Stolen by Allison Brennan is the sixth Lucy Kincaid novel, told from the point of view of her boyfriend, Sean Rogan, as he attempts to help the FBI, clear his own name, and keep it all from Lucy.
Lucy Kincaid is knee-deep in training at the FBI Academy. While she’s busy learning the ropes, her boyfriend—private investigator and computer whiz Sean Rogan—is trying to keep life as normal as possible. But Sean has never lived a normal life, and now his past is catching up with him. When a former “associate” approaches him with a job offer, it’s the FBI and Agent Noah Armstrong—Lucy’s mentor—who insist he takes the job as part of a sting operation.
Sean reluctantly takes on the assignment. He must convince his old college circle—a group of “hacktivists” (hackers who expose corporate and government cover-ups)—to trust him in their current attempt to expose a pharmaceutical company who may be poisoning leukemia patients and gain information on a United States Senator’s involvement, all while toeing the line with the FBI to avoid jail time for his own past misdeeds. And he needs to keep all of this from Lucy.
While this is the sixth installment in the Lucy Kincaid series, Stolen is all about Sean Rogan. It’s his background that drives the plot, his actions that drive the suspense, and his decisions that impact all the other characters. It’s kind of a risky move to take your main character, Lucy Kincaid, and make her a side character. But it’s a well-calculated risk, managing to let long-time readers spend some time with a character who plays a huge role in Kincaid’s life. It also lets readers see Lucy from several different perspectives, which is interesting.
Probably one of the more fascinating elements in this novel is the fact that Sean is working for the FBI while also being hunted by the FBI. Years ago, Sean hacked into a program written by FBI Agent Deanna Brighton. Brighton was on the up-and-up back in the day. Her software program was designed to cast a net over child pornographers, terrorists, and other bad guys; it was hailed as impenetrable. Then Sean exposed its flaws, and neither Brighton’s career nor Brighton herself recovered. She never forgot.
She also never forgave. For years, she’s been searching for a chance to bring Sean down. Now that he’s working with his old crew, he’s exposed himself to her investigation. And, unfortunately, Brighton knows where Sean’s soft spot is: Lucy Kincaid.
And Kincaid herself irritates Brighton, who sees Kincaid as a no-talent who’s riding the coattails of some powerful people.
Deanna was sick and tired of nepotism and special favors. She’d never gotten a special favor in her life, never had anyone watch her back or protect her. Everything she’d gotten she’d earned—and then to have a weasel like Sean Rogan take everything she’d earned the hard way was unacceptable. He would pay. So would his girlfriend. Deanna would make sure Lucy was kicked out of the Academy if she didn’t help put Sean Rogan in prison. No one was above the law. Especially a cop.
She was close, she felt it in her gut. Once she had the goods on Lucy Kincaid, Deanna would leverage that into evidence against Rogan. If Deanna had to take down Lucy Kincaid before she could take down Sean, she would do it. Collateral damage.
Kincaid should have never gotten involved with a criminal in the first place. Whatever happened from this day on was now Lucy Kincaid’s choice. She could choose to side with a criminal and lose her career and her freedom, or she could choose to do the right thing and keep both.
Deanna’s pursuit adds a definite complication to an already complicated situation. And complication is the name of the game whenever Senator Jonathan Paxton is involved. Readers of previous Lucy Kincaid novels know Paxton as a strange Robin Hood wannabe who probably doesn’t have a heart of gold, despite his desire to help Lucy at every turn. Paxton has his fingers in a lot of pies, and one of those pies is the hacktivist group that Sean’s now involved with. On the surface, it seems like Paxton wants to help expose big-pharmaceutical bad guys … but things are never what they seem with him.
Colton lowered his voice. “I’m finally in a position to prove that Pham-Bonner Medical killed Travis and covered it up.”
Colton had never accepted that his brother had died of leukemia. He understood that Travis had the disease and would probably die, but after Travis went on experimental drugs, he deteriorated and died three months sooner than the doctor’s worst prognosis.
“Shit, Colton—” [said Sean.]
“That’s why I need you. The next step of the plan—we need to get into PBM.”
“And where does Paxton fit in?”
“I couldn’t do it alone—the cost of the equipment alone is astronomical.”
“Tell me,” Sean said. A sick feeling crowded the beer in his stomach. If Colton was playing games with Paxton, this would not end well for anyone. “What’s Paxton’s plan?”
“I can’t tell you.”
(I can’t tell you either. It would ruin a twisty-turny plotline that’s fun to read through.)
Allison Brennan makes a bold move with this sixth novel in the Lucy Kincaid story. By allowing us to see the world largely through Sean’s eyes, we get a new, refreshing perspective. A lot of loose ends from previous storylines are either tied up or tightened. Stolen covers a lot of ground and gives intriguing insights into multiple characters’ motives.
Listen to an audio excerpt from Stolen!
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Jenny Maloney is a reader and writer in Colorado. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in 42 Magazine, Shimmer, Skive, and others. She blogs about writing at Notes from Under Ground. If you like to talk books, reading, publishing, movies, or writing, feel free to follow her on Twitter: @JennyEMaloney.
Read all posts by Jenny Maloney for Criminal Element.