The Shadow List by Todd
Moss is an international crime novel. Unlike other thrillers
this takes place in the non-traditional place of Nigeria with
the non-traditional hero, Judd Ryker, heading the State Department’s
Crisis Reaction Unit.
As a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, in the African
Bureau, Moss is able to use his experiences to help with the
story. “I am inspired by real people. When I worked
at the State Department I knew of true heroes. One was an
anti-corruption czar in Nigeria who had to endure many assassination
attempts. This is the basis for this international thriller.”
Although this story can be read as a stand-alone there are
some scenes that will be more understandable if the earlier
books are read. It might be more helpful to learning the backstory
on the characters and their motivations.
The two main characters are married with one working for the
diplomatic corps and the other for the CIA, both in specialized
units. They try to keep their jobs separate but as the story
progresses their paths cross in a deadly way.
Moss noted, “The issues the main characters face are
very real including the bureaucratic nonsense that prevents
things from getting done. A good example was Benghazi, a rapidly
unfolding crisis that went very bad because the different
parts of our government did not talk to each other very well.
Regarding our intelligence agency there are different units.
The Red Cell I describe in the book is a special analytical
unit and is real. It is the inspiration for the Purple Cell
that Jessica heads up, which is not real.”
The plot had Judd tasked to rescue a kidnapped Wall Street
consultant and a pro basketball player. At the same time his
wife Jessica is sent on a mission to discover who is the Russian
mobster nicknamed “the Bear” and what are his
intentions. Both he and his wife will end up in Nigeria together
connected by a Nigerian Judge who is combating corruption
in his country. There they realize how far each with go to
save the good guys and thwart the bad guys.
An interesting part of the book examines the relationship
between an operative and their spouse. Since Moss was a senior
State Department official “I struggled with handling
the classified information. I wanted to show in the book how
Jessica had a hard time splitting in her mind what is classified
and what is not. Eventually anyone who works with classified
information comes to the realization it is better not to talk
about anything for fear of saying something they should not.”
The main characters are smart and appealing. The plot is exciting,
captivating, and intriguing. Readers will enjoy a change of
pace where diplomacy intertwines with the action.