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ADRENALINE


By Jeff Abbott

Grand Central Publishing, 2011 ($24.99)
ISBN-10: 0446575178
ISBN-13: 978-0-446-575-17-1

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Sam Capra is happy with his life. He's an agent for the CIA stationed in London, a city he loves, and is married to the love of his life, Lucy, who is seven months pregnant with their first child. He keeps fit by running and by practicing parkour, which involves a lot of skill and coordination, jumping from roof to roof, bouncing off walls, and other perilous moves. Things just couldn't get much better for young Sam.

One day in the past, Lucy asked him an odd question:

"If you knew this was our final day together, what would you say to me?"

His reply:

"Anything but good-bye. I can't ever say good-bye to you."

Sam really means that, and his strong feelings for Lucy will lead him into some dark and dangerous places. He gets up one fine morning, goes out to hone his parkour skills, and returns home to clean up. Lucy insists on making love to him, an unexpected pleasure. As he leaves for the office, he tells her loves her, and she tells him she loves him too. Because of the unexpected delay in leaving home, he is late to work, and his boss is annoyed. That's the least of Sam's problems.

Before the day is over, his life is shattered. Lucy calls him at work and tells him to get outside quickly. As he stands in the street, he sees a car speeding away, with Lucy in the passenger seat, a look of terror on her face. Seconds later, his office building blows up, killing everyone inside. He is knocked out by the force of the bomb blast, and wakes up in a cold, dark prison. A man named Howell says he is a CIA agent, and that Sam is either a traitor or a fool.

Howell says that the Company believes either he or Lucy, or both, is responsible for the carnage. Sam vehemently denies the charges, and is adamant that Lucy is incapable of such a thing. He is questioned endlessly and violently, but he does not cave. He wakes up once again, this time in a hospital. Howell is sitting at his bedside, and he tells Sam he's convinced of his innocence. Sam is free to go, but there are certain restrictions. Others in the agency still doubt his innocence, and they don't believe he could not have known his wife was a traitor. He's given a place to live and a job as a bartender. He's followed everywhere he goes, his apartment is bugged, and told not to leave the country.

Sam is not the James Bond kind of secret agent, but he is highly intelligent and desperate to find his wife and clear their names. He manages to escape to Holland. He gets some help by tapping into some of his old contacts, finds an ally who may be either friend or foe, and infiltrates a very dangerous smuggling ring.

There is plenty of rock 'em sock 'em violence, explosions, torture, a wide variety of people who may not be who they say they are, unexpected betrayals and surprising allies, kidnappings, ladies in jeopardy, ladies who put people in jeopardy, all the components of a thriller. Jeff Abbott, who early in his career wrote a lovely series about a crime-solving small town librarian, has proven once again that he is near the top of the heap among writers of thrillers.

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