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on August 15, 2008
This is a very hard to put down read ... easily one of the best books I've read this year. A guy who has to do the right thing (because it's his nature to do so), does it and unleashes the demons of his past (to include a nasty biker crew out to kill him, a beautiful loving wife he's left behind and a federal bureau of investigation that thought him dead ... but there's a hostage involved and an agent on the take. The Protagonist (two names so I won't confuse here), has the kind of gravitas that is as endearing as it is convincing. Breaking Cover immediately engages and you'll want to keep going (sorry, no spoilers if you're looking for one) ... the cast of characters are diverse and interesting and the fast pace between the subplots makes for a very thrilling ride. I started it very early in the morning (this morning at the gym) and except for showering/dressing/driving for (and to) work, didn't put it down again until I had to (at work--although I finished it there--what long bathroom breaks are really for). Breaking Cover is my very first J.D. Rhoades novel ... it won't be my last.
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on October 15, 2008
If you are not already familiar with J. D. Rhoades from his excellent Jack Keller series, then BREAKING COVER will hit you like a two-by-four between the eyes. Over the course of three novels, Rhoades has quickly established himself as a writer's writer, with his work being textbook exhibits of how the job of writing the edge-of-the-seat thriller is properly done.

BREAKING COVER is a stand-alone work, taking place a step or two outside of the Keller mythos. Fans will not be disappointed by his absence, however temporary, as there are enough explosions, fisticuffs and general mayhem to fill three books.

The opening scene takes place in a convenience store, where gas is sold out front and just about everything you can reasonably think of is inside. Rhoades nails the setting right down to the last nuance, including a description of the cashier that is so dead-on as to be jaw-dropping. It is one of those heartbreaking homemade "Have You Seen Us?" posters on the side of the cash register, with a picture of two missing young brothers, that is the early tipping point for the book. For, indeed, shortly after buying gas, a customer sees one of the boys, apparently being held captive in a white van. He follows the vehicle and initiates the rescue; although he should be hailed as a hero, he bails.

The reason is that the rescuer is Tony Wolf, a former undercover FBI agent who dropped off the grid and out of sight several years before. Wolf has been presumed dead, not only by his former employers but also by his wife, Kendra, an FBI agent herself. When he fell off, Wolf was working undercover with a biker gang whose viciousness almost defies description; his self-initiated exit interview from the gang involved a fiery double-cross that left one of the gang leaders a paraplegic. Now that Wolfe has suddenly resurfaced, alive and well and on the run, he has both the FBI and a crew of gang members full of simmering revenge after him.

Wolf, however, has not spent the past few years assuming he was in the clear; instead, he has been preparing for the inevitable. And when the day of reckoning comes, Wolf is more than ready to dole out street justice to those who have it coming. There are some factors, though, that he cannot anticipate, including a dogged television reporter who keeps getting in the way; his wife, who insists upon being a part of the investigation; and a traitor within the FBI's own ranks. The book has more than one surprising and explosive ending, and while you might guess one of them, it is doubtful you will anticipate them all.

Reading BREAKING COVER is one of the few times I've become short of breath from turning pages so quickly. I kid you not. You should get a note from your doctor that your cardiovascular system is in shape before you beginning reading this. But it'll be worth every minute on the treadmill.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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on February 25, 2013
So, I'm not a big reader. I buy the newspaper for the crossword puzzle and maybe look at Doonesbury, though I don't think I've laughed at it since the 80's. Sometimes I read the advice column to feel better about myself, since I know I never accidentally tried to take my girlfriend's mother from behind in the shower. I occasionally read, usually when I have a night where I'm not on the drink and am having trouble sleeping. So, having enjoyed The Devil's Right Hand a number of years ago, I decided to download this and give it a look, since my doctor recently told me my liver is the size of Anne Hathaway's open mouth, and I needed to cut down on the booze. I devoured this book so goddamned fast it was like when Neo gets kung-fu or the gal gets helicopter piloting uploaded into their brains in The Matrix. Unfortunately, I didn't actually suddenly learn a proper Carolina twang so I can't say in a folksy Southern way "By golly, it was a real page-turner!" without someone wanting to punch me, and since I read it on my computer anyhow, "My Lordy, It was a real scroller!" just doesn't sound right. Even without the accent "My index finger never left the mouse wheel!" sounds uncomfortable and somehow smacks of bestiality. Let's just say that the twists and turns, loops and dips, spirals and vortices and, uh, octagons and Schrodinger's Cats and Occam's Razors and so on (I was never good at science) are like that roller coaster you saw on Youtube three years ago and vowed to go on in the future but haven't, since you forgot about it and anyhow it's in Taiwan or something. I sped through this book about Tony Wolf (who to my surprise is not a skateboarder) like the freaks at the hot dog eating contest in Coney Island devour their processed lips and arses, and while there was gore, guts, sweat, blood, and tears (this could refer to either of the aforementioned), I finished the book in one sitting. Well, one sideways lying on the bed-ing. It was 4 A.M. by then, and I knew I needed a stiff drink to sleep and went to bed with my mind swirling. Yeah doc, next time I'll read The Handmaid's Tale so I'll be out in eight minutes and won't need a tall vodka.
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on July 27, 2008
I could hardly wait for Mr. Rhoades newest book. I ordered it in January and it arrived earlier this week. It portrays a new character, Tony Wolf, an undercover FBI agent, as Axel McCabe, who infiltrates a motorcycle gang and all their society misfits. The story is believable in its entirety and as he backtracks to give details of his actions that led him into four years of forced hiding and later when he ties things up by breaking cover. The story moves right along with the usual vivid portrayal of all the gory details his character Jack Keller helped identify as Rhoades style of writing. Maybe Tony's story is even more gruesome. I hope to read more about Tony in subsequent books. I'm also hopeful Jack Keller will re-emerge in the future. As an afterthought, I really liked Deputy Buckthorn. Maybe JD will give him his own book(?).
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on July 22, 2012
Breaking Cover was not what I expected. Definitely a different twist on an undercover FBI agent. As an avid reader of suspense and thriller genre I was expecting to enjoy another good "cop" action packed read...was very disappointed. How Wolf (the main character) handled his undercover assignment did not ring true nor did his actions when he learned of a "leak" in the bureau. The sub plot with his wife was totally unnecessary. The violence and language depicted in this book are totally over the top and could have been toned down a ton and the story would have still been there. Definitely a R rated book. I got this book for free so I don't feel too bad...I wouldn't pay good money for it. I think the plot of a good FBI agent working undercover to bring down bad guys that deal in drugs, pornography, prostitution and hurting kids is good. There was just too much focus on the filth and not enough focus on good FBI skills. I even think the main character had some strong likeable qualities but they got lost in the violence. I don't like to leave reviews on books that I don't just love but this needed a warning put out there. If you like a book loaded with foul language and excessive violence by men with no decency ... then this is the book for you. Otherwise, don't waste your time or money.
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VINE VOICEon January 28, 2014
I totally enjoyed this fast paced book, and was pleasantly surprised that was not another cookie cutter police thriller.
The main character, an undercover, or former undercover police officer, has his flaws, but I still fell in love with him.
There was some humor, a couple of tears, and not stop action.
I enjoyed the book so much, I went to Amazon, ordered more of his books, and am making my way through this author's books. I enjoyed another one I just finished, the first in his Jack Keller series, and again, I so look forward to reading them all.
Another author I read, Sean Black, suggested Mr. Rhoades on his Facebook page, and I must admit it caught my eye because of the location that the books take place, North Carolina. A favorite part of the country for me, so I immediately checked the books out. So glad I did.
The story involved me from the beginning, as did all the characters. I highly endorse this author!
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on May 13, 2012
I don't read too much in this genre as I have been somewhat disappointed lately with other books, even those written by best-selling authors. "Breaking Cover" is an example of why I need to give every book its shot. This was an enjoyable, well-crafted piece of writing.

The story follows a protagonist who has run afoul of a gang and is in hiding, but he takes action on a deplorable situation even knowing that to do so could put his life in danger. What follows is an interesting cat-and-mouse situation as he decides to take action against the gang while being hunted not only by the gang members, but by law enforcement.

I think the biggest strength of this novel is the author's ability to take some cliches and "un-cliche" them. For example, I find that in fantasy novels, in particular, when an author wants to show the degree of evil in a king, bishop, mayor, or whatever, that character becomes a pedophile. It is almost a checklist: character evil--likes young girls, or even more evil, boys. It becomes a cliche without impact. Yet in "Breaking Cover," the child-porn aspect feels right, if I can say that. Not right as in good, but right as in its fit into the storyline. It does not feel gratuitous nor cliche.

Most of the biker gang members are in some ways the same bikers as in other books or movies. But somehow, the author manages to make them seem fresh and believable. The two most deplorable members of the gang, Johnny and Clay, escape being cartoonish charactertures and are real people with understandable, if warped motivations.

The "Noble Hero" can also be boring and uninspiring. Yet I feel for the protagonist, and I believe both his character and his motivation.

My favorite character is perhaps Deputy Buckthorn. Initially, he seemed to be the required country bumpkin law officer, but as the story went on, we saw that he was a competent, thoughtful man, doing the best he can in a trying situation. His small town sheriff's department was also competent when they needed to be. I hope the author has more tales to tell with Buckthorn as a main character.

I read the book on a Kindle, and there were a few formatting errors. The character voice shifted a few times in a given passage from one person to another and back, which caused a bit of confusion. And I am not sure the protagonist would really have left his wife out-of-the-loop for the last four years. But overall, I thought this novel was well-written and plotted. The author certainly has skill with the written word, and I would put his efforts on par or higher than that of many best-selling authors of this genre.
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on June 19, 2012
I've read a few of J.D. Rhoades's novels now and expect to have my heart race throughout most of each book. This did not disappoint. BREAKING COVER is the story of an undercover FBI agent who infiltrates one of the meanest motorcycle gangs in the country. They are violent and demented. The leader's nephew is hellbent on revenge after coming up against the hero which leaves him paralyzed and wheelchair bound. So hellbent is the nephew that he does not care if his revenge kills himself and everyone around him. Therein lies the story.

Once the background was established, there was no going back for me. My heart nearly pounded out of my chest. I was truly afraid of these motorcycle madmen. THAT is storytelling at it's finest. Thanks Dusty Rhoades for another great ride. Can't wait for the next one.
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on February 21, 2013
An intense, gripping story that reads with the impact of the best "guy's" action movies, but with the ring of honesty and authenticity.

This is not a pretty story but one reflecting today's deadly war between law enforcement and the vicious motorcycle gangs controlling so much of the drug, prostitution and pornography industry, and tells of one FBI agent gone to ground after being marked for death by the biker gang he penetrated and then exposed, who is then revealed to his enemies after risking his cover by rescuing two young boys kidnapped by a child molester.

Not for the squeamish reader, in its depiction of the inhuman brutality of the world of drug dealing and child pornography, but also redeeming in its portrayal of the incredible courage some ordinary people, and not just our main character, can find in themselves when called to the test. I applaud the author who was able to show us the hero who could sink himself into this underworld and still survive, to seek his revenge without losing his humanity and becoming as vicious as those he fights.

I can easily recommend this book to the adult reader who enjoys rip-roaring adventures and tales of daring-do, but again warn that a few scenes may be too graphic and disturbing for some readers.
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on June 3, 2012
I don't care much for high body count thrillers. The authors always ratchet up the tension too much and too artificially. Too many coincidences are allowed to get the hero both into and out of trouble, and the hero (or heroine, let's be fair) always has time to get into some steamy sex between shootouts while on the run, preferably with someone he or she should not have trusted. (And anyone smart enough to have survived that far in the book would not have.)

So why did I like J.D. Rhoades's Breaking Cover as much as I did? Maybe it's because he doesn't do any of that. The story is well=prepared and executed, and nothing happens that defies belief. The characters are realistically drawn and true to themselves, and the action--when it transpires--flies straight and true.

Maybe best of all, Rhoades is content to provide a satisfying ending, not undoing all his previous good work to contrive a happier one. Hollywood would probably change a few things at the end, why is one of the reasons I spend so little time at the movies anymore.

On the other hand, Breaking Cover would be a bear to make a movie from, as much ground as it covers. Make a hell of a cable mini-series, though.
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