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  • The pages didn't turn fast enough

    Cloak and Dagger stories are usually not my favorite, but it pays to take a chance now and then and Devolution paid off. Author John Casey makes us anxious from the onset when SCALPEL’s Deputy Director of Operations, Phil Dittrich, the CIA’s top spy, pulls the plug at the last minute on a clandestine operation that goes awry. SCALPEL is tied to the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, in charge of beyond-black operations, and after barely pulling off its last near-disaster of an operation, it finds itself in hot water again. Dittrich’s second in command, Lauren Rhodes, follows orders and aborts the mission, but with apprehension, wondering what is in store for SCALPEL as well as her own prospects. Meanwhile, the bad guys have no doubt about their mission and they’re full speed ahead on a deadly plan, built around revenge and religious fanaticism, to kill as many Americans in Europe as they can. Using the all-seeing omniscient POV, Casey gives us a 360-degree view of counterintelligence operations, introducing us to the SCALPEL team. Along with Dittrich and Rhodes there’s the tech-wizardry skills of Thomas Freeman, the spy-savvy operative Tony Stone and the wild-card, Michael Dolan. Dolan is a late arrival, and he seems to be a surprise solution to SCALPEL’s latest problem, but as the saying goes, if it’s too good to be true it probably isn’t. Casey masterfully paints a complex character who is seemingly rock solid, but has defects that even Dolan himself is not completely aware of. These defects come out of his orderly emotional closet when SCALPEL’s mission hits the fan. Casey’s frank and realistic interplay among the principals draws you into a complicated plot about believable challenges, both in the field and inside the walls of counterintelligence operations. His craftsmanship is evident as the plot progresses until the tension becomes too fervent to put aside. The pages didn’t turn fast enough.

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