Shadow of Betrayal by Brett Battles – review

I loved the character Jonathan Quinn, the eponymous “Cleaner” given wonderful life by Brett Battles in his first book. Now making his third appearance, that response was only reinforced. He is a freelancer whose job is to discreetly clean up crime scenes and the occasional body after the always possible bloodshed. Part of the job description was “always being ready for any contingency, but not always having to activate your plans.” Working with Quinn again is his apprentice, Nate, as well his lover, Orlando, the beautiful Asian woman also introduced to readers in the earlier book. This book, as the others, is international in scope, with settings as varied as Cork, Ireland; Africa; and Washington, D.C.

There are two plotlines going on here, and the implicit belief that they may intersect before the conclusion of the book. At the outset, a Downs syndrome child is entrusted to the care of Marion Dupuis, an aide worker employed by the UN in West Africa, when an attempted kidnapping of the five-year-old girl is thwarted. She soon goes on the run when the would-be kidnappers continue to hunt for the little girl. There is no information on what is behind the kidnapping attempt, only the hint that she was not the only target on the kidnappers’ list.

Alternating with this is a plot with ominous implications being hatched in the US, where the organization simply known as The Office hires Quinn et al to try to find out exactly what it is that is being planned. They soon encounter assassins, both known and yet to be identified. It seems that there is a shadowy organization intent on destabilizing entire nations, their own among them. The author occasionally strays into territory requiring a suspension of disbelief. But then again, these days who knows what is or is not possible? But soon that no longer matters when the suspense mounts as the game is afoot, and Quinn, Nate and Orlando know only that they must stop the conspirators from achieving their aims. This is a real page-turner of a book, and it is recommended.

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Gloria Feit

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