by James R. Hannibal brings back the fascinating characters
of Nick Baron and his covert unit, the Triple Seven Chase
team. Besides the fast action scenes this novel delves into
the motives behind the Jihadist terrorists. Hannibal, through
a figurative and literal chess match, brilliantly intertwines
within the plot a cat and mouse game between the protagonists
Within the first chapters of the book the reader is exposed
to the intense action as Nick, his wife, toddler son, and
father escape serious injury when a suicide bomber blows himself
up near the Health and Human Services building in Washington,
D.C. While tending to the injured, Nick receives an eerie
invitation from a chess app on his phone, where a mysterious
figure, going by the name The Emissary, challenges him to
a chess game. This unknown opponent has resurrected an ancient
order of assassins: the legendary Hashashin, where the heart
of the Islamic insurgency was born during the eighth century.
The Triple Seven Chase team soon finds out that any wrong
move leads to deadly consequences. Nick must become the chess
master to prevent the Jihadist terrorist from achieving checkmate,
the apocalypse of Jerusalem.
The author explained, “The Emissary is based on the
leader of the terrorist group in Iraq, ISIS. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi
is the Sunni version of my character. I came up with the big
chess allegory after I saw the current rise in the number
of extreme Jihadists. Originally 5000 Al Qaeda types took
up the cause so the chance of having a ‘chess master’
was low. But now there are approximately 100,000 active terrorist
fighters. That means there is a massive pool from which to
draw a ‘big brain, a Bobby Fischer of terrorism.’
Similar to the chess brains, I gave my antagonist the ability
to have the ‘dynamic evaluation look ahead.’ He
can predict what would happen, like predicting the next move
on a chessboard. This enables him to influence actions and
Hannibal is among the new generation of thriller writers who
have protagonists as heroes but without super natural abilities.
Shadow Maker has many scenes where Nick is put into a situation
and escapes, not by shooting fifty men or jumping over a subway
train, but by doing something most anyone could do. In one
scene he causes a distraction by turning over a magazine stand.
As with those serving in the military, Baron is a true vulnerable
hero readers cheer for because he is an everyday person whose
love of family and country is the connecting chord for his
Another great feature of this novel is Hannibal’s subtle
commentary about political correctness. Through the character’s
voices he points out the Jihadist’s brazen tactics and
why they should always be seen as evil. A book quote exemplifies
this, “The infidels did not have the stomach to kill
the children of their enemies. That was one of their most
exploitable weaknesses… the nature of the special defense
of this house, because Masih (the child) was the defense.
His own son was his blessed shield.” Hannibal cleverly
shows the current terrorist have the same philosophy of the
ancient order of assassins from the eighth century. Then,
as today, they are not above using Mosques and civilians for
After finishing the book the reader is encouraged to download
a free Stealth Ops App. This adds a third dimension to the
storyline. Fans can read mission files of the characters and
weapons, as well as zoom in with satellite imagery to find
out the backstory of lesser characters and the places traveled.
There is also the challenge of cracking a code from the first
book in the series, Shadow Catcher. As of yet no
one has accomplished the decode.
Shadow Maker has an intriguing story. Besides plenty
of nail biting moments the plot incorporates the chase with
a chess game. Through his military experience and counter-terrorism
background, Hannibal is able to create realistic characters
within a realistic setting. This book is a must read for those
who enjoy political thrillers.
James Hannibal gave a heads up, he’ll be discussing
his books and this app at the Military
Book Fair on November 8th on the USS Midway in San Diego,
California. I’m excited about attending since this is
such a fantastic idea. I hope this becomes a long-standing
tradition to support our veterans.