One of Battle’s most popular characters is at it again, the intrepid and satisfyingly complicated Jonathan Quinn, cleaner extraordinaire. This is the sixth Jonathan Quinn novel, and they just keep getting better and better. The Destroyed may be my favorite of Brett’s books to date, as it combines highly entertaining and suspenseful action with truly interesting and human characters. Add a healthy dose of unexpected humor and you have a successful combination that should please just about any reader.
Since the demise of a close friend in the last book (The Silenced), Quinn has been living a peaceful and introspective life in Thailand and distancing himself from his highly dangerous job as a cleaner. But when a girl from the past resurfaces and once again becomes the target of a powerful group of people, Quinn realizes he has no choice but to get back in the game and help her out. Mila Voss was a courier six years ago when she witnessed and video-taped something she wasn’t supposed to see, and soon after was scheduled to be eliminated. As luck would have it, Quinn was assigned to do her clean-up, and when he is told the name of the target before the job goes down and realizes who it is, he sets up an elaborate and dangerous plot to save Mila, fake her death, and change her identity so she can live out the rest of her life free of danger. In alternating flashback scenes the reader is slowly given the details of her rescue, after which Quinn grimly informs her that the life she knew is now over. If she ever comes out of hiding she’ll risk everything Quinn did to help her. But six years later Mila discovers something about one of the men who wanted her dead, and she can’t stay hidden any longer.
Nate, Quinn’s diligent apprentice, who has been carrying on Quinn’s work and even using his name, arrives unannounced in Thailand to ask Quinn to help track down Mila, who has been spotted alive on a video camera in Tanzania. Joined by Quinn’s Thai friend Daeng, the three begin their mission to locate and save Mila in what turns out to be a globe-hopping cat-and-mouse game of epic proportions. Quinn’s sometime-girlfriend Orlando also shows up to help, and even Quinn’s former boss Peter, from The Office (if you’ve read the other Quinn books you’ll understand that reference), makes an appearance. There are twists and turns galore as the Quinn and the gang hatch a complicated scheme to bring down the men who would kill Mila, and save another innocent in the process.
Battles tempers the many exciting action scenes with some real in-depth character development and shows us the underlying emotional relationships between Quinn and Nate, Quinn and Orlando, and Mila and her erstwhile love Julien, described in flashbacks. We even see a burgeoning friendship begin to develop between Nate and Daeng, whose first meeting is rocky. Quinn is still the best drawn character, in my opinion, and Battles lets him grown and change with each book, which is one sign of a good writer. All the characters in Quinn’s world make the occasional mistake and remind us that even spies are human. I also found The Destroyed to have the most humor of the Quinn books. There were many memorable lines and lots of bantering between characters, especially Quinn and Orlando, whose relationship is anything but smooth sailing.
Battles switches back and forth from the past to the present in order to paint the entire picture of Mila’s near-assassination and what exactly it was that she saw that landed her in so much trouble. The device of slowly doling out information to the reader works well, and although it was sometimes frustrating to have the characters talking to each other on the phone without sharing their plans, it made for a tension-filled story that makes the reader want to keep reading.
You don’t need to read the other Quinn books first to appreciate the great story-telling in The Destroyed, but if you haven’t read them, you’ll want to go back and catch up after finishing this one. Although I won’t reveal the ending here, I will tell you that Nate and Daeng will hopefully be major players in Quinn’s next chapter. The last lines of the story are perfect, yet another reason Battles is at the top of his game.
Many thanks to the author for providing a review copy.
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