Once a Thief (Simon Riske #4), by Christopher Reich

Eight stars

Back for another stunning thriller by Christopher Reich, I was ready for a great read! Reich did not disappoint with this piece, which mixes action with some international espionage. There is action from the outset, which does not die down until the final page turn, providing the reader with something entertaining throughout. Another stellar piece by Reich.

Simon Riske finds himself in California, helping to facilitate the massive purchase of a vintage vehicle that has recently been restored. However, things take a turn when Sylvia Bettencourt demands that the sale be halted until the car’s original gearbox can be found, Riske finds himself in a panic. He does all he can to pave the way for the sale, but trips on an old Russian enemy that could surely prove troublesome. He’s back in Europe, but those are not the only memories he has at the time.

With the gearbox in the hands of a ruthless criminal, Riske will have to bend the rules in order to appease the mystery buyer, all the while thirsting himself into a great deal of trouble. Riske is about to secure the gearbox, when Sylvia shows him something highly prejudicial that could put Riske in jail for murder, forcing the man to work, if only temporarily, for Sylvie. It’s money lauding at the highest level, something that Riske vowed he would never help facilitate. However, what other choice does he have if he is to stay on the right side of the law?

All the while, a car bomb explodes and kills a Swiss banker. His daughter is baffled by what’s happened and begins investigating on her own. What she learns is intriguing, but there are those with eyes on her, hoping that they will be able to silence this amateur sleuth before she learns the truth. Riske is pulled into the middle of helping her as well, as he tries to dismantle the money laundering operation at its core. Reich does well with this piece, amping up the action at every turn and keeping Simon Riske extremely busy.

I have always enjoyed the work of Christopher Reich and find that he gets to the heart of the matter with ease. His writing is fast-paced and usually on point, keeping the reader enthralled until the final page turn. Just what I needed as I pushed through the weekend.

Simon Riske is a great protagonist, offering up a little more of his backstory and a great deal of development. Riske has done it all and thought that he could turn away from his life in the criminal world, but it would seem that he has to blur the lines ones in a while. Riske shows off his abilities well and keeps the reader wondering what they will discover next, which only adds to the greatness of the story.

Christopher Reich uses all the elements to create a stellar piece and develops in through a strong narrative. The story flows with ease and keeps the reader guessing as things take many twists throughout. I find that his use of varied characters keeps things exciting and intriguing in equal measure, forcing the reader to follow many paths and keep things straight. A mix of chapter lengths has the reader intrigued throughout, allowing them to wonder what’s next for this fast-paced spy with a past he wishes could stay hidden. I am eager to see what’s to come and how series fans will be surprised in the next novel. Always a great reading experience.

Kudos, Mr. Reich, for an entertaining reader. You never fail to impress!

The Palace (Simon Riske #3), by Christopher Reich

Nine stars

Ready for another harrowing adventure in the world of espionage, I turn to Christopher Reich and his newest series. The action does not stop and Reich weaves together an intricate tale in which his protagonist shows his true mettle. Simon Riske enjoys his life as a mechanic and restorer of expensive vehicles in London, though when MI5 call for him, he is usually quick to reply. However, after his partner is seriously injured at the end of his most recent mission, Riske tosses in the towel and refuses to work for the seedy underbelly of the British Government. Then, a man of some importance casts a shadow on his mechanic shop with a mission for him. Rafael de Bourbon, ‘Rafa’, is in trouble in Thailand and needs Riske’s help. Rafa once saved Riske’s life and cannot turn down the mission. It would seem Rafa is being detained by the National Police and has been rotting in a Bangkok jail. When Riske arrives, he tries to negotiate the release of his friend, learning that Rafa stole a large chunk of highly sensitive data from PetroSaud a powerful trading company with extremely deep pockets. During the transfer of documents for Rafa’s freedom, something goes horribly wrong and Riske is accused of murder. Now, on the run, Riske must not only try to stay one step ahead of the Thai officials, but determine what Rafa found and how his leaking of the files to a print journalist could be extremely dangerous for all involved. As the hunt intensifies, Riske finds himself travelling across Asia. PetroSaud has a ruthless mercenary with only one purpose, to neutralise Riske once and for all. If only that were the biggest issue he uncovers. These are no longer the rough streets of Marseilles, where Riske learned everything about unfair fights, but rather a period when the world may be rocked to its core. A stunning novel that will keep the reader hooked until the very end. Recommended to those who love tales of espionage, as well as the reader who considers themselves a great fan of Christopher Reich.

There is so much to enjoy in this piece, not the least of which that Christopher Reich is at the helm. His ability to craft a realistic story is paired with settings across the world. At times, the reader must grip something to stay upright throughout this piece. Simon Riske is back for another scintillating ride, pulling in some of his past friends alongside some new faces. While there is some mention of his backstory, much of the book focuses on his development and attempts to fight for what he feels is right. Riske shows moments of extreme compassion, particularly in the opening segment of the book, but his grit is not something to be discounted either, as he fights to the death to protect those close to him. Many of the secondary characters receive a wonderful depiction through the eyes of Reich, who differentiates them from one another and keeps the reader entertained throughout. The story was masterful and the action pushed the narrative along in ways I have not seen in books of late. Reich has shown that he is a master and seems skilled with most anything he pens. I can hope that this book (the entire series, actually) will garner a new wave of fans, who can then look back to find some of his older work as well. Now, to see what’s next on the agenda… though patience is key!

Kudos, Mr. Reich, for another winner. To say I was riveted would be an understatement.

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

Crown Jewel (Simon Riske #2), by Christopher Reich

Eight stars

Christopher Reich returns with a new Simon Riske novel, sure to dazzle the reader with this high-speed thriller set in Europe’s poshest domains. When Simon is approached to help foil a major cheating ring at a high-end casino, he jumps at the opportunity, not least because the mission has him going to Monaco. Wanting to mix a little business and pleasure, Riske decides to enter himself in a car race, rubbing elbows with some of the richest men who have a need for speed. While casing out the baccarat tables in Monaco, Riske thinks that he has uncovered a high-tech scheme that is draining the casino of millions, though must collect enough information to substantiate his claim. During some of his down time, Riske encounters Victoria ‘Vika’ Brandt, a blue-blood who is trying to come to terms with the death of her mother. While Vika is certain it was no accident, the police refuse to hear of it, claiming suicide. Riske cannot help but put himself into the middle of things and is soon trying to make the needed connections. When Vika is attacked, Riske will stop at nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice, a band of Eastern Europeans who are as cutthroat as they are ruthless. Working to track them down, Riske makes some interesting discoveries in the casino investigation, which could open up more danger for everyone involved. There’s another piece to the puzzle, one that Riske has not factored in, but could bring the entire investigation crashing down before him. Reich has outdone himself with this one, sure to please those who are fans of his work.

I have long been a fan of Christopher Reich and his work, which pushes the reader well outside the box they may be used to when reading thrillers. The novel and its characters provide much entertainment, while also educating the reader about the lifestyles of the rich. Simon Riske is a wonderful protagonist, still new to the scene and therefore leaving much for Reich to develop. Once a criminal himself, Riske has been able to turn towards the good and serves as an investigator with the intuition needed from a past life in a gang. His attention to detail and ability to make himself blend in prove highly effective, but he is also one who is susceptible to the wiles of beauty and speed, though not always at the same time. His grit and rough edges help to develop a man that many on both sides of the law would not want to cross, though some will test this theory. Vika Brandt offers a refreshing counterbalance to Riske in this piece, at times playing the hapless heroine, but also a woman who does not see herself as royalty, even though she has a title. Together, they are able to open new pathways in the investigation, though there is certainly some chemistry between them that cannot be discounted. Others who find themselves peppered across the pages of the book help to develop a stellar thriller, with their various backstories and desired outcomes, usually clashing with the protagonists. The story is strong, taking the reader in a few directions without appearing fractured or out of sorts. The action is fast-paced and continues to grow as the narrative builds, keeping the reader wondering what is awaiting them in the next chapter. Reich has a handle on this genre and continues to impress. I can only hope there is more to come in short order!

Kudos, Mr. Reich, for another winner. You know how to write thrillers that take the reader to far-off locales without losing them in the process.

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

The Take (Simon Riske #1), by Christopher Reich

Eight stars

Christopher Reich is back with the debut novel in a new series, which has much potential to grow into something electric and throughly entertaining. After a well-orchestrated heist in Paris leaves a Saudi prince’s convoy disrupted and a large sum of money stolen, the thieves realize that they have an added prize for their efforts; a letter containing security secrets that could be fatal if they fell into the wrong hands. When a member of the American Government arrives in London to speak with Simon Riske there is little interest in taking on the case of recovering the letter. However, once the name of the lead thief is revealed, Tino Coluzzi, Riske changes his tune. With a sordid past of his own, Riske crossed paths with Coluzzi when they were both part of the Corsican Mafia and ran the job that saw an armoured case robbery go awry and Riske take the fall. Now, RIske wants nothing more than to retrieve this mystery letter, if only to help the country of his birth and exact some form of revenge on Culuzzi. As Riske searches, Coluzzi has begun trying to contact the Russian Government, hoping to sell them the letter, but there seems to be little interest. That said, both Riske and Coluzzi are in trouble, as the SVR—Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service—is happy to collect the letter and exterminate these two in the process. As Riske works with a member of the Paris police, he offers just enough information to receive the assistance he needs, remaining one step behind Coluzzi but in the crosshairs of the Russians. This might be one adrenaline rush too many for Riske, long since out of the business. Reich does a masterful job at keeping the story clipping along and providing readers with proof as to why he is a master of the genre. Perfect for those who love a good thriller that mixes espionage with a dash of police procedural.

I have long admired Christopher Reich as a masterful storyteller, both for his storylines and the characters he uses. There is little doubt that this new novel will lay the groundwork for an exciting series, using this debut to develop a strong character who has straddled both sides of the law. Simon Riske’s backstory is on offer here, as Reich returns to shape him throughout the narrative. Abandoned and shipped off to France as a teenager, Riske turned to the only family that accepted him, the Mafia, to make ends meet. However, his epiphany came at a time when he could weigh his options and make a life-changing decision to use his past to effect change. Fuelled with this animosity, Riske is sent on a collision course to clash with his former friend in a case that leaves no stone unchecked. Some of the other characters peppered throughout the narrative provide key elements to the story that advances effectively. Even with a large number of characters, Reich is able to juggle the many storylines and deliver an effective narrative that does not bog down or leave the reader flipping back to recollect how everyone fits together. There are many loose ends woven into the story and this leaves the reader to wonder what might be coming next, while also providing Reich with an opening to explore them further in future novels. Reich is succinct in his writing and keeps the reader wanting to know more, pushing onward with these well-paced chapters. The technical jargon is present, more to inject realism than to drown the reader in minutiae. Readers can easily lose themselves in the story and yet demand more, leaving Reich to decide if this is a pathway he wants to continue, having laid such a powerful foundation.

Kudos, Mr. Reich, for such an explosive debut novel in the series. You are sure to captivate scores of new fans with this piece. I cannot wait to see what other ‘risks’ you’ll take with your next publication.

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