Readers of MojoFiction know how we feel about the current genre of series-based international action-thrillers:
But how does one define this genre? More importantly, how does MojoFiction define it (because, as you know, we are slightly off our rocker)?
Stock good guys who could be played by anyone in Hollywood when the movie comes out? Check.
Bad guys who are super-bad, with unlimited resources that let them travel in and out of every country in the world undetected, while bringing helicopters, tanks, and other heavy-weaponry with them, as well as enough henchmen to fill out the seats at a Cubs game? Check.
Missing a meaningful character arc? Check.
Written by Jack Reacher? Ha, ha! That was a trick! He uses, like, 13 different pen names. (Have you ever actually seen James Patterson?)
Imagine our joy when we picked up Catherine Coulter’s novel The Lost Key. Not only did the novel check off every category above, but it even came with a co-writer named J.T. Ellison, but in much smaller font.
The Lost Key is the second in the “A Brit in the FBI” series featuring Benedict Cumberbatch. Oops! The character is actually named Nicholas Drummond, but doesn’t everyone picture Benedict Cumberbatch when they start talking about Brits? Agent Drummond is a paradox. He’s both a computer hacker and a man of action. That’s just implausible.
We here at MojoFiction did not read the first book in this series, but it sufficeth to say that in the second book, the Brit is already in the FBI (probably hacked his way in) and is ready to roll. It starts off with a murder on Wall Street in broad daylight (which is how we would describe the price of our Apple shares today… Boom! Stock market joke!). Agent Drummond and his senior partner Michaela (Mike) Caine are sent to investigate. It won’t be long before the investigation opens up an international conspiracy involving some of the most powerful men in the world (sorry ladies, you are apparently at home doing laundry and not running the world).
The authors waste no time ratcheting up the action and suspense. They know what they have here, what they are writing, and they play it to the hilt. They also know that they have something other thriller author’s often don’t: A good premise.
The intrigue surrounding a conspiracy that goes back to World War I and beyond hooked us pretty quickly. We immediately wanted to know what was going on, even if we had to read late into the night to get to the very last page to finally understand it all. That’s the mark of a good thriller writer. Grab the reader and don’t let go. There doesn’t have to be a deep meaning to the characters, a solution to life, the universe, and everything. There just has to be mystery.
And a really good chase.
We think the authors do themselves a disservice by revealing a little too much early on and not letting the mystery unfold at a more natural pace for the reader. Questions are answered perhaps a little too quickly. Yet, somehow, we found ourselves turning the pages, hoping our heroes would piece it all together, chasing one clue after the next. It got a little goofy with all the “let me just hack this computer and we’ll have answers” mantra, but the authors still managed to put together that chase. That’s really what matters here.
To sum it up, we thought this book was tons of fun and should easily entertain any thriller aficionado. It’s always refreshing to see European countries happily let the American FBI waltz in guns-a-blazing.