A fast-paced, globe-trotting debut thriller featuring a former Olympian with something to prove.
When Pia Sabel’s adoptive father puts her in charge of his security firm, she knows the transition won’t be easy. Neither the firm’s employees nor its clients welcome the idea of a 25-year-old former soccer player at the helm. Pia doesn’t make things easier when she ignores her father’s request that she work in the front office, opting to work in the field instead. She goes to Geneva, Switzerland, where a team of Sabel Security agents is scheduled to meet with a wealthy banker. But the day before the meeting, an assassin murders the banker in Pia’s presence. She manages to capture the killer, but he escapes soon after he’s turned over to the Geneva police. He leaves behind a matchbook bearing the name of a ship that pirates recently commandeered off the coast of Cameroon. Four other bankers are killed in short order, and a hit man even attempts to take Pia’s life. Despite this, Pia promises the client’s widow that she and her team will figure out why he was killed. As Pia unravels multiple mysteries, she also confronts shadows from her past. From the first scene, James demonstrates his command of action and description; for example, the doomed banker doesn’t fall, he “collapse[s] on the ground like a dropped cloth.” James also manages to organically introduce Pia’s many quirks, from insomnia to stubbornness. At times, the pace slows due to awkward exposition, and some dialogue may strike readers as implausible, as when a Sabel Security agent calls Pia a “rich bitch” during their first conversation. These are small lapses, however, in an otherwise remarkable debut.
A fine thriller with intriguing locations, intricate plot twists and a complex heroine.