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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review - City of Exiles

This is the newest book from the author of the best-seller "The Icon Thief."  Although I have not read the first book, I dove into the second book in this trilogy with no expectations.  I enjoy suspense/thriller books, so read on to find out my thoughts on this new book.

Author: Alec Nevala-Lee

Copyright: December 2012 (Signet) 416 pgs

Series: 2nd in this trilogy

Sensuality: references, nothing explicit

Mystery Sub-genre: Police Procedural, Suspense

Main Characters: Rachel Wolfe, FBI liason with British Serious Organized Crime Agency

Setting: Modern day, London

Obtained Through: Publisher for honest review

Agent Rachel Wolfe and her partner Alan Powell go to investigate the murder of gun runner.  The murder is unusual because the chemical potassium permanganate is used to douse the victim and set him on fire.  This method starts the investigation down the road of Russian Intelligence involvement.  There also appears to be a possible leak within the department.  Additionally, the Russian thief and assassin Ilya Severin, know as the Scythian, has successfully survived an attempted hit on him and is in London to get some answers.  As former Russian intelligence he begins to put some pieces together and, for his own survival, gets involved.  There are more deaths and Agent Wolfe and Powell are desperate to get more solid leads.  In the midst of this crucial case, Rachel Wolfe is facing her disillusionment with the Mormon faith that she was raised in which causes personal struggles.  Ilya brings the bizare events of Dyatlov Pass (nine ski hikers died under suspicious circumstances) in 1959 Russia to light as part of a bigger plan that has Wolfe and Powell racing to make connections in the puzzle.  

Rachel Wolfe is a sad little character. She has her strong game face, but she also comes across as very damaged and even stunted in interpersonal relationships. Her crisis of faith is the most the reader really knows about her life.  Alan Powell is a mentor of sorts, but we only get a glimpse of what he is made of with this book.  So far his character is solid but must needs more depth. Ilya Severin, the Scythian, is a surprise as he reminded me of the currently

popular older man who is deadly with a dangerous past.  He is studious and a bit of a mystic, which was a great counter to his deadly side.  Yes, there is a leak, and that person is so well camouflaged I gasped when the individual is revealed.

London is where the majority of the story takes place, with the Russian Dyatlov Pass incident discussed (a true story, incidently), there is a chapter in Spain,and some action in Helsinki too. 

Several view points makes it a bit jarring sometimes.  I normally don't mind multiple viewpoints, but a few times it wasn't obvious right away whose eyes you were seeing through.  The Jewish/Christian mysticism angle didn't work for me, it seemed contrived and forced.  I didn't mention it in the summary because it honestly didn't seem to play any real role and could have been removed all together without any difference in the real storyline.  The main plot had some good ideas and twists.  The story takes a bit of setup over several chapters before it was rolling along and pulled me in.  By one-third of the way in, the pace was set and kept my interest from there.

I enjoyed the climax with a good cat and mouse chase. The wrap up somehow felt a bit unsettled when pieces that could have been used much earlier in the story were brought out only in the ending.  But it does a good job of setting up the next book to be even bolder.

It is a good suspense novel with a veneer of intrigue that sets situations and players into motion for a show down coming in the next book.

Rating: Good - A fun, enjoyable read for suspense/thriller fans.  If you read the prior novel, The Icon Thief, you will enjoy this book.

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