Eric Van Lustbader kicks off his wild, action-packed new series with a thundering bang.
Operating deep in the shadows, a secret cabal known only as Nemesis is working around the clock to tear America apart. For Evan Ryder, a kickass female operator working for a top-secret government program buried deep within the Department of Defense, finding them and infiltrating their network is her top priority, but doing so quickly proves to be both harder and more dangerous than she could have anticipated.
Previously, Ryder’s boss received a list of six names, all of them agents who had been investigating Nemesis. Now, five of them are either dead or MIA, leaving one survivor—a man named Patrick Wilson. Tasked with finding Wilson along with whatever he might have learned about Nemesis, Ryder sets out with her partner, Brenda Myers, to do exactly that, only things don’t quite go according to plan.
The story’s first big twist comes when, after locating Wilson, the agent dies while Ryder is questioning him. Shortly thereafter, Ryder and Myers are targeted in an attack. Realizing she’s now on Nemesis’ radar, it’s up to Evan to track them down before they can eliminate her too—but in the process, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that goes much deeper, and stretches much further, than anyone expected . . .
While Lustbader remains best known for his work in Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne series, I expect that to soon change. This is his best thriller so far, and there’s no question—Evan Ryder is a fascinating new protagionist, maybe even the best new character introduced this year (along with heroes from Don Bentley and Chris Hauty). Think Marvel’s Black Widow meets shades of Bourne (the movie Bourne more than the book version), and you’ve got Ryder, a deep and layered character with her own tragic backstory who is beautifully and expertly developed.
Tough, capable, and driven, Ryder prefers to work alone, though she isn’t exactly given that option this time around. And while the story—which is complex and timely, twisting and turning from beginning to tend—is deftly plotted, it’s Ryder that makes this book so special. From brilliant action sequences to big reveals, Ryder drives the story, and while I’m hesitant to over-hype a new series too soon, the sky really is the limit for this franchise moving forward.
The Nemesis Manifesto is a relentless, entertaining thrill ride from Lustbader, who reminds readers just how good he is when it comes to cranking out high-powered espionage adventures that are impossible to put down.
Someone tell Bourne to move over, the genre has a new star in Evan Ryder.
Author: Eric Van Lustbader
Series: Evan Ryder #1
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
Publisher: Forge Books
Release Date: July 21, 2020
Real Book Spy Rating: 9.0/10
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.