Thursday, June 9, 2011
SHOW NO MERCY: Brian Drake Strikes Again!
If Black Mask had run a spy serial, it would have read a lot like Show No Mercy. Brian Drake’s two previous books, the story collection Reaper's Dozen (review HERE) and the novel Justified Sins (HERE), were very much in the Mask tradition, featuring hard-as-nails protagonists who shoot their way out of tough situations.
In Show No Mercy, we meet several protagonists - and several antagonists - who duke it out on a global scale, and they're playing for much larger stakes.
The book is billed as a Michael Dodge Thriller, and I suppose that’s true. Dodge, a CIA agent, is the first hero we meet, and the story ends in his point of view. But Show No Mercy actually features an ensemble cast, and Dodge gets only slightly more face time than some of the others.
Like any good spy thriller, Dodge and his friends are up against a major league threat to mankind - in this case a leftover batch of the super-deadly Soviet nerve gas Delta Nine. Numerous bad guys are out to get it, all with their own nefarious agendas. The quest to retrieve the gas takes Dodge and crew around the world, where they land smack in the middle of do-or-die firefights. These battle scenes are always intense, and Mr. Drake is a master at putting us in the middle of the action.
But beyond all the intrigue, and the ever-mounting body count, this is a story of relationships. At the crux of tale is Harry Ames, a near-legendary CIA operative who has been undercover so long, and gone so deep, that no one (including the reader) can be sure whose side he’s on.
Michael Dodge is conflicted because Ames was the man who trained him, and became almost a father to him. Our number two protagonist, Agent Tracy Ames, is even more tormented, because Harry is her father. She badly wants to believe he’s still loyal to agency, but even she can’t be sure. And the man who is both Michael and Tracy’s boss, General Ike Fleming (a tribute to Ian?), who has known and respected Harry longer than either of them, is equally in the dark.
Dodge is torn between his duty - which may require killing Harry - and his feelings, not only for his mentor, but for Tracy, who is one of his closest friends, and potentially even more.
How does it all play out? You’ll just have to read Show No Mercy, and find out for yourself!
(Brian Drake explains it all at Brian Drake Explains It All.)
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