Monday, September 22, 2008

A Matter of Revenge (Five Star Mystery Series)


I. Michael Koontz
Five Star (2008)
ISBN 9781594146749
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (6/08)

I. Michael Koontz's "A Matter of Revenge" follows John Apparite, an extremely successful and resourceful Superagent, through a series of missions set in 1956, the ruthless time of Cold War. Moving seamlessly from New York to London, followed by the French countryside, the divided city of Berlin and then to Belgium, Apparite is not only dealing with the dangers of his missions, but also with the matters of his heart and mind.
John Apparite's last mission was not a success, to put it mildly. Not only does he blame himself for the death of his best, and possibly only real friend, Agent J; but also for the fact that due to his decision to save somebody's life he allowed his nemesis, the Soviet assassin Viktor, to escape. Drowning his sorrows in beer, sitting in New York City, Apparite does not manage to stay out of trouble; and it takes a quick action by his supervisor, the Director, to get Apparite out of town and back into the spying game.
Thwarting assassins and dispatching a couple of bad boys along the way, John Apparite makes his way to the hub of the spy activity, the city of Berlin. On the train ride there he meets a young lady, Christiane, who lives in the Soviet-occupied East Berlin and actually works for Russians at a strategically important telephone exchange. John and Christiane have a whirlwind romance, during which John persuades her to bring him some sensitive documents from work, in exchange for which he will help her to defect to the West.
Unbeknownst to Christiane this is actually part of a larger plot, one designed to bring the downfall of Viktor, the hated and feared Russian assassin. Will John Apparite manage to finally kill his biggest enemy and revenge the death of his best friend, and if so, at what cost?
Super fast-paced, filled with scenes of great fights and imaginative weapons as well as fast-acting poisons, this is a well-researched and surprisingly realistic-sounding spy story. While I found the romantic interludes a bit less convincing than the rest of the story, overall I really enjoyed reading I. Michael Koontz's "A Matter of Revenge." It is extremely well researched and filled with great details on the Cold War era as well as very compelling as a story of a struggle between one agent's duty and his desires.
If you are one of those readers who enjoy intense, violent, fast-paced and very American spy stories, I have no doubt that "A Matter of Revenge," by I. Michael Koontz, will rank high on your list. If in addition to that you happen to be a boxing or baseball fan, you'll find quite a bit of additional enjoyment in the references to those two sports as well.

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