A Book Spy Review: ‘Chameleon’ by Remi Adeleke

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Former Navy SEAL turned actor, producer, and bestselling nonfiction author Remi Adeleke makes his long-awaited fiction debut with Chameleon, a “black box” thriller that is perfect for fans of Mark Greaney and Jack Carr.

Kali Kent is a master of disguise. A Nigerian native who was raised in New York and forged through the many trials he faced during a tough upbringing in the Bronx (much like the author himself), Kali works for Black Box, a top-secret program buried deep within the CIA. Assigned the toughest, most sensitive missions, Kali’s team is called upon when the opportunity to snatch Lucas Van Groot pops up—but as they’ll soon learn, nothing is quite what it seems.

Groot, a mysterious former South African commando, has made a name for himself by kidnapping wealthy individuals around the world and scoring big on ransom demands. And while the K&R gambit has worked well, lining his pockets with cash in the process, Black Box sees through the typical money scheme and traces a number of changes in the stock market back to Groot, who they realize is deviously manipulating things behind the scenes. But to catch a con artist, you need a con artist, and that’s where Kali’s team comes into play.

Known as chameleons, Kal’s crew—which is so off-the-books even the director of the CIA hasn’t been read into all of their dealings—specializes in manipulation. Highly trained and absolutely lethal, Kali is proficient far beyond just the art of assassinations. In fact, that’s the easy part. Harder yet is getting close enough to the target to carry out the objective, especially when that target is Groot. Thankfully, Kali is able to become whoever he needs to be at just the right moment, seamlessly blending into any and all surroundings, slipping in and out of character with relative ease. So getting into position isn’t the problem.

No, the real problem comes when Kali and Black Box realize that Groot is in bed with Russia, who has just overtaken Ukraine and is looking to expand, taking their war to the front steps of Poland and Hungary—mere stepping stones for their much larger, far more ambitious goal of taking over the world.

Much like his protagionist, Remi Adeleke has been a chameleon himself, able to wear numerous hats (so long as it has the famous Yankees “NY” logo on it), from actor (Transformers, The Terminal List, etc.) to producer to author to narrator (that’s right, he even narrates the audiobook). Those who’ve read his powerful memoir, Transformed: A Navy SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa, to the Streets of the Bronx, to Defying All Odds, will notice more than a few similarities between the writer and his character. His resume is impressive, and clearly, Adeleke knows his stuff. Chameleon is a brilliant thriller. And, sure, it absolutely is a fit for readers of Graeney and Carr, but truthfully, there’s nothing else quite like this in the genre today. Kali is a fantastic addition to the growing stable of badass heroes operating on the current thriller scene, but it’s the cast around him that makes this book work so well. One sure-to-be fan-favorite is Thane, a formally-trained theatre actor and playwriter whose method acting allows him to play a number of crucial roles as the story progresses. Lucas Van Groot, the baddie at large, is likewise just as compelling. But the cast of characters aside, Adeleke introduces a plot that, while it may seem far-fetched at first, quickly morphs into a mirror image of events playing out around the world today. Hopefully, fiction will prove to be crazier than real life, but if not, one can only hope that Kali and his chameleons are really out there . . . and that they’re playing for the good guys.

Remi Adeleke comes out swinging with his first work of fiction, and Cameoleon delivers a knockout punch that lands square on the chin. Lightning-fast and red-hot with the kind of action that’ll have you running for cover, there’s no question that this is the debut thriller of the year.

Book Details

Author: Remi Adeleke
Series: Black Box #1
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0063238837
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: July 25, 2023
Real Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10

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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. His second novel, LETHAL RANGE, comes out on August 8th. 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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