reviewed by Pam Guynn
Don Bentley infuses Hostile Intent, the third book in the Matt Drake thriller series, with action, travel, suspense, and an intensity like few others can achieve. This book, which can be categorized as an espionage thriller, a political thriller, and a military thriller as it has aspects of all three, is set largely in Ukraine and Austria, but there are key scenes in Washington D.C. and Russia as well.
Matthew Drake and his wife Laila are at a shooting range when his boss calls. Matt is a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) case officer who runs and recruits assets all over the world. A walk-in to the US embassy in Vienna, Austria claims he has critical information about a Russian intelligence operation. He asks for Matt by name, not by one of his aliases. Before he can debrief Nolan Burke, a Russian team kidnaps Nolan.
Matt is full of wit and sarcasm, but he has a serious side. He wants to make the world safer and often sacrifices his own well-being to achieve this. He shows character growth despite the large amount of action in this novel, which pleasantly surprised me. The other characters have a variety of depths in their supporting or opposing roles. Some are new to the series and others provide the reader continuity with the prior books in the series.
Fluid writing and fantastic world building, as well as an excellent, fast-paced plot will keep readers engaged. The first three chapters pique your interest while chapter four grabs readers and immerses them in the story. At this point, the action and drama are so compelling the pages nearly turn themselves. I was on a rollercoaster of action and emotion. While there are descriptions of weapons and gear, it is only enough to engage the reader. I believe this approach will make this novel appeal to a wider audience.
Overall, this novel is a shockingly dark, disturbing, suspenseful, and emotional ride. Be aware that there is plenty of danger, intrigue, and violence in this story. Additionally, with the current situation in Ukraine, this one seemed all too realistic. Themes include bureaucratic wars, teamwork, spies, political maneuvering, corruption, graft, differences in operational philosophies, friendship, loss of face, the impact of social media, and much more.
This is the first book that I have read by this author but I am looking forward to the next book in the series as well as going back and reading the first two. I believe those readers who enjoy action thrillers and military thrillers will want to read this book.
Berkley Publishing Group and Don Bentley provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via Net Galley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for May 3, 2022.