IS IT BETTER TO BE CAREFUL OR CLEVER?
5 STARS OUT OF 5
This book has to be the most riveting thriller that I have read in months. It is only 190 pages in length but it is 190 pages of heart-pounding action. Scene after scene, chapter after chapter, the race for our two protagonists to survive against a killing machine never flags.
From the very first page we know the identity of that killing machine – Booker. He is a well referenced independent contractor, is quite skilled at his craft and he loves doing it. He has a high level of intelligence and a moral compass that not only dictates a high quality in his kills but also dictates that a contract once paid for must be fulfilled, regardless. And our main protagonist, Dani Britton, is the last person on his list for his current job.
As the promotional blurb for this book indicates, Dani works as a data analyst for a secretive security agency near Washington, D.C., that specializes in discreetly resolving corporate espionage cases. Her specialty is analyzing trash and records for patterns of behavior. When the current case that Dani and her team are working on is suddenly scrubbed, all members of the team are called in and are required to be present to surrender all evidence gathered to the client at the end of two hours. Dani goes home to pick up some of that trash that she had been working on but traffic makes her late getting back. When she finally gets into the building, she finds one of her team members dead and hears shooting coming from the interior of the building.
At this point the promotional blurb leaves off and the terror begins, not just for Dani but also for the reader. The author describes everything in detail – what Dani thinks, what Dani feels, what Dani does. But this detail is neither a data dump nor is it fluff for the sake of a word count. This detail is a form of descriptive prose that puts you in Dani’s body, going through what she goes through, suffering through her fear, her exhaustion and her mistakes right along with her. The dialogue is gritty, believable and appropriate to the situations. The feelings of panic, desperation and anger just pour out of the words.
Dani is no superhero, and the author does not provide her with miracles. What the author does provide her with is intelligence and the power to think on her feet. And the author also provides her with Choo-Choo, a highly skilled male teammate who had escaped the massacre without Booker knowing.
The author alternates the scenarios between Dani and Booker, from the minute Booker intercepts her 911 call to the final confrontation. We know what each is doing in the same time frame, even if they are not in the same place at the time. And we are placed into Booker’s mind just as surely as we are in Dani’s and he is not the typical literary psychopath.
It doesn’t take too long in the plot arc for Dani, Choo-Choo and Booker to figure out that they’ve all been played and that there is a second killing machine out there. The problem is that they have no idea who that enemy is – the client who cancelled the surveillance job, their own employers, a government agency or all of the above. Time is not on anyone’s side. Booker is coming for Dani and the group behind the espionage is coming for all three of them.
In summary, Redling provides us with a realistic set-up that is propelled through believable scenarios to an Oh-My-God conclusion. This is truly a book that will have you forgoing sleep to get to that conclusion.
Cover art from Goodreads.