Narrator: Mark Hosack
Series: The Bullseye Series #1
on 19 January 2017
Length: 10 hrs and 20 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Buy from Audible Buy from Amazon.comAdd to Goodreads
Jake Boxer, investigative journalist and host of the conspiratorial news show Bullseye, is in serious trouble. Not only is his soundman murdered by Russian intelligence agents while reporting on a secretive New World Order, but his network cancels his show, leaving Jake humiliated and spiraling into a deep dark depression.
Years later, a condemned murderer, who claims he was abandoned by the CIA, and who starred in an early episode of Bullseye, is finally executed for killing two supposed Soviet spies back in the 1970s. Jake Boxer, still trying to piece his life back together, is on his honeymoon in a posh ski resort in the Alaskan mountains when he gets word of the inmate's execution...and the old killer's final words: "The good spy dies twice".
Those five words, seemingly meant for Jake, draw the ex-reporter out of his forced retirement and into a complex and deadly global conspiracy involving his newlywed wife, the secretive New World Order, and the hotel's 100 or so guests.
Everyone is a suspect.
Jake Boxer was a brilliant newscaster, shining a light on the world’s wrongs. However, in Russia with the death of Brody (the soundman), things spiral out of control for Jake. He gets sucked into his own paranoid conspiracy theories and his show is canceled. It takes years, but with the help of Claire (now his wife), a good therapist, and some regulated meds, he is a stable and caring person. Claire and Jake are on their honeymoon at a ski resort in Blind Creek, Alaska. The future is looking up for Jake… at least until an old source dies and his Claire starts acting a bit erratic. A murder and severe back injury may just be the thing to unhinge him as he gets caught up in yet another conspiracy.
I don’t always care for espionage novels because I find them a bit formulaic and therefore, predictable. This book was not that way and I quite enjoyed it. Jake is an interesting character. When we first meet him, he has confidence, charisma, and a drive to hunt down the truth. Circumstances in Russia break him and the story jumps forward several years. Jake is a changed man and he continues to change through this tale.
There’s skiing (which always makes me think of James Bond flicks), a valuable piece of art, the missing artist (did she defect or is she dead?), the mysterious accident that left Jake injured and two dead, and a colorful cast of characters. Jake has a lot on his plate to deal with: severe crippling pain, guilt over the newly dead, unraveling the mystery behind the art and artist, and just plain staying alive!
One of the most interesting aspects to this story was the Dagestan Hum. I labeled this as a red herring initially. We have the Taos Hum here in New Mexico and there isn’t anything particularly nefarious about it. At any rate, the Dagestan Hum is a jumping off point for this tale with Jake running a bit wild with his theories as to what causes that Hum and why Brody was killed for recording it.
As the story unfolds, there are conversations that only Jake is privy to. For a while, I wondered whether or not Jake was an unreliable narrator, having become addled after his latest accident. I loved that I was unsure right up to the last hour or so of the book. Of course this coincided with the big reveal of who was responsible for what. Some I had guessed but not the whole of it and I quite enjoyed being wrong on a few of my guesses.
Let’s talk about those wolves! That was a small but significant creepy bit tossed in by the author. The local wolf pack has been heavily hunted and their heads and bodies have been mounted in the not-yet-opened wing of the ski resort. Now who wants to sit around in a room full of stuffed wolves on a dark and cold night? Definitely a bit creepy and it allowed me to hate on the bad guys just a bit more.
This mystery closes by opening Jake’s eyes to the fact of a larger conspiracy. The loose ends for these immediate events were nicely tied up and the author did a good job of opening the door for more books in the series. It was good to see Jake regain some of his confidence.
I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobookworm.
The Narration: Mark H. Hosack narrated his own book and as always when an author narrates their own work, I get a bit concerned. In this case, there is no need to be. This is a quality performance and a quality production. He goes out of his way to add little bits of music and sound effects here and there but not often enough to call this an audio drama. His female voices are believable and he does accents as well.
This review first appeared on Dab of Darkness.