In Dave Edlund’s breakneck thriller Judgment at Alcatraz, a wandering ex-assassin becomes embroiled in a harrowing extremist plot to regain Native American lands.
A peaceful protest group journeys to Alcatraz Island in the hopes of spreading awareness about the plight of modern Native American tribes. Unbeknownst to them, a splinter group has plans to initiate a hostage situation. Their demands are simple: Native American lands must be returned to their rightful tribal owners, or a fleet of drones carrying a deadly payload will assault San Francisco and its environs. It’s up to an unexpected heroine to save the day.
Danya is on the run, as several countries have placed a price on her head. As an assassin at the top of her field, Danya grew disillusioned with killing when a series of missions revealed that she’d been manipulated and used as a precision weapon. In a small town, she befriended a young cashier who offered to bring her along to the protest on Alcatraz. Mustering up her impressive talents, Danya risks everything to prevent an unprecedented disaster.
The story tightens as Danya begins to break her own rules (that she will keep to herself and evade detection). Her story is near claustrophobic as she elects to take on the extremist group all by herself. Quick flashbacks to her past clarify her intense talents—and her reasons for abandoning her successful career.
This first series entry is captivating, not only because of its flawed, likeable heroine. Danya’s talents have been used for the wrong reasons for far too long, and her drive to balance her past out with good deeds is compelling. The frenetic ending lays out teasers for future books.
Judgment at Alcatraz is a powerhouse thriller with an undercurrent of layered social commentary.
John M. Murray
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