The End Game (Templar #5), by Raymond Khoury

Six stars

Returning to his highly-acclaimed series, Khoury pulls the reader into one of his most fast-paced novels to date. While he is still trying to come to terms with the brief kidnapping of his young son, FBI Special Agent Sean Reilly wrestles with another memory buried deep in his mind. As a ten year old, Reilly returned home to find his father dead in his study, the apparent victim of a suicide. However, when an anonymous caller reveals that there may be more to it, Reilly is intrigued and sets up a meeting. Rather than learning more, Reilly is pulled into the middle of a trap, with a body of a CIA operative awaiting him and evidence that he committed the crime. Reilly is being hunted and must go on the lam, not only to discover the truth about his father, but to protect himself, while still chasing the CIA ghost that took his son. While he dodges the authorities, Reilly becomes the target of a secret collection of CIA assassins who work on the Dark Web. They may be responsible for a number of high-profile hits that were camouflaged to be accidents, all for reasons few understand. As Reilly digs deeper, he realises that his father might well have been involved in this organisation and his death a means of payback for a chink in his armour. Can Reilly sacrifice all that he holds sacred to uncover this group and get to its core, or will be end up being another man whose blood in spilled in the name of the cabal? Khoury knows how to spin a tale and keeps the reader panting as they seek to catch up with this explosive story. 

The series has morphed from being one whose focus fell within the Templar mysteries to this more action-packed Bourne-esque race for the truth. While I am fond of the former, some of the middle novels that tried to pull away were less than enthralling for me. I returned to give this one a shot and found myself interested, though the one man fighting the BIG MACHINE can sometimes get a little tiresome. That said, Khoury knows how to inject action into a plot and keeps the reader guessing where things will go. Peppering the story with some humour and just the right amount of drama, the reader feels balanced in the novel’s approach, yet there is something missing. I seek teamwork, action, historical drama when I think of the Reilly-Chaykin series, but this has the former racing around and calling in to touch base with the latter, who is also the woman he loves. It could be me, an likely is, but I had hoped for a more balanced, team-based approach.

Kudos, Mr. Khoury for this well-crafted novel. My tastes are not the only ones who matter and I hope others have a more electrifying sentiment when they complete this book.

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