Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Review: The Kobalt Dossier by Eric Van Lustbader

by Eric Van Lustbader
Release Date: June 1st 2021
2021 Forge Books
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250751218
Audiobook: B08H8VNH4R
Genre: Fiction / Thriller
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

After thwarting the violent, international, fascist syndicate known as Nemesis, Evan Ryder returns to Washington, D.C., to find her secret division of the DOD shut down and her deceased sister’s children missing. Now the target of a cabal of American billionaires who were among Nemesis’s supporters, Evan and her former boss, Ben Butler, must learn to work together as partners – and navigate their intricate past.

Their search will take them from Istanbul to Odessa to an ancient church deep within the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. And all along the way, an unimaginable enemy stalks in the shadows, an adversary whose secretive past will upend Evan’s entire world and everything she holds dear.
My Thoughts
The Kobalt Dossier is the second book in the Evan Ryder series, and while I enjoyed it, there was definitely much less suspense and edge-of-your-seat thrill to this instalment than in the previous one. This one focused quite a bit on Evan's family background and because of this, the thriller portion of the novel seemed to take a backseat and got lost in the background story line. This had a huge impact on the book as a whole as I felt like I was reading a book about relationships rather than a thriller novel.

Evan is one of those characters where is must be really difficult for an author to create as you want a reader to be empathetic towards them, but also make the reader realize they are cold-blooded assassins at the same time.  While the first book was able to achieve this balance, I don't think this book was able to do so as it went too far to the emotional side as Evan learned more about who were her parents and what happened to her as a child.  It's not that this information wasn't important, but it did take away from the overall impact of the novel and Evan did not seem like the same character from the first book.

Benjamin is still my favourite character and I was glad to see him out in the field in this one.  There was a bit of relationship-issue stuff I could have done away with, but for someone like him to survive in this world, he has to be a little bit bad-ass so it was nice to see that side of him.  I also like that he was not quite so trusting of the information that Evan received and questioned her sources all of the time.  Thank you Mr. Ben! You would think Evan would be more careful considering what happened in the first novel.

By the end of the book, I could see the manipulations of one of the characters to both Evan and Kobalt, but I still don't know why and for what purpose.  A lot of the book seemed to be set up to set the stage for the next book in the series as the author needed to set up Evan and other characters for something that is going to happen.  Unfortunately, this book felt more like a filler to me and was not as interesting, from a thriller point of view, as the first book.  I definitely liked the background information we learned about Evan and her family, but thought the actual action was boring.  I didn't buy into the reason for the kidnapping and I definitely did not buy into the conflict in this book as I thought it was silly and the explanation was both unbelievable and brushed over. Overall, the whole Kobalt story line frustrated me: I just can't buy into glossed over reasons for why people do things.  
That little twist at the end though, is interesting. Written in alternating POV, the chapters are short and you do have to pay attention to all the nuances, which I like. 
The Kobalt Dossier focused quite a bit on Evan's background in order to set up the next book in this series.  And while the psychological part was intriguing and I liked learning more about Evan, unfortunately, doing this put a damper on the thriller portion of the novel which I didn't really find all that interesting nor believable.   However, a little twist in the ending makes me hopeful things will pick up quite a bit in the next book.  While you could read this one as a standalone, I do recommend you pick up the first book in the series to get some background information on our characters and what is happening.