I have to confess the first thing that crossed my mind as I got into the first couple chapters of this book was: Does Burrese own a Dodge dealership? Right off the bat, we had two Grand Caravans and a Durango. Fortunately, there were plenty of other makes and models later in the book to offset that anomaly.
That said, I really enjoyed the story. Being acquainted with Alain Burrese through various circles, I was already aware of the parallels between the author and his protagonist. The close proximity to his character’s trains of thought really shows through in the scenes involving martial arts, military topics and even the law.
However, it does read as a first novel when it comes to scene setting that is outside the author’s wheelhouse. Not to say it’s bad; that’s absolutely not the case. You can just see where his comfort level lies and where there is room for improvement. As a career martial artist, I’m sure Burrese is constantly striving for perfection, and I have no doubt he will reach it as he continues to produce fiction.
The story is very well-paced, not too fast, but also not dragging at any point. Being a martial artist myself, I really enjoyed the detailed level of those aspects of the book, and that gave the book a real edge I could appreciate. The characters are believable, but I would like to see more depth developed with Frank Senich, and as I hope there will be future Ben Baker novels, this could be accomplished over time. The same applies to Tanya and Coral, Ben’s wife and daughter, respectively.
Burrese takes a harsh topic, trafficking of women and children, as well as the associated pornography and sexual misconduct, and makes a believable story out of it. You find yourself hating the antagonists and pulling for the protagonists, which is what an author should set out to do. In that, Burrese succeeds magnificently.
I look forward to future books about Ben Baker, seeing where Burrese takes these characters.
Rating: 5 stars (out of 5)