The New Bad Thing
A globe-trotting, action-packed thriller that exposes the corruption at the heart of venerable media, charity and business institutions and shows the lengths to which individuals will go to do what they think is right and guard their own interests, Michael Ebner’s The New Bad Thing tackles weighty issues with aplomb while blending real-life situations with almost non-stop danger and intrigue.
The book opens in explosive fashion as American reporter Teagan Penn takes shelter in the Chateau Bleu Hotel in Paris as terrorists storm the building, killing everyone they come across. She manages to phone a contact in the US, a man named Roman, who she asks for help; however, it almost immediately becomes clear that Roman already knows about the terrorist incident and that he may actually have had a hand in it. Heavy hints are dropped that Teagan has been mixing with some danger characters and that she has done something serious to antagonize them.
Teagan’s story then jumps back in time and sees her at work in the shabby offices of Verdict magazine in downtown Seattle. It’s certainly not as dangerous as a terrorist attack, but Teagan is still in the thick of things, effectively blackmailing her boss into returning a prized story assignment to her friend. This early section provides a great introduction to Teagan’s character, resolve, and willingness to go to quite extreme lengths to get what she wants. It also reveals that her tough exterior hides a great deal of pain, though, as Teagan and her husband, Todd, later discuss their difficulty conceiving.
After being bombarded with news stories about the atrocities committed worldwide by the terrorist group known as K.I.L. and seeking a way to distract herself from her own problems, Teagan decides to launch Project Rebound, which will work to free the women and girls kidnapped by K.I.L. and return them to their homes. In another example of her rather ruthless pursuit of her goals, Teagan creates a crowdfunding site to finance the project that showcases fake past projects and phony testimonials. She’s going to need more than financial help, however, if the project is going to achieve a mass rescue, and that’s where Roman comes in.
The world of The New Bad Thing is a distinctly dark one, making it exceeding difficult to tell the heroes from the villains. Teagan has a laudable goal in mind for Project Rebound, but she’s willing to venture to murky places and deal with dodgy characters in pursuit of that goal. She also doesn’t baulk at exploiting female victims of serious crimes in an effort to secure funds to rescue female victims of serious crimes elsewhere. She’s definitely not the worst of the bunch, but it’s hard to see Teagan as a true hero, even as her bravery becomes undeniable as the story progresses.
In The New Bad Thing, Ebner has crafted a fast-paced thriller with plenty of twists and turns that make it difficult to recognize fact from fiction as the various characters engage in plots and counterplots in an effort to get what they want. It all makes for an exciting and gripping read that offers more than a few shocks.
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|Mystery, Crime, Thriller