When the Queen’s grandson goes missing, there’s only one man who can be trusted to find him and bring him back safely—and that’s Lord Alexander Hawke, whose return to the genre couldn’t have come at a better time.
Picking up moments from where Overkill (2018) left off, Bell’s 11th Alex Hawke novel begins with his hero racing home to stop an assassin from killing Pelham Grenville, one of the few people still alive he truly loves. Before revealing Pelham’s fate, however, Bell shifts back in time to Washington, D.C. 1941, where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt meets with Tiger Tang, the new Chinese ambassador to the United States.
Later, at a party, Tiger meets John Hawke, the grandfather of Lord Alex, and the two become fast friends, though it’s clear that Tang has his own post-Pearl Harbor secret agenda.
In the present day, the Queen of England is beside herself when Prince Henry goes missing and calls once again upon Lord Alex, who happens to be Henry’s godfather, to find him and bring him home at all costs. Much like when he was tasked with saving the British Royal family back in Warlord (2010), the timing here couldn’t be much worse for Alex, who is recovering from a near-fatal wound following a run-in with the henchman Mr. Smith, who was last seen working for Putin in Overkill.
Suiting up yet again, Alex—a former MI-6 officer and the sixth richest man in England—accepts his new mission and goes in search of Henry, who was last spotted at the exclusive Dragonfire Club, located on Black Dragon Island in the Bahamas, which is owned by the Tang Brothers, grandsons of Ambassador Tang. After discovering that Dragonfire is but one piece of the Tang family’s vast criminal enterprise, something Alex figures Henry must have stumbled into, Hawke travels to the island to poke around—only to find a conspiracy that is nearly 100 years in the making.
As with every one of Bell’s books, it doesn’t take long for bullets to start flying as two titans clash, setting in motion a devious plan that’s long been in the works . . . as old family history is settled once and for all.
Much like Daniel Silva (author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Gabriel Allon series), Ted Bell truly is one of the most gifted writers in the genre today. A masterful wordsmith unmatched by his peers, I remain convinced that had Bell taken to writing more contemporary fiction, he would be remembered as one of the greatest writers of his time. Instead, thriller fans lucked out by having such a fine writer commit himself to pumping out action-packed adventures, and this one is some of his finest work to date.
The time-shifting plot works so well here, with Bell taking full advantage of the parallel stories. At one point, Bell (whose hero has been called this generation’s James Bond) even teams up John Hawke with Ian Flemming, 007’s creator. Without giving anything away, those pages are some of the book’s best, and most memorable, moments. Likewise, the entire Tang family is well-developed and should certainly be in contention for the best villains of the year, though it’s hard to pick which one is the best baddie. While Tiger is perhaps the most memorable, his grandsons (and granddaughter, who runs much of the family empire) give Hawke a hell of a time as he tries to save Henry, leading to more nonstop action and explosions than most writers can cram into two books.
Blazing-fast, incredibly fun, and filled to the brim with his trademark heart-thumping action sequences, Dragonfire is Ted Bell at his very best, and one of the few can’t miss thrillers hittings bookstores this year.
Author: Ted Bell
Series: Alex Hawke #11
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
Release Date: July 21, 2020
Real Book Spy Rating: 9.5/10
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.