A Book Spy Review: ‘Safe Havens: Primed Charge’ By J.T. Patten

JT Patten Primed Charge.jpgFollowing his promising debut novel, Safe Havens: Shadow Masters, author J.T. Patten, a former member of the special operations community, offers up his second spy novel featuring covert operative Sean Havens.

There are games played by average people, and then there are games played by spies. The latter is usually more complex, often far more dangerous, and always lethal. Patten explores this area of the secret, covert world where black-ops are carried out, and true evil lives in Safe Havens: Primed Charge.

When multiple, seemingly random, deadly events occur in various parts of the world claiming countless lives in the process, few suspect that everything is somehow related. But intel analyst Sean Havens begins connecting the dots that nobody else sees and realizes that the attacks are, in fact, all connected. And if his findings are true, the ramifications are unthinkable…

Also piled onto Havens’ overflowing plate are the repercussions of the events from Safe Havens: Shadow Masters. Without giving too much of the first book away, Sean’s life has changed drastically since the final chapters of Shadow Masters. He’s now learning how to balance his increased role as father to his daughter with his busy work life. Straddling that line proves tough, though, as Sean finds himself living with one foot in the light and another in a world of shadowy chaos and unthinkable danger.

Pressing on with his investigation, Havens unearths the truth about a secret society who, officially, doesn’t exist.

Unofficially, they’re everywhere.

Prescott Drager, the antagonist to Havens’ lead, is a truly despicable character. He’s also an accomplished covert operative. From dabbling in rape and sexual domination to killing in cold blood, readers will despise the deranged villain and cheer on Havens as he closes the gap and readies himself to face off with the despicable veteran spy.

Patten covers far more than just the various missions and operations Sean Havens embarks on, and is careful to also include plenty of details into his hero’s life away from the action. The ability to show a middle-aged operative in the heat of battle one minute and at home raising his child the next is evidence of Patten’s depth as a writer. That said, there are a few negatives to point out.

While the author displays plenty of know-how when it comes to black-ops, the plot does jump around quite a bit. Secondary characters aren’t fully fleshed out, and some readers may be confused as to the correct sequence of events. Tanya Crowe, a character who has a strong introduction, fizzles out and is underused. I wanted to read more about her, and I genuinely hope she has a larger role in the next novel.

Safe Havens isn’t perfect, but none of those cons outweigh the pros, and in many ways Patten’s style is refreshing. Where most new writers are hellbent on emulating the late Vince Flynn, who is widely considered to be the gold-standard for spy thrillers, Patten takes a different approach with the tone of his novels, executing more of a slow-burn plot than over the top, non-stop action.

In that regard, Patten’s work is more comparable to, say, Alan Furst, but with a present-day setting and significantly more blood and guts. Forget the PG-13 rating, Primed Charge is a hard “R”and reads like a throwback to when action movies didn’t suck.

Having grown leaps and bounds since the release of his first novel, J.T. Patten, with his penchant for been-there-done-that authenticity, remains an author to watch closely.


Author: J.T. Patten
Series: Sean Havens #2
Pages: 480 (Paperback)
ISBN: 0692664297
Publisher: Escape From Reality Press
Release Date: April 20, 2016 (Order Now!)

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