It is hard to find good thrillers these days. It is even harder to find one with fully-developed characters.
The Twelth Falcon is such a novel. From its opening pages when eight-year-old Scott McBride witnesses the murder of a migrant worker by a group of white supremacists (in which his father is a participant), the pacing never lets up.
Scott grows up a tortured soul, the events of the night haunting him even as he grows into manhood.
When his father dies in a car accident years later, Scott, then a young man of 17, is adopted by a wealthy and powerful businessman named Max Taggart who had been a close friend of Scott’s father. Taggart attempts to shape Scott to his political philosophy, sending him to exclusive universities with ultra-conservative leanings.
At first, Scott looks at it as an escape from the dark clutches of his past, but later concludes that in accepting financial help from Taggart, “he has sold his soul” to the man. And when he accidentally gains access to Taggart’s files involving a conspiracy codenamed Broken Eagle, Scott finds himself with divided loyalties.
He becomes a target for elimination by a powerful cabal and its private militia. From this point, the novel takes off like a rocket, taking readers from the cobblestoned streets of Rudesheim, Germany to the steamy swamps of East Texas to the diagonal boulevards of Washington D.C.
The Twelfth Falcon is a fast-paced thriller written in the tradition of Follett and Higgins with a LeCarre-like character development. It is a big novel with big stakes and larger-than-life consequences. The novel moves at a breakneck speed, each cliff-hanger chapter unfolding into another, leaving the reader breathlessly turning the pages.
Usually, novels like these are lacking in the prose department, but the descriptions in this book are exceptional, like when eight-year-old Scott and his cousin Mikey are about to witness the murder:
“They found themselves in the trees following a trail that led to a pine forest. Overhead, a swollen moon glowed like a scoop of ice cream. The path took them deep into the woods, past gullies and trenches, and wet sloppy bogs. Twigs crunched under their feet. Ten minutes into the hike, they passed an abandoned shack with dark empty sockets where the windows used to be. The doorway yawned like a toothless mouth.”
Other than in a literary novel, where else can you find descriptions like that?
Certainly not in a thriller, and there are many of them in this novel. That’s why I give this book a big thumbs-up. This is a terrific thriller with a heart-stopping climax. The ending does not disappoint. I anxiously await this author’s next book. I truly hope there will be more.