Title: Shadow of the Templar: Double Down
Author: M. Chandler
Length: 344 Pages
At a Glance: If you have a hankering for a fast-paced mystery/suspense/action/thriller/crime caper with some laugh-out-loud moments thrown in, M. Chandler has tossed us the perfect word salad.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: “Hypothetically, I was wondering how you’d feel about working on the side of the good guys. On a purely contractual and highly erratic basis, mind you.” Little did Simon suspect the explosive consequences that would arise from this simple offer.
Because now Jeremy Archer has a double: another thief with skills and abilities eerily similar to Jeremy’s own. When this mysterious double falls afoul of Simon and his team, Simon asks for Jeremy’s help–because who better to catch Jeremy Archer than… Jeremy Archer?
If Jeremy Archer is anything, however, he’s unpredictable—and there’s more at stake here than Simon could ever have imagined. Because at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ‘double’ has another meaning…
Review: I have a feeling I’m going to run out of ways to express how much I love this series before I get to the end of it. There are so many words floating around in my head right now, all of them one compliment after another to author M. Chandler’s storytelling prowess and the way she’s brought this cast of characters to full Technicolor life in my brain.
At the risk of repeating myself, I’m going to once again throw out the caution flag to the diehard romance readers: This is not a romance. It’s not even a slow burn romance. Snails probably mate faster than this, that’s how slow burn it isn’t, so please consider this if relationship heavy novels are your preference.
I’ll insert a second caution here as well: There are things that happen between Simon and Jeremy in this book that some readers will find objectionable, even if you’re willing to overlook the lack of a romantic story arc. For those readers, Simon’s actions will cross a line so intransigent that he could never, ever possibly be redeemed. He can be a real dick to Jeremy, for one, that’s inarguable, but a dubiously consensual sex scene is that line, and while one might argue extenuating circumstances, I won’t try because we all have a hard limit. So, yes, taken in or out of context, Simon doesn’t come off well in this installment. He isn’t always a likable guy, our Templar, and yet, unless I’m reading him wrong, something tells me he doth protest too much. His self-obtuseness comes across in the homophobic slurs he aims Jeremy’s way, and, as far as I’m concerned, they say more about Simon than they do about Jeremy. Denial, thy name is Simon? Know thyself, Simon. Really.
Jeremy, on the other hand—what can I say about our master con artist? He’s an enigma. He goes by at least a half-dozen aliases, and is still playing his cards somewhat close to the chest. We learn so much more about him in this book, though, some of those things I found rather heartbreaking, and yet, somehow, I feel as if we’ve barely scratched the surface of our Shadow’s story, not to mention his keen intellect and extraordinary skill. It’s interesting, in a sad way, to watch Jeremy take every verbal barb Simon throws his way as if he’s absorbing a punch, and has no interest whatsoever in allowing his enemy-with-benefits to know that perhaps he’s struck a sensitive spot. Jeremy is either the personification of grace, or he’s made of rubber bones and Teflon skin. I always get the feeling that there’s an “It’s okay, I’ve had worse” lurking behind Jeremy’s every smirk and wry retort, and I’m loving how Chandler has crafted her thief to be rather more amiable than her Feeb. Truth? Sometimes I just want to see Jeremy kick Simon’s ass.
The case Jeremy is called on to help Team Templar solve is fabulous, everything I would expect this author to deliver, with an unforeseen twist that does indeed give us a peek at a more personal side of Jeremy. More than a few laughs are peppered throughout the tension and danger as the team—and the one who, it’s made quite clear, is not part of the team and never will be ::coughsJeremycoughs::—square off against a copycat burglar who happens to be someone from Jeremy’s past. Jeremy’s nimble mind and expertise in this case are the epitome of this storyline’s brilliance. I loved every single moment I spent watching him calculate, hypothesize, and predict down to the second the moves the thief would make, and I’m so impressed by the way this author’s wordsmithing walks her readers through those scenes.
As in The Morning Star, book one in the Shadow of the Templar series, the banter between the entire cast feels so spontaneous and is spot-on. The quips, barbs, and dialogue don’t always advance the storyline, but it’s a revelation of the characters and their personalities, and, in the case of Team Templar, how intrinsic their camaraderie is to their success, even while Springheel, Honda, Texas, Specs and Specs Two are still somewhat vague in their overall development. They’re who they need to be in their designated roles, however, as it’s Simon and Jeremy who are driving this vehicle.
Explosive is what Double Down is, in a word. Not the pyrotechnic kind but the kind where things blow up figuratively, in such spectacular fashion, and then it all careens downhill from there when it’s revealed there’s a mole in the FBI who’s just exposed not only Jeremy to the enemy, but a CIA agent, Dorothy Langridge, as well. On a side note, I loved Langridge for routinely busting Simon’s chops and for being salty in general. Just when I thought I was safe from any more revelations, boom!, the next thing I knew I was becoming acquainted with some deeper feels. Will Team Templar survive this shockwave? Of course they will. There’s a book three.
Double Down is fleshy and robust, much more so than The Morning Star, which is, itself, a fantastic book. It’s ridiculous to say that I’m excited each of these books gets longer as the series progresses—more doesn’t always mean better—but any time spent with this cast of characters has been well worth it so far. Plus, I have to see how and if Simon and Jeremy end up together. Before they throttle each other, obviously.
So, if you have a hankering for a fast-paced mystery/suspense/action/thriller/crime caper with some laugh-out-loud moments thrown in, M. Chandler has tossed us the perfect word salad.
You can buy Shadow of the Templar: Double Down here: