THE SHOP by J. Carson Black reminds me of the books like CENTENNIAL that were made into mini-series that ran for a week on television. Once pulled in, it becomes must see TV. In the case of a book, the reader is captured until the last sentence.
“The young man twirled around, looking at the stars. Mesmerized by them. He could have been the leading man in his own musical – the wonderful story of his life. He could barely contain his joy. He had less than an hour to live.” When Landry enters the house with his team, it takes them no time to kill the six occupants. Landry is a bit taken back when he realizes one of the victims is Brienne Cross, up-and-coming singer/reality show star. His daughter has a poster of Brienne Cross on her bedroom door.
The next morning, Nick Holloway comes to on the floor of a garage. He remembers talking to a member of Brienne’s entourage and then nothing. He tells the police that he was spending time with Brienne and company as he prepared a series of articles for Vanity Fair. He has no idea how he got under the car but he knows it saved his life. A few days later, he comes close to killing himself, a jogger, and the driver of the other car. But he was spared. Nick feels a sense of purpose. A man named Frank, who claims to be a distant cousin, has been calling Nick, asking him to look over a manuscript he has finished. Nick starts to think that this might make a good basis for his next book.
Thousands of miles away and six weeks after the scene in Colorado, the body of a man is found in a low cost motel. He has been shot but from the position of the body, it is difficult to tell if he was murdered or if it was a suicide. Jolie Burke, a detective with the Palm County Sheriff’s Department, is the lead investigator. The dead man, Jim Akers, is the chief of the Gardenia, Florida Police, her boss. His body is found in the same room in which a hostage situation had gone wrong barely a month before.
Cyril Landry, assassin, is a former Navy Seal now working for The Shop. Men with his talents don’t ask questions when they accept a job. But when Landry returns to his California home, he finds himself spending a lot of time looking at the poster of Brienne Cross. In the seconds before she died, they looked into each others eyes and Landry found himself changed, not reformed, but changed. For the first time, he wants to know why? She was the target, but why?
In Florida, Jolie has no doubt that the chief was murdered. Why? Inevitably, Jolie’s and Landry’s paths cross and they conclude that the deaths are connected. The connection leads to the office of the Attorney General of the United States. Conspiracies abound. Attorney General Franklin Haddox is part of a group that meets in secret on a private island. Jolie and Landry suspect The Shop has its own motives, distinct from those that work to strengthen the country.
THE SHOP is pure escapist reading. Too many coincidences, too many shadowy people, too many secrets but too engrossing to put down. It is an ideal book for a quiet afternoon. THE SHOP may be the first book in a planned series.