Thursday, February 14, 2013

Robin Burcell Ticks Off The Black List

I tend to pass on character-based thriller series because many authors leave you high and dry, wondering about who is who because you haven't started with book one. That's not the case with The Black List by Robin Burcell.

Yes, The Black List is part of her Sydney Fitzpatrick series. Previous books in the series include The Bone Chamber and The Face of a Killer. I haven't read either, but found the third installment solid.

The Black List ticks off mystery, suspense, thriller, action, and adventure.

You don't have to be familiar with heroine Fitzpatrick to appreciate The Black List. The action starts out with a deceptively simple hook. Fitzpatrick’s sometime partner, FBI Special Agent Tony Carrillo, enlists her help for a personal assignment.

His soon-to-be ex-wife fears for the safety of Trip, her new boyfriend. Trip is nothing special. He's an accountant of admittedly limited skills, but he started noticing discrepancies in the books at the charitable organization where he was recently hired.

The charity is one of several that helps to resettle refugees from third world nations. When Trip brings it to the attention of a colleague in England, he starts receiving threats. So do all the people around him.

At the same time, there is a second plot that isn't personal. The FBI is attempting to track the whereabouts of Somali terrorist Yusuf Abasi. He is believed to have somehow snuck across the U.S. border and nobody knows where he is. What they do know that Abasi will eventually cause large scale chaos and mass destruction unless he is caught.

The simplest explanations do not always add up. 

As Fitzpatrick investigates the refugee charity, she discovers that things are deeper and much more far-reaching. It seems that the organization is linked to issues that jeopardize national security. But there are also abuses at refugee camps, and trace money from the U.S. government to the charitable organization and from the charity into the wrong hands. The problem is compounded because it is also a pet project backed by a very powerful and suspicious U.S. senator.

As an international thriller, the action plays out in the U.S., England and Africa with daring rescues, covert operations, and several shocking murders. All the while, readers are left asking whether there is a connection to refugee organizations and terrorists while discovering that Abasi is packing a Cesium 137 dirty bomb in the vicinity of the White House.

This is a big, sprawling suspenseful thriller with plenty of twists. It's also obvious much of it is fueled by the author's own concerns about national security and threats of terrorism on American soil. It's this passion for the subject that helps her expose holes in the illusion of safety. She makes it scary.

About a surprisingly experienced author. 

It also wouldn't be too surprising to learn that Fitzpatrick could well be Burcell’s alter ego. Sure, Fitzpatrick is free to travel the world on the FBI’s dime while Burcell has responsibilities that keep her grounded with family, but it is clear that Burcell imparts Fitzpatrick with some of her own expertise, which includes in-demand skills as a forensic artist.

The reason Burcell knows her subject so well is because she is also a criminal investigator in Sacramento County, Calif., former police officer, hostage negotiator, and detective. She has even worked undercover as a housewife, high school student, and hooker. The FBI-trained Burcell is also an expert in forensic art and fingerprints.

The Black List By Robin Burcell Uncovers 6.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

As the old saying goes, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. So where Burcell excels as a sharp writer is her ability to expound on her experiences but guide them toward believable conclusions. She also knows how to engage people with nicely complex characters and a penchant for the unexpected.

The Black List by Robin Burcell is available at Amazon and the paperback can be ordered from Barnes & Noble. The Black List can also be downloaded for iBooks for $1 less, making it an exceptionally affordable read. You can learn more about Burcell on her website or via Twitter.
blog comments powered by Disqus