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Friday, August 24, 2012

The 13th Target by Mark De Castrique

The 13th Target by Mark De Castrique
Publisher: The Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: Full Length (250 pgs)
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Snapdragon

When his wife dies of ovarian cancer, Russell Mullins quits the Secret Service to repurpose his life. He joins a Washington D.C. private protection company and is assigned to guard Paul Luguire, a Federal Reserve executive and its chief liaison with the U.S. Treasury.

Mullins and Luguire form a strong friendship. So when a police detective calls in the middle of the night with word of Luguire's suicide, Mullins doesn't buy it. His doubts are reinforced by Amanda Church, a former Secret Service colleague now in the Federal Reserve's cyber-security unit. She uncovered a suspicious financial transaction initiated by Luguire only days before his death. He authorized unrequested funds to be transferred from the Federal Reserve to a regional bank.Even stranger, after Luguire's suicide, Amanda finds the transaction has been erased from Federal Reserve records. The regional bank now shows the money wired from an offshore account in the name of Russell Mullins. Someone is setting Rusty up. And when the bank president is murdered, Mullins rockets to the top of the suspect list. As a tenacious reporter develops leads, Mullins follows a conspiratorial trail of killing and kidnapping that leads from a shadowy mastermind to the possible destruction of America's financial system.In an age of Wall Street meltdowns and downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, the secretive Federal Reserve has a pivotal role. Twelve targets are known. The clock is ticking. What, or who, is the thirteenth?

The 13th Target is a suspenseful and dark political thriller. Rusty Mullins is–or was–much more than a bodyguard, so when the guy he’s protecting ends up dead, he can’t leave it alone. It migh be a suicide, but he sure doesn’t want to believe it. And pretty quickly, he becomes even more motivated to figure out what happened, as he himself becomes a suspect. He’s as tough as nails, though, as well as smart and has friends in places to help. Intrigue blends with possible conspiracy here, in what quickly seems to be a government cover-up. We grasp that there is more than one ‘target’, yet the aim of the conspiracy seems illusive.

Money makes this plot go around: and not just wealth but economics, the Feds, the internal operation of government departments and government controls.

Mullins is a great main character; flawed, but admirable. His friends are as distinctive, valuable to the storyline yet not slaves to it: they have their own lives, and so are completely believable as well.

This is as far from a light-hearted mystery as one can get: although there is a case to solve, it is more of a noir thriller. The overall complexity slows what would otherwise be a fast read, because it is truly engaging.

Volatile moments almost leap from the pages – truly giving many meanings to the word “thriller.”

Straightforward writing style keeps this from becoming a terribly complex puzzle; I do think it will be most enjoyed by fans of the genre.

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