Years ago, bestselling novelist Ian Ludlow helped the CIA brainstorm attack scenarios for different ways terrorists might try to strike a blow on American soil. In the present day, Ludlow is busy promoting the latest book in his mega-popular Clint Straker series. Following a reading at a bookstore in Seattle, Ludlow hits up a bar intending to relax and enjoy the rest of his evening. A short while after arriving, he notices a breaking news story and listens as the anchor details an attack that just took place in Hawaii.
Like everyone else in the bar and around the country, Ludlow watches the coverage of a commercial airliner flying into a hotel on Waikiki beach in Honolulu. Like everyone else, he’s horrified by the video and images sprawling across the screen.
But unlike everyone else, Ian Ludlow knows exactly how this attack went down, and who was behind it. . . because it’s one of the scenarios he dreamed up when brainstorming with the CIA back in the day.
Realizing that he’s essentially a loose end because of his intimate knowledge of the attack, Ludlow goes on the run — inadvertently dragging an innocent woman named Margo French along for the ride. It turns out that Ludlow was right — the people behind the attack are out to silence him, and as he attempts to avoid them and figure out his next play, two shocking revelations threaten to send his world spiraling out of control. The first is that while he might know the plot details, he doesn’t know the ending of his own story — which means he has to start thinking like Clint Straker, his fictional hero, if he’s going to stay alive. Secondly, Ludlow discovers that he wasn’t the only author who pitched attack ideas to CIA, or the only one who’s seen their ideas play out in real life. . .
On the surface, Lee Goldberg’s latest novel reads like a paradox of today’s most famous thriller authors. Take #1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor, for example, who really was part of the CIA’s analytical Red Cell program where civilians, including thriller authors, did in fact pitch out-of-the-box attack scenarios to the government. Thor, by the way, is the man behind sixteen bestselling novels that star former Navy SEAL turned counterterrorism operative Scot Harvath.
In that regard, True Fiction is like a print version of Netflix’s True Memoirs of an International Assassin, the action-comedy starring Kevin James. However, beneath the surface is a very sharp, witty, and entertaining story. There’s also plenty of humor, as Goldberg nails some great tongue-in-cheek one-liners to go with his fast-moving plot and interesting characters.
While slightly more silly than serious, True Fiction is plenty of fun and reads very fast. Its two hundred thirty-seven pages fly by in a hurry, and, in an ironic twist, it turns out that Ian Ludlow is a pseudonym Goldberg used back in the mid-1980s while he was still a UCLA student.
Overall, Lee Goldberg’s True Fiction is a fresh change of pace from other thrillers hitting store shelves this spring, and its timely story makes it well worth the read. Best of all, the author leaves the door open for more Ludlow (and maybe even Clint Straker) in the future.
Author: Lee Goldberg
Series: Ian Ludlow Thrillers #1
Pages: 237 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: April 1, 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 has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.