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The Breach by Patrick Lee
Review by Ernest Lilley
Harper Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061584459
Date: 01 January 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

A mysterious plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness brings ex-cop and ex-con Travis Chase face to face with demons from his past, as well as new ones from a mysterious breach in the fabric of space. A bit twisty, a lot of carnage, and fun for those who like that sort of thing. At least once in a while.

Last March I reviewed Patient Zero: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry, a tale of government secrets, super-science and bad guys run amok. It was a lot of fun in the quick read way that high octane adventure always is. The Breach is cut from the same cloth, with a bit of Warehouse 13 thrown in. Like Patient Zero, the main character is a (super)man off the street hurriedly inducted to forestall the current crisis. In that case, it was a cop, whose street smarts were just what the job needed. Here, It's Travis Chase...also a cop...but an ex-con as well. Travis has been out of the slammer for a year when the story opens, having paid his debt to society for a crime of passion that still haunts his dreams.

Travis left Minnesota, his home state, to find himself in the Yukon, though why he chose that is something he might have a hard time explaining to you. When the story opens he's hiking in the Alaska wilderness on something of a personal retreat trying to decide where his life should go from here. Events decide things pretty much for him when he stumbles across a downed jetliner that has landed miraculously in an isolated valley.

When Travis reaches the broken fusalage, he finds the plane mostly intact, full of sophisticated electronic gear, and a dozen bodies. The usual cause of death in a plane crash is from hitting the ground at a few hundred miles an hour, but these folks had escaped that fate. Unfortunately the gunshots to the head indicated that their luck didn't hold.

Travis finds one more passenger in a secret compartment, and though she left a detailed note for anyone who found the plane, she'd bled out long before our boy showed up. There are a pile of mysteries confronting Travis, starting with why and how an unmarked plane has crash landed in the middle of nowhere, to what was the first lady doing on it, and what to do with her dying instructions.

"Hostiles are torturing two of our way to tell you what is at stake...It's bad...kill our people...kill captives first..."
It's a hell of a thing to ask of Travis, but he knows it's something he can handle, something he's been trained to do. The only problem is that he gets it into his head to rescue the old man and the woman that he can see are being horribly tortured, rather than follow the dead woman's last command.

So Travis Chase gets caught up in an adventure beyond his wildest dreams, saving the beautiful, if hard as nails, scientist's daughter and getting enlisted to protect the world from the plot of a madman who's stolen a device that came through an interdimensional portal and has the ability to grant anyone who holds it their deepest wishes. That is, just before it uses them to unleash whatever global devastation it decides is funny.

The tough as nails gal is Paige Campbell, the secret agency is Tangent, and the secret that they guard is that there is a hole in the world that objects with unearthly properties come through--some wonderful, some incredibly deadly. All from an unknown place with science far in advance of ours.

Some of that tech has gotten loose, and the piece on the plane was the deadliest of all, and is now in the hands of a terrorist the likes of which the world has never seen.

So, you get the idea. There's a really high body count, a Jack Bauer character running around with lots of guns, spooky tech cropping up around the corner, and a Ramboesque gal (Paige) in the mix to fall for.

The ending clearly leaves open the door for the next book(s) and there actually is something like dark character development built into the story ark. If you're squeamish about the casual murder of plot, character, and literature though, you'd be wise not to let it suck you in. If you can stand the literary carnage however, The Breach delivers all the adrenaline you could hope for.

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