Following Troublemaker (2016), Jina Modell goes from nerdy desk-jockey to unlikely hero in Linda Howard’s all-new novel, The Woman Left Behind.
When readers first meet Jina Modell, she’s a communications expert working for a top secret off-the-books government agency. She excels at her job and is happy enough doing it, which is why she’s shocked to find out she’s being reassigned to a black-ops squad in need of a drone operator and someone to run their comms when they’re on assignment.
Though she’s not initially thrilled to leave the comfortable environment of her control room, Jina warms to the idea, at least until she finds out she has to physically qualify for the position.
The Go-Team she’s assigned to is headed up by Ace, real name Levi Butcher, who doesn’t believe Jina is cut out to join their ranks. At first, she doesn’t either, but after extensive training — which involves working out, going for long runs, and familiarizing herself with the computer software she’ll need to know like second nature to adequately do her job — she begins to build self-confidence. Eventually, Jina wins over her new teammates, including Ace, who it turns out she has some serious chemistry with.
With Jina in the fold, Ace’s Go-Team quickly becomes the cream of the crop, but not everyone appreciates their efforts. Back in Washington, a powerful congresswoman is hellbent on ending the Go-Teams and devises a plan to have them shut down. Oblivious to drama back in the States, Jina continues doing her job with precision and speed, until the base camp she’s operating out of in Syria is ambushed. Jina escapes, but her only shot of getting out of the country is to link up with Ace before his team reaches their extraction point. . . which means she’ll have to learn to be a field operative on the fly in order to navigate the dangerous terrain where enemies lurk behind every corner.
It’s really hard to categorize this book. It’s definitely a thriller, though maybe not an action thriller in the traditional sense. There are also some political themes and plenty of suspense, but Howard spends a fair amount on the romance side of things as well. In that regard, The Woman Left Behind is like an action romance thriller, and certainly has enough of everything to satisfy a vast audience of readers.
A large chunk of the book follows Jina’s training after she learns she’s being reassigned from her desk job. It’s clear later on why Howard chose to highlight that part of the story, as readers see that Jina is forced to do everything she learned during her training once she finds herself going it alone in Syria. Overall, the story is enjoyable and tight with quick, even pacing throughout. The characters, especially Jina and Ace, are well developed — with Jina especially growing into her own as the book unfolds.
While the outcome is slightly predictable, Howard’s latest is still an enjoyable ride with a few well-timed surprises along the way. The Woman Left Behind is another solid thriller from Linda Howard, and one of her best books to date.
Author: Linda Howard
Series: Go-Team #2
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: March 6, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 7.0/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck is the editor-in-chief of The Real Book Spy, and one of the thriller genre’s most well-recognized critics. He currently lives in southwest Michigan with his wife and their five children. For more information, make sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook!