A Book Spy Review: ‘ Black Flag’ by David Ricciardi


Black FlagJake Keller returns for his toughest mission yet in another fast-paced thriller from David Ricciardi.

Pirating sure looks a lot different than it used to.

Gone are the days of large wooden ships, hooks, gold earrings, and cannonballs. Say hello to your modern-day pirates, who look more like a well-trained SWAT team than Captian Jack Sparrow’s scruffy-looking crew.

Targeting oil tankers in Somalia so they can sell the oil on the black market, a group of pirates have shown enough efficiency to draw the attention of CIA agent Jake Keller (Warning Light, 2018; Rogue Strike, 2019), who draws up a plan to smoke the group’s leader out of hiding. Of course, things don’t quite go according to plan, and soon Jake once again finds himself in over his head and running out of time . . .

Ricciardi, one of the genre’s brightest new stars, writes with a clean, inviting, easy prose. Once he has your attention, he knows how to hold it, and his fresh story ideas are a welcomed sight in a genre oversaturated with recycled and tired plotlines. Keller, who was a reluctant hero when first introduced in Warning Light, has grown into a formidable hero capable of shouldering this promising series. Likewise, Ricciardi mixes in some fantastic villains here, including one pirate baddy who keeps a pet that . . . well, let’s just say that Captian Hook would most certainly not approve. Bottom line: three frames in, Ricciardi is bowling nothing but strikes.

Fast, relentless, and superbly plotted, Back Flag is Ricciardi at his best, and the sky is the limit for this series moving forward. Fans of Tom Clancy and Mark Greaney will especially want to give this one a go.

Book Details

Author: David Ricciardi
Series: Jake Keller #3
Pages: 384 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Real Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.


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