Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review: "Cold Harbor" by Matthew FitzSimmons

If an author has only written three books, can you say that their latest is "vintage [author's name]"? Well, I don't care. I've just read Matthew FitzSimmons' third book, Cold Harbor, which is the third book in the Gibson Vaughn series, and I can say unequivocally that it is vintage FitzSimmons, in that it kicks ass just as much as the first one did. Why isn't this guy famous yet?

Gibson Vaughn was kept in a CIA black-site prison, isolated from all human contact for a significant period of time. He had no concept of the difference between day or night, and at times he had no idea whether he was really alive or dead. Visions of his childhood friend, Suzanne, and his father kept him company, helped him to cope, and gave him the will to survive, so he could one day be reunited with his young daughter (if she is even still young), and he can enact revenge on the man who has taken him prisoner.

When he is released into the cold, he has no idea how long he has been imprisoned. At first he doesn't even know where he is. All he has are Suzanne and his father's ghosts, cajoling him, bullying him, pushing him toward dual missions—Suzanne wants him to find his daughter and rebuild their relationship; his father wants him to get revenge on the man who ruined Gibson's life.

As Gibson tries returning to the life he knew before he was imprisoned, he finds the readjustment to be very difficult, and his constant ghostly companions don't help matters any. He discovers how many things have changed—rarely for the better—since he has been gone, and he needs to figure out how to get his head, his life, and hopefully, his daughter, back. But it won't be easy, as he quickly makes himself a suspect in a crime he wasn't even around to commit, and is under scrutiny by law enforcement.

The more he tries keeping his head down and doing what he needs to do in the hopes it will heal him, the more roadblocks he runs into, and the more he becomes reacquainted with both old friends and old nemeses. He can't seem to escape the trouble that follows him, and he gets embroiled in a dangerous scheme, unsure of whom he can trust, and whether he'll even come out of it alive, and if he does, what his life will be like afterward.

Cold Harbor is the story of a desperate man trying to regain control of the life he once knew, only to find that life doesn't really exist anymore. When everything you knew, everything you worked toward is impossible to have now, where do you go and what do you do? And does getting revenge against those who've wronged you the therapy you need, or does that open you up to more harm than good?

When FitzSimmons' first book in the series, The Short Drop (see my original review), was published two years ago, it took me by surprise and absolutely blew me away. At that point I knew this was an author worth watching, and I couldn't wait for the series to continue. While I didn't love the second book quite as much as the first, Gibson Vaughn is one of my favorite characters in recent years, and I couldn't wait to find out what happened to him after the last book ended.

Cold Harbor is FitzSimmons firing on all cylinders, and it proves once again that he is a writer with tremendous talent, and that Gibson is a character I can't get enough of, even as he's having trouble distinguishing reality from madness. This is a fantastic series, and this is a writer you need to read if you like this genre. Believe me, you'll want to read him now, so you can look totally cool when he hits the big time—which I hope happens soon.

NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

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