If there was ever an entity that deserved an award for truth-in-packaging, it would be Jeff Abbott’s new novel. “Adrenaline” is defined as a hormone produced in high-stress situations; in this fabulous new thriller, both protagonist and reader, over the course of 400 or so pages, will manufacture buckets of it and burn it all off to boot.
"This may well be his best work to date, combining a strong and sympathetic lead character with a plot characterized by that loudest ticking clock..."
Sam Capra has everything he wants in life --- Linda, his smart, beautiful and loving wife; a baby on the way; and a job he loves. Capra is a CIA operative attached to the London office, where his wife, who is on maternity leave, is also employed. He lives in a city that is particularly amenable in architecture, if not in attitude, to parkour running; if you don’t know what that is, it’s not something you want to take up unless you are no older than your mid-20s. In the space of a few seconds, however, Capra loses his job, baby and wife.
Capra is in the process of giving a briefing one fine morning when he receives a call from Linda telling him to leave the building. He does so, thinking something is wrong with the baby. A few seconds later, the building he had just exited explodes. He witnesses Linda inexplicably speeding away from the scene in a car with a man he has never seen. He is immediately arrested and, along with Linda, branded a traitor. When, several months later, Capra is released from a hellish incarceration, he is stripped of his duties and given a cover identity and job, even as his erstwhile CIA employers continue to observe him. He knows that he is being used as bait, even as he plots to find his wife and the baby he has never seen.
When the opportunity comes to slip the net, Capra begins a daring and dangerous journey that will take him to Amsterdam, Paris, and back to the United States, chasing the shadowy organization that framed him, even as he is pursued every step of the way by a deadly CIA team. Along the way, he’s joined by an unexpected and mysterious ally who may or may not be totally on his side. And by the end of his journey, Capra will encounter surprising and heartbreaking revelations, some of which will raise more questions than they will answer.
ADRENALINE marks Jeff Abbott’s return to series fiction after publishing four stand-alone works. This book is somewhat different from his acclaimed Whit Mosley series, but fans of serious thriller fiction will happily snatch it up and devour it from cover to cover without stopping. This may well be his best work to date, combining a strong and sympathetic lead character with a plot characterized by that loudest ticking clock --- a husband seeking a lost wife and child --- and a puzzling and perplexing mystery.
Throw in enough action, explosions and martial arts for three books and a weapon that is the stuff of science fiction (but that’s in the real-world development stage even as I type), and end it all with enough unanswered questions to keep readers coming back for more, and you have one of the top thrillers of the year.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 4, 2011