Warning Light (Jake Keller #1), by David Ricciardi

Eight stars

Having been handed the ARC for the latest novel in this series, I thought it a great idea to read all that David Ricciardi has to offer. I do love a good spy thriller, particularly when there is a unique twist. Ricciardi presents an exciting story that is sure to pull the reader in and keep them excited throughout the reading experience. When a CIA operative finds himself aboard a passenger airline that has to make an emergency landing in Iran, it’s no major issue. Zac Miller is prepared to play the tourist, while he tries to get a better look at what the Iranians are hiding within the country. However, his innocent ‘photographing’ of the countryside raises red flags for some local officials and he is taken into custody. Vowing not to be found out, Miller is able to escape and finds a way out of the country, only to be met with new troubles when he cannot substantiate who he might be. Trying to make it back to Paris, he soon discovers that his issues are not put to rest, as he is a wanted man, with no one to vouch for him. A stunning series debut that has surely caught my attention and has me wanting to delve deeper.

Zac Miller is a CIA operative who’s been called into duty at the last moment. He leaves Paris en route to Singapore, sitting on a commercial airliner as it travels across Asia. When the plane is forced to make an emergency landing in Iran, things definitely take a turn for the local authorities, who do not want any visuals made of their military capabilities. However, once the plane lands, Miller and the other passengers deplane and spend time waiting to be collected for the next leg of their journey. The airliner’s emergency landing may not have been all that innocent after all, and Miller has been tasked with using his time wisely to help his superiors. Using his time to capture some of the local scenery, Miller does his duty before making his way back to to the airport to await news of what is to come.

When the Iranians take time to question Miller about who he is and what he’s been doing, he pleads innocence and refuses to admit to being anything other than a passenger. Howeever, someone is on to him and the local authorities try to be as persuasive as possible to extract some admissions. Torture and various threats are issues, but nothing comes of it, as Miller holds firm, vowing to get out of there in one piece. When the chance arises, he flees and travels across the countryside, in hopes of making it out of the country and back to safety, armed with details the Americans will need to know soon.

While Miller sets his sights on the UAE, the Iranians have tried to cover their antics and place a ‘plant’ on the outgoing airliner, in hopes of smoothing everything over and ensuring that no one is the wiser. It seems to work for the time being, but they will have to find Miller before he is able to reveal what he’s discovered. As Miller arrives inside the UAE, he is able to steal a boat and hopes to check in with the American authorities. However, he’s captured again, due to his lack of Agency finesse, and brought it for more questioning, which only leaves him even more troubled than before.

Making another harrowed escape, Millier will have to get back to Paris to ensure his protection. Little does he know, someone’s framed him for murder there and the authorities are looking for him. The one person he was sure he could trust is no longer sure of his innocence. He will have to clear his name, if he can make it there alive. Zac Miller is holding onto an explosive piece of information, but it will mean nothing if he cannot make it somewhere safe. David Ricciardi offers a stunning piece with a character that could be called the new Jason Bourne. Perfect for those who love the genre and need a little pep to keep them going.

There’s nothing like a debut novel to really provide the reader with something to judge and David Ricciardi does that repeatedly here. This aptly titled novel does offer a warning light to readers that there is a new author ready to stun fans of the style and perhaps rise to the top before too long. Ricciardi has all the elements I sought and kept me hooked throughout, even as things did get a little far-fetched on some occasions.

I enjoyed the development of the Zac Miller character and am eager to see how he progresses, should he return in Ricciardi’s second novel. While he knows what he is tasked with doing, Miller is surely out of his element in this piece and is trying to stay one step ahead of those who would destroy him. There may be little personal backstory injected into the narrative, but it leaves much room for subsequent novels, where the other side of Zac Miller could come to light. I am intrigued and curious to see what the series will bring, including returning characters and larger story arcs.

The cast of secondary characters did well to keep the story moving. From the keen-eyed passenger sitting next to Miller on their flight into Iran, through to the military and police officials across other countries who had the CIA officer on their radars. The attention to detail was present and kept me wanting a little more, never letting me down throughout the process. I am intrigued to see if there will be some returning faces as I get deeper into this series, hoping to find some links that will build as the novels progress.

The story was strong and help my attention throughout. I did enjoy the early Jason Bourne novels and this has that same feel, though one can hope that Ricciardi will not allow things to stray too much and turn things into a repeated game of cat and mouse. I love action, but I also need some progression in my writing, something that Ricciardi has done to date. The mix of chapter lengths kept me wanting to read a little more, if only to discover what awaited the protagonist. I am happy to keep reading, so that I can get to the aforementioned ARC that awaits me. Let’s see what’s to come and who might appear.

Kudos, Mr. Ricciardi, for a stunning series debut. I am surprised that this is your first novel and cannot wait to see what else this series will bring.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons