The Take by Christopher Reich

I REALLY wanted to like this book. I had read and enjoyed his prior books Numbered Account and Rules of Deception, and when I read the blurb that referred to this as a “stylish breathtaking ride” in “the grand tradition of The Day of the Jackal and The Bourne Identity,” I was ready! And I am very grateful to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for a copy in return for my honest review. Having set aside a DAY to dive in and savor this book, I am sad to say I couldn’t finish it.

The plot sounded awesome: the protagonist, Simon Riske, is a “freelance industrial spy” (hmmm, I thought, whatever that is) who restores luxury cars and lives quietly in London. After getting out of prison, he has worked for banks, insurance companies, and even the British Secret Service – but now has been hired by the CIA on a case that involves and old acquaintance, Tino Coluzzi. Tino was Riske’s accomplice years ago on a job for which Riske took the fall. It seems that Tino has stolen the briefcase of a wealthy Saudi prince. And while the CIA doesn’t really care about the money, they do care about a letter hidden in the case. Once Riske hears it is Coluzzi who is the target, he is all in.

Along the way, Riske works with Nicolette Perez, a French police office who is less than thrilled to be assigned to work with him. There is another female, a Russian assassin who has been assigned to kill Riske at all costs.

Early on, when Riske stole a fabulously expensive wristwatch right off the arm of a man, I thought maybe this one would require a certain level of willing suspension of disbelief. And I was okay with that…until the part where he was in prison and successfully defended himself using a RAZOR BLADE HIDDEN IN HIS MOUTH. Seriously.

Anyway, Simon Riske is part James Bond, and many fans of this genre will love this, but it was a bit cartoonish for me. It will likely make a fun movie and I still think Christopher Reich writes well, but I can’t go past three stars on this one.

P.S. I just noticed that every review on Amazon is 5 stars at this point, so I may be totally off base – but there it is.