The King of Fear
A Garrett Reilly thriller by Drew Chapman
Book review by Jules Brenner
Simon & Schuster, released 2/16/16, 384 pp., $15.99
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This is the second book in a two-part series featuring Garrett Reilly, a Wall Street bond trader from Long Beach, CA, with an uncanny sense of spotting patterns in seemingly unrelated events and predicting what they may portend for future events. He's also become a pain-killer addict as a consequence of a skull fracture from a bar fight not long ago.

Chapman's first book ("The Ascendant") had Reilly forming a band of misfits which he called the Ascendants to help him head off a disaster. But the team members grew weary of him, having had their fill of his spiky personality. Except that they don't have much of anything else to do and certainly nothing as flat-out exciting as what he can get them into.

So, when a woman shoots the head of the NY Federal Reserve on the street, and shouts out, "Garrett Reilly made me do this" before she hightails it away, and Garrett has picked up on a series of attacks on companies that supply food, credit and other supporting components of our economy, he anticipates that it's a terrorist threat. He comes to the conclusion that there's no other way to save himself and others than by reforming his very reluctant gang for another go at being "ascendants."

But, the shout has been heard and has made him a fugitive. While hiding from the law, then, he has to track down a cyber genius from Russia who is carrying out a scheme of global espionage and cyber terrorism with the aim of crippling major firms on which the smooth running of the economy depends. And this terrorist genius has put together a cell of brilliant cyber criminals aided by a deadly femme fatale, all focused on a dark vision of destruction and a new world order.

Garrett's crew, newly faithful to their leader because of his having managed to make a few self-improvements, helps him face this threat and its storyboard of ruin scripted by a man with the gift of insight not unlike Reilly's. No one in law enforcement can foresee the terrible consequences in store for the country if they don't listen to what our protagonist is trying to tell them -- even as systems fail and firms go down. The cyber demon -- the cleverest and most fearsome enemy Garrett's ever faced -- becomes obsessed with capturing or killing Garrett.

Chapman is playing here with several concepts that strain credulity but he writes well enough to raise hairs on one's head and entertains us with a fearsome what-if scenario underlying an antic psycho thriller. He's also bold enough to strip his hero of super-anything but draw his hero as a slightly above average Joe with problems, instincts and crystal ball readings -- plus a willingness to fight evil with what he's got.

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