Title: Shadow of the Templar: The Morning Star
Author: M. Chandler
Length: 138 Pages
Category: Suspense/Thriller, Crime Caper
At a Glance: Fun and fast and furious, the writing crisp, the dialogue perfect, and the end exactly as cliffhanger-y as it’s supposed to be to keep me on the hook for book two.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Simon Drake is an up-and-coming young FBI hotshot, an agent with a personal track record so outstanding that it borders on unbelievable. Not yet thirty, he’s already the leader of his own special ops team; a ragtag bunch of talented but nigh-uncontrollable lunatics, it’s true, but under Simon’s inspired leadership they’re a force to be reckoned with, a team with an unparalleled success rate, a team with an almost unblemished record–until now.
Jeremy Archer is the brilliant and unpredictable scion of a long line of international art thieves, simultaneously a phenomenally wealthy English socialite and one of the most infamous criminals in the world. At twenty-seven years old he’s already wanted on nearly every continent for thefts totalling more than ninety-one million dollars, and yet no one has ever come close to catching him–until now.
May the best man win.
Review: Well. I seem to have discovered another new series to love. And happiness ensues. \o/
If you love caper films and fiction, M. Chandler has penned a hugely promising start to the Shadow of the Templar series with Shadow of the Templar: The Morning Star. I’m going to start right off by telling you that this isn’t a romance novel, not in any way, so if that’s your cuppa, don’t go into this expecting there to be a love story running alongside the action and suspense. Is there a frisson of attraction and brewing lust between FBI agent Simon Drake (code name: Templar) and master criminal Jeremy Archer (code name: Shadow)—great series title, right? Yes, of course there is…if Tom and Jerry wanted to get busy in a cat and mouse sort of way. Mostly, however, these two men are working opposite sides against the middle, and then when they do end up working together, there’s only so much plausible hanky panky that could go on because, helloooo, they’re trying to save the world from a sadistic madman.
I’ll also say that I believe Chandler is leaving a lot of the character exposition undone on purpose here, as there are still three more (much, much longer) novels that follow this one, and it’s obvious that both Simon and Jeremy, at a minimum, are more complex and layered than what’s offered in this short novel. The little truth bomb Jeremy throws out towards the end is worthy of pages of exposition, alone, and I’m so excited to get to know more about this gentleman thief, I can tell you that much for sure.
What makes The Morning Star so delightful, hands down, is the banter. Rapid fire, sharp, and quick witted, the members of Team Templar have such a great rapport going with each other, which makes it easy for readers to see they are a true team and not just a bunch of random humans thrown together to solve a crime. Springheel (aka Sandra, aka Simon’s ex), as the only woman on the team, holds her own against this group of guys, and I love that there was never a big deal made of her being a woman. I suppose I could say the same for Simon and Jeremy’s sexual orientation, or anyone else’s, for that matter. Jeremy is attracted to Simon, Simon is attracted to Jeremy (not that Simon’s happy about that development), but the author doesn’t make their labels integral to their character development. They are all, first and foremost, Agents and Criminal who fall wherever on the sexuality spectrum.
The action/suspense/thriller elements of this novel are…well, action packed, suspenseful and thrilling, so score on that front. I love the movie sequence writing of all those scenes: I was picturing everything from James Bond to Sneakers to Mission: Impossible to The Pink Panther, which added a great connection to the narrative and my being able to picture what was happening as I read along. Simon is no Clouseau, though; he and his team are as sharp as they come, and I’m so excited to delve into their world a little deeper and see where Chandler is taking them next.
This series was published in 2009—another one of those ‘how have I never heard of it, and dammit it for not finding it sooner’ things. This is just fun and fast and furious, the writing crisp, the dialogue perfect, and the end exactly as cliffhanger-y as it’s supposed to be to keep me on the hook for book two. Well played, M. Chandler. Well played.
You can buy The Morning Star: Shadow of the Templar here: