Book Review: Dead in a Week by Andrea Kane
By Brian BandellMarch 18, 2019
In Dead in a Week, suspense thriller novelist Andrea Kane follows a covert team of special operatives who’ve formed a non-government group as they attempt to save a kidnapped young woman and prevent corporate espionage.
Andrea Kane has assembled such an impressive team of special operatives that I almost feel bad for any criminals they’re after. No crooks can cover their tracks from the Zermatt Group, no matter how smart they fancy themselves.
Dead in a Week is a story that feels especially relevant now, given the allegations of espionage the U.S. government has levied against certain Chinese companies. In Kane’s story, college student Lauren Pennington is snatched in Munich, Germany by an Albanian crime syndicate. The kidnappers give her father a week to meet their demands or she’s dead. They don’t ask for money. The criminals want her father, NanoUSA VP Vance Pennington, to forward them blueprints of a breakthrough manufacturing technology, one that could devastate China’s economy.
Before Vance even realizes his daughter has been taken, Zermatt Group leader Aiden Devereaux is already in his office. That’s how many steps ahead of the game this former Marine is.
“They’ve got your daughter.”
Vance froze. “Pardon me?”
“Lauren. She’s been kidnapped. The Chinese hired an Albanian crime group to take her—which they did four days ago. They’re going to offer you a trade—the technology for Lauren. And they’re going to kill her unless we act now to prevent it.”
Dead in a Week is a continuation of Kane’s Forensic Instincts series, but this book focuses on a mostly new group of characters. Aiden is the brother of Marc Devereaux, who has been featured more prominently in the series, and also appears in this book, as do some of his Forensic Instincts teammates—essentially on loan by Aiden to solve this case.
Aiden runs Zermatt Group in a super secure “cage” in his New York apartment, with his pre-school-age daughter Abby on the outside wondering what daddy’s up to in there. Joining him in there is Terri Underwood, a former National Security Agency analyst so adept at technology and hacking that she can practically write any number in Zermatt Group’s bank account—or the account of someone she doesn’t like.
With money no option, and its agents working day jobs for cover, Zermatt Group seeks to stop major crimes before the government even gets involved. They don’t seek money. They don’t want anyone to know they exist. Their only goal is to make sure illegal and immoral actors are halted.
Aiden founded the group in the Swiss town of Zermatt with former MI6 agent Philip Banks and Simone Martin, a French former military contractor—and Aiden’s sexual flame. While Aiden heads to Palo Alto, California to comfort and instruct Vance, Simone poses as a consultant at NanoUSA and interviews virtually every employee in search of a mole. Meanwhile, in Europe, Philip searches for the ruthless Albanian gang that kidnapped Lauren.
Kane has realistic details about how advanced operatives can track people, hack into almost anything, and, most impressively, read people like an open book. The painful emotions of Lauren being detained and Vance and his wife in fearing for their daughter’s life are gut-wrenching. There’s no doubt that the kidnappers and the mysterious people who crave NanoUSA’s technology wouldn’t hesitate to kill her.
However, it’s hard to build too much suspense when Zermatt Group is so proficient. These team members are so well-prepared that they encounter little resistance. Terri could unlock an encrypted computer as easily as putting together a child’s puzzle. There aren’t many instances where it feels the situation could spiral out of control and place a team member in danger.
The secrets uncovered in Simone’s investigation of NanoUSA, with many MeToo cases and corporate back-stabbing, provide plenty of twists to the plot. It’s fun to see how Aiden and his crew adapt to new information on the fly, and how Terri always develops an ingenious device within 30 seconds.
It’ll be interesting to see how Kane teams, or opposes, Forensic Instincts with Zermatt Group in future novels.