I’m a longtime fan of novels that mix political intrigue, thriller and suspense. My challenge when reading many of these is finding stories that have action and and are believable but aren’t cookie-cutter versions of the author’s previous novels and don’t have loads of language or behind-closed-doors content that I’m fine avoiding.
Enter James R. Hannibal — an author I’m so glad to find. Here’s my review of his latest suspense novel, The Paris Betrayal.
Back cover copy: After a rough mission in Rome involving the discovery of a devastating bioweapon, Company spy Ben Calix returns to Paris to find his perfectly ordered world has collapsed. A sniper attack. An ambush. A call for help that brings French SWAT forces down on his head. Ben is out. This is a severance — reserved for incompetents and traitors.
Searching for answers and anticipating a coming attack, Ben and a woman swept up in his misfortunes must travel across Europe to find the sniper who tried to kill him, the medic who saved his life, the schoolmaster who trained him, and an upstart hacker from his former team. More than that, Ben must come to grips with his own insignificance as the Company’s plan to stop Leviathan from unleashing the bioweapon at any cost moves forward without him — and he struggles against the infection that is swiftly claiming territory within his own body.
My review: Wow, what a ride! The Paris Betrayal had multiple story lines that intersected and kept me guessing until the very end. That’s important for me as a reader — I don’t like to figure things out too easily, especially in this genre. I did suspect something that we learn about a character toward the end, but that didn’t ruin anything for me. The writing is strong and fast-paced, the characters are complex and realistic. Hannibal’s experience in the military and other areas really shines in the level of detail he includes, yet he knows how to incorporate it without being too technical or overbearing to understand. For me, the entire book was a page-turning adventure.
The story doesn’t have a specific Christian slant, but readers who are familiar with the story of Job in the Bible will see how much Ben’s story parallels his. Several characters mention faith, but they’re loose references meant to encourage Ben rather than anything with a spiritual tie-in. They do make Ben think about things, and he needs all the encouragement he can get as the story progresses. Like Job, Ben suffers multiple unexplained losses and has to decide who and what he’ll remain faithful to under the most difficult circumstances — all while being told repeatedly how crazy he is for his beliefs. I think it’s especially cool that Hannibal is publishing a comparative Bible study on Job; his website says it hopefully will be out by the end of June. What a fantastic way to connect the Bible and lessons on faithfulness and God’s sovereignty with readers.
Who should read it: Teens or adults who like spy stories and international intrigue but don’t want the graphic language and scenes that can be so common with thrillers should enjoy The Paris Betrayal. That’s not to say not having those elements means it isn’t on par with other books in the genre, because it definitely is – you’ll find plenty of action and some edge-of-your-seat moments to keep you turning pages. I have no doubt I’ll be reading more from James R. Hannibal.
Have you read any of Hannibal’s books? He writes mystery, suspense, fantasy and thrillers – you’ll see plenty of interesting options when you visit his website.
Book Details: The Paris Betrayal
Author: James R. Hannibal
Genre: Suspense / Thriller
Publish date: 2021