Whenever I settle down to read a Jeff Abbott thriller featuring ex-CIA agent Sam Capra, I prepare by fastening my seat belt and readying myself for an extremely fast-paced and exhilarating experience. I'm pleased to report that INSIDE MAN does not disappoint in that area. However, either due to Abbott's maturation as a thriller writer or Sam’s growing complexity as a character, I found INSIDE MAN to be the most layered and personal of any installment in the series.
Sam works for an organization that plays under the radar of the U.S. and international governments known as the Round Table. They seek to do good around the world via the support of a wealthy few who remain anonymous.Sam works in the guise of a bar owner and often bounces among various bars located around the U.S. At his bar in Miami known as Stormy's, he maintains a close relationship with all the regulars and has made the establishment a welcome bastion of serenity for those who choose to come and spend a few hours there.
"[E]ither due to Abbott's maturation as a thriller writer or Sam’s growing complexity as a character, I found INSIDE MAN to be the most layered and personal of any installment in the series. "
During one day at Stormy's, a close friend of Sam's named Steve Robles pays him a visit. In addition to wanting to catch up with him, Steve brings an offer of employment. He works in private security and has an assignment that could use an inside man, which equates to someone entering a dangerous situation in an undercover capacity to gather information.
The same day that Steve visits Sam, he is killed by two thugs --- an apparent assassination. Sam witnesses the crime and chases the two murderers down, killing one and putting the other in a coma. He then pursues the mystery woman named Cori --- short for Cordelia --- to whom Steve had introduced him. The assignment they spoke about involved Cori's wealthy family, the Varelas, who are based in San Juan.
Sam reaches out to an old government friend and cashes in a favor. He has his identity temporarily changed to “Sam Chevalier” and travels to San Juan under that guise. Despite Cori's warnings, he inserts himself firmly into the situation with her family. Cori passes Sam off as her boyfriend, but her wealthy family is involved in some nefarious international business dealings and not likely to trust anyone. It’s not long before Sam places himself too deeply inside the Varela clan to be able to escape without harm.
INSIDE MAN is broken up neatly into three sections: 1) Sam dealing with the conflict created by Steve’s murder; 2) Sam’s role as inside man within the dangerous Varela family; and 3) the capture and incarceration that will push Sam beyond the limit of his skills and endurance. This is not a book to be taken lightly and clearly sets up the next thrilling chapter in Jeff Abbott’s winning series.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 25, 2014