This is the first Chess Team book to occur post-Ridley Saga, and is designed to be much more stand alone. As such, it makes a good entry point into the series for new fans – and they will be fans by the end of the book, mark my words on that one.
The back story here starts with Henry Morton Stanley trying to find the money to get back to Africa. It seems that Dr. Livingstone had told him a fantastical tale that he just had to go see for himself…
Flash forward nearly a century, and a man running from the constant wars of mid 20th century Africa finds a mysterious cave that two of his friends quickly die in.
And then we come to the modern era, where we are quickly introduced to a bunch of tourists in Egypt. One is Chinese, two appears to be a German couple, and two more appear to be tourists from some other Arab country. Of course they are none other than Shin Dae-jung, call sign KNIGHT, Stan Tremblay, call sign ROOK, Zelda Baker, call sign QUEEN, Erik Sommers, call sign BISHOP, and the man who has now lived through millenia, Jack Sigler – call sign KING. Yes, all of these tourists are our Chess Team, and they are on yet another mission to set up yet another book.
The tale this time mostly centers in Africa, but with a couple of side trips – QUEEN and ROOK only – to Europe to save a President and kill some bad guys, CHESS TEAM style. Along the way, we get a spin on the Team that is becoming somewhat the norm in these later books with the story splitting the team up in different objectives before bringing them all back together for the final battle. Along the way, we encounter at least a couple of people who are holdovers from the Ridley Saga, we get some great action, some funny humor… and a gut punch about mid way through.
But that midpoint gut punch is NOTHING like the haymaker that lands in the final 12% of the book. To the tune that I actually sent Jeremy this message via Facebook:
NO. I’m 89% in. If you do what it looks like you’re about to do, there *will* be cursing involved. A lot of it.
Hence the title of this review. But I have to admit, it is *because* of this haymaker that this story stands head and shoulders above any CHESS TEAM book before it. Because of this haymaker, I recommend reading at least a few of the previous books first, just to get the full weight of what is happening, though it isn’t strictly necessary. (But seriously, who starts reading a series with Book 6?? Seriously – you’ll have a LOT more fun if you start off with PRIME or PULSE, then skip ahead and read this one if you must. Hell, go ahead and buy all three!
This haymaker will change the course of the team forever… Or will it? As with Marvel’s Avenger Series movies, make sure you stay through the end credits. Or in this case, the “Coda” after the Epilogue…