War of Shadows (Dan Morgan #8), by Leo J. Maloney

Seven stars

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

I have been a fan of Leo J. Maloney since he began the Dan Morgan series years ago. The stories are a mix of military-type thrills and international espionage rolled into one. That being said, sometimes things take an odd turn and the story falls flat, as it did this time for me. Dan Morgan is on his way to his Massachusetts home when he sees it explode before his eyes. As a husband and father, panic sets in, with the potential that his wife and daughter are inside. However, his Zeta Group mind kicks into high gear and he knows that he must find the perpetrator immediately, as this could be the first in a series of attacks. While neighbours scramble to make sense of the Morgans home, Dan slinks away and follows an unrecognised vehicle, following it towards the local Zeta Group HQ, which subsequently explodes as well. Who is targeting Morgan and how will he be able to stop this before he, too, is killed? As Morgan begins to assume the worst, he cannot let the likely death of his wife derail him. Fighting for answers, Morgan soon discovers that his daughter—and fellow Zeta Group agent—Alex, is alive and well, having been warned out of the house by her mother’s voice. Dan tries to make sense of this, presuming Alex is having a break with reality, but there is little time to contemplate this. As the Morgans realise that someone is trying to dismantle Zeta Group, they scramble to safety, only to be taken across the world on a mission to get to the core of the situation. Garnering much information in Taiwan, Dan Morgan discovers that there is an anti-Zeta Group seeking to replace them, with a potential mole inside his own organisation. This group is dead-set against leaving anyone or anything to chance, hoping to exterminate Morgan and his team in short order. Vowing not only to seek revenge for those who would see Zeta Group destroyed, but also to bring Jenny’s killers to justice, Dan Morgan will do all he can to ensure retribution is both final and bloody. A decent addition to the series, though things got a little too tech-heavy for me in this piece. It’s a toss-up if series fans will applaud or speed through this latest novel.

As I said above, I have been with Maloney throughout this entire journey. Most of the stories are well-crafted and quick to impress, though there is the odd one that seems to focus on a mission that does not pull me in. Dan Morgan remains an interesting character, who has only recently admitted his actual Zeta Group position to his wife and allowed Alex to join the crew. His loves his family more than anything, even the country he vows to defend, but there is something that pushes him to continually forge ahead and risk his life. With little to lose, Dan seeks retribution, though a paced and calculated one in this case. Series fans have come to know Alex Morgan a little better throughout this series. From the young girl, Alex has matured into a powerful force in Zeta Group, using her skills to offset what some might say is a lack of raw strength. Her presence is felt throughout the book, allowing the reader to witness her ongoing character development. Like her father, Alex has all the grit and determination that one could expect in a strong protagonist. There are many other characters, both regulars and one-offs, who serve to help push the story forward. While Maloney has chosen well, the presence of these individuals does not always clarify the tale, but rather adds confusion during my reader experience. With an interesting story that seeks to weed out a traitor, the excessive travel and numerous sets of characters did little for me. However, I can see how some would enjoy this and to those people, I say, ‘you have just what you want’. Not a bad read, but not one of my favourites in the series.

Kudos, Mr. Maloney, for keeping the Dan Morgan series alive. I see a teaser chapters included, so there is surely more to come sooner than later.

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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Threat Level Alpha (Dan Morgan #7), by Leo J. Maloney

Eight stars

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

Leo Maloney is back with another novel in the Dan Morgan series, pushing the limits while enthralling the reader with this high-impact story. The Zeta Division has changed significantly over the last number of years, particularly with some of the hard work that Dan Morgan has put in to make this elite organisation extremely effective while remaining covert. Choosing to take a well-deserved holiday with his patient wife, Morgan counsels Alex, his daughter and one of Zeta’s newest operatives, to watch herself over the next little while. Alex Morgan may be young but she is prepared to handle any situation tossed at her. When Zeta learns that a biochemistry professor, nicknamed Dr. Armageddon, has been espousing a virus that kills the entire human population to create a ‘reset’, Alex is sent to infiltrate the group and learn all she can about any future plans. While she soaks up the college life, her parents are chased down by a group of Russian operatives, whose target is surely Dan Morgan. While he expects trouble, this is an old friend/foe seeking Morgan’s help with a piece of highly delicate intel. It would appear a Chechen terrorist group has gathered old Soviet documentation on a biological weapon that could wreak havoc on large portions of the population. These terrorists must be stopped at any cost or things could go sour quickly. Just as Alex seems to be making headway posing as a college student, the Chechens arrive on campus to force Dr. Armageddon and a group of students to work on the Soviet weapon or die trying. Morgan must keep his cool while waiting to hear what is going on, knowing that Alex’s life could be in extreme danger. If this were not enough, a terror group in the Philippines has stormed into an international gathering, seeking to maximise the body count to make a point. Maloney has done it again with this stellar read that pulls the reader into the middle of this entertaining piece. Those who enjoy the Dan Morgan series will surely want to get their hands on this novel, as will readers who enjoy stories that mix espionage and political intrigue.

I am always in the mood for Leo J. Maloney’s work, as it weaves an exciting story and does not let the reader breathe until the final sentence. Maloney has a way not only with words, but is also able to engage the reader with strong writing and believable dialogue. Dan Morgan takes a backseat in this novel, forced to wait as his daughter tries to extricate herself out of one of the most harrowing experiences in her young life. Alex proves to be not only an endearing character, but also has the grit needed to make it in the Zeta Division. Her passion for the work and ability to blend in proves to be the perfect mix. Alex comes out of her shell and proves that she can emerge from the shadow cast by her father, surely a formative point in the series. There are other strong characters whose secondary role help push the story forward while ramping up the action as well. Working two key plots in tandem, Maloney forces the reader to pay close attention, as each storyline has its own importance to the overall advancement of the series. The novel moves away from some of the traditional ‘terrorist’ pieces, turning not only to a Russian enemy, but also new forms of weapons. Looking towards biological warfare, Maloney hints at what might be to come, if not in reality, then at least in this genre that is jam-packed with authors striving to ascend to the top of the pack. Maloney is there and with more stories of this nature, he is sure to remain there for the foreseeable future.

Kudos, Mr. Maloney, for another great novel. I cannot say enough about your writing and hope others will discover you soon!

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

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

Rogue Commander (Dan Morgan #6), by Leo J. Maloney

Eight stars

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

Returning with another exciting BlackOps adventure, Leo J. Maloney impresses series fans and those new to Dan Morgan in equal measure. In the ever-evolving world of espionage and military antics, Dan Morgan is at the top of his game. Employed by the Zeta Division, this off-the-books BlackOps organisation goes where other agencies cannot. Morgan is contacted by long-time friend, General James Collins, who has been accused of stealing a cache of Tomahawk missiles. Unable to believe that this is possible, Morgan undertakes some initial intel, though is pulled off the case in short order, as Collins is being sought for the crime. Morgan has a harder time letting go and defies orders, trying to clear his friend’s name by any means necessary. Morgan is now a wanted man and Zeta is on his tail. Discontent with being left in the dark, newest Zeta member Alex Morgan seeks to work in parallel with her father, doing her own covert work in an attempt to discover the truth. Meanwhile, as they attempt to track down another player in the black-market, a member of Zeta is taken and shipped off to the North Koreans. With little time and limited resources, the hunt is on for both agents, though for different reasons. When Morgan discovers just who wants these missiles and for what purpose, he will stop at nothing to block the end result, even if it costs him everything he has. This entertaining piece pulls the reader into the height of an international crisis where the enemy reads from a completely different playbook. Maloney has outdone himself with this book and is sure to impress Dan Morgan fans.

I have long enjoyed Maloney’s work and find it not only to be poignant, but also very believable. The characters vary in each novel, but the impact of the story remains high. Pulling Alex Morgan into the middle of the stories has added a new level of excitement, as Dan Morgan is forced not only to make decisions for himself, but to protect his daughter. This struggle comes up throughout the novel and is furthered as his wife, Jenny, begins to push for more information about the overall mission. The story is strong and keeps the reader wondering until the very end, pushing the limits and using some new-age villains in the North Koreans, thankfully leaving anything Muslim far in the rearview mirror. Peppered with military jargon and emerging defence technology, this novel effectively bridges to the rest of the series as it advances storylines and backstories to the point that the reader is always sure to learn something. The only downside would be the need to wait for the next novel, though a teaser embedded into the last pages of this book should sate series fans enough until the next publication.

Kudos, Mr. Maloney, for another piece that individualises itself in the genre. I always know that I will find a well-paced novel when your name is affixed to it.

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