge less original) turn that features Austin, and even Nick and Natalie, engaged in gunfights and a riveting car chase with the Russians. The story can occasionally be repetitive: Beckett is frequently compared to James Patterson, and Nick et al. either discuss their hastily created group (the title’s namesake) or chant its moniker a few too many times. Still, in Nick, unpublished authors have a formidable ally.
A fresh concept and protagonist that breathe life into a conventional but exciting actioner.