To be honest, I hesitated to buy this book. I saw it in the Borders ebook store and went back and forth about getting it. In the end, I just couldn't resist. I had to give it a try.
My reservations had to do with a lot of things. Number one, it was written by a woman. Say what you want, but I read a lot of thrillers and they're written by men. I'm trying to think of any thrillers I've read with a woman author and I can't think of any. Also, indie published. That can go pretty wrong. One tag even labeled it "chick lit." Military/spy action can really suck when people don't know what they're talking about, and I just don't care to waste my time reading a book where the author is just making stuff up because it would look or sound cool. Especially when it comes to military stuff. So many people think they know what's what because they read it on wikipedia. It ain't so.
But. I like Janet Evanovich, and Charlaine Harris is pretty darn good too, and I've read other good female mystery writers, so why not? As for indie stuff, you just have to hope for the best. Last couple books I got off Smashwords were excellent. There's a certain thrill in finding something great on Smashwords, isn't there? As far as chick lit goes, well, I've read a couple romance novels in my time . . . ahem.
All that is fine and good, but it's the action and the spy type stuff that make the difference. In the end, it wasn't bad. There are somethings I disagreed with, but not out of line with any of the other thrillers I've read. There is nothing completely implausible or so over the top it takes you out of the story. Some of the military guys are a bit action movie cliched, and the bad guys at the end are a bit vague (if you make your bad guys of a certain persuasion, then write them that way. Be bold. Give them the accent, make them act like you think they should, not as mere shadows of themselves.).
As for the writing, another pass by an editor wouldn't hurt. I think Phelps spends too much time trying to convince us of Alex. The fist quarter of the story could be restructured and much streamlined with a little show, don't tell, sensibility. If you want the reader to believe your main character is who she is, show us with action and example. Alex is a good enough character for us to spend some time doing things with, instead of being told about the things she did. As much info as there is about the character at the start of the story, she still seems a bit thin to me. Put a little weight on her.
I like this book. I'll read the next two. And here's the thing about this book - with a little work, the right editor, and the right agent, there is no reason it couldn't be published by a major publishing house. It's all there. Phelps just needs to make the package complete. There is a certain amount of detail and knowledge that is missing. Also, there needs to be more development of the secondary characters and the villains. If Phelps can do that, we'll be reading hardcovers and waiting for the movie. ( )
(reviewed 75 days after purchase)