by David Morrell
Warner Books, May, 2003.
Hardcover, 416 pages.
Former Delta Force officer Cavanaugh (a pseudonym) is now a personal protection agent working for Global Protective Services. For those that can afford the steep price, GPS will provide top-level protection services for those in need of them; they can also help a client disappear and create a new identity. Cavanaugh is assigned to protect scientist Daniel Prescott who has developed an incredible drug: it activates uncontrolled, virulent fear in humans. Everyone wants this drug, including a foreign drug cartel which is determined to capture Prescott. Fear is the most primitive of human emotions. All people feel the same sensations when they experience fear, but whereas normal people may find the sensation unpleasant, adrenaline junkies (like the kind of guys who have what it takes to become a member of Delta Force) find the sensation quite pleasurable. But this drug changes all that and can turn the most hardened trained operative into a whining, terrified puppy.
Cavanaugh immediately gets a weird vibe off Prescott, and unfortunately, his instincts are right. Prescott has his own agenda, one that could get Cavanaugh and his entire team killed. When Prescott shows his true colors, Cavanaugh finds himself injured, on the run and quickly running out of options. He reluctantly calls on his wife, Jamie, for help (he's always tried to keep her out of his dangerous line of work) and soon the two are on Prescott's trail, while trying to stay alive themselves.
Nobody does the thriller quite like David Morrell. Morrell skillfully creates vivid, complex characters, and keeps the action coming, non-stop. The tradecraft featured in the book is fascinating: escape and evade techniques, car chases and how to control people and situations are all covered. But a trained operative doesn't even need sophisticated weaponry; in the right hands, common household objects can either save your life or become a lethal weapon. Morrell's hands-on research style really comes through in the stark realism of the action scenes. Cavanaugh's wife, Jamie, who does not have the training her husband does, is especially well-written: she's tough and funny, and adaptable. Fear is a universal emotion, and the scenes where Cavanaugh has to overcome his own fear are absolutely gripping. Morrell keeps the plot twists coming until the very last, addictive chapter.
--Claire E. White
The Protector is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the June-July, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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