Saturday, December 14, 2013

Son of a Itch -- First Review!

So, I  know I have a LONNNNNG way to go and they will not all be this good. What  makes this one special is that, although I don't know the reviewer personally, I know he reviewed my first book and gave it 4 stars. For him to give this one 5 stars means I'm making progress in my effort to improve and make this a great series.
With that said, here it is...
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic Beltway thriller with touches of romance, December 13, 2013
James Blakley (The Capital of Kansas (and it ain't Kansas City)) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: SON OF A ITCH (A J.J. McCall Novel) (The FBI Espionage Series) (Kindle Edition)
Former FBI Intelligence analyst-turned author SD Skye delivers a tremendously-detailed, but ultimately entertaining, sequel to her debut novel "The Seven Year Itch." "Son of an Itch" is an authentic political thriller with nice touches of restrained romance and drama to ease the tension.

The story picks up with the escape of treasonous FBI agent Lana Michaels from prison. Unlike her role in "The Seven Year Itch," Michaels loses her pretty girl sheen and adopts a more gritty demeanor. She feins meekness and vulnerability in order to worm her way into a position of strength and power--the power to exact revenge against the woman who helped destroy her career and kill her lover. That woman, of course, is the resilient FBI agent J.J. McCall. McCall's professsional life is on the rise (since her debut as a faltering field agent). Though her personal life takes a bit of a dive (as a bubbly new competitor vies for the affections of lover and case partner Tony Donato) McCall must concentrate on leading a crack team of intelligence agents (dubbed "Taskforce Phantom Hunter") on a barely-authorized search for suspected Russian illegals who are operating within (perhaps) the highest eschelons of The U.S. Government. All the while, remaining watchful for the lurking Lana Michaels.

SD Skye excels at presenting a large, but well-rounded, cast of characters that the reader invests great interest in rooting for or against. J.J. McCall is still, by far, the most memorable. She is more mature, confident, and shrewd in a leadership role. And her signature lie-detection "itch" is present, but pared to a few scenes (thus removing much of the comedy the device originally conveyed). McCall struggles with her off-duty romantic feelings for Tony Donato and whether she really ever wanted to be an FBI agent. But for much of the story, this is thankfully prioritized. McCall's former lover "Six" takes a backseat, allowing J.J. and Tony to share a few romantic scenes that are more genuine and appreciated as stress relief (rather than the romantic quarrel that dilluted the original novel's overall effectiveness). This time, Skye maintains a sharper focus on the overall plot to catch a dangerous, escaped ex-agent and her shifting network of co-conspirators.

Coming in at 64 chapters and well-over 300 pages, "Son of an Itch" is a bit long. Much of the politicking of FBI Director Freeman and Russian spymaster Aleksey Dmitriyev, for example, could have been trimmed. And some of Lana Michaels's romantic entanglement seemed forced.

Nevertheless, author Skye's years of FBI work lend unmistakable credibility to the setting and overall plot and propel "Son of an Itch" to 5-star status. It is a first-rate thrill ride through the Beltway, from J.J. McCall's steamy condo to the often icy core of U.S. counterintelligence operations.  
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Check out my new releases: The Seven Year Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel) and Son of a Itch (A J.J. McCall Novel). 

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