Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Book Review: "Debris Line" by Matthew FitzSimmons

I'm not sure exactly how I found Matthew FitzSimmons' series of thrillers featuring former hacker Gibson Vaughn and his cohorts, but this has been a pretty terrific set of books so far. The Short Drop utterly blew me away, and while Poisonfeather didn't quite have the same magic, Cold Harbor was as "vintage FitzSimmons" as it is possible for an author's third book to be.

His newest installment of the series, Debris Line, finds the characters in a totally different setting, but it's not long before they find themselves in another heap of trouble, although this time it's not entirely of Vaughn's (or any of the others') own making.

After their last "adventure" left them being hunted by federal agents—and worse—Vaughn, along with Jenn, George, and Hendricks, are laying low on the beautiful beaches of a coastal town in Portugal. It's hard to quibble with gorgeous weather and scenery every day (especially when you were once held captive in a prison for quite some time), and it's nice to have peace without having to watch your back every second, but Vaughn knows that all good things must come to an end sooner than later, or they'll all grow soft(er).

His fervent pleas to his compatriots that they begin planning their exit fall on deaf ears. But when their host, a notorious drug kingpin who owes George an old debt, asks for their help in determining whether he has a coup on his hands in his massive cartel, they realize that paying the piper is the only way they'll be able to escape—if that. The group finds themselves in the middle of a massive power struggle, one with potentially disastrous consequences that could blow back onto Vaughn, Jenn, George, and Hendricks.

When Vaughn starts digging into what appears to be a textbook hijacking of a shipment, he discovers the cartel has interesting enemies—and there's far more at stake than drugs and money. But the stakes are higher than they've ever been, and the crew is as far from their comfort zone as possible—and not everyone is even sure that they should get involved. Somehow they wind up on a whiplash-inducing ride of divided loyalties, immense risk, and in one case, love might even be involved. None of these are good keys to survival, and all of them together could spell danger.

Every time I read one of FitzSimmons' books I'm reminded what a terrific group of characters he has created in this series. While Vaughn is certainly the tortured and flawed hero/anti-hero, in this book it was refreshing not to see him so hangdog—at least until he realizes what a mess it is they're in. I enjoyed the way FitzSimmons dug deeper into the dynamics between the group members, tugging at some resentments which have been simmering just below the surface for some time.

This book definitely had a slow start, as the change in setting and the new cast of characters took some time to get acclimated to. Additionally, this is a book that utilized more of Vaughn's computer skills than some of the previous books, so it takes a while for the real action to get going. But when it does, well, FitzSimmons takes his foot off the brakes and just lets the story barrel downhill—fast. His knack for action scenes as well as dialogue are on sharp display once again in this book.

While you could read Debris Line even if you've never read any of the other books in this series, I'd definitely encourage you to pick the earlier books first. There are mentions of incidents from the previous books, although not a lot of details, so having that prior knowledge would definitely be helpful. Beyond that, however, if you don't read the previous books, you'll be missing out on a pretty terrific series, so why do that to yourself?

Count me in for standing on line and waiting for FitzSimmons' next book, whether it's another installment in the series or not! (Given that this book doesn't get released officially until November, I won't actually stand, but you know what I mean.) Read these books!

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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