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by Robin Burcell
HarperCollins, December 2013
403 pages
ISBN: 006227371X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

THE KILL ORDER is the fifth book by Robin Burcell featuring FBI Agent Sydney Fitzpatrick. It assumes you have read the first four books. In case you haven't, like me, here's what you need to know: Sydney Fitzpatrick is an FBI agent who works primarily as a forensic artist. Her father was in the military and was murdered, and in an effort to solve his murder she uncovered a web of military, CIA and government secrets. She's also gotten involved in worldwide conspiracies involving the Knights Templar, Freemasonry, the Vatican, a terrorist plot involving nuclear weapons, and a plan to release a plague. Along the way she's met, worked with, and is now dating agent Zach Griffin. Sydney has learned a lot about her father's involvement in various government schemes and secrets, but now she's faced with a list of numbers he stole twenty years earlier, which led to his death. The list, called The Devil's Key, poses such a serious threat to national security that anyone caught with the code is killed. It falls into Sydney's hands and she has to keep it safe, while also protecting a girl with an eidetic memory, and working with Zach, who she might not be able to fully trust.

It's an intriguing concept. Most people love large looming government conspiracy stories so this is an easy bet to be a fun book. And this one has all the right pieces to create a good, suspenseful thriller. You never know whom to trust, or what might happen next, and the characters are likeable enough that you want them to succeed. As well, there's a certain degree of realism that sucks you in, but enough crazy adventure to make it escapist and fun.

A big problem with the book for readers new to the series is that it presumes you already know the characters, setting, and backstory. Yes, you could read this as a stand-alone, but the author does assume you've read the previous four installments and are familiar with everyone and everything that's happening. You jump right into the middle of chaos and either drown or tread water till you figure out what's going on. I hung in there, but I think if I hadn't been reading this for review, I probably would have put it down. It just takes too long to suck you in, and confuses you too much in the process. By the time I started to care, I realized I didn't care all that much.

All that being said, if you are already a fan of this author and series then this is a worthy addition. The reader learns more about Sydney's father's death and about the government plot that has haunted her for years. Sydney gets some closure, which is rewarding. As I said before, who doesn't love a good government conspiracy novel? It's an easy-to-read, escapist novel that will, at the very least, entertain.

Paris Abell is blogger and writer who works as a lawyer in New York City.

Reviewed by Paris Abell, January 2014

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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