Sunday, December 16, 2018

Book Review: 'The Assassin's Trail' by J.C. Fields

Missouri author J.C. Fields earned a degree in Psychology and. After college he joined a large computer corporation and has utilized skills learned there to introduce computer usage to numerous companies. This mastery of the computer technology made Fields’ movement into the Blog system of sharing his writing skills with a broad audience a natural transition so that now he can devote his time to his passion for writing, creating short stories and novels in the mystery/thriller and science fiction arenas in the printed form also. He is currently the Treasurer for the Springfield Writers' Guild, a chapter of the Missouri Writer's Guild. THE FUGITIVE’S TRAIL was his publishing debut – THE ASSASSIN’S TRAIL now follows in those fine footsteps.

What we are fortunate to now realize is that this second book represents a series named after the lead character of these novels- Sean Kruger. Fields writes as though he were preparing a screenplay, so assiduous is his setting the atmosphere of the scenes of his novel. The first chapter is a fully realized crime, adroitly scribed, and this skill follows the writing through the book. Excerpt – ‘The assassin waited on the parked motorcycle, a helmet obscuring his face. One parking space away was a black Mercedes convertible, its top down. His hand, hidden inside his leather jacket, held a suppressed SIG Sauer automatic. He watched the tall, well-dressed man exit the Starbucks and wave to someone inside. As the man approached the Mercedes, the motorcyclist’s grip tightened as he prepared to withdraw the weapon. Headlights flashed on the Mercedes as another car pulled into the empty parking space next to him and blocked his view of the tall man. A wave of panic engulfed him; his target was about to get away. As the man opened the driver’s side door of the Mercedes, the motorcyclist realized he might have one more opportunity if he hurried. Leaving the gun inside his jacket, he started the motorcycle as the Mercedes backed out of its parking space…’ Enough of a teaser.

The plot can be summarized as follows: ‘Homicide Detective Ryan Clark has a problem. A prominent businessman has been assassinated by a drive-by shooting. Two weeks earlier another man, in the same industry, was shot and killed. He suspects the assassinations are related and calls an old friend with the FBI. When FBI profiler Special Agent Sean Kruger arrives at the scene of the second murder, he agrees with Clark but is hesitant to get involved. After twenty-five years with the FBI, he is tired of the bureaucracy and politics of the job. His constant traveling has kept him away from the woman he loves and he is contemplating retiring to start a new life with her. A week later, while home in Kansas City, the assassin strikes again. Only this time close to where he lives and suddenly the search becomes personal. With the help of JR Diminski, the computer genius from The Fugitive’s Trail, Kruger identifies a suspect and travels to Alabama for the arrest. Politics and micromanaging complicate the situation. Kruger is ordered to wait, but disobeys and proceeds with the arrest. When everything goes horribly wrong, he is suspended by the Director of the FBI. Now outside the protection of the agency, he must decide whether to walk away from his career or put his new marriage and life in danger by pursuing the assassin. An assassin whose ultimate goal is an attack in the center of the United States. An attack that will result in more innocent casualties than 9/11.’

Sean Kruger immediately steps off the page as a memorable character along the lines of Jack Ryan of Tom Clancy’s indelible creation. With this second installment it is obvious that Fields can maintain the high standard he has set for himself – and for Sean Kruger. This is first class writing! Grady Harp, September 16

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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