By: Jeff Abbott
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: July 2011
Reviewed By: Cory Bickel
Review Date: July 2011
Sam Capra’s life is seemingly perfect - a beautiful wife with a baby on the way, an exciting job tracking down criminals for the CIA – until it literally explodes around him one morning. A phone call from his wife, Lucy, gets him out of his London-based office building seconds before a bomb destroys it, just in time to see her driven off by a strange, scarred man. Sam and the missing Lucy are the prime suspects for the bombing and he suffers months of interrogation and torture at the hands of the CIA, refusing to confess to any involvement or even consider the idea that his wife had deceived him. He finally escapes, determined to find Lucy’s kidnappers and prove his and her innocence.
Hunted by the CIA, Sam dodges mounting obstacles on a trail across Europe in pursuit of the Novem Soles, a mysterious organization implicated in the bombing and kidnapping. In exchange for help from Mila, a beautiful and mysterious woman with powerful connections of her own, Sam takes a job to find a millionaire’s daughter whose kidnappers may also be Lucy’s. Sam infiltrates an Amsterdam criminal network to get close to the man who holds his wife and uncovers a smuggling operation for a horrifying new technology. To maintain his cover he finds himself forced to commit increasingly worse crimes, confirming his guilt and his criminal nature in the eyes of the CIA. As Sam gets closer to the millionaire’s daughter, Lucy, and their new-born baby boy, he finds that he is not the only one with dubious claims to virtue, and his quest to discover the real villains among the members of a conspiracy that spans continents becomes ever more difficult.
With a plot that’s intricate and twisted, yet never feels contrived, in Adrenaline it’s clear that Abbot is in complete control of his world. He contrasts sometimes horrific depictions of degenerate behavior with an inspiring portrayal of Sam’s steadfast faith and loyalty, guided by an unshakable moral compass that transcends the law. The characters are very real, a mix of truly likeable, intriguing, or disgusting specimens of humanity, and are worldly and devious enough to transport the reader out of the mundane to an edgy, dangerous existence. Abbot’s terse yet evocative descriptions, “Monday in London. Gray, bleak, the sky smeared with rain,” (pg. 314) never slow down the pace but bring substance and richness to the story. And Abbot’s wonderfully dry and subtle sense of humor adds to an already great novel.
Quill says: Fast-paced and solidly written, Adrenaline explores the boundaries between good and evil through a gripping and finely-crafted story.