Pretense: Imbroglio Trilogy
by John Di Frances
Reliance Books Publishing, LLC

"He followed the target, moving the weapon imperceptibly…the range so close that the bullet struck before he had even fully eased the trigger back to its rest position."

Exotic locales, posh accommodations, handsome men and gorgeous women engaged in dangerous, often lethal behavior—these are things that often lure readers to international thrillers. Add plots that twist, agendas that may not be what they seem, plus revelations that shock—and voila, the genre’s literary cake is baked! Fortunately, this novel is loaded with all of the above.

The time is now, the setting is Europe, and the opening salvo is a political assassination. In Bratislava, a couple who personify the sobriquet “beautiful people” are involved up to their enticing eyeballs. Suddenly, you’re off to Warsaw, where a ruthless German marksman unleashes havoc at a sold-out soccer stadium. An intrepid Interpol agent leads a team of Polish intelligence and security personnel to find out if the events are coincidental or something far more sinister. Then an American CIA operative intervenes, a manhunt ensues, and everyone (characters plus readers alike) begin to question what is really going on.

This author’s first foray into fiction is an impressive beginning. His tale takes off swiftly. He keeps the pace of his yarn rapid but not too fast to hamper comprehension. While some characters initially come across as stereotypical, uniqueness begins to evolve as time spent with them increases. Authenticity and credibility shine. His technical mastery of weaponry, organizations, and processes has the feel of a Tom Clancy deep dive. His depictions of haute hotels, photogenic scenery, and foreigners and foreign places put one in mind of Robert Ludlum’s world. This is the first book in a trilogy. If the next two are as engaging as this one, score this author three for three.

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