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Action and plot twists fuel Strahan’s debut spy thriller.

Damon Courter, a retired CIA operative turned successful author, has his peaceful existence in the Colorado mountains interrupted by the arrival of a figure from his past. In the company of a CIA agent, Courter returns to Washington to positively identify a Russian defector. However, the man who claims to be Borisov isn’t the same man Courter worked with during his CIA days. That would seem to be the end of the matter—but then the Borisov imposter and the CIA agents protecting him are killed, and an attempt is made on Courter’s life, though he’s rescued by his ex-wife, a CIA contractor. Pulled into CIA operations, the pair struggles to sort out what happened, as they meet danger and treachery around every corner, eventually landing themselves in a volatile situation in the Middle East. From the opening in a Russian prison where the real Borisov is about to meet his end, the high-octane story is filled with tension and action. Strahan has a flair for characterization, creating realistic and believable primary and secondary characters. It’s easy to root for Courter and, though she can be a coldblooded killer when she needs to, his ex-wife, Helen Calparri, who earns sympathy. The dialogue-heavy story rolls forward in a short, punchy style that has a believable feel to it. Descriptions of the action avoid any poetic flourishes and instead rely on taut sentences—“She rushed forward with eyes closed, piling into the man, and tried to jab at his throat and eyes to incapacitate him as quickly as possible and open the elevator door”—to vividly depict the unfolding events. Subplots involving minor characters and the rekindling of Courter and Calparri’s romance ably round out the novel, while the final chapter leaves enough room for a possible sequel.

This abundance of twists, turns and double crosses should satisfy readers eager for some armchair espionage.

Page count: 326pp
Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2013


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