Despite favorable reviews, I was a bit leery of David Stone‘s first novel, which sounded very much like a Robert Ludlum title. I’d always trusted reviewers who dismissed Ludlum as a hack, tho his books reportedly improved after he died, when his estate hired competent ghostwriters to keep the brand alive.
Anyway, The Echelon Vendetta seems to me the very model of the modern thriller. Very violent, in a sadistic, post-Lector way, it’s also convoluted, often surprising, and occasionally funny. Michah Dalton, who cleans up messes for the CIA, gets dosed with a powerful hallucinogen early on, and is haunted by the sardonic ghost of his best friend for the rest of the book.
Dalton’s investigation of that death leads to others, and he travels Europe and the U.S. to track down the killer, an elderly shaman, tho there’s some question about who’s tracking whom. You’ll want to wash the testosterone off your hands when you put this one down.
A sequel’s on the way, of course.