Monday, September 7, 2020

Review: Black Flag by David Ricciardi

by David Ricciardi
Release Date: May 19th 2020
2020 Berkley
Hardcover Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-1984804662
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

After years of relative calm, piracy has returned to the high sea.

But the days of AK-47s and outboard engines are over. The new pirates hit like a SEAL team. Highly trained, and using cutting edge technology, they make sure their victims are never heard from again.

Ships and crews are vanishing at a staggering rate.

As the threat to international shipping grows, U.S. authorities become determined to find the source of this new danger.

Jake Keller has a plan—to lure the pirate mastermind out of hiding by infiltrating his organization—but it’s a dangerous gambit, made more so by Jake's personal involvement with the beautiful heiress to a Greek shipping fortune and an ulterior agenda coming out of CIA headquarters.

As the threats close in from all sides, Jake finds himself faced with a familiar choice: back off, or go on the offensive.
My Thoughts
Black Flag is the third book in the Jake Keller series, and I really enjoy this series as the author puts quite a bit of emphasis on current technology and how it impacts the work CIA analysts and field investigators are doing.  And as I've always enjoyed the personal elements in these novels and the psychological effects being out in the field has on agents, and this author definitely deals with that in his novels, I am able to empathize with the main character, even the so-called 'bad guys'. Jake Keller has grown into one of my favourite characters over these books, and would put him up there with Jason Bourne and Gabriel Allon.

I really enjoy Jake Keller as a main character.  Jake is more of an analyst with years of experience in the military, but tends to rely more on technology.  He is paired with Pickens, who has been in Somalia for years and tends to fit the mould of the old-school type of agent who relies on his connections as well as his personal sources for information.  It was quite interesting to see the dichotomy of the two ways of using information for a common goal, with the understanding that both ways of doing things are still relevant in today's world.  They both have to deal with CIA boss Graves who has his own agenda to push, usually contrary to what is best for those out in the field and Jake often has to make decisions that would get him in a lot of trouble with Ted Graves.  It is not hard to see where these books are heading when it comes to that relationship, and the warnings about how Ted deals with agents who don't listen to orders was pretty loud and clear in this book.  

Most of the action took place in Somalia, and although I know a little bit about the political situation in that part of the world, there is a lot that I didn't know so I appreciated the information the author shared.  It is obvious he spent a lot of time researching the area, the government, and the political events happening there.  He also spent a lot of time setting up the backstory, making sure the reader understood the political situation as well as the political implications of Jake's interference without making it mundane or boring.  

The plot moves rather quickly, and the author is adept at weaving a quick story with good explanations so the reader understand the political situation and the characters.  And there was a lot going on, from piracy to warlords to arms dealers to betrayal and the usual political intrigue in the CIA.  

Black Flag was a complex and fast-paced story that I enjoyed very much.  The plot moved rather quickly and there were plenty of twists and turns that made it interesting.  I really liked the personal element though, as I like to feel empathy for characters that I read about and like to see some character development.  This one was much more plot-driven than character driven so I am hoping to see a bit more character development in future books.  All in all, a fun, suspenseful read, and I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series. 


Post a Comment