Leave No Trace
November 26, 2023
Book Review

Leave No Trace

reviewed by Fiona Cook

It’s a beautiful day on Liberty Island, New York—until a sudden explosion rocks the air, toppling Lady Liberty, killing hundreds, and unleashing a new wave of terror across the United States. Michael Walker, a special agent with the National Park Service Investigative Services Branch (ISB), and Gina Delgado, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, find themselves thrown together as they work to prevent further tragedy at America’s major landmarks. But when your enemies could be anyone, how can they know who to trust—or where the next strike may be coming from?

A.J. Landau, a writing team comprised of Jon Land and Jeff Ayers, has made quite the impression—when the first chapter of your first novel includes the Statue of Liberty collapsing due to a terrorist action, you’re definitely letting your readers know that you mean business. And you have to be able to follow up the shock and awe with a book that’ll keep them hooked—luckily for us, they rose to the challenge.

It’s clear that this book is well-researched—as a non-resident of the US, I actually really appreciate a little background information, and the parks and monuments visited in the course of the story were brought to life in a way that really helped me keep my bearings despite the action-fueled, tense pace. Gina and Michael were great characters whom I was able to care about quickly, and I’ll admit—I’m more than a little intrigued by Gina’s backstory, especially when it comes to her fascination with explosives. More than once, the story defied my expectations, too, in ways that really surprised and pleased me—some of the brilliant guesses the protagonists made turned out to be wrong, or the way they included a grassroots environmentalist organization.

This was an action-filled, smart, and seriously readable thriller that I read in one sitting—there just wasn’t a moment that felt right to put it down. A.J. Landau is off to quite the start, and I can’t wait to see where we go with them next

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