Blacklisted by Luke Romyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
High-octane, no holds-barred thriller:
This one DEFIES you to stop reading and… make a cup of tea or whatever. Really hard to stop once you jump on this roller-coaster, even for sleep. It’s a supercharged, all-action adventure story, with thrills, shocks, twists, and a teasing guessing game interlaced into a driven narrative.
Mike leaves behind a troubled childhood, only to wander into a confused and unsettled maturity. Nevertheless, two mentors cross his path and go a long way to straightening him out. But during the course of events, both are lost to him in circumstances that he can not forgive. He begins his ‘revenge’ against the sociopaths of society, and undertakes a mission to purge the streets of those low-life individuals.
Cut forward (to avoid spoilers) and Mike goes from facing severe legal retribution for his actions, to being recruited to a brutal army. His meeting with the enigmatic Carlson and introduction to his operation, sees Mike forcefully enlisted into a deadly crew of killers and psychopaths. The training for this ‘enlistment’ is brutal, but Mike succeeds, despite all odds, to become a valued member of the team – and finally feels that he has found his place in the world – even believing, at last, that he is part of a ‘family’.
The team is assigned a series of missions – all in preparation for one big task… to find and kill the real brains behind a terror threat we are all too aware of. The route to this target is littered with subterfuge, betrayal, deceits and shocks.
The story contains flashback, which fleshes-out Mike’s past life, but doesn’t slow the pace of this action-packed thriller for one moment. This story is a vivid portrayal of violence and retribution. There are numerous twists and turns, none of which you see coming, all designed to keep this an edgy thrill-ride. I found myself thinking this a cross between “Dexter” meets “The Dirty Dozen” … and yet I can’t deny there is something singularly original about this storyline and how the events play out.
Well-researched in armaments, combat, logistics, and military tactics, it’s difficult to know where fact and artistic licence separate – so credit to the author for this incredible blend. A twist on the war-on-terror theme; a subtle commentary on politics, especially as they pertain to 9/11; terrorism and the fear it provokes; and even a hint of romance, all fuse into this plot to keep it multi-dimensional, yet a furious page-turner.
I kept guessing the twists and found myself wrong at every turn. The clues lead you to believe one thing, and then it turns out to be quite another. There is an excellent variety of character profiles throughout the story.
The emotion is crammed in tight amongst the blood ‘n guts – expertly measured so as not to distract you from pondering the big question… Can Mike become the unlikely saviour to the free world?
Well, don’t bet on it. Nothing is as it seems. Only as the story concludes does everything click together. A great read, and recommended.
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