I seem to recall reading something that had Theo Cray in it, but clearly, I’m thinking of someone else, as the series featuring Cray is not something I’ve read. Likewise, I have not read any books in the Jessica Blackwood series.
That said, this books, labeled as Blackwood/Cray #1 seems to be a new series where thy will be together to investigate oddball things that may happen – like a mysterious blackout in NYC that appears to be swirling with electric energy and which also cut out power to almost everyone in the bubble and caused electronic devices to stop working.
We get a scene of Cray being liberated from a jail in a foreign land, and it appears Jessica Blackwood possesses skills ranging from hand o hand combat to forging paperwork. It’s the latter that allows her to get Cray out of the hellhole he’s in.
Of course, there’s a catch to all this: the FBI, for whom Blackwood works, needs him and Blackwood to look into the phenomenon they’ve taken to calling The Void. Blackwood believes it’s the work of that typical fictional villain, Michael Heywood, AKA Warlock who seems to have the world at his fingertips and who managed to escape prison during a transfer.
What follows is a romp around the globe, with clues coming from the oddest places: a zoo where chimpanzees have been stolen. A “research facility” in the Chernobyl zone, where the men are practically zombies, but ordinarily healthy otherwise, no matter what ailment(s) they may have had before..
Together, the no nonsense, hyperfocused Blackwood, and the talks before he thinks Theo Cray race around the globe, looking into odd incidents, thefts from datacenters, and two more Voids in Seoul and Singapore. In their way: people paid off by Heywood, and eventually a face to face with Heywood, who demands Cray also be there, despite Cray not having any direct connection to Heywood, so Heywood can detail the ways the he is better than Cray..
As far as stories go, it isn’t too bad. There’s enough suspense that then turns into a “the clock is ticking” story when the threat of yet another Void is hanging over their heads to keep things moving along. I did like the banter between Blackwood and Cray, and there is the typical internecine fighting between federal agencies, both of which ring true. The ending is a turn the tables type, and that works here in the universe of this book. The writing is good, although some of the backstory drop-ins felt a little forced. That does not really break the narrative, however, and while some of them were rather long – necessary for some of the technical stuff that most people don’t know or with which they are not familiar – but I am not dinging it for this.
A solid four stars.
Thanks to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for the review copy.