Title: Shadow of the Templar: High Fidelity
Author: M. Chandler
Length: 529 Pages
Category: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
At a Glance: The Shadow of the Templar series has been nothing less than 1500+ pages of manic and frenzied, and was such a delight to read.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: A fellow FBI agent with an old grudge picks Simon as the instrument of his revenge. And he knows the hidden truth behind one of Simon’s closest-kept secrets… or does he?
On the other side of the world, two steps ahead of a ruthless, implacable foe accidentally set on his trail by Simon, Jeremy Archer is running for his life… or is he?
Now Simon finds himself torn between his job and his responsibilities, forced to make the ultimate choice, and no matter what he decides, he’ll lose something important… or will he?
Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity… or Jeremy?
Review: Fidelity: implies strict and continuing faithfulness to an obligation, trust, or duty. ~ Merriam-Webster
I don’t know which came first, the title or the plot, but bravo to M. Chandler for scribing the very definition of ‘fidelity’ in a brisk (?—it felt brisk, at least) 529 pages. This fourth and, sadly, final book in the Shadow of the Templar series bears a direct relationship to the events in Double Down, book two, as well as to book three, With a Bullet, and brings the relationship arc between Templar and his Shadow to a…semi-circle finish. I don’t want to say full-circle because, honestly, they almost went so pear shaped in this novel that the author graciously supplied a series of short stories afterwards so readers could see how Simon and Jeremy carried on the relationship that Simon ends up challenging the FBI for. Go Simon!
The catalytic events that prompt and prod this final novel along revolve around a Russian mobster whose dastardly deeds were thwarted by Jeremy and Team Templar in book two. Aided by a now deceased FBI mole, one of Simon’s own, Viktor Karpol had employed Jeremy’s foster brother to carry out those crimes, but then everything went arse over tea kettle, and now Karpol has it bad for Jeremy—wants him dead, as a matter of fact—and knows exactly how to hit Archer where it will hurt the most. No, not with Simon. It’s Annabelle, Jeremy’s friend and personal answering service, who ends up as the bait sure to lure Jeremy out of hiding. And, lo and behold, yes, in a way it’s Simon’s fault that Annabelle is kidnapped. So, after gnawing off heaping hunks of guilt from the humble pie he finds himself gorging on, Simon vows to do everything he can to get to Jeremy and help him rescue Annabelle. And let me tell you, the getting there was so fun to watch, in a sadistic sort of way, but it showed Simon’s level of commitment to righting the wrong, especially since he must convince Ethan, Jeremy’s mentor/father figure, that he only has Jeremy’s best interest at heart. Well, that and Simon has a conscience to assuage, but it all goes a long way towards polishing his tarnished reputation.
How convenient, then, that Templar was put on temporary suspension while he’s being investigated by the Office of Professional Responsibility for his version of the events at the end of the last book. There’s a question of ballistics and forensics, but it’s not at all used as a contrivance by the author to manipulate things or to unrealistically ease this book towards its conflict. Rather, it’s a faulty misrepresentation of the facts on Simon’s part, with the best of intentions, of course, that’s prompted his suspension and offers a plausible means to the freedom he needed to carry out this under-the-radar, off-the-record mission. And, it folded neatly back into With a Bullet to tie up that storyline, as well as offering Simon a nice salvo in the end against the guy who’s out to get ‘Upstairs’, Simon’s boss, through Simon.
All the physical action in this novel occurs on foreign soil in High Fidelity, and while the focus is on Milan, Genoa, and the surrounding countryside, Chandler pays just enough attention to detail to allow readers a sense of the setting without it becoming a travelogue of Italy. Yet again, she does a brilliant job of leading readers through every scene in a sensorial way—there’s a scene at the opera that is absolute dynamic perfection. Honestly, if there’s ever been a book series that could translate to film, it’s this one, and I adore that I was able to participate in the reading of these books in that way. It upped my investment level and allowed me to cheerfully suspend my disbelief when Team Templar all decide to take a sudden joint vacation and then show up in Italy to lend Simon an assist.
The Shadow of the Templar series has been nothing less than 1500+ pages of manic and frenzied, and was such a delight to read. I grew to love the camaraderie of this group of sharp, if not a little offbeat, characters—even when they weren’t always lovable ::coughsSimoncoughs::. The series is chock full of memorable moments and exceptional action/suspense sequences. The dialogue is sharp and witty, and the scenarios into which Chandler entrenches her characters are so impressive—inventive, intelligent, and any other ‘i’ adjectives you can think of that equate to impeccable.
Chandler’s writing is plot-centric, so all of you dedicated romance loving readers who prefer a storyline built upon an outcome which promises the happily-ever-after, please know that there are no eloquent expressions of love and devotion between Simon and Jeremy, but even in that lack, there is no less a romantic resolution to their relationship. Simon learns a valuable lesson in not knowing what you’ve got until it’s gone in this final installment, which was satisfying in every way because I suspected it was coming but wasn’t at all sure how Chandler would get me there, and I delighted in watching Templar stake a claim on his Shadow. Of course, he does so in typical Simon style—ballsy and out to win.
Suffering from a severe case of book hangover is the price we pay for allowing characters to consume large swatches of our time and consciousness. It’s a small price, though, when compared to the hours of fun I had spending time in Chandler’s world.
You can buy Shadow of the Templar: High Fidelity here: