Sunday, October 28, 2018

Skills to Kill -- Brian Drake

Brian Drake has started making a name for himself as an action writer over the past few years, and his new novel SKILLS TO KILL, the first in the Steve Dane series, ought to solidify his position as one of the best new writers in the genre. Steve Dane and Nina Talikova are former intelligent agents, Dane for the United States and Nina for Russia, who have retired from their perspective agencies and teamed up, both professionally and romantically, to make their way through the dangerous world of international espionage as freelance operatives.

SKILLS TO KILL opens with the two of them getting involved in the kidnapping of a Mafia don’s daughter in Italy, but that’s just the first move in a globe-trotting adventure as Dane and Nina try to track down and bring to justice a mysterious, deadly arms dealer known only as the Duchess. Along the way they encounter old friends and enemies alike, and sometimes there’s a question just which is which—with survival riding on the answer.

This novel features plenty of action scenes told in Drake’s excellent fast-paced, hardboiled style. Dane and Nina are likable protagonists, and it’s very easy to root for them. SKILLS TO KILL is dedicated in part to the late men’s adventure novelist Jerry Ahern, and it’s easy to see his influence although Drake has his own distinctive voice. This is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure yarn. There will be at least two more books in the series, and I’m looking forward to them.

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