Reviews by L. J. Roberts

JEFF ABBOTT – Adrenaline. Sam Capra #1. Grand Central, hardcover, July 2011; paperback, 2012. First published in the UK: Sphere, trade paperback, 2010.

First Sentence:   Once my wife asked me: if you knew this was our final day together, what would you say to me?

   CIA agent Sam Capra is deeply in love with his pregnant wife. However, his life turns into a nightmare when his office is blown up, killing everyone but him, thanks to a call from Lucy telling him to leave the building, and she then disappears. The CIA accuses Sam of treason and murder, yet he remains determined to prove both his, and Lucy’s innocence. But first he needs to finds her and their child.

   It is sometimes hard to start a book with a rather sad opening. It requires the author to have a strong voice and the making of an interesting character. Abbott has both.

   To have a protagonist who does Parkour, aka extreme running, is not something we’ve seen before. What is even better is that the author truly gives one a sense of it, of the movement. But then, Abbott is a very visceral writer. He doesn’t just make one see, he makes on feel. While this is a very good trait, it can also be painful for the reader. The descriptions of the interrogation are real, uncomfortable, and disturbing as you know they are utilized.

   The information on nanotechnology — the study of the control of matter on an atoms at the molecular level—is fascinating and frightening. The inclusion of Patty Hearst and the techniques of the Symbionese Liberation Army brings one back to a terrible period in time.

   Abbott has a very good voice and uses humor in a subtle, wry manner to offset the darkness of the plot:

      — “Then he flicked open a switchblade. A switchblade? The eighties want their weapon back.”

      — And shades of the television show Sherlock Holmes: “She’s not a traitor.” “I should get you a T-shirt with that on it,” Mila said. “And then my Christmas Shopping is done.”

      — The sense of place is always apparent: “The Grijs Gander wasn’t just a dump bar. It was a karaoke bar. That made it about a thousand times more evil.”

   Sam Capra is an interesting character whose background is very neatly provided as he finds himself in various situations. He is neither an amateur, nor a professional at dealing with his situation. Although he has some actual experience in what he must do, he is not a fully-trained field agent. This heightens the suspense.

  &nbusp;The plot is definitely one of high action and suspense. However, it is unfortunately that there needs be the stereotypical bad guy. The story is filled with very effective plot twists, yet it is still fairly predictable. Even so, Abbott statement about mankind is true and quite pitiable

      — “God or nature of biological accident gives us these awesome brains and this is what we do with them. We think of better ways to kill. Ways that make murder as easy as taking a breath.”

   Adrenaline is an exciting, sometimes painful, read with an ending that’s a perfect set up for the next book, and the series.

Rating:   Good.

      The Sam Capra series —

1. Adrenaline (2010)
2. Last Minute (2011)
2.5. Sam Capra’s Last Chance (novella, 2012)
3. Downfall (2013)
4. The Inside Man (2014)
5. The First Order (2016)

Editorial Comment:   This is LJ’s first review to be posted on this blog in quite a while. There will be more to come. You can also read many more of her reviews on her own blog: Do check it out!