The 13th Target: Library Edition (Anglais) CD – Livre audio, 1 juillet 2012
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When Russell (Rusty) Mullins' wife dies of ovarian cancer, he feels a real need to take a different direction in his life. Ending his career in the Secret Service, he joins a private protection company based in Washington, D.C., and is assigned to guard Paul Luguire, a Federal Reserve executive and its chief liaison with the U.S. Treasury. The change means that Rusty gets to spend time with his grandchild, and he becomes good friends with Luguire.
Such good friends that when he gets a phone call from a police detective telling him that Luguire has committed suicide, Rusty doesn't believe it. His belief is confirmed by Federal Reserve employee Amanda Church, who once worked with him in the Secret Service. Church has uncovered an extremely suspicious financial transaction initiated by Luguire that now seems to be setting Rusty up. When a bank president is murdered, Rusty does indeed skyrocket to the top of the suspect list.
As Rusty follows a trail of clues, he's joined by a discredited journalist and a police detective who's mere months away from retirement. Someone out there is conspiring to destroy America's financial system, and the Federal Reserve has a starring role in the plan. Twelve targets are known, and time is running out. What-- or who-- is the thirteenth target? Is this unlikely team of three going to be able to uncover the truth?
I'm familiar with de Castrique's two series set in North Carolina: the "Buryin' Barry" series featuring an ex-cop/ undertaker in Gainesboro, and the Sam Blackman series featuring an Iraqi war veteran who's now a private investigator in Asheville. I was eager to see what he'd do with the thriller format. As I expected, de Castrique does not disappoint.
The book is filled with fast-paced action, and although the plot is a little unwieldy from time to time, I dare anyone to use the U.S. financial system and the Federal Reserve as the basis for a plot and explain it as well as the author does. I have to admit that when the villain is revealed, I could have slapped myself upside the head-- the person was right out in plain sight from word one, and I was too caught up with other details to pay attention.
As always, de Castrique shines with his characters. Rusty Mullins is an honorable man that you believe from the start. He's fortunate to find Detective Robert Sullivan, a police officer who, although just months from retirement, knows an honest man when he meets one and is willing to go above and beyond the call to see justice done. As the discredited journalist, blogger Sidney Levine is perfect. Through his work in journalism and through his blog, he knows how to investigate, he knows how to get in touch with the more credible conspiracy theorists, and he knows how to flush out the information that Mullins needs. If I have any complaint about the book at all, it's that I would have gladly spent many more pages in the company of these three characters.
Mark de Castrique can write humorous mysteries. He can write mysteries with literary clues. He can also write a mean thriller. If you haven't read any of his books yet, now's your chance!
Money makes this plot go around: and not just wealth but economics, the Feds, the internal operation of government departments and government controls.
Mullins is a great main character; flawed, but admirable. His friends are as distinctive, valuable to the storyline yet not slaves to it: they have their own lives, and so are completely believable as well.
This is as far from a light-hearted mystery as one can get: although there is a case to solve, it is more of a noir thriller. The overall complexity slows what would otherwise be a fast read, because it is truly engaging.
Volatile moments almost leap from the pages - truly giving many meanings to the word "thriller."
Straightforward writing style keeps this from becoming a terribly complex puzzle; I do think it will be most enjoyed by fans of the genre.
Originally posted at LAS Mystery Reviews
Rusty Mullins is at the heart of this tale. He's a former member of the US Secret Service, now working in D.C. for a private personal protection agency. When his assignment, a highly placed member of the board of the US Federal Reserve dies suddenly, Mullins is convinced it was not the suicide it appears and with almost no evidence on his side, takes a vacation to try to prove murder.
Mullins calls on several personal "assets" he has developed during his Secret Service tenure, including Amanda Church, now working in security for the Fed. Surprisingly, what begins to turn up are indications that Mullins himself may be involved in a vast, multi-national conspiracy against the United States and its banking structure.
A novel about banking and movement of large sums of money around the world may seem uninteresting and impenetrable, but the author does an excellent job of bringing personal danger and high emotion to the table. The novel recalls the excellent Emma Lathem series from the previous century that featured banker John Putnam Thatcher. Mullins is not a banker and is younger than Thatcher but numerous parallels exist. An amusing dimension the author has added is Amanda Church's husband, a thriller writer who offers intriguing insights into the roles sometimes played by minor characters in these crime novels.
The thirteenth Target is an excellent and enjoyable crime novel with an exciting logical conclusion.
The primary protagonist is Russell Mullins, an immediately likable former Secret Service agent. Mullins left the agency following the death of his wife and took his considerable skill set to a private protection company. His assignment to guard Paul Luguire, a Federal Reserve executive and the powerful bank's liaison with the United States Treasury, leads to a friendship between the two men, who share similar joys and tragedies in their lives. So it is that when Mullins receives a late-night call informing him that Luguire has committed suicide, he is more than skeptical. As events subsequently unfold, Mullins becomes more convinced that Luguire's death is but one incident of many that is leading to a major and devastating event.
Amanda Church, a former Secret Service colleague of Mullins who is now a member of the Reserve's cyber-security unit, discovers that Luguire initiated a financial transaction only days before his death, a transaction that ultimately leads back to Mullins. The unthinkable then occurs when another individual connected to the Federal Reserve is murdered. Someone appears to be targeting the executives and is trying to frame Mullins for it. With few friends and some very dangerous adversaries, Mullins must not only clear his own good name but also prevent what appears to be the planned destruction of America's financial system. But how can he accomplish this when the entity that pulls the strings is almost as secretive as the mastermind who is pulling the strings that seemingly will lead to its end?
de Castrique's pacing is perfect from beginning to end. Though dealing with some extremely complex subject matter, he presents it in a way that is informative and absorbing while being considerate of the reader and never letting his explanations get in the way of the story. Further, his character development is first-rate. One cares about Mullins practically from the first paragraph, an emotion that continues all the way through to its conclusion. That is not to say, though, that the book sacrifices story for characters or information. THE 13th TARGET is full of surprises, double-crosses and dangers; de Castrique is still lobbing story grenades at the reader even as it concludes.
While the book is complete in itself, you will wonder about what takes place after the last page is read. For the answer, check next week's headlines: one gets the feeling that de Castrique knows more than he tells.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub