Endgame (Fawkes and Baxter #3), by Daniel Cole

Seven stars

Daniel Cole brings his Ragdoll trilogy to an end with this novel, saving what he feels could be the best for last. While William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes evades capture by those he used to call colleagues, he is drawn to visit the home of someone close to him. The recent death of Finlay Shaw by suicide is troubling for many, none more than his wife, Maggie. That being said a curious Wolf refuses to believe that it was by Shaw’s own doing that he ended up with a gunshot to the head. While Wolf is hauled in to answer for his crimes, he is able to negotiate some reprieve as he looks into the case. When Wolf comes face to face with his former partner, Emily Baxter, it’s oil and water, leaving Wolf to try mending fences as best he can. The deeper the investigation goes, the more Wolf is sure he is on the right track. With a powerful new Police Commissioner calling the shots, Wolf becomes a target of a cover-up no one saw in the making. With certain chapters telling a detailed backstory of how Finlay and Maggie met and grew closer, the reader can see the pieces of the puzzle coming together before their eyes. Someone is pulling the strings and willing to silence anyone who may spill the beans. It’s a hunt for power in an endgame that is sure to spill a great deal of blood. Cole does well bringing things together, though leaves some key threads to dangle for what he references in his author’s note will be a fourth explosive novel. Recommended to those who enjoyed the series and want some closure.

I remember listening to the first two novels in the series and enjoying them to varying degrees. The themes that come up and the way Cole discusses them was always of interest to me. I felt less connected in this final piece, which is sad, as it seeks to collect the questions and provide needed answers. William Fawkes and Emily Baxter remain central characters, though their roles in this investigation have them working apart rather than in tandem. Their characters continue to advance and are pushed together in the middle of the novel, which turns out to loosely work in their favour, though creates a little drama for the reader to discover. Other characters make strong appearances throughout, including segments of a backstory with Finlay and Maggie, as well as a few other key players who reemerge in the present tale. Cole does well to develop these characters, weaving them into key plot lines and keeping the reader guessing. The overall story was decent and developed nicely, but it did not pack the punch I was hoping to get as I started the book. I wanted something sinister, that would blow my mind, but was instead given something that slowly emerged and offered some finality. Cole’s hinting at a new book that keeps some of the characters active has me curious, though he mentions new angles to the same cast, so perhaps the focus will shift to new eyes and dramatic situations. We shall see in the months to come!

Kudos, Mr. Cole, for a strong story, even if it was not my favourite. I have a great appreciation for your work and hope to feel more attached to 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