First Order by Jeff Abbott is a very realistic thriller.
This action packed fast paced story centers around an assassination
plot. But the sub-plot is also very interesting as it explores
the relationship between brothers. Abbott successfully uses
the storylines of previous books and ties everything together
in this fifth Sam Capra novel.
The stage is set from the very first page with the quote by
William Shakespeare, "There is but one mind in all these
men, and it is bent against Caesar
security gives way
to conspiracy." The plot has an assassin becoming part
of the Russian inner circle that is close to the President,
Dmitri Morozov. As with Caesar's assassination the killer
wants to get up front and personal with the Russian President;
yet, able to disappear, and live to enjoy his $20 million
Abbott commented, "I love Shakespeare. I had put little
nods to King Lear in my last book, Inside Man. For this plot
I wanted to bring something new and refreshing to an assassination
story. I decided this novel is not going to be about the lone
wolf striking from a distance like in the magnificent novel,
The Day Of The Jackal, which cannot be proved upon. In this
book, the Russian President is surrounded by an inner circle
that reminded me of Julius Caesar. I wanted the leader brought
down in a place he feels safe, surrounded by people he thinks
he can trust. I based it on the real Oligarchs in Russia who
are very powerful and understand they can lose their power
at the whim of the President. I like to joke they do not have
an MBA but a KGB."
The other side of the story is a family affair. The first
Capra novel, Adrenaline, has Sam altering his life after watching
his brother Danny supposedly killed by terrorists in Afghanistan
on a video. His brother's death defined Sam who then decided
to became a CIA agent and later an avenger of wrongdoers.
But after Sam finds out that his brother could actually be
alive and has become a contract killer, he recognizes his
mission must be to stop Danny from assassinating the Russian
President, or the global repercussions could change history.
Not one to conform to the rules he knows that to find his
brother he must depend on human intelligence, as well as Mila,
his partner, who he respects and has an unbreakable bond.
He realizes that just using digital intelligence, computer
hacking, or satellite imagery will not be enough to accomplish
Besides this riveting plot the characters are very well developed.
One of the enjoyable features of Sam is that he is a flawed
hero. Throughout the book he makes mistakes, which sets him
back. Abbot described it as "winning the war and not
each battle, because that is what life is about." In
many ways Sam is an unconventional hero, including his cover
of owning multiple bars around the world.
The bar idea was conceived by Abbott while doodling. He explained,
"I drew a globe and underneath that a martini glass.
Then I thought how creating Sam as a bar owner would be fresh
and different. This allows him to have a legitimate reason
to go around the world. I know my readers really like this
idea because they will suggest neighborhoods, cities, and
bars where Sam could own one. For the Russian bar in this
book I looked on Google maps, Tumblr, and read articles written
about the nightlife. Usually I go to the setting in which
I give Sam an adventure in, but for this book I did not. Even
though it is fictionalized it is critical of the Russian power
structure and I did not want to cause problems for anyone
who would have helped me while I was there."
Abbott gave a heads up about his future book projects. His
next book will be a stand-alone, a psychological suspense
novel set in Austin. For the subsequent Sam book he has three
possibilities, but all will include Mila, Sam's sidekick and
best friend. Abbott is even thinking about writing a book
mostly from her viewpoint.
The First Order brings changes in Sam and Mila's
life. It becomes evident that Abbott wanted to shake up the
series and has opened new possibilities for both characters.
This espionage series has compelling stories and characters
that keep readers on the edge of their seats.