Following A Murder of Crows (2016), James Hicks is back in Terrence McCauley’s new thriller, A Conspiracy of Ravens.
With the Vanguard — the world’s largest crime syndicate — firmly in his sights, James Hicks obtains a key piece of evidence that gives him his first solid lead as the new head of the University, but things quickly go sideways.
While running a mission on American soil, members of the University — a top-secret spy ring made up of highly-trained international operatives — are forced to make a move when their op goes bad almost as soon as it starts. In the process, Hicks crosses paths with the CIA’s head of Clandestine Services, Charles Demerest, who demands the University (similar to Tom Clancy’s fictitious covert team, the Campus) share all of their intel on the Vanguard.
Hicks, of course, is reluctant to share info, and for good reason. The Vanguard has agents everywhere — and the only people Hicks knows he can trust for certain are his own team members.
Shortly after turning down the CIA, the University — and Hicks specifically — are targeted in a series of attacks. As explosions ring out and operatives turn up dead around the globe, Hicks is left wondering who his current opponent actually is. Is the Vanguard to blame? Is the CIA helping them? With more questions than answers, Hicks plunges further down the rabbit hole, where he’s forced to navigate around constant gunfire and a number of high-powered conspiracies on his way to a shocking discovery.
McCauley’s up-tempo third book is a drag race to the finish line. While the pacing is fast, making A Conspiracy of Ravens a quick and mostly enjoyable read, newcomers who haven’t read the previous two books might feel a bit lost at times. The lack of character development is one thing, but the very little recap from previous books is what stands out, as new readers are given very little background information into the characters and intelligence agency they’ll be following.
That said, once readers are invested, the story becomes increasingly harder to put down, as McCauley does a nice job building suspense before unleashing a well-written final act that makes up for any early missteps.
A Conspiracy of Ravens is a globe-trotting, action-packed spy thriller that mixes elements from several later Tom Clancy novels and the Tom Cruise-driven Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation… A solid choice for fans of international espionage.
Author: Terrence McCauley
Series: James Hicks #3
Pages: 352 (Paperback)
Publisher: Polis Books
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10