A young woman named Diana Keene is chased into a San Francisco bar. Her pursuers are well-dressed and serious with an obvious intent to harm. Diana appeals to the bartender with the simple plea of “help me.”
However, Diana is not just any young woman, and the bartender is not your typical mixologist. Sam Capra owns the bar and is a sometimes-drink pourer. He also owns a particular skill set that has made him the most notorious bar owner in the world. Diana is actually seeking the aid of another employee of the bar, Felix. It seems that Felix knows Diana’s mother, Janice --- and Janice is in big trouble.
This all starts the whirlwind ride that is Jeff Abbott’s latest thriller. The third in his ever-suspenseful Sam Capra series, DOWNFALL moves like a juggernaut out of control and is impossible to put down. Sam is a former CIA man who did not part on good terms with that agency. He has since been taken under the wing of a mysterious and powerful organization known simply as The Round Table.
"The third in [Jeff Abbott's] ever-suspenseful Sam Capra series, DOWNFALL moves like a juggernaut out of control and is impossible to put down."
The Round Table is a network of powerful individuals and resources who are seeking to do good in the world. Sam’s direct link to this group is through a woman named Mila, about whom he has mixed feelings. He has been given dozens of bars around the world to operate; these establishments also double as information centers for The Round Table and their allies.
Diana Keene is another story entirely. When Sam is forced to kill one of the men who pursued her into his bar, he is immediately thrust into the middle of her troubles. He had never killed in public like that before, and this act has placed him in the spotlight and directly in the crosshairs of some dangerous people. Specifically, a man named Belias comes forward as the person who employs Janice in an organization that rivals The Round Table in complexity. However, their intent is far different.
Belias is a world-class computer hacker who possesses the ability to change anyone’s life --- for better or for worse --- with a few simple keystrokes. This act is labeled as creating a “downfall.” He and his group have their own deadly agenda, and Janice is a critical part of that. Now that Sam is out in the open, Belias is more than motivated to have him join his little team and will stop at nothing to destroy any person or organization that stands in the way of his acquiring Sam’s services.
DOWNFALL is the literary equivalent of watching an episode of the terrific spy series “Burn Notice.” A scorecard will be required for readers to figure out who is on which side, but it is so much fun to try and follow. Like “Burn Notice,” DOWNFALL goes out of its way to describe all the skills and resources necessary to defuse or escape from any situation. Sam Capra is an expert at this, but this time, there may be too much working against him to come out unscathed. This is a torrid read that grabs the reader by the throat and never lets up.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 19, 2013