Eastern Shadows: all-action opening episode

 

EasternShadowsAlexandria Thorne is a disgraced special agent who’s given one last chance to get back on the right side of the unreliable men from the ministry. An arms dealer has been kidnapped in Belarus and Alex can rehabilitate herself by leading the rescue effort. More importantly, there’s a shadowy Russian figure from her family’s past who seems to be involved somehow – and he’s the last man who saw her parents alive. She can’t turn down the chance to find out what really happened…

Alex is written as a kick-ass female protagonist, reminiscent in many ways of Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft. Alex is an expert in hand-to-hand combat and with all kinds of weaponry, and author CJ Somersby wastes no time whatsoever cutting to the chase. Once the scenario and characters are established, this short adventure romps along at a rapid pace, unhampered by unwarranted exposition or meandering moral debate. The writing style is clear-cut and accessible.

To further spice things up, Alex is saddled with an unwanted team of unreliable mercenaries none of whom understands how to obey a commanding officer’s order. Dropped in Eastern Europe by Blackhawk, they’re soon deep in unfriendly territory, massively out-numbered, with stealth and surprise as their only assets. They locate their target, but the rescue mission inevitably turns FUBAR in a tangle of ambush and betrayal.

The fight sequences are delivered with considerable punch – violence is merrily meted out by fist and firearm on almost every page. None of it is described in graphic detail, so sensitive stomachs are safe. I struggled somewhat with the scenes where Alex is continually barracked by chauvinist soldiers, which felt kinda clichéd. The military men of my acquaintance have been nothing but respectful of competent humans, regardless of gender. (Didn’t we get past this with Vasquez in Alien?) Hopefully the author doesn’t spend too much time in the next book with the smirking boneheads.

Eastern Shadows is an entertaining opening chapter into a greater conspiracy which threatens global security – and it appears that Alex has some significant skeletons rattling around in her family cupboard, too. Plenty of threads to pick up in the next Alex Thorne adventure, Patriot Traitors.

7/10

Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason

Eastern Shadows is available as an ebook on Amazon – often discounted

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