Network of Deceit (Amara Alvarez #2)

Reviewed by:

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

Title:

Network of Deceit (Almara Alvarez #2)

Author:

Tom Threadgill

Publisher:

Revell (a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Publication Date:

February 2021

Format:

Paperback

Length:

384 pages

OVERVIEW

After solving a massive case, Amara Alvarez got the promotion she was seeking to San Ontonio’s Homicide Division. Her first case, a teenager found dead at a water park from what looks like a combination of alcohol and heatstroke, doesn’t seem too difficult. As she looks into how he could have died, it turns out something much stranger is going on. But who would kill someone at such a public place? The first book in this series, Collision of Lies, took a case that looked simple enough and turned out to be something large and labyrinth-like in its complexity. Here, the case goes inward rather than outward, a murder that eventually leads into questions about internet hacking and loss of privacy. So, Threadgill reverses the formula, and it does it quite well. He manages to make a story with a smaller cast and smaller scope feel just as dangerous as Collision of Lies (which is pretty impressive, since the earlier book followed a conspiracy across multiple countries). In part, this works because Threadgill explores the main character’s romantic life, which wasn’t explored before, and develops her family obligations more than in the previous book. This means that while readers know most of these characters from Collision of Lies, the emotional investment is much stronger. It also helps to deal with the big problem in thrillers about hacking: it’s hard to make people watching computer screens feel thrilling. Threadgill does a much better job of making hacking look interesting than other writers, especially when he starts talking about loss of privacy. In the end though, the fact he’s gotten readers so invested in the characters means that even if readers don’t get the technical details, seeing the effect on characters has the desired effect.

It’s also interesting that Threadgill aims for more ambiguity than in the previous book. Here, truth is harder to uncover, and the line between good, bad and where to “draw that line” is not always immediately clear. This makes Network of Deceit more complex than you’d expect in this genre. Most Christian Fiction thrillers make good and evil easy to see – everyone who seems nice is nice and all who seem nasty are nasty. Threadgill gives a range of characters, from one-dimensional to three-dimensional, and some turn out to be other than what they seem. One character, who fits a certain stock role in Christian Romance novels, even turns out to be far from what they seem. This complexity makes Network of Deceit more engaging than the average Christian thriller. Readers have to close pay attention, because they can’t predict how things will go.

An intelligent and surprising thriller.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5 stars):

5 stars

Suggested Audience:

Crime-thriller fans, especially fans who interested in stories about police work.

Christian Impact:

The main character’s belief in God comes up on a variety of occasions, and as she gets more into the case and its concerns about relative truth, she wonders more and more about how to find absolute truth. There’s also some discussion about how honest the main character is going to be, as she realizes that she’s going to have to decide “where the line is.” The author refuses to give cute, easy answers to the hero’s concerns. Life’s answers are not always easy, and in a broken world one must seek security in God, not in believing that justice will always be easy. This makes the book more interesting and gratifying than the average Christian Fiction thriller.

Note:

Readers can understand this book without knowing the prequel, Collision of Lies, but the story works best if readers are familiar with the first book. To read ECLA’s review of that book, go to: https://eclalibraries.org/2020/04/10/collision-of-lies/

Network of Deceit (Amara Alvarez #2)


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