Crafting a chilling mind puzzle packed with “nifty new tricks” (Publishers Weekly), Jeffery Deaver lifts the curtain of a clandestine intelligence agency, pitting two “ingenious” (Library Journal) opponents in a high-stakes volley of brilliant wits and calculated risks with deadly consequences.
Behind the well-known U.S. security organizations—the FBI and CIA among them—lies a heavily guarded, anonymous government agency dedicated to intelligence surveillance and to a highly specialized brand of citizen protection.
Shock waves of alarm ripple through the clandestine agency when Washington, D.C., police detective Ryan Kessler inexplicably becomes the target of Henry Loving, a seasoned, ruthless “lifter” hired to obtain information using whatever means necessary. While Loving is deft at torture, his expertise lies in getting an “edge” on his victim—leverage—usually by kidnapping or threatening family until the “primary” caves under pressure.
The job of keeping the Kessler family alive falls to a man named Corte, a senior federal protection officer known as a “shepherd.” Uncompromising, relentlessly devoted to protecting those in his care and a passionate board game aficionado, he applies brilliant gaming strategy to his work. For Corte, the reappearance of Loving—the man who, six years earlier, had tortured and killed someone close to him—is also an opportunity to avenge his friend’s death. The assignment soon escalates into a fast-paced duel between Corte and Loving, a dangerous volley of wits and calculated risks.
As he shepherds the Kesslers to a concealed safe house, Corte must anticipate Loving’s every step as the lifter moves in on his prey, and with the help of razor-sharp investigator Claire DuBois and his longtime ally, FBI agent Paul Fredericks, pinpoint which of Kessler’s seemingly insignificant cases has triggered Loving’s return. As the team digs deeper, each of the Kesslers comes under close scrutiny, and in captivity their family bonds are stretched to the breaking point—as the lifter draws near, Corte must ultimately choose between protecting his charges and exposing them to a killer in the name of long-awaited revenge.
Thriller Award winner Deaver (The Bodies Left Behind) unveils some nifty new tricks in this edge-of-your-seat thriller that pits two worthy antagonists against each other. Henry Loving, "a lifter," specializes in extracting information from human targets by any means necessary (i.e., torture). Corte, "a shepherd," is an agent in the Strategic Protection Department of a secret government agency normally assigned to protect high-profile targets. An intercepted communication identifies Loving as the lifter ordered to target Ryan Kessler, a Washington, D.C., metro detective. While Corte attempts to protect Kessler's family and identify the "primary," Loving's employer, Loving seeks the edge to get the information he needs to extract. Corte, a board game aficionado and game theory student, and Loving are well matched, sharing a history that ups the stakes and makes the contest personal. Deaver's first first-person narrator, Corte, is an exciting new weapon in the author's arsenal of memorable characters.
Pretty good story. Plenty of twists and turns.
Typically I like mysteries that are well written like PD James‘. I read very few thrillers because I find them too comic book-like. However, this book had a thundering narrative which swept me up in it. Lots of twists and turns and very satisfying. Highly recommended escape.
So, if you are looking for a read that has lots of twists and turns, this is a good one. For me, it was a little too much. I figured out the plot almost immediately and it seemed that for Corte to be as successful as he was at his job that he should have figured it out as well. I am giving it four stars because it was an interesting book. I never got bored, just found some of the twists predictable.