If you like suspense novels filled with explosions, kidnappings, international espionage, chase scenes through crowded markets, murders, shootings, nuclear devices set to go off, bombings, and other forms of general mayhem with a strong theme of romance, then Ronie Kendig’s Dead Reckoning is waiting for you. In fact, I suspect all 12 of Kendig’s novels are waiting for you.
I’m still trying to catch my breath after reading Dead Reckoning.
Shiloh Blake is a graduate student in underwater archaeology at the University of California-San Diego. She’s with a team not far off the coast from Mumbai, India, investigating an underwater site that may be a lost city. Just as she finds an odd cylinder, there’s shooting above on the surface. All of her colleagues have been shot; only one survives – Khalid Khan, a Pakistani national who’s more than a little in love with Shiloh.
Neither Shiloh nor Khaled know why their team was attacked. The Indian Coast Guard responds to the distress call, and on the boat is an American, Reece Jaxon, whom, we eventually learn, is a CIA operative in India. (For the record, only Shiloh Blake and Reece Jaxon have Hollywood-style names; the other characters’ names are more prosaic.)
Khaled survives his surgery, but men claiming to be local police come looking for Shiloh. She escapes and eventually connects to Reece again. He’s been assigned to guard her, although she doesn’t know that and he doesn’t tell. What they do know is that someone is desperate to get hold of Shiloh, both for what she knows and what she has. She’s essentially chased all over Mumbai and survives several murder attempts, including a bombing at a train station. What’s at stake is a plan by a terrorist group to turn the Mideast upside down.
And, not unexpectedly, Reece and Shiloh fall in love with each other, although it appears to be more like a love-hate-and-possibly-betrayal kind of relationship. Both of them turn out to have CIA baggage, Reece’s being a failed operation where an operative died and Shiloh’s being her father, who’s also a CIA operative (and the man who trained Reece).
If this sounds confusing, I’ll take the blame (or credit). The story doesn’t have to be read that closely to follow it and understand what’s happening. And while many of the events and plot developments may seem improbable, Kendi’s writing is such that you can suspend belief and get wrapped up in the story.
This is faith-based fiction (Reece Jaxon is a Christian believer) and while there are scenes of some passion, they don’t stray to the explicit.
Well-written, fast-paced and action-packed, Dead Reckoning may be exactly the kind of book to read by the pool this summer. As long as you don’t mind all the bodies left on the ground.
Photograph: "Taj Mahal Palace Hotel" by Joe Ravi. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. The hotel plays a role in the book, and yes, it was the site of the 2008 terrorist attacks.