Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Review: The Shadow Cartel by Layton Green

The Shadow Cartel (Dominic Grey, Book #4)
by Layton Green
Release Day: May 1st 2015
2015 Thomas & Mercer
Ebook Edition; 417 Pages
ISBN: 978-1477827819
ASIN: B00)4FK868
Genre: Fiction / Suspense
Source: Review copy from publisher

5 / 5 Stars

Called upon by a former love to look into the death of a family friend in Miami, veteran investigator Dominic Grey is sucked into the darkest reaches of international narcotics trafficking. The murders of multiple drug dealers during a bizarre religious ceremony, combined with the appearance of a mythical assassin, take DEA agent Federico Hernandez and CIA operative Lana Valenciano down the same deadly path.

Lying in wait is an enemy known only as the General: a criminal mastermind whose uncanny ability to avoid detection while cowing even the most ruthless of rival cartels has made him a legend.

Thrown together on a covert manhunt, Grey and the two government agents race across the Americas to unearth a dark chapter in the history of the CIA that has spilled into the present—and put them in the crosshairs of an underworld puppeteer with a frightening reach.

My Thoughts
The Shadow Cartel is the fourth book in the Dominic Grey series and like his previous novels, this one definitely did not disappoint.  The book was well-written, fast-paced, well-researched, containing all of the elements that I enjoyed in previous Green novels, including great character development and a good plot.  And Dominic, I enjoy this character so much.  He is just such a complex, intriguing character that the more I learn about him, the more I want to know.  He recognizes his strengths and his weaknesses, and owns up to his mistakes when he makes them.  I am also fascinated by the use of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Jujutsu in these books as well, especially as my son studies both forms.  While he can be really tough when the situation demands, there is also a softer side to him, one who helps troubled kids learn martial arts to help them get off the streets.

One of the things I have always loved about these novels is the way Green has been able to combine history, culture, and the current political situation with a really good plot and great characters.  His descriptions of Miami made me feel like I was really there and I felt like I was soaking up the culture just through Grey and Valenciano's eyes. When Grey is asked to look into the death of a family friend in Miami by a former love, it throws him deeper into the Miami underground of drugs and to his disbelief, cults, something for which he needs help from his partner, Viktor Radek, who is forced to help from the sidelines only. (Those of you who have read the previous novel will understand the reasons why this is the case (spoiler)).  This time though, the author brilliantly joins together politics (the drug cartels and other political organizations) with various cults to give us something different and something new, and something quite terrifying.  Throwing in flashbacks of the mastermind behind the cults and drug cartels only gives that added edge to the plot.  The leader of the cartels acts as a phantom, someone not known to anyone except his closest retainers, who flits from group to group, but who keeps an iron-fisted control on groups around the world using mind-bending techniques through cult control, and possibly drug use.  

The author continues the development of his two main characters, Dominic Grey and Viktor Radek, although Viktor plays a more minor role in this novel.  Dealing with Grey's disturbing past and his anger issues have been a central theme of all of Green's novels, a theme which definitely continues in this one, even more so towards the end.  I am probably not the only one who was surprised and dismayed at the events that unfolded towards the conclusion to this novel, and are now wondering what is in store for our hero.  I also really liked the new characters that were introduced in this one and hope to see some of them again. I especially liked Lana; even if she seems so tough, there is definitely a soft side to her that I would like to see explored in further novels.  And she definitely has more story to tell; there are a lot of secrets squirreled away in that head that would be interesting to discover.

The Shadow Cartel continues to deliver a good, powerful story in the Dominic Grey Series.  One of the things I like about these novels is the careful attention to character development; the plot doesn't rule the novel like some of the thrillers out there.  At the same time, the plot delivers; it's an excellent thriller with enough action, mystery, suspense, and secrets to satisfy.  While each novel could be read as a stand-alone, my suggestion would be to start at the beginning with The Summoner, as you will get a much broader description of the characters and the work with which they are involved.  As far as this one goes, it's a winner in my book, as yet again, Green manages to enlighten the reader about religion and cults without getting preachy.  It's an intelligent thriller with interesting characters, and I can't wait to see what's in store for our hero, Dominic Grey, in the future.