4 out of 4 stars
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How much would you compromise to protect your loved ones? Would you commit treason? Dr. Bailey Pogue is forced between seemingly impossible choices as he struggles to do the right thing in Thicker Than Blood by Don Brobst. After Pogue's colleague and several employees are murdered at the office building where he works, he learns from local authorities that his close friend, Connor, has not been honest about his identity. On the morning of the murders, Connor offered Pogue a position as a concierge physician for his wealthy family; he neglected to mention that his father is the Chicago mafia boss, Ben Gambrel. After Connor admits that he is Nick Gambrel, he uses Pogue's gambling debt against him as leverage and makes him an offer that he can't refuse without endangering his family. Feeling he has no choice, Pogue accepts the offer but also agrees to work undercover with the FBI. However, after Pogue uncovers the crime syndicate's connections to political espionage and human trafficking, his fifteen-year-old daughter is kidnapped. Now he must work closely with the CIA, but can Pogue rescue his daughter without blowing his cover?
Although the book is a work of fiction, the synopsis notes that "...it is inspired by real events." Brobst delivers a fast-paced thriller that is difficult to put down. He combines a suspenseful plot with a cast of well-developed characters. From the beginning of the story to the end, readers will relate to the protagonist, Pogue, as he wrestles the realistic conflict between protecting his family and doing the right thing.
While the thrilling plot initially drew me to the book, it was the exceptional characterization that kept me turning "just one more page." Pogue is flawed but relatable. Although he is fiercely devoted to his family, when the story begins, he is confiding to his friend about digging the family finances out of the hole due to his gambling debts, a situation he has kept hidden from his wife. As the story unfolds, Brobst effectively conveys the complicated choices that Pogue faces. He struggles with his conscience, and it isn't always clear who he can trust, which adds to the plot's intrigue and heightens the suspense.
In the same vein, the supporting characters and antagonists are equally fleshed out. Brobst convincingly provides multilayered players; their loyalties, motives, and choices are anything but predictable. In a thriller that features villains who draw the line at certain crimes and CIA operatives willing to commit treason, the lines between right and wrong are blurred, keeping readers guessing.
There isn't anything I dislike about this exceptionally edited page-turner. Although it deals with mature themes, including plot-related violence and human trafficking, the book contains no profanity or explicit sexual content. I rate the suspenseful thriller 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend the book to fans of suspense and espionage.
Thicker Than Blood
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