Chasing the White Lion (Clandestine Service #2)

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Chasing the White Lion (Clandestine Service #2)


James R. Hannibal



Publication Date:

March 2020




384 pages


Years ago, Talia Inger watched someone assassinate her father. Six months ago she met the man who did it, but discovered there’s more to what happened. Now she’s working with him and his team of elite thieves to find who ordered the assassination. But to do that, they’ll need to get to a criminal mastermind who’s planning a gauntlet event that pits his lieutenants against each other. Can they get inside this man’s inner circle? If they do, what will it take to get what they need?

In the series’ previous novel, The Gryphon Heist, Hannibal generally stayed in Tom Clancy techno-thriller territory. Having laid the groundwork for stories about thieves pulling off extreme heists, he ups the ante and makes this follow-up as exciting as possible. The tech is still grounded in reality, but there are homages to the more outlandish James Bond-style thrillers (including an underworld casino). This growth into a different sub-genre works very well. In fact, Hannibal makes the change seem effortless.

As in the previous book, the spiritual elements are a bit predictable, but Hannibal develops them more this time around. He avoids centering the whole plot on a contrived spiritual lesson. As a result, this story feels more plausible and enjoyable.

An exciting follow-up in a compelling thriller series.


Rating (1 out of 5 stars)

3.5 stars

Suggested Audience

Christians looking for techno-thrillers with a dash of espionage and exotic chase scenes.

Christian Impact

The main character reconciled her faith doubts and father issues in the previous novel, and commits to becoming a Christian in this novel. Several scenes show her exploring what it means to have faith, and learning how to pray. There are also interludes about another character who struggles to have faith because of her broken relationship with her father. These scenes are a bit conventional. People ask stock questions about Christianity and trade stock answers that sound like they’ve been cut and pasted from evangelism pamphlets. Still, the things the characters discuss are more complex than in the previous novel, so it’s a slight step up.

Hannibal also fits in a subplot about Compassion International, the well-known Christian agency that helps children in poverty. The heroes learn a Compassion International rep has reported some Thai kids have been kidnapped by human traffickers, then discover the traffickers work for the main villain. Initially, this subplot feels a little bit like dropping one cliché for another. We’ve gone from “traumatized person discovers forgiveness” in The Gryphon Heist to “let’s take a look at the valuable work Christians are doing in the dark jungles of pagan countries.” However, Hannibal makes this subplot feel well- integrated into the story. He works in a few details about real-life human trafficking and mostly lets readers hear about Compassion via snippets of dialogue, rather than having one character monologue about the group’s work. Admittedly, he does veer into endorsement territory in the last few pages and in the afterward, which feels a little dishonest. However, he does a better job than many other Christian authors would with this kind of material.

Hannibal also avoids some tropes about missionary/Christian charity narratives that would have damaged this subplot. There has been lots of discussion in recent years about Christian nonprofit workers (especially missionaries) in Africa or Asia who didn’t recognize their own cultural biases and pressured people into following Western cultural norms that go along with Western Christianity. Consequently, a story featuring a European or American Christian charity worker in Thailand could have been seen as a story about a Western Christian teaching the natives how to be Western like him. Instead, Hannibal gives readers a Compassion International rep who is multiracial, part Thai and therefore with connections to the area he works in. Thus, Hannibal forces readers to forego easy criticisms and focus on the plot. A clever move that pays off well.  

Note: Like many novels in a thriller series, this book’s plot hinges heavily on elements from the previous novel. Readers who want to enjoy the book at its best should read The Gryphon Heist. For ECLA’s review of it, the following:

Chasing the White Lion (Talia Inger, #2)

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