“If Ben had special equipment and a Company team, maybe he could make a reasonable covert assault. But he had no equipment, and his team had abandoned him.”The Paris Betrayal by James R. Hannibal
I’m happy to be reviewing a suspense/spy-thriller today! I’ve been a fan of James R. Hannibal the past couple years with his Talia Inger novels. His latest book, The Paris Betrayal, combines some of my favorite elements in one thrilling story: European settings, high stakes action, and the slightest thread of a Biblical parallel. Read on for more about the book + my thoughts…
After a rough mission in Rome involving the discovery of a devastating bioweapon, Company spy Ben Calix returns to Paris to find his perfectly ordered world has collapsed. A sniper attack. An ambush. A call for help that brings French SWAT forces down on his head. Ben is out. This is a severance–reserved for incompetents and traitors.
Searching for answers and anticipating a coming attack, Ben and a woman swept up in his misfortunes must travel across Europe to find the sniper who tried to kill him, the medic who saved his life, the schoolmaster who trained him, and an upstart hacker from his former team. More than that, Ben must come to grips with his own insignificance as the Company’s plan to stop Leviathan from unleashing the bioweapon at any cost moves forward without him–and he struggles against the infection that is swiftly claiming territory within his own body.
Award-winning author James R. Hannibal ratchets up the tension on every page of this suspenseful new thriller.
What a fantastic spy thriller! The Paris Betrayal has a lone operator, Ben Calix, thrust into the cold as he crisscrosses continental Europe in a search to stay alive and prove his innocence and loyalty. From a heart-pounding chase in Rome to evading the French police forces in Paris and beyond, it’s a fast-paced story that reminds me of Jason Bourne — and maybe a little Jack Reacher — as Ben searches for the truth while a menacing organization seeks to thwart his every move.
Hannibal’s authorial voice lends a slight bit of snark and authenticity born of experience (not as a spy, but as a veteran) to this whirlwind of a story as Ben Calix proves a relatable protagonist. Memories of Ben’s training and anecdotes about his teammates and network add depth to the increasing suspense surrounding his failed mission and the debilitating plot he is gradually uncovering. (I feel like I’m prepared to make a quick escape and evade pursuers should the need arise from the tidbits of wisdom attributed to Ben’s mentor, Colonel Hale.) The occasional switch to a POV of one of the secondary characters adds further to the subterfuge and raises more questions for the reader. The story is spun in such a way that I was questioning the loyalties of various characters right alongside Ben, trying to determine who was manipulating the situation and who was innocently caught up in the melee with him.
The astute reader will recognize subtle parallels between this story and the life of the Biblical man Job as each face seemingly unjust situations. I think the inclusion of characters who mirror Job’s “friends” and similar internal questions of purpose and justice are a brilliant move on Hannibal’s part to draw comparisons to the ancient account in a modern scenario.
Fans of action-adventure, thrillers, and espionage-related suspense will want to check out The Paris Betrayal or Hannibal’s backlist for more fast-paced reading material.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.