J. B. Turner's "Hard Kill (A Jon Reznick Thriller)"

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Combo of Procedural and Lone Wolf

"Never yield"
That's not just a motto, it's a fair description of Jon Reznick, a retired Delta Squad operator who occasionally does a fair imitation of runaway semi. In J. B. Turner's previous book, "Hard Road," he smashed his way down the East Coast after his daughter was kidnapped, leaving both cops and criminals reeling everywhere he passed.

This time, he's been called in by the FBI to join a team looking into a puzzling set of disappearances. Martha Meyerstein, the FBI executive leading the task force is a brilliant character--hard as a handgun with every hair in place. She reminds me of Helen Mirren in Prime Suspect: as much at war with bureaucratic intransigence and bone-deep sexism as she is with the subject of the investigation. We ran into her in "Hard Road" and now, she's the one who brings in Reznick, looking for someone who can see beyond the desk-bound and smash through the inter-service rivalries that still bog down US intelligence agencies--even after the terrible lessons of 9/11.

So, we have two books inextricably wrapped together: Reznick uses life-long training, a hunter's instinct, and a total disregard for anyone else's opinion as he breaks apart a powerful (and quite surprising) terrorist operation. Meanwhile, Meyerstein is fighting just as hard as she in effect works as a blocker for Reznick, constantly debating the risk of using an off-the-books operative who isn't bound by laws and policy guidelines against the indisputable fact that Reznick succeeds where others do not.

The writing is fast and tight, and Turner keeps the tension at a high pitch, even in scenes of FBI conference calls that by rights should be packaged as a sleep aid. The plot has more twists and turns than a Saturday night out at a local figure-8 racing track and yet, in the end, it all comes together with no red herrings or dangling questions.

Well,almost none.

Hard Kill is a non-stop battle between a terrorist no one can see and a hunter who lets nothing stand in his way. It's an excellent follow-up to Hard Road (which if you haven't read, you're really missing out.)

(I requested an ARC copy of Hard Kill from NetGalley under no preconditions)


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