By Raymond Khoury
Sean Reilly, FBI agent, only wants to enjoy a short respite from an exasperating case over the July Fourth holiday. He can try to recharge from some emotional stress in his relationship with his girlfriend, Tess Chaykin, former archaeologist, with whom he’s had a few adventures. However, his ex girlfriend, Michelle Martinez, calls pleading for help. Michelle and her four year old son, Alex, just escaped a kidnapping. She also tells Reilly that he’s Alex’s father. Hours later, he arrives in San Diego only to almost immediately step into a gunfight with the kidnappers that ends with Michelle’s death. Sean is plunged into a mystery that involves a biker gang, a Mexican drug lord, and recent kidnappings of scientists. Reilly’s past comes back to haunt him, specifically, an operation in Mexico five years earlier where a life or death decision left him with unresolved guilt. Working with local agents and with the aid of Tess, Reilly uncovers a plot to introduce a new super drug to the unsuspecting populace. However, more secrets lie in wait for discovering, including Alex’s strange behavior.
This is an intricate plot with some interesting puzzles. I enjoyed the mystical and speculative aspects although I did find one part introduced near the end to be a little reaching. The story still works well.
Sean Reilly: FBI agent in the New York’s counterterrorism unit
Tess Chaykin: Archaeologist, Sean’s girlfriend, writes novels, has a fourteen year old daughter
Jesse Munro: DEA agent, tanned, fit, Thick blond hair, cocky, served with Sean on an assignment in Mexico
Michelle Martinez: Sean’s ex girlfriend, retired DEA, has a four year old son, self sufficient, doesn’t like people doubting her, of Dominican Republic/Puerto Rican descent, blue eyes, brown hair, very attractive
Raoul ‘El Brujo’ Navarro: Mexican drug kingpin, likes Cuban cigars, has a voracious sexual appetite, had plastic surgery and his face is now handsome, living under an alias in the Yucatan, fascinated from an early age with seeking new realms of consciousness through narcotics
A little relationship news from Sean and Tess but read Khoury’s earlier novels featuring the pair to get more background information. Otherwise, good character development. I was a little saddened by the demise of a character early on, but I can see where it was needed. Sort of. Good development of support characters except for FBI agent Villaverde. He’s a contact Reilly uses but you don’t get too much information regarding him. One aspect of the story I did notice: a lot of characters names are a little different from the typical Jones, Smiths, and Petersens you see in other novels. Khoury came up with some funky names this time.
Relatively little dialogue. Basically, the conversations are a needed lull between action scenes. There are long explanatory passages regarding science and hallucinogens. Standard fare with a few distinctive voices coming through.
Fairly short chapters. The POV both first person (Sean) to third (various characters). I don’t quite see the purpose other than to maybe give a little depth into Sean. A little profanity, but not over used. Action scenes are well used and intense and logical. Solidly written book with a little homework. The story is essentially set in several California cities and I miss Khoury’s world travel to exotic or little known locales as in past books. The story and the ‘puzzle’ are interesting. I enjoy Khoury’s tales and will read whatever he writes next.