A Book Spy Review: ‘Dempsey’ by Brian Andrews and Jeff Wilson


After a three year hiatus, John Dempsey is back and better than ever in the latest can’t-miss thriller from Andrews & Wilson.

Following the events of Collateral (2020), Task Force Ember, the “president’s ‘go-to’ black ops asset,” is fresh off a successful mission in Ukraine. There’s just one problem. Their leader, Dempsey, is dead. Or at least that’s what Ember thinks, as they mourn his loss while simultaneously preparing to hunt down Russian spymaster Arkady Zhukov. The latest intelligence reports suggest that Dempsey was captured by the Russian FSB, before being killed in action. Now, in response, Ember is tasked with terminating Zhukov and anyone else still part of Zeta cell once and for all.

Half way around the world, and contrary to what his team and those closest to him think, Dempsey is very much alive. In fact, death has been a finicky, elusive thing for the former Navy SEAL named Jack Kemper who previously “died” and left his old life behind to become John Dempsey. Death, so far, hasn’t been fatal for Dempsey, but then again, he’s never been tested quite like this. Having accepted a secret mission from Vice President Kelso Jarvis to go deep undercover in Russia, Dempsey must team with a man who’s long been his adversary—a man the rest of the wold wants dead. In order to succeed, he’ll need to navigate the tough and brutal Russian underworld, which could pave the way for much-needed regime change. On the flip side, failure doesn’t only mean certain death—the kind where you don’t wake up again, unless it standing at the pearly gates—it all but assures World War III.

With the stakes at an all time high, its once again up to John Dempsey to save the day before it’s too late . . . and this time, he’ll need to do it alone, without his team or anyone else providing backup.

This highly-anticipated seventh entry in Andrews & Wilson’s bestselling series is some of their finest work to date. Though all the books follow Ember and Dempsey, the author’s have structured things so that there are essentially separate trilogies within the series. Dempsey then, should they continue this same trend, kicks off a new three-book arc, that, without giving anything away, is quite unlike the previous two. Not only is there a slight shift in tone, but an emphasis has clearly been placed on further developing their hero. With the camera tight to Dempsey for much of the book, this story has the raw, personal feel that first filled the pages of Tier One back in 2016. Moreover, Andrews & Wilson shift to the POV of one Jake Kemper throughout, following him as he goes through BUD/S. No spoilers here, but readers will no doubt hope that leads to something . . . bigger . . . in another book.

As far as the story itself, this is one of the most complex plots Andrews & Wilson have pulled off so far, and perfectly underscores why they’re a brilliant choice to take over the Jack Ryan Sr. book set within Tom Clancy’s universe. That news just broke a couple of weeks ago, so it’s understandable that Andres & Wilson will be plenty busy in the coming years, as they still have other franchises to tend to as well. Still, Dempsey is precisely the type of book that made readers fall in love with their work, and after giving their fans exactly what they’ve been asking for, one can only hope we won’t have to wait another three year’s for the eventual follow-up.

Andrews & Wilson came out swinging with their triumphant return to the series that made them household names in the thriller world. High-flying action, a plot that feels ripped straight from the headlines, and a badass hero to root for make Dempsey impossible to put down. Look for this to stand among the year’s best when it’s all said and done, and expectation to be at an all-time high for whatever comes next.

Book Details

Author: Andrews & Wilson
Series: Dempsey #7
Pages: 350 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0593548108
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Release Date: February 21, 2023
Real Book Spy Rating: 8.75/10



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 is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.

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