Audiobook Review: Downfall by Jeff Abbott

20 08 2013

Downfall (Sam Capra, Bk. 3) by Jeff Abbott

Read by Kevin T. Collins

Hachette Audio

Length: 16 Hrs 33 Min

Genre: Thriller

Quick Thoughts: Downfall is another fast and complex thriller in Jeff Abbott’s excellent series featuring ex-CIA spy Sam Capra. If you like fast paced action, with a dude running around like a crazy man, throwing himself in harms way, and finding ways to handle threats from all sides, well, dammit, read this series. It’s a good time.

Grade: B+

Every time I hear the main character in a thriller, adventure, spy novel talk about how he or she wants a "normal" life, I wonder exactly why. Honestly, dudes and dudettes who spend your days chasing down nuclear launch codes or exposing international conspiracies that go all the way to the top, normal lives are kind of Meh. Really. This is why you are in a book, because, despite the fact that everyone you have sex with ends up either betraying you or kidnapped to forced you to commit a crime, at least you are promised hot spy sex at least once a year. I have lived almost 40 years and I am yet to experience hot spy sex…. that I know about. Normal is really, really boring. That’s why the typical day to day life of a white suburban male who works a crappy job tends not to be what author’s write about, unless you’re one of those hoity toity literary types, and really, who wants to read that. Actually, maybe you spy types. Maybe, after a long day driving cars off cliffs, jumping out of supersonic experimental planes, and tossing corrupt CEO’s who are blackmailing the president out the windows of their penthouse apartments, maybe you like to lean, back and relax and read about some dude filling out purchase orders, and trying to figure out how to complete all the work when two people have called out and one is out on FLMA leave. Maybe, after whining and dining a Russian heiress whose father may have ties to international arms brokering, you just can’t wait to find out how some dude is going to handle the woman complaining about her leaking sink, when she never reported it was leaking. Maybe, when you say you want a normal life, you are speaking the absolute truth. I mean, is it really YOUR fault that the woman being hunted by the shady power broker just happened to come into your bar, or the man you just had to forcibly remove from your establishment just happened to be related to the Russian mob? Can you help that trouble finds you, and it’s not the kind of trouble that a normal person has to deal with when some clerk accidentally enters their purchase order twice and they receive double the amount of supplies they were expecting but have very limited space? Probably not.

Sam Capra was just tending bar one day when a beautiful women came in asking for help, followed by two shady characters. Of course, Sam Capra, being the highly trained ex-CIA spy that he was, and his bar being the front for an international organization tracking and containing the works of certain evil conspiracy groups, Sam knew better than get involved, so of course, he gets involved. When the confrontation leaves one man dead, and Sam on the radar both of the cops, and a shadowy man who likes to subtly manipulate people in such a way to bring fortune to himself and those in his network, Sam must find out how much danger he and those he loves are in. Of course, it’s a lot. Downfall is another fast and complex thriller in Jeff Abbott’s excellent series. Sam is finally settled down with his son, and pretty much in a nice normal groove, so of course, the rules say something has to shake things up for him, and shake they do. Downfall puts Sam at odds with just about everyone, allies, enemies, and those who he’s involved with in a personal way. Abbott makes up for the change in focus of the first two novels, where Sam is put into direct confrontation with an international cabal, while searching for his wife and son, by shifting the conflict, making it a bit more unseen. While the threats are there, and direct at times, Downfall works much life an iceberg, where the real danger is hidden under the surface. As always, the action is crisp and thrilling. Abbott’s action choreography differs from most thriller authors.  Typically author’s action descriptions tend to be more focused on the overall picture, creating elaborate set pieces with many moving parts. Instead Abbott takes an almost kinesiological approach, focusing on the precise placement and movement of the body, as Capra fights, flees and does what it takes to bring down the bad guys. Yet, the plot goes the other direction, combining direct threats with a bunch of hidden players mixed in. It was nice to actually have more information than the protagonist, and often see how Capra’s logical deductions were actually wrong, due to his lack of information. Yet, Abbott still managed to pull off some surprises that only Capra may have seen coming. One thing that did annoy me was a few interactions, particularly between Sam, and his kind of sort of  Nanny seemed somewhat unrealistic due to information that those who have read the previous novel had, but the characters seemed to be jumping through hoops not to mention, seemingly to avoid spoilers for those who may read the book out of order. While this is something that I guess you deal with when reading a series, sometimes I wish a character would just yell, "Well, that’s because in the last book, I tried to shoot you then harvest you spleen for my own mad experiments *Note: Spoiler not real* but I guess author’s can’t really do that. *pouty sulk*  While I didn’t enjoy Downfall as much as The Last Minute, it was still a heck of a lot of fun, and the Sam Capra series continues to bring you solid conspiracy plots, and lots of unique, yet still kick ass action. If you like fast paced action, with a dude running around like a crazy man, throwing himself in harms way, and finding ways to handle threats from all sides, well, dammit, read this series. It’s a good time.

Once again Kevin T. Collins handles the narration, and for my money, thank god he does. Here’s the thing. Kevin T. Collins emotes. When his characters are upset, he sounds upset. When there are happy, horny, angry or indignant, he sounds that way. His emotional spin is obvious. If you want someone to just read the words, you probably won’t like Collin’s reading. If you want to experience the characters, and get thrilled, frustrated angry, sad (but, hopefully not horny, unless that’s your thing) Collins is your guy. Collin’s handles the international cast superbly. He does some Russian, some British, some Moldovan, and a few others thrown in for flavor. He reads the action with a precise, deliberate pace perfect for Abbott’s style of writing. Collins has quickly become a favorite of mine, and for my book, he is the voice of Sam Capra, good, bad and ugly.

Thanks to Hachette Audio for providing me with a copy of this title for review.