Ballantine Books, April 2004
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
FLASHPOINT is Suzanne Brockmann's new release featuring Troubleshooters Inc. Troubleshooters is a private special operations and security firm created by former Navy SEAL Tom Paoletti, previously featured in THE UNSUNG HERO, a novel in the SEAL Team Sixteen series.
When Tess Bailey, support and computer specialist for the CIA, overhears a rumor that agent Lawrence Decker is the target of a contract killer, she moves into action. Bailey contacts Decker's partner, Diego Nash, and meets him at the Gentleman's Den, a strip club where Decker is working on a case. Her quick thinking helps to save Decker's life, and earns her an opportunity months later to work in the field with Decker and Nash on a Troubleshooters assignment.
Lawrence Decker, Jimmy "Diego" Nash and Tess Bailey are recruited by Tom Paoletti to locate a laptop computer belonging to a high level al-Qaeda terrorist who was killed in an earthquake in Kazbekistan. Tess is eager for a chance to work in the field, but her one night stand with Nash following a dangerous rescue months ago is likely to make this assignment tough for both of them. Nash, frightened by the depth of his feelings for Tess, doesn't want her working on a case in a country as hostile to women as Kazbekistan. But Lawrence Decker, the chief of this operation, is the one who says who goes on his team. Since Tess helped to save Decker's life he's going to give her the chance to do some field work on this assignment. Posing as relief workers, Tess's cover story in Kazbekistan will be that she is a married woman. When Nash is assigned to play the role of husband, their working relationship gets kicked up to a whole new level.
FLASHPOINT is a high-stakes thriller with a story line that sounds all too real. The Troubleshooters drama provides a heart-pounding backdrop for the romance between Tess and Jimmy, along with the added surprise of a subtle chemistry between Lawrence Decker and Sophia Ghaffair. Sophia is an American ex-patriot on the run from a Kazbekistani warlord, Padsha Bashir, with a bounty on her head. Tess and Jimmy's emotional journey is centerstage and interesting, but I was far more intrigued by Decker and Sophia's subplot. Several of Tess and Jimmy's most revealing encounters are written in flashback scenes that steal some of the emotional impact from their story. Decker and Sophia seem to have more at stake and it was their story that kept me turning the pages. Team Sixteen has shifted into high gear with Troubleshooter's Inc. Filled with high speed suspense and great characters, Ms. Brockmann has produced another winner.
Ms. Brockman, known for her multi-plot stories featuring historical WWII themes, uses a different approach in this novel. With the exception of Tom Paoletti and Cosmo Richter, all the characters in FLASHPOINT are new to readers. However, Cosmo Richter is reported to be the central character of Ms. Brockmann's forthcoming release, HOT TARGET, due out in November 2004.
An added bonus in this hardcover edition includes a short story with Sam Starrett and Alyssa Locke. Sam and Alyssa's story, featured in GONE TOO FAR, is available now in paperback. Readers can only wonder where the subject of this short story will lead in the future.
April 2004 Review
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