Title: Citizen Kill by Stephen Clark
Genre: Currently #4852 in Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Spies & Politics, Political
Publisher: WiDo Publishing
Publication Date: May 2017
Source: Submitted by author for review
Title and Cover: Eye-catching cover, but the title needs work
The debut novel by Stephen Clark, “Citizen Kill” is a start, though I’m still working through some disbelief–but okay–it’s fiction–a suspenseful political thriller and we don’t have to do any fact-checking here.
The premise starts out pretty strong and does pique interest. Billed as a political thriller along with mystery and suspense, it builds suspense by weighing heavily on the recent political climate to make a statement. For me, the statement seems to vacillate between sides, giving us enough information from both sides to gain some insight for either.
The protagonist, Justin Raines, is a mess of a bad-ass CIA black-ops agent–unfortunately in trouble with his own people. He is anxious to get off suspension and back on the job and takes on a role in a new program targeting US citizens with the promise they’ll make the suspension go away. Regardless how he feels about the operation, he is sincerely tired of his current funk and jumps at the opportunity.
From the female president freshly on the receiving end of a terrorist attack comes the authorization to take out people on a list of those (suspected, mine you) of pushing the radicalization of Muslims–hopefully to curb terrorism where it begins. He seems to have no problem taking out several male targets, but has a sudden radical lobotomy when it comes to the next target, an attractive, intelligent female educator and “saves” her rather than taking the perfect seamless opportunity to cross another name off the list. Here are two people that couldn’t have less in common, much less diverging political sensibilities. Zahra al Sharif seems a bit needy in the romance department, which is sadly lacking at the school she has founded, and jumps at her newly found White Knight.
Of course, Justin recently lost his main squeeze in the last op that also cost him and his team their right to pick up the next assignment. He still has members of his team with whom he can communicate and count on for support, which is good after he decides to go rogue (again) to prove her innocence. While the team members were not invited to the same operation, they seem willing to provide a safety net for Justin.
We get Justin fully fleshed, whether he lacks empathy or not, and I never could get Zahra, though I liked the character of her mother. I was not wholly thrilled with the character of the president either, though perhaps one could understand why she might take a no-spare policy after losing her son. Justin and Zahra manage to elude the clutches of the CIA, FBI, and any other local badge trying to get the collar and the climax neatly wraps it all up. But Justin and Zahra a thing? I can’t buy that one.
Plus for the book cover, minus for the title. Yes, there are some twists, which certainly fill a few holes. I received this ebook in exchange for a review. Promising author and perhaps the next book will give us a more complete picture of his team members.
Rosepoint Publishing: Three and one-half of Five Stars
The Author: Stephen Clark is no stranger to Washington, D.C. politics. He served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com. Married with one son, he currently lives in North Jersey, PA. ©2017 Virginia Williams – Image Attribution: 123rf.com