I received a copy of this ebook free from NetGalley and Mason Alley Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
A new author for me for my Mystery Monday, Robert Lane. The Cardinal’s Sin is his third novel featuring Jake Travis, a Special Ops agent, whose assignment here is to kill an assassin who has been targeting the loved ones of other agents. Clearly, there is a leak in the agency, because not only are the agents known but someone has arranged for a substitute to be in the time and place where Jake’s target is supposed to be, and he’s dressed as a cardinal, something this particular assassin is known to use as a disguise from time to time. The twist is that this really is a cardinal, Cardinal Giovanni Antinori, and Jake has “clipped the wrong bird”.
About half-way through this book, I realized there wasn’t really a lot of action and yet the plot was pulling me along at quite a clip. Travis is narrating his story in short, pithy jargon reminiscent of Sam Spade. He’s quite the philosopher and he takes things in stride — well, mostly. Just as he’s about to pull the trigger near the Peter Pan statue in London’s Kensington Gardens, Jake thinks that, maybe, this is the wrong guy. He hesitates just a second, then pulls the trigger anyway.
Death, when it arrives with no escape clause, brings out strange spirits in people, but I expected something harder in his soul. His eyes were seeing the last of the world. Such eyes do not take in but allow everything out. Even in the waning dark, I didn’t like the desperate pleading of his eyes . . . it didn’t seem right.
Travis has a girlfriend, Kathleen, works with a team, employs a couple of gutsy teenagers for surveillance work, and lives in Florida on the Gulf side. The characters are rather quirky, and Jake’s lifestyle is pretty laid back all things considered: he still has an assassin to kill who is probably hunting not only him, but Kathleen, he’s trying to track a lady, Renée, who has been seen with the real assassin, Paretsky, and might have a lead on his whereabouts, and he’s haunted by the eyes of Cardinal Antinori when he goes to sleep at night.
I didn’t find this a story with much violence despite the fact that killers are on the loose. There are a couple of hand-to-hand fights, some gunshots, a fairly exciting boat chase across the Gulf, and a few deaths, but the narration and philosophy of our hero with his sometimes uneasy relationships and penchant for music from the 60s, were a lot of fun. Kathleen had her share of witty repartee as well.
About something he said that surprised him: “It came out like a bad line in a bad movie, the kind they used to only show after midnight. I knew that I was trying to convince myself.”
Kathleen, when making up: “Blame rarely fits neatly on one set of shoulders.”
The story was full of surprises, sharp dialogue, and ended with redemption, and everything tied up in a neat package. It was a great mystery read and I’ll definitely be looking at Lane’s other books. * * * *