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I've recently gone through several suspense/thriller type books lately that had good reviews and found them to be completely dissatisfying with unreliable characters, messy plot holes, and lazy writing. As such, I've been skirting away from this genre for a bit. However, this book had such high ratings, I was curious to give it a go even though suspense and thrillers aren't usually my go-to reading for a distraction. In my experience, most of the most popular writers of this genre tend to write protagonists with egos that make them absolutely hateful to me. Evan Smoak, while certainly not humble, maintained enough humanity to make me like him and want to root for him.
The story is good. The writer clearly did his homework in the research department. There was one technology the writer included with microchips the size of sand particles that were activated by digestive juices and I thought that it sounded absurd and made-up only to find from a google search that such technology does actually exist and even operates in the way the author described. It gave me a lot more respect for the author and for the plot. An author that takes care with the research definitely shows in the writing and it went a long way in making the story more enjoyable for me.
The story has a lot of graphic violence in it. If you're sensitive to high body counts and violence, this won't be the book for you. However, somehow it did not seem to be gratuitous as it was definitely all in the interest of furthering the plot and creating suspense.
Perhaps the ending wrapped up slightly more "happily ever after" than I had anticipated but I didn't feel dissatisfied with the ending. One of my pet peeves is a story that ends without wrapping up all the story lines and this book accomplished that wrap up without having to drag us along through excess fluff to accomplish it.
While suspense and thriller isn't my usual cup of tea, I definitely will be checking out this author again. And, I must admit, I found myself getting excited and having a hard time hitting the pause button during the height of the action in this book. As far as suspense and thrillers go, this is one of the best I've read.
140 of 153 people found this review helpful
This is my favorite of Hurwitz’s books that I’ve read. Within the usual need to suspend disbelief required of action thrillers, the characters feel real and Evan Smoak emerges as a hero to invest in. His commitment to help those in genuine trouble with all the skills needed to succeed makes for exciting reading when he takes on some really really dangerous opponents owning the same skills. What adds the human dimension is the supporting cast of his neighbors in his apartment building who only know him as an importer of industrial cleaning supplies and expect him to act as a normal neighbor should - attending owners association meetings and watching kids in an emergency. This adds a messiness to his life that is not entirely unwelcome, but his previous experience has never prepared him for. His advice to a neighbor child being victimized by a school bully (take out his knees) causes a big problem with the mom and school.
The central conflict Evan needs to solve is who is after his latest client. Nothing seems to add up but he can’t quite figure out why. Distracted by the above mentioned messiness, he struggles to maintain an emotionless detachment using his 10 Commandments that govern all decision making. The most sacred of the commandments, “Never let an innocent die”, is in jeopardy as danger comes from multiple directions, placing multiple innocents in danger at once – how to choose who to save? How this plays out is both exciting and emotionally satisfying. I don’t get invested in too many character series, but this is one I am eager to revisit.
140 of 155 people found this review helpful