I loved Shane Kuhn’s first two books, The Intern’s Handbook and Hostile Takeover. I thought after the second book that he probably was done with the John Lago series for a while, but I hoped he would be making a return. This is why I hate falling head over heels for characters and certain styles of books. Those two books were sarcastic, warped, and FUN. Sadly, I did not encounter much fun with Kennedy, this book’s hero. I have a problem separating church and state, as far as Kuhn’s titles go. I did get through this pretty quick, and it clips along at a leisurely pace and doesn’t lag much, and I LOVE that. However, I kept thinking this guy’s heartache and guilt over his sister’s death in 9/11 was more of a plot device than character development. I never saw many sides to this character except heartache, which the character himself readily admits has influenced his choice of jobs and lack of caring attitude about many parts of his life. At least it wasn’t my imagination, if the character himself admits it in the first part of the book! I had a hard time connecting to Kennedy, and no problem with the supporting cast…the team, his friend Wes, and his sister’s friend Love. That means it is going to be a tough sell, and it was…for me, at least. I have customers that will love this and I will happily sell it to, but it just isn’t my favorite work by him. My heart belongs to John Lago. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this!!! I did, I just felt like I was watching it as I would watching an action movie, just not much in the way of connecting as a reader with a book.
Kennedy goes above and beyond his job duties as a TSA security director. You could say he buries himself in his quest to make America’s airways safe again after 9/11. There is, of course, the fact that his sister was killed on 9/11, which is not only fueling his inner fire to full boil, which causing him to rot ibternally from guilt. All around him, Kennedy is surrounded, as well as suoervised by, incompetent people dropping the ball. He gets intel that a very real threat is on its way, and attempts to warn his superior, who shrugs it off. Kennedy is then instructed to show up at a clandestine meeting, where he believes terrorists are ready to put him on ice. He uses his wits and escapes, only to be rescued and informed he passed the tests the CIA has set for him to prove that he has what it takes. He is then taken on as a counterterrorism operative, with an elite group of varied occupations, into the top secret project known as RED CARPET. The focus of the main threat is a shadowy monster known as Lentz. It doesn’t take long for the curve balls to start getting thrown at Kennedy, as those close to the Red Carpet begin to expire and the pressure to catch him and stop what could be a worldwide cataclysmic disaster worse than 9/11 begins to mount. There are few twists I didn’t see coming, so Kuhn still has a handle on the element of surprise and throws the reader into a bit if a tailspin. Still, sadly, this did not rock the casbah so much for me. It was a case of too little, too late. I think anyone who enjoyed Vince Flynn or Daniel Silva would enjoy this book. I just had too many expectations after the John Lago series for this to knock my socks off. A decent thriller overall.