What a thrill!

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I’ll be the first person to admit that political thrillers are far from my genre of choice – typically I stick more towards the fantasy and sci-fi end of the fiction spectrum. But I’ll also be the first to tell you that Eric Van Lustbader’s latest book was pleasantly surprising in the way it kept me involved to the point where I was on the edge of my metaphoric seat the whole time.

The Nemesis Manifesto features a whole cast of wonderfully written and engaging characters but focuses its efforts on the enigmatic Evan Ryder, a slightly jaded and incredibly intelligent operative for an unnamed arm of the DOD. When we first meet Evan, she has been called in by her boss for a special assignment that has led more than one fine agent to their death. Now, with the pressure mounting and the stakes higher than ever, Evan must discover who the nefarious and deadly Nemesis is before its kill list can be completed. It’s a race against time as Evan fights not only unseen forces but also her own fractured memories, which tell her there might be more to this Nemesis than she – or anyone else – anticipated.

Although the prologue started off a little slow to me and was subsequently hard for me to get into, the rest of the book overall was a fantastic thrill ride packed full of adventure and intrigue. In every chapter lies a new mystery, an exciting twist, or a heart-pounding action sequence. There are well over a handful of key players in the book, all of which have separate but interconnecting plotlines – and their own agendas. I think under ordinary circumstances, this would be quite confusing to read, but somehow Van Lustbader succeeds in making all of these individual and intricate characters and their plotlines surprisingly clear and easy to follow. Van Lustbader is equally successful in his ability to make long conversations about politics and government engaging rather than droll. Add this to the fact that Evan, the very definition of calm, cool, and collected – not to mention effective – is a female operative (even Van Lustbader throws in a time or two that female operatives have been sorely underused) who always seems to be ten steps ahead of the opposition is the star character and you have a winner on your hands for sure. I can’t say that I enjoyed all the female operatives. I found Brenda rather exasperating both for her inability to see the bigger picture and her foolhardy decision to soldier on when that was clearly the wrong choice. But I was easily able to overlook that fact because of how interesting the other characters were.

The Nemesis Manifesto was gripping and thrilling, with unexpected elements, plot twists, relevant politics, and plenty of betrayals. Even if political thrillers aren’t normally your thing, I highly recommend giving it a fair shot – you might be surprised.