Sunday, November 21, 2010

thriller ripped from headlines

Strong-willed, smart women are the focus of attention in two recent adrenaline-charged international thrillers.
“Running Dark” by Jamie Freveletti (Morrow, $24.99) is the sequel to her best-selling book “Running from the Devil”, which was set mostly in Columbia and Washington D.C.

This time, brilliant biochemist Emma Caldridge is back – she’s in an ultramarathon race in South Africa when she becomes dazed and disoriented by a roadside bomb explosion.

A man reaches over and injects her with medication; suddenly she feels euphoric, finishing the race at an exceptional pace. She’s worried and contacts Edward Banner, head of Darkview, a specialist security company.

But Banner’s firm has other problems – it’s in the midst of a congressional investigation. Also, one of their agents, Cameron Sumner, who’s protecting a cruise ship, reports an attack on the vessel by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The ship may be carrying a mysterious and possibly deadly cargo of drugs. Soon Caldridge is off to investigate, assisting Sumner, who recently had saved her life.

This is a captivating international thriller ripped from today’s headlines. Freveletti’s clever plotting, strong characterization and fast pacing makes it tough to put down.

“The Last Run” by Greg Rucka (Bantam, $26) showcases Tara Chace, Britain’s top covert agent, who appeared in “Private Wars” and “A Gentleman’s Game”.

Chace, a quick thinking, fast-acting, deadly spy, is tired of her role. She’s a single mother of a five-year old daughter and wants nothing more that a peaceful desk job.

Of course that wouldn’t make for much exciting reading, so Rucka throws her into one final mission, sending her off to Iran to save a previously botched mission.

Chace’s assignment is to get a highly placed defector out of the country; danger abounds as she gets into nasty situations and attempts to thwart potential roadblocks. Her boss faces considerable additional pressure from a variety of sources.

Double and triple crosses are normal in contemporary and classic spy fiction and this is no exception. Even experienced readers should enjoy the unexpected plot twists.

While the last hundred pages fly by like greased lightning, Rucka is initially over-focused on geographical description, going into much more detail than necessary.

Both books could easily be made into highly entertaining movies; there are certainly enough exciting, dominating action scenes.

Originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, November 21, 2010.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

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