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The Risk Agent Hardcover – June 19, 2012

95 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As one of the two leads of this contemporary suspense novel set in China is female forensic accountant (and, conveniently, former Chinese intelligence agent) Grace Chu, narrator Todd Haberkorn must create a compelling and believable woman's voice. Fortunately, he does, which removes any barrier to an effective rendering of the first book, about efforts to rescue an employee of an American company snatched in China, in a promising new series from Pearson. The other protagonist, John Knox—an importer with security training based in Shanghai—who's introduced somewhat the worse for wear after more than a week in the jungles of Cambodia, could come across as a cliché, the typical macho action hero, but Haberkorn helps to make him more than that, injecting an undertone of wry gallows humor to his performance. A Putnam hardcover. (June) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Rich with the atmosphere of Shanghai and filled with breathtaking suspense. …Famous for his plotting and attention to details, Pearson is off to a great start with his compelling and multilayered new protagonists.”

                                   —Library Journal (starred)

“Pearson, who lived with his family in Shanghai for a year, has created an intense and realistic thriller. The atmosphere and culture of China draw readers into a new world.... With “The Risk Agent,” he has a great start to what appears to be a new series.”
                                 —Associated Press

“Bestseller Pearson introduces John Knox, a importer and highly trained security agent based in Shanghai, in this entertaining first in a new action series. …Thriller fans will look forward to seeing more of Knox.”
                                   —Publishers Weekly

“A cunning thriller worthy of the promised series… Exotic locale. Credible heroics. Vicarious thrills. Fans will want more, and soon.”

                                   —Kirkus Reviews

"Forensic accountant Grace Chu is a cool, whip-smart beauty trained in the Chinese military. John Knox is a combat veteran with focus and ferocity in equal measure....Pearson renders steady suspense and a vibrant portrait of a city that blends history, mystery, and a remarkably resilient citizenry."

"Ridley Pearson has a neat trick: He writes novels with one foot firmly planted in the adult suspense-thriller genre, the other in young-reader adventure. His worldwide sales and literary awards show it's working. It's the Bee Book Club's choice for June." 

          —Sacramento Bee

"Brace yourself for a thrilling afternoon: Pearson's introducing a new action series that stars a Shanghai-based security agent named John Knox. Spoiler alert: Knox does not spend his nights nodding off in front of a black-and-white security screen."

         —Chicago Tribune

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons; First Edition edition (June 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399158839
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399158834
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #880,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ridley Pearson (, the first American to be awarded the Raymond Chandler/Fulbright Fellowship in Detective Fiction at Wadham College, Oxford University, is the bestselling author of over 50 novels including, Peter And the Starcatchers (co-written with Dave Barry), The Kingdom Keepers series, and two dozen crime novels including: Probable Cause, Beyond Recognition, Killer Weekend, The Risk Agent, and The Red Room. His novel The Diary Of Ellen Rimbauer, a prequel to a Stephen King miniseries, was a New York Times #1 bestseller, and a ABC TV movie (2009).

Peter and the Starcatcher, a stage play adaptation written by Rick Elice (Jersey Boys) won 5 Tonys for its Broadway run and is currently touring the US.

Ridley is a founding member of, and plays bass guitar in, the all-author rock band, The Rockbottom Remainders (, with Dave Barry, Stephen King, Scott Turow, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount Jr., James McBride, Amy Tan and Greg Iles. The band has raised over 2.5 million dollars for charities.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Tad Ottman on June 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Risk Agent, by Ridley Pearson is a very interesting thriller/espionage story. It pairs a male American ex-military (or as good as) with a female Chinese accountant (and ex-military officer) to track down two kidnap victims and important financial information belonging to an American company operating in China.

The chinese setting and cultural differences make for an interesting backdrop. The story is layered like an onion with each layer pulled back only to reveal another mystery. The protagonists are developed nicely and easy to root for. They function well as a team in spite of, or perhaps because of, their cultural differences. There are a number of less developed secondary characters whose motives are harder to fathom, but they keep the story spinning in unpredictable directions.

There are a number of good action sequences but this book is more espionage and suspense than high octane thriller. Pearson does a good job of keeping you engaged and thinking, trying to unravel the mystery as clues are uncovered. Motives are complicated and trust hard to earn. The story concludes nicely, wrapping up all the major storylines while still leaving an opening to continue following these characters in future novels.

This is a well-written and interesting book, but not a pulse-pounding one. The action moves forward steadily, but never really builds to a crescendo. If your taste in thrillers runs more to the espionage side than the action side, you will likely enjoy this book.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nihlus Krank on July 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
For this reader, Ridley Pearson is an author whose books I pick up without even glancing at the flyleaf. I enjoy his writing and just know I'm in for a good read.

The Risk Agent is Pearson's latest release.

The American firm of Rutherford Risk specializes in 'extraction' - the recovery of kidnap victions and hostages. Chinese national Lu Hao is kidnapped, as is Cletus Danner - the American who was keeping an eye on Lu Hao. This operation is going to require some finesse.......and some unique operatives. Civilian John Knox is approached - he has an intimate knowledge of the country and the language. And he has specialized military training as well. His counterpart? Grace Chu. On the surface she is simply a forensic accountant, hired to follow the money. But she too has military training.

I found the background behind the Risk Agent interesting. Ridley Pearson spent a year in Shanghai with his family while teaching at a local university. This year's residence added much detail to The Risk Agent. The customs, culture, language and descriptions of the land and it's people were richly described and definitely added to the overall tone of the book.

My favourite series of Pearson's have been the Lou Boldt novels. With The Risk Agent, Ridley takes us in a new direction - espionage instead of suspense. I felt a little lost in the beginning as there are many, many characters introduced very quickly. The book hits the ground running from the first chapter and never lets up. There are layers upon layers in the plot, with everyone having their own agenda hidden below the primary objective. You'll want to be on your toes to keep track of all the machinations going on.

But the real draw are these new characters.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Vinnie Silvagio on July 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was really looking forward to reading this book. Pearson is one of my favorite authors, but this novel is not up to his usual high standard. It is far too complex; being set in China makes it even harder to follow. The characters are far less sympatico than usual, thus harder to empathize with. And the normal great suspense just isn't there.

If you are new to Ridley Pearson, DO NOT START WITH THIS ONE. He is a gifted story teller, and a master of suspense. But this book will give you the wrong impression, and may turn you off to him. That would be a shame. Try ANY of his other titles first.

I sincerely hope this work is an anomaly, and that Pearson will return to form.

"For completists only."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Larry G on July 11, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of Pearson's earlier work and I looked forward to this new Character he introduced in this book. He'd obviously done a lot of research on China but gave us too much incidental information for my good. I had a difficult time keeping track of all of the similiar Chinese names and the overabundance of villains he chose to use in telling this story. I think this possible series has potential, but it needs to be simplified.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. Frazier on July 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Ridley Pearson is one of my favorite authors. This latest book, however, is a little frenetic, with a confusing plot. The book is set in China, and immerses itself in the Chinese culture. It's a fascinating ride, but at times difficult to follow. It gets even more complicated as a ton of characters are added to the mix, with lots of sub-groups, motives and allegiances. This one needs a re-read to pull all of the pieces together. Enjoyable, but not easy. I was expecting a summer-read-type; this one needs your full attention.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bluenoser (Zal D) on July 20, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
this was so bad i didnt finish it. ridiculous plot. ridiculous action sequences. inane dialogue. where is the real ridley pearson i could always count on for a sophisticated and enjoyable read . so disappointed it is soooooo bad .
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