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The Risk Agent Hardcover – June 19, 2012
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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.”
“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.”
“A cunning thriller worthy of the promised series… Exotic locale. Credible heroics. Vicarious thrills. Fans will want more, and soon.”
"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."
"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."
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Each brings uniqueness to the pairing as they follow the money trail. As time runs out on the kidnappers' deadline, every step closer to saving the lives of the missing pair proves dangerous to Knox and Chu. Yet while he worries about what will happen to Tommy if he dies, he trusts no one not even their client or his partner; she shares his distrusting mantra. However, not relying on one another proves even more perilous.
This is a great suspense thriller as Ridley Pearson provides a dynamic look at Shanghai. The support cast is sold, but it is the refreshing duet of opposites in personality (he believes charge the hill while she thinks finesse is smarter) who understands that as a team they can succeed, but first comes trust something neither gives away willingly. This is a great opening act as the activities of Knox and Chu give fans a vivid picture of Shanghai.
On the plus side, it takes place in an exotic locale, and we get to learn a lot about Shanghai. But he seems to want to be a travel guide more than a storyteller, and there's a bit too much of a good thing in that.
But more importantly, this book is just too confusing and scattered, on several levels.
There are a LOT of characters, most with conflicting agendas, and it's very hard to keep them straight, and the problem's compounded by the fact that so many of them are Chinese, with Chinese names that don't mean anything to (at least) this Westerner. I found myself constantly stopping to try to figure out what this particular character was doing, and WHO he or she was in the overall scheme of things.
The plot itself was way overly complex. Again, I'd find myself constantly stopping to try to figure out what was going on, and how a passage I'd just read affected what I'd read up to that point. This wasn't helped by the issue of Pearson's explication being sometimes rushed or murky; sometimes clarity left a lot to be desired. I'd have to re-read passages of dialogue or exposition several times to figure out what was happening.
All that starting and stopping and re-reading got VERY annoying several times, and I almost gave up on the book a few times.
I really think this is a 2-star book, but I'm going to give it a 3 because maybe others won't find these issues as annoying as I did. Caveat emptor, YMMV.
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. Pearson has wisely created both a strong male and female protagonist, appealing to all readers. I enjoyed both characters, but was more drawn to John. I think his personal back story engaged me more. The Risk Agent is the first offering in a new series. I'll be looking forward to the next novel featuring this pair. Now that the stage has been set, I think there's lots of action ahead for this intrepid duo.
Fans of the Ludlum novels and those of Vince Flynn would enjoy this new series.