A betrayed operative. A coalition between a Japanese billionaire and a CIA strategist. A right-wing terror cult. And the balance of power in the Far-East lies in finding an enigma.
Andrew Warren’s debut thriller is fleshed out in stark details with splashes of psychedelic colors, neon lights, neo-noir tropes and the darkly rich world of shadows. Every chapter exudes an aura of something new, something that hasn’t been explored enough in the genre.
Thomas Caine, once an elite assassin for the US, is betrayed and is surviving his metaphorical afterlife in the seedy underbelly of Pattaya as a smuggler. His sad excuse for a life is devastated by another betrayal and he finds himself in a hellish prison with one option: Stay and die or accept a mission from his former employers to go back to the open world.
As a free agent, Caine travels to Tokyo and into an old cover ID having a rich history with the Yakuza. A mob clan assists Caine in locating an Agency asset’s illegitimate daughter who’s on the run and is believed to have high-value intel.
On the other side of the coin is a high ranking strategist at Langley using private contractors, and a Japanese billionaire with extreme right-wing leanings who has complete control of a death cult called Tokyo Black. All these players are after the girl Caine is tasked with locating.
The Tokyo Black group has enough cinematically bone-chilling scenes through the pages. Its members are made of former Yakuza men who burn their Yakuza tattoos till their whole body is scarred. Only the strongest survive this induction phase. Bobu Smizu, the leader of this cult, has a personal vendetta against Caine which sparks up tense emotions in the book.
Rebecca Freeling, Caine’s handler is a strong and brilliant female character goes past treacherous challenges in a way in which she deserves a spin-off series that could focus on her strategic side of operations.
From car chases to shootouts and martial arts fights, there’s enough action but it stays very realistic. The character of Caine is a mysterious enigma that can be compared to legends in the genre like Jason Bourne and Court Gentry(The Gray Man).
The characters keep facing continual challenges that make their lives an acceleration into a gloom. The use of the East China Sea crisis and China-Japan relations makes this story on par with today’s headlines. With lots of dark settings, both literal and metaphorical, and a detailed, well-researched chaos, this plot will be one of the best for me.