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Rat Island

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A near-perfect heart-stoppingly intense NY crime story – I read this almost straight through, hovering between intense interest in the events unfolding and an equally intense sickly anxiety for what I feared was going to happen next.

Callum Burke, our main protagonist, is a Hong Kong cop with a less-than-stellar service record, a past littered with addiction, and an estranged wife and young daughter he rarely sees.

Now on assignment in New York City (a last chance opportunity to turn his police career around) , Callum’s role is to provide deep undercover infiltration of a massive global drug operation which is flooding heroin to the streets of New York through a complex web of organized crime based in China, Hong Kong,Thailand and America.

Paddy Doolan, our secondary and equally fascinating protagonist, is a criminal target – a low-level but connected member of a powerful Irish-American drug distribution network who just may provide Callum (who is himself of Irish descent) with an entry point into his new double life.

With a backdrop of villainous and terrifying mob bosses at all levels of the drug empire – each of them darkly plotting the torturous demise of the other, (and an equally morally opaque posse of “good guys” in the form of FBI, DEA, NYPD and Hong Kong PD) it’s not at all clear who is what they appear to be, and if there is anyone at all we can count on.

Which makes the interplay that develops between Paddy and Callum all the more compelling, primarily because although we get brief glimpses of vulnerability into both characters, each man’s emotional life, and the camaraderie that appears to develop, is masterfully under-played by the author.

Leaving us to wonder – (and fret and worry)- just who is the “rat” on this island and who is about to get bumped off next?

Easily earning its five-star rating, it’s impossible to see how this clever and emotionally-draining book could have been improved at all, right up to the fiendishly suspenseful multi-twist ending.

A great big thank you to the author and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.

My stop today on the #rachelsrandomresources #blogtour for #RatIsland by @johnSteele


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