Dark Territory (Dan Morgan # 6.5), by Leo J. Maloney

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Leo J. Maloney, Lyrical Underground, and Kensington Publishing Corp. for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Leo J. Maloney has made a name for himself with his Dan Morgan thrillers, keeping readers enthralled and flipping pages well into the night. While Morgan may be a thrill seeker, he’s passed the passion along to his daughter, Alex, who plays a central role in this short story. Alex Morgan is a well-trained sniper and is sent to Russia to take care of a North Korean nuisance. After her mission, she needs to reach her exfil site, on the other side of the country, without being noticed. The most discreet way to make it there is a three day trip aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway. Unbeknownst to Alex, a few interesting characters are also aboard, each with their own agendas. Former Serbian mercenary, Maxim Kreesat has taken it upon himself to take possession of a Russian satellite, armed with nuclear warheads, ready to deploy at the push of a button. Kreesat is prepared to stand down for a massive sum of money, letting both the Americans and Russians know the timeline before he will obliterate their capitals. As the train continues its uneventful trip, Alex discovers the plan and that Kreesat has a hostage to ensure his play cannot go wrong. After being tipped off by American officials, Dan Morgan rushes to save his daughter and neutralise the threat, though must be covert and sneak onto the train at one of the scheduled stops. However, as soon becomes apparent, the Russians are not ready to roll over with a terrorist making threats in their own country. While locked on the train, Kreesat is surely a sitting duck for Special Forces… or is he? Maloney does well to ramp up the action in short order as he keeps series fans sated until the next full-length novel, though the protagonist remains in doubt, based on events above. Those who have followed Dan Morgan throughout the series will surely enjoy this piece, as well anyone with a passion for military thrillers.

Maloney is always a wonderfully refreshing writer who has a firm handle on the thriller genre. Always finding a unique angle to his stories, Maloney utilises some interesting characters and locales to develop the series in remarkable ways. Handing the protagonist role to Alex Morgan, the story explores life through her eyes. Surely left to mature in her father’s shadow, Alex has much to offer and seems to be an entertaining character. Her determination and coolness under pressure have been seen before, but she has never been able to grow and learn on her own, until now. With Dan Morgan half a world away, the reader can see another side of him, panicked father, who chooses to rush to help Alex. While this does pose a slight ‘damsel in distress’ situation, I think Maloney was trying to exhibit a father who will move mountains rather than a means to save the lowly girl. Many of the other minor characters work well in this piece, though there is little room to develop effectively. The story is a wonderful mix of thrills and chills, as the setting is primarily aboard this massive train, waiting for it to cross the Siberian wasteland. Maloney does a wonderful job of pulling the reader into the setting and leaving them to feel as though they, too, are aboard and trying to stay one step ahead of the danger. This is a great series that is always entertaining and challenging in equal measure. Those with an interest should dive in at the start and see just how strong a writer Leo J. Maloney has become over time.

Kudos, Mr. Maloney, for this wonderful piece. I loved the teaser to keep series fans excited and hope your next novel is on its way down the pipeline soon.

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

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