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A Conspiracy of Ravens (James Hicks) Reviewed By Dr. Wesley Britton of Bookpleasures.com
http://www.bookpleasures.com/websitepublisher/articles/8576/1/A-Conspiracy-of-Ravens-James-Hicks-Reviewed-By-Dr-Wesley-Britton-of-Bookpleasurescom/Page1.html
Dr. Wesley Britton

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

 
By Dr. Wesley Britton
Published on January 22, 2018
 

Author: Terrence McCauley

Series:James Hicks (Book 3)

Publisher:Polis Books (September 19, 2017)

ISBN-10:1943818711

ISBN-13:978-1943818716


Author: Terrence McCauley

Series:James Hicks (Book 3)

Publisher:Polis Books (September 19, 2017)

ISBN-10:1943818711

ISBN-13:978-1943818716


Over the years, a plethora of very fine novelists from Robert Ludlum to Jack Higgins to Tom Clancy to Clive Kusler to Eric Van Lustabader to Gayle Lynds etc. etc.  have made the spy thriller genre largely a paint-by-numbers playground.  For the majority of these thrillers, readers know what to expect and what they expect is mostly action. Lots of action in series with recurring characters. Often these are interchangeable characters fighting terrorists with a variety of motives and modus operendi including   exotic diseases and weapons, a hefty body count, and international consequences for whatever schemes  the foes to humanity, liberty, democracy, or religious freedom have concocted. Quite often, the heroes are not only battling the evil-doers of the world but their own supposedly righteous superiors or other government agencies as well.

Still, the field is irresistibly magnetic for generation after generation of new writers, and Terrence McCauley is among the relative newcomers who know how to paint those numbers with exactly what thriller readers hope for. He’s done it twice before with the previous James Hicks novels, Sympathy for the Devil and A Murder of Crows. His main man, James Hicks, is now “Dean” of the clandestine intelligence organization known as The University. (Anyone think of Clancy’s “The Campus” here?) The University is so clandestine, the CIA didn’t know about it for decades and isn’t happy to learn about it now. So Hicks has to appease Charles “Carl” Demerest, head of Clandestine Services at the CIA.  Hicks simultaneously keeps operational secrets from the agency while occasionally asking them for backup.

The only reason Demerest doesn’t declare war on the University is because they’re the prime weapon against The Vanguard, a shadowy and deadly organization comprised of weapons dealers, drug runners, and money launderers who want to up the stakes by instigating international wars. Before these schemes get off the ground, they hit with deadly efficiency the University’s home base, wipe out their field operatives, and engage in open warfare in New York, Washing D.C., Berlin, and China. Hicks is in their gun-sights as well. 

A Conspiracy of Ravens is solid action that is the proverbial page-turner.   It demonstrates a thorough knowledge of the uses of surveillance technology that is completely believable as the behemoths of international espionage clash all over the globe with an ever-growing body count. As usual, the story is so fast-moving, what is lost is much character depth.   We get many insights into the likes and loves of James Hicks and some of his surviving team members, especially Roger, a more than versatile club owner.  On the other hand, we keep hearing Hicks is in love with Mossad sniper Tali Sadden, but we see so little of her, she is the most shadowy, one-dimensional character in the book.

A Conspiracy of Ravens should please any fan of this genre, and fortunately it’s very enjoyable as a stand-alone story. I must admit McCauley was able to impress me in some passages,  surprise me in others, especially in the final acts. It’s clear this isn’t the final saga in the series as we’re witnessing an ongoing war between the University and The Vanguard. Blofeld and S.P.E.C.T.R.E., move over. You just don’t cut it anymore.