The Austin Chronicle

Lone Star (In)Justice

Jeff Abbott balances espionage and bartending tips in this tightly controlled roller coaster of a thriller

Reviewed by Wayne Alan Brenner, July 4, 2014, Arts

Inside Man

by Jeff Abbott
Grand Central Publishing, 400 pp., $26

Jeff Abbott's new novel Inside Man is a thriller, of course. In case there might be any doubt among those looking for something to read at the beach or during their next flight to Dubai, the cover of the book trumpets it as exactly that. And that's exactly what it is, as defrocked CIA agent Sam Capra – protagonist of previous bestselling Abbott offerings – now goes deep-cover into the machinations of a wealthy Miami family who may be connected to the murder of Capra's longtime buddy Steve. Inspired, the author says, by Shakespeare's King Lear, this action-packed, bicontinental tale of revenge motors its way across Miami and an undisclosed portion of South America, through nightclubs and casinos and posh hotels and mysterious jungle strongholds, deep into a vast goods-transporting business that's corrupt to the point of global impact and run by a decrepit, demented paterfamilias intent on playing his three adult children against each other. (Bardic hat tip: The youngest daughter is named Cordelia.)

Inside Man is a tightly controlled roller coaster of a narrative, goosing the reader forward with almost every paragraph, engineered to the point of gamification, and including enough tantalizing hints about the secretive Round Table organization that funds Capra's supralegal espionage and bartending habits to keep you coming back for further developments in the series' next installment. I'd love to tell you more, y'know, about the sadistic character Nanny with her necklace of human finger bones and about Capra's jihadi-slain brother, but, ah, SPOILER ALERT.

Jeff Abbott will read from Inside Man and sign copies Tuesday, July 8, 7pm, at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar.

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