The Lightning Rod by Ged Gillmore

The Lightning Rod by Ged Gillmore
Publisher: deGrevilo Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

All she wanted was an Uber – instead she got a corpse.

When gunshots ring out on a respectable Sydney street, Anna Moore finds herself sharing an Uber with a dead man. To make matters worse, the dead man was part of the feared Mendoza drug cartel, and now Anna’s the only one who knows his whispered last words.

Ruthless undercover cop, Charlie Hall, sees a perfect opportunity when she interviews Anna. Charlie has a secret agenda, and Anna might just be the perfect pawn for her to use to bring down Mendoza’s operation.

Meanwhile, the Uber driver, Bassam, still has the dead man’s bags in his trunk. He should tell the cops. But what harm will it do to take a look first?

The cops want results. The drug cartel wants no loose ends.

As Anna, Bassam and Charlie descend into the murky depths of the criminal underworld they’ll have to trust each other to outwit Mendoza. But when pressure mounts and morality blurs, the three will face a desperate fight that only two of them will survive…

Anna’s walk of shame late one Saturday evening is interrupted by what she’s positive is the sound of a gunshot in a ritzy Sydney suburb. In a matter of moments her regular life is thrown into chaos when she shares her Uber home with a stranger who ends up dying in her arms. Anna is the only person who hears this dying man’s final words and all too soon her regular existence is tied up with a fierce skirmish between one of the biggest drug cartels and the police. Anna has a ruthless cop on her heels, determined to use Anna as bait in shutting the cartel down, and the uber driver, Bassam, is left literally holding the bags everyone forgot in the rear of his car. These three lives are now forever entwined – but can they all survive?

I’ve read a few of Gillmore’s previous books and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I’ve found his gritty, darkly humorous writing tone really appeals to my tastes and I adore how Gillmore isn’t afraid to make his characters – even his heroes – be flawed and all too human. I find it refreshing and an excellent read although the darker undertones often won’t be to everyone’s tastes. Readers who enjoy heavily and well plotted action packed mystery/thrillers should absolutely give this book a try. I was pleased Gillmore didn’t rush the first chapter of this book – this was no movie-like, high octane, heart pounding rush of a scene, but still managed to a hundred percent grab my attention and empathy and hook me in to the story. I enjoyed Anna’s character and found her modern and relatable but it was very clear there were numerous layers bubbling under the surface. The fact I could so easily see this very scene happening in reality pretty much anywhere in the world just helped draw me in and grab me and not let go.

The three main characters took a bit of time to explore in greater detail, but this full length novel had ample time to really delve into each character and show the reader many of the complex and multi-faceted layers. No character is ever really as simple or straight forward as a quick glance might portray and so I really enjoyed that Gillmore spent quite a bit of time unraveling Anna, Charlie and Bassam. The pace of the plot moved along well but I was glad it wasn’t some over-the-top, movie style, action sequence where there just wasn’t time to catch your breath. I really enjoyed that the longer length of this novel was such that the events – and in particular the three main characters – could all be explored in depth and in good time.

Readers who like a modern, realistic and complicated plot with strongly written characters should find this story really fits the bill for them. With enough action and pace to keep readers attention, but enough detail and complexity to appeal to those who like a more plot and character driven story I felt Gillmore struck an excellent balance and really delivered with this. An excellent concept that was superbly written and carried out this was an awesome story and one I will really enjoy rereading again in the future. Recommended.

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