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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review: The Candidate by Daniel Pembrey

The Candidate  
Luxembourg Thriller  
Daniel Pembrey
Nick Thorneycroft is a British headhunter working in Luxembourg recruiting a Russian his company really wants. The candidate is highly sought after, so he has to act quickly.

We meet Nick as he wakes up with a splitting headache and strange panties on the floor. His memory's a blank. When the landlord asks about his medication, indicating his neck, a red mark--where a drug-patch had been--dumbfounds Nick. The landlord had seen the woman he was with, but only her backside. Foreign, he says. Nick asks if she might be Russian. Yes.

But he cannot be sure it's the same woman. Worse, he finds himself falling for this woman, who may have drugged him for reasons unknown. Worse still, Claire, his old girlfriend shows up at an inopportune time. That's when Russian thugs kidnap him, pound him to a pulp until he tells what he knows about why his company wants to hire the Russian beauty.

This is a powerful spy-thriller, marred only by its last page. While it touches on what may be a good resolution, it feels rushed. It doesn't resonate, either, with what this means for the protagonist. Initially, I wasn't clear on the outcome, but given the time of year, it could only mean one thing. If you agree with Raymond Chandler that a novel should be good, even if the last page were torn out, you should enjoy this one.

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