Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE
Alex Lukeman’s debut novel, White Jade, introduced readers to the covert team he calls Project. There’s ex-Marine Nick Carter who is the main man of action in the field. He’s haunted by both memories of a dead fiancée and his war experiences in Afghanistan. He’s also gifted, or cursed, by prophetic dreams. There’s Selena Connor who, in White Jade, was introduced as a language authority and martial arts expert. She’s now Carter’s lover and partner on missions. There’s Elizabeth Harker, the Project’s head, who has a direct line to the president enabling him to cut through the bureaucracies of other intelligence agencies. Computer whiz Stephanie Willits is Harker’s deputy, and Native-American Ronnie Peete is the third wheel in the team when it’s out doing its operations.
In White Jade, all these characters are developed in a slow-burning—if fast-paced--story which escalated from a murder mystery to the novel’s grand scale conclusion. This time around, The Lance opens with the end of the Third Reich and a secret left on the ocean floor awaiting re-discovery 70 years later. Then, we see Carter in Israel becoming a bodyguard for the president when the leader of the Free World visits the Temple Mount in a bid to pave the way for peace—only to be saved by Carter when the sacred place is destroyed. From that point forward, Harker isn’t the only Project member with the president’s ear.
The story then gets very global indeed with scenes in Antarctica, in a sunken Nazi sub off the coast of Argentina, and in gun duels all over Washington D.C. There are powerful forces at work hoping to stop the Project and take over the world—once again.
In the second book of his Project series, Lukeman is a bit more conventional in his approach. Once you know neo-Nazis are involved, you know certain tropes are going to appear—hidden treasure, anti-Semitism, and the imagery and symbolism of Hitler’s time in power. As the story progresses—and the body count mounts—it’s hard not to think of the Sean Dillon books by Jack Higgins where an elite independent team are able to take out small armies while never getting hit with mortal wounds themselves. But that’s why they call them thrillers and not speculative fiction. In this story, the characters don’t have much time to reflect or even have a meal—the action is fast and daunting. Perhaps the third outing can meld the best of the first two books: the depth of the personalities of White Jade with the multi-layered threats of The Lance. I plan to be first in line to find out.
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