In the author’s debut thriller, a private investigator is recruited by a clandestine company that may be using questionable methods of surveillance.
Jake Conley becomes a media darling after he shoots and kills a gunman who opened fire in a crowded movie theater. The PI catches the attention of Alan Michaels of the Domestic Surveillance Consulting Company, who makes Jake an offer he gladly accepts—a condo, a new car and a hefty paycheck. But Jake quickly grows suspicious of the DSCC when he realizes that some monitored subjects, or “targets,” don’t seem to have done anything wrong. Coleman’s story is more espionage than mystery. The former gumshoe spends much of the novel honing his surveillance skills with technology such as drones and GPS trackers. Scenes of Jake spying are rousing, even if the work’s only routine, like observing a U.S. senator who might have info on the missing wife of Gustavo Mendoza, a DSCC investor. And the author introduces a rather chilling concept: The privately funded company is flagging citizens based on behavior, gun purchases and violent video games, but it still doesn’t prevent a couple of shooting sprees at a high school and mall. Jake is, for the most part, commendable. Readers will empathize with a man in an unfamiliar new career, and he proves himself both proficient and honorable when he goes against his DSCC orders and makes direct contact with Dillon, a seemingly harmless man under scrutiny. But Jake’s treatment of women is frivolous; it’s clear that he has feelings for his girlfriend, Medalia, that go beyond the physical; however, he notes that DSCC employee Christina is the “perfect receptionist” because she’s pretty and coquettish, while profiler Ms. Livingston could be attractive if she didn’t wear glasses and “made a little more effort with proper make-up.” The novel concludes with Jake drafting a few friends, including retired detective Thomas Luck, for a rescue mission; it’s well-done and undoubtedly enjoyable but also unfortunately signifies the close of the espionage plot. But, with Jake’s future left open, he’s definitely ripe for a sequel.
At its best when the protagonist is surveilling; Jake Conley could use another book or two to work on his spying abilities.