Monday, September 9, 2019

The Gryphon Heist by James R Hannibal

Book description:

Talia Inger is a rookie CIA case officer assigned not to the Moscow desk as she had hoped but to the forgotten backwaters of Eastern Europe--a department only known as "Other." When she is tasked with helping a young, charming Moldovan executive secure his designs for a revolutionary defense technology, she figures she'll be back in DC within a few days. But that's before she knows where the designs are stored--and who's after them. 

With her shady civilian partner, Adam Tyler, Talia takes a deep dive into a world where criminal minds and unlikely strategies compete for access to the Gryphon, a high-altitude data vault that hovers in the mesosphere. But is Tyler actually helping her? Or is he using her for his own dark purposes?

My review:

 This is one of the books of 2019 that I have been most looking forward to. Unfortunately, it arrived in the middle of my move, so I wasn't able to read it as quickly as I wanted.

 The Gryphon Heist is Hannibal's first foray into Christian fiction. He has written three adult novels for the general market that are squeaky clean, curse-free, and awesome reads. He has also written a few books for kids. 

 To be honest, the beginning of the book didn't grab me as fast as I expected. It isn't boring, it is just slow-paced, but it didn't take me long after that to be pulled into it.

 I'll break down what I liked:

The plot:

  I like reading spy stuff in addition to suspense and mystery, and this involves a couple of CIA agents, and a former CIA agent. The plot itself was so intricate and full of twists and surprises, that I was even more impressed with the author after I finished the book.

 Slight spoiler: I assumed that the CIA were trying to stop a heist. I wasn't 100% correct on that. Hannibal spun such a masterful story that I didn't know who was the good and bad guys, and just when I thought I knew what was going on, the story had another twist. I was totally shocked at the one way the story went towards the end, and wondered more than ever who was good and who was bad.

 The tech part, which was a big part, was interesting and the author did a great job of describing that stuff in terms easy to understand.

The characters:

  I like interesting characters in a book, and characters can make or break a story. This one had a lot of great and likable ones, and some very unpredictable ones.

 My favorite would be Eddie, or Red Leader as he wanted to be called. The geek CIA agent in control of the gadgets and tech stuff, he came off somewhat goofy...or geeky, but totally likable. 

  Adam Tyler would be next. Former bad guy, or still current bad guy? I went back and forth the whole book trying to decide, and the author seemed to intentionally keep the reader guessing on that.

 Talia was the newbie CIA agent running an operation against her will with Adam Tyler, and facing some great challenges. I would have preferred a main male character, but can see how one would not have worked for this story for a few reasons. She came off very likable, especially by the end.

 The criminals recruited for the operation were colorful and a wide variety of personalities and talents. The interactions between them and the rest of the characters was entertaining, and at times downright hilarious. I found myself liking Finn the best, mostly due to his theatrics and daredevil actions.

The suspense:

  Thought slow in building, the book was very suspenseful. The further I got in it, the harder the book was to put down.

 The message:

  Forgiveness was the main Christian theme of the book. Talia carried a huge load of unforgiveness, and had to come face to face with that reality.

 There was also an interesting discussion on the greater good which got me to thinking.

   All in all, this is an awesome debut into Christian fiction. It has been a while since I read a book that kept me guessing so much. I definitely recommend it, and his books he wrote for the general market.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

About the author:

James R. Hannibal is no stranger to secrets and adventure. A former stealth pilot from Houston, Texas, he has been shot at, locked up with surface-to-air missiles, and chased down a winding German road by an armed terrorist. He is a two-time Silver Falchion Award winner for his Section 13 mysteries for kids and a Thriller Award nominee for his Nick Baron covert ops series for adults. James is a rare multi-sense synesthete, meaning all of his senses intersect. He sees and feels sounds and smells and hears flashes of light. If he tells you the chocolate cake you offered smells blue and sticky, take it as a compliment.

The Gryphon Heist is available from Revell, part of the Baker Publishing Group.

Thanks to Revell for the review copy.