Verdict: A quick and thoughtful thriller that takes Officer Cody Byrne around the globe in a series of murderous twists that include shocking personal discovery, Shakespearean drama and royal connections that she never could have seen coming.
PLAN X starts with Bozeman Police Officer Cody Byrne speeding away from PTSD and her own insomnia toward the scene of a deadly explosion on the campus of Montana State University.
As a second blast rocks the first responders, Byrne has to fight back a panic attack as she flashed back to her tour of duty as a bomb scene investigator in Iraq. Based on her Army experience, she is brought in on the case.
Assigned to the seemingly uncomplicated identification of the surviving victim, Byrne ends up in the kind of tumultuous mystery that affects every part of her own life and uncovers centuries old pages spread around the campus, her family and the globe that could potentially be part of Shakespeare’s final and unpublished drama.
While in pursuit of the truth, on the job and off, Cody finds answers she was not seeking about the father she had never before met and some long awaited discovery about the real life and recent death of her beloved brother. She gains rare and raw insight into the person behind the façade of her previously alienated and intimidating mother, launching a more honest and mutual relationship between them.
From her attempts to uncover the real identity of the burn victim in Montana, Officer Byrne unwittingly encounters conflicting experts and international espionage. Everyone she meets seems to share the common goal of stopping her from learning the truth about the potentially history altering pages and their global implications in multiple covert operations and the British royal family.
The mystery and intrigue are engaging, the changing landscapes are described subtly but artfully. By the conclusion, everything else seems almost a backdrop for McClendon’s tale of her protagonist’s own self-discovery. Cody Byrne’s struggle with vulnerability and emotional paralysis results from real and relatable personal tragedy. Her growth and personal progress end up being the ultimate victory, as the villain’s own ending goes almost unnoticed.
Reviewed by Kat Toland for IndieReader