After reading Targets of Opportunity, the first in the Jordan Sandor series (you can read my review here), I was excited to see what would happen next for Jordan. Interestingly enough, the next novel to come out was actually a prequel to the first, and it offers us a peek into the life of Jordan before Opportunity. As an ex-CIA field agent, we get to see how Jordan dusts off his old (and sometimes rusty) skills and gets back into the game full time.
We begin with Sandor and an old friend, Dan Peters, driving down a country road in upstate New York. They are en route to talk to a man named Jimmy Ryan, who claims to have important information that he needs to relay to Peters and Sandor, who is posing as a journalist. Their serene car ride is interrupted by gunshots, as Peters and Sandor are shot at by two men who have been pulled over by a state trooper, who lies on the ground, shot as well. Sandor is able to escape unscathed, and he manages to save Peters and the trooper in the process. All this is for naught, however, as it comes to light that the two men were on a mission to kill Ryan before he could talk, and those associated with these men end up killing Peters in his hospital room. What’s more, Sandor begins to learn more about Ryan, whose real name is James McHugh. Sandor learns that McHugh, an ex military officer from Vietnam, was involved with a man named Vincent Traiman, who trained fighters for al-Qaeda in Libya before 9/11 and was an ex-CIA agent who had betrayed his country. McHugh realized that the very people he and Traiman waere training were killing his military comrades, and he decided to leave Libya without alerting the attention of Traiman and his associates. Now on the run, McHugh wanted to pass on information about Traiman’s deadly operation and a new scheme he was planning that would put all of America and her allies at risk. With his death, it is now up to Sandor to discover Traiman’s plans and uncover the truth.
I have to say, this prequel to Targets of Opportunity is just as exciting as the first work. Stephens has a way with the plot that makes reading his works super exciting. The inital crack of action drew me in right away, and the slow build to the exciting finish had all the great drama and character development of a great action movie. Sandor has the intelligence smarts of Jason Bourne and the cocky swagger of James Bond. As I stated in my review of Stephens’ previous work, I really enjoy how Stephens’ knowledge of politics and the quasi-military aspects of Sandor’s background really enhance the story. His inclusion of specifics on Middle East / US relations, especially post-9/11, were great and informative. They fleshed out Traiman’s character, and made the threat that much more creditable. In all, it read like the smart spy thriller that I knew it would be. I can’t wait for Targets of Revenge to see what mess Jordan can get into next!
5 out of 5 Stars