The Risk Agent
by Ridley Pearson
John Knox and Grace Chu are hired by the Rutherford Risk company to track down Lu Hao and Clete Danner who were kidnapped by unknown forces. Knox and Chu quickly realize that Hao’s financial reports are key to everything: why the kidnapping occurred, who orchestrated it, and possibly the solution to saving them. However, Knox and Chu aren’t the only ones interested in Hao and his important numbers. Chinese State Police, a group of Mongolians, and a rival construction CEO are all involved. Knox and Chu constantly stay on the run, wanted by the police, and find more trouble when another agent of Rutherford Risk is hospitalized. The secret they are after is deeper than anyone realized.
This is a complicated story with a lot of connections and mysteries to be solved. There is a lot going on and Pearson keeps it all in line.
Kidnapping, corruption, bribery, and the mystery of motive. All of it combines to make a pretty decent thriller.
Grace Chu: Forensic accountant, has had Chinese military service, Masters in Economics from Berkley, Masters in Criminology at U.C. Irvine, works on the sly for Rutherford Risk Agency, wide face, broad shoulders, trained in hand to hand combat, surveillance, small arms, and communications. Father estranged, mother alive. Serious demeanor.
John Knox: Dark blue eyes, scar by left ear and other scars from past work for the military, cleft in chin, operates an Internet trading company specializing in Asian / Middle East souvenirs with his brother who is a savant in numbers but suffers several medical problems. Parents dead. Has had SERE training. Cultural expert. Fan of football
Brian Primer: Head of Rutherford Risk Agency Asian branch, tan gray flinty eyes
Steve Kozlowski: Friend of John’s, football fan, works at U.S. Consulate in Shanghai, tall, handsome, receding hairline, almost bald, married, tense movements, likes motorcycles
And so many more interesting characters. Very distinctive characters with enough description and background information to readily remember them. Very good character development.
Grace doesn’t use contractions. Kozlowski is very political. Primer is business. Good depiction of Chinese without going overboard on missed words.
What the reader cannot hear is described as either Mandarin or Shanghainese.
This story takes place in Shanghai and Pearson does an excellent job of showing the Chinese culture both good and bad. The energy and action amp up the closer it comes to the date of the ransom payment and then…takes off in the aftermath. Chapters are headed by date/time/location. Scene changes are delineated by time changing. A little profanity. Action is precise and not too graphic.