"This is the first step in what will probably be a giant chain of dangerous, potentially fatal decisions."

The tension and action intensify in leaps and bounds as Will Taylor, a freelancing techy in Washington, D.C., with clients across the spectrum of legal and illegal, is amassing cash to search for his missing sister, a Navy Seal turned spy (unbeknownst to him). With a little luck, he stumbles onto her best friend, Carter Callahan, a hard-nosed agent gone rogue with the intent of snatching Laura back from Fractal, a clandestine paramilitary organization already on the radar of the CIA and across the pond at MI6. Taylor is relieved to know that his sister is alive, but there is a hitch to the rescue. The unlikely partners must join Fractal to pull off their plan, a daring feat since they're already under surveillance by Fractal operatives.

The tale presents many clever, unorthodox moments as Will earns his chops in the often mundane but sometimes rarified world of intelligence operatives. At one memorable point, he hijacks an airplane using just his tech skills and a laptop, earning him respect from espionage pros. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish the amateurs from the pros, as clumsy and clever individuals exist on all levels of this spy game, keeping the plot lines and scenes limber and unpredictable. The episodic, cliffhanger ending may annoy some readers, but many unbothered by such literary ploys will plow into the remaining episodes nonetheless. The author liberally sprinkles humor into what could otherwise be an overly earnest yarn yet doesn't spoil the action with too much clownish fervor. Fans of international espionage will enjoy the refreshing, lighthearted approach with which Stokes imbues his plot and characters.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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