If the action sequence that kicks off THE DARKEST OF GAMES is any indication, then raining havoc down upon an enemy missile research center is just another day at the office for ISO/CIA agent Alec Cooper. But when he learns that a number of his fellow operatives have been killed and kidnapped he realizes that he is about to face a challenge like he’s never seen before.
When the International Special Ops Unit crimefighting organization is rocked by the murders of three of its agents and the brutal kidnapping of another an emergency meeting of the organization leaders is called at its European headquarters. At this meeting it is revealed that intel indicates there is great reason to believe that the information that led to the attacks on the agents came from inside the organization. For this reason, and to maintain the safety and security of all involved, the leadership of the ISO temporarily disbands the organization.
This doesn’t sit well with Agent Cooper. Not only does it go against his ethos of never letting wrongdoing go unaccounted for but, maybe even more so, because the agent still being held in captivity is his longtime partner Brian Pittman. Cooper decides to go rogue and assembles his own task force to root out the source of the ill-gotten intel and the ultimate endgame of those responsible. This team of his includes Millie Waterford, a British agent who, in one of the many of the classic noir tropes infused into the narrative, also happens to be Alec’s love interest. Other member include old-school agent and Millie’s relative Uncle Jamie, his associate Paul Goldman, and American agent Tom Corbet whose daughter Allison gets drafted into service via her years in the telecom industry. After successfully being rescued Pittman also joins the team and immediately thereafter they set out to uncover what they will rapidly see is a worldwide web of collusion and crime.
The fast-paced tempo of the action is conveyed here in author Lawrence Ricketts’ use of dense, terse chapters which move the reader along the narrative and create a sense of urgency congruent to the narrative’s action itself. Pauses in the action serve as momentary oases for exposition, more of the booze and broad humor noir enhancements, and even some light romantic interludes to keep the characters humanized, while structural bullet points throughout keep the reader balanced on the same precarious knife-edge that the characters themselves are trying to survive. The results of this craftsmanship combined with the thoroughly engaging storyline create an engaging thriller that is certain to satisfy both long-time fans of the genre and those new to the traditional action espionage saga.
With engaging characters, a complex yet competent storyline and a writing style which captures the urgency of the narrative, Lawrence Ricketts has created nothing short of a top-notch thriller in THE DARKEST OF GAMES.
~Johnny Masiulewicz for IndieReader