Reviewed in the United States on September 26, 2018
This is the second (or third if you count the prequel) in the Jake Noble series. It picks up two years after the conclusion of the first book. Jake is now working for the SIS, a super secret, obscure government agency that reports to only a few and accomplishes its tasks without being bound by red tape. The SIS consists of highly trained, incredibly competent people who take on jobs that are beyond the reach of mainline government agencies because of their sensitivity or risk.
The book starts with Jake and his partner Skinner confronting and capturing a suspect named Pablo, then interrogating him to learn of the existence of a criminal organization. This organization is presumed to be a multinational group concerned with smuggling drugs, arms, and soldiers. However, after further investigation, they learn that the organization’s purpose is much, much darker.
Their mission takes them to the group’s safe house as revealed by Pablo, where they engage the enemy, and after a gunfight, a fire, personal injury, and some death, they become reluctant heroes. However, their accomplishment only serves to expose them, and Jake in particular, to the wrath of the group’s leader. Following a gathering to celebrate their victory, Jake is contacted by the leader and told he has 37 hours until something terrible happens.
Following directions issued via cell phone, Jake and Skinner travel to various locations on the east coast, seemingly at the whim of “Unknown Caller”, and finally end up in Florida. Along the way Jake meets a beautiful girl who gets roped into going with them. Once in Florida: the good guys get captured, the good guys escape, the good guys kill the bad guys, and it mostly turns out all right. Mostly cookie cutter thriller stuff, although there are some hidden twists that will honestly surprise you. For instance, guess who the leader of the bad guys turns out to be?
In my review of book one, Noble Beginnings, I praised the author for creating a character who had more depth than some of the others out there. I was also pleased with the way he wrote the story, and looked forward to reading the next one. Book two, however, doesn’t leave me glowing inside the same way. Instead of a good story, with character development, vivid details, insight into the characters’ thought processes – all the things that capture your imagination and leave you feeling satisfied – this book reads more like a narrative, or an after action report. The most minute actions are recorded as if by a NASA launch controller – accurate without emotion – but where is the thought behind the words? I would call this really good writing, technically, without being a really good story. And the ending – it just sort of stops once the bad guys are dealt with. And I’m not really sure if the 37 hour thing was ever explained. Not satisfying.
I give this book four stars (more like 3.6) – it isn’t terrible, and it’s good enough to make me want to read the next one, but of the three I have read, it’s in last place.