An elite team of deep cover agents scatters, scrambling into hiding as they’re hunted down one-by-one by a mysterious foe. When Francisco Lopez, the estranged brother of a murdered agent, looks into his brother’s death, he stumbles upon a far darker secret. Only by teaming up with Sara Houston, one of his brother’s allies, can Francisco begin to unravel the web of lies all around him. But with a monstrously capable killer on the loose and the fate of America itself at stake, will Sara and Francisco survive long enough to uncover the truth?
Extraordinary Retribution falls into the ever-expanding field of post-9/11 thrillers where the luster of the spy game is gone and the moral quandaries are given far more weight. Stebbins does an impressive job analyzing the vast gray area between liberty and security where so many characters’ actions reside, juxtaposing the righteous indignation of the protagonists with both the obsessive crusade of the killer and the numerous justifications of other characters.
While it suffers a bit from “omnipresent threat syndrome” — where one threat is so all-encompassing that it begins to feel like only dumb luck and plot contrivances could allow the protagonists any chance to continue their story — Stebbins does his damnedest to adhere to his (admittedly heightened) sense of realism. He doesn’t turn competent characters into Bourne-like superheroes, and it’s for the better.
The thriller elements are effective, and the action sequences are unflinching in their brutality, offering every opportunity for the readers to reinforce or reconsider their own opinions on the hard subjects discussed during even the most frenetic scenes.
At a time where NSA surveillance is all too pervasive and questions of privacy vs. safety are raised across the nation, Extraordinary Retribution tackles these issues head-on, but promises no pie-in-the-sky cure-alls. It simply presents one possible narrative, and a startlingly dark one at that.
|Page Count||420 pages|
|Publisher||Twice Pi Press|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|
|Category||Mystery, Crime, Thriller|