Winterlong by Mason Cross is the 3rd book in the Carter Blake thriller series and a deadly game of cat and mouse filled with high stakes tension (available February 7, 2017).
A secret US-based military organization is on a deadly mission to close out an at-large loose end. The newly appointed head of this clandestine unit, Emma Faraday, browses the file of their target.
The green eyes stared back at her from the DMV photograph, as though aware of her gaze.
The subject had the ideal skill set for the work they did. An expert tracker, good with people in every way that mattered, above average on the firing range, adept in unarmed combat. A strategic thinker, too, able to respond creatively to changing conditions on the ground. Both a thinker and a warrior. Carter Blake would be a perfect asset, if she were recruiting.
But more likely, within thirty-six hours, he would be dead.
Blake is accused of killing a United States senator and his wife over a “botched deal to leak sensitive files.” Faraday briefs twelve assassins on the Blake file, and—here’s the kick—he used to be employed by Faraday’s group so he knows a thing or two about the hell descending on him and what it will take to survive against the odds. Winterlong’s back blurb sums it up: “If there’s anyone who can find him—and kill him—it’s them.”
Blake has endured and profited by remaining off the grid. (That seems to be a prerequisite for the Bourne, Reacher, and now Blake set.) To get by, his job is, as he describes it, “to find people who don’t want to be found.” He’s very successful at this human retrieval biz, and his current gig finds him employed by John Stafford, who runs a tech company in Silicon Valley called Moonola. Stafford wants Blake to locate a senior developer named Scott Bryant who stole proprietary software from the company. If Bryant sells it to the highest bidder, Moonola is finished.
Blake finds the info he needs to track Bryant at the data-jacker’s ex-wife’s house. He then books a flight to Seattle where Bryant plans on selling his tech booty. Blake manages to scare off the potential buyer and then makes arrangements to meet with Bryant. At the same time—through a contact who sets up his job assignments—he learns of the hit that’s been put out on him and realizes it’s connected to a past mission he had taken part in: Winterlong. Before long, he’s scrambling for his life.
Three shots shattered the back window, safety glass spraying over the interior. I heard a fleshy impact as the driver took a bullet in the side of his throat. He slumped over, his eyes rolling back in his head. His body was held up by the seat belt as a torrent of blood coursed down the front of his shirt.
Staying down, I slammed the car into drive and lunged headfirst into the driver’s footwell, slamming the palm of my hand down on the gas pedal with my left hand while I gripped the wheel with my right and yanked us out into the lane.
How the senator’s death, Winterlong, and Blake’s old job fit together comes to an exciting juncture as Mr. Cross jumps back and forth in the narrative to great effect. In one section we are with Faraday hunting, then in the next with Blake the hunted, and in others we jump back five years to find out what brought him to this point. Exhilarating momentum is gained and sustained by this hopscotching.
Winterlong is another swift-moving thriller in the Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher express lane. As a matter of fact, Reacher’s creator, Lee Child, says, “My kind of book.” And if you like competent reads that don’t slow down for a minute, it’s your kind of book too.
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David Cranmer is the publisher and editor of BEAT to a PULP. Latest books from this indie powerhouse include the alternate history novella Leviathan and sci-fi adventure Pale Mars. David lives in New York with his wife and daughter.