Paul B. Kohler
June 23, 2016
Review by Chris Fried
Jaxon Rasner has carved out a quiet life for himself on Taloo Station, running a tea shop under an alias. But when he’s targeted for death by a group of unknown assailants, it’s just the beginning of the fight for his life! Who is Jaxon and why is he being pursued? We find out in short order as he tries to escape the station and all of his skills are put to the test. His determined enemy nipping at his heels the whole time, he endeavors to find out who attacked him and why.
Forced to rejoin his old employer, the Global Security Agency, Jaxon knows that he needs to solve this mystery of who’s hunting him down because they will not rest until he’s dead. He must go on the offensive, not just to get to the bottom of this but also to find someone he once thought lost to the past.
But there’s a mole in the GSA and while trying to work around that problem, Jaxon must also put together a team to search for his enemy, a man entrenched deep in the underworld. In doing so, he also has to work with an old flame, Camille who he didn’t depart on the best of terms with. Two others round out their small task force, being sent to the outer ring of space stations for one last mission for the GSA to search for and disable an insidious drug production ring. But when it gets personal for Jaxon, will the mission go sideways and can everyone make it out of this predicament alive?
This is definitely a page-turner in the vein of James Bond in space, with roller-coaster action scenes punctuated by constant paranoia about who the mole is and who Jaxon can trust, even if it’s a member of his own team. It has all the hallmarks typical of this genre: a retired agent pulled back in from the cold for one last job, a lost love from long ago, a hidden enemy bent on Jaxon’s destruction, harrowing escapes, a mole where anyone could betray you and of course, some cool technology.
However, the refreshing spin the author utilizes here with these tropes feels like a cool breeze, mixing them together in such an entertaining way that it whisks you along quickly like a summer blockbuster movie filled with breathless adventure, mighty explosions, and high stakes. It doesn’t feel stale because it’s all brought together in such a creative way that I couldn’t help but smile at what I was reading.
Even in the midst of these escapades, there’s plenty of room for character development for Jaxon, Camille, and their comrades. As we learn more about Jaxon through flashbacks, they not only flesh out his personal and professional history, they also become increasingly more important to understanding his current dilemma, as aspects of his past have a tremendous bearing on his present. The emotional impact this has on Jaxon is what gives his character extra depth, something you don’t usually see in a novel of this type and something I truly appreciated.
Also worthy of mention is the character of Francisco. He’s the youngest on the team and he’s also good for some comic relief, especially towards the finale of the novel. His beliefs were more surprising than I expected and his concern for others and their well-being was touching. And his actions as a result of this were out of the norm for this genre but not an unwelcome one, as it added a dash of extra spice to the mix by what he does and how he does it.
I also really enjoyed the opening scenes, which are so adrenaline fueled, you can’t take a breath because the action is intense and fast moving. The diabolical enemy was also a couple of steps above your average bad guy and their motivations were well detailed and believable, given their origin. Throughout the whole novel, the machinations of the enemy and the action scenes were just well done, easy to follow and unpredictable, both features that give the novel extra weight and potency.
The mole aspect of the story was the only weak part for me. While I liked how this subplot affected the whole story, giving it an extra dimension, it was relatively easy to figure out who it was early on. The author tries to throw in some red herrings that make it harder to figure out but it felt almost like an afterthought in some cases. However, those red herrings weren’t convincing enough to make me believe in the bait.
Overall, this novel has the words “exciting fun” stamped all over it, infused throughout the entire story. It caught me up in its spell and the pages whipped by in undeniable delight. I read this novel very fast because it was so gripping, suspenseful and compelling. It’s a true pulse-pounding action-adventure novel with some very unexpected surprises. Thankfully, there will be more stories featuring Jaxon and I’m looking forward to reading them whenever they’re published.
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