Title: Written By Blood: Friction
Author: Dwayne Gill
Genre: Technothriller / Spy Thriller / Action & Adventure
This is the second installment in a thoughtful, realistic thriller series set in the near future where three men and their allies have to outsmart the marked men, a terrorist organization set to overthrow the current United States from within, creating a new kind of civilization in its place.
The story is epic in scope, covering not only Cane, the super-assassin, Daniel, a giant of a man, and William, an army ranger stuck in a Russian POW camp, but also featuring FBI agents, retired police officers, army rangers, doctors, college students, scientists, and young kids targeted by the marked men. Most of the story is interwoven to the point where each novel feels like a sliver of a larger story rather than a standalone book.
The villains are portrayed as thoroughly evil, uncaring, and violent, though some of the people they’ve coerced to help them are more conflicted. The novel nicely explores moral conflicts like what it means to be a monster and whether acts of violence against those who are only acting to protect their loved ones are “right” or “wrong” without providing any clear answers.
Similarly, the author shows the violence of men like Cane, Daniel, and William without glamorizing it, revealing both the necessity and sorrow of such actions. The trio rescue many innocent lives along the way, particularly gravitating toward troubled young women or children, and these rescued characters can feel rather similar to each other.
They have different pasts, and how they become involved in the plot varies, but the story doesn’t seem to show these characters with much depth. Most of the time, they feel like they exist to help humanize the main characters, giving them someone to love and fight for, but it is plausible that the three men, who are similar in some ways, just happen to gravitate toward rescuing the same kind of women and children. Still, readers might expect a series with such a grand scope to include a wider variety of character types.
The plot can be a bit slow for a thriller, but this complements the thoughtful nature of the novel. Not every moment is full of action, as there are moments when the heroes are waiting for more information, looking for leads, or wishing something would happen. Similarly, there are moments of fun and humor woven into this piece, where the allies get together and play Pictionary or swap quips with each other while on a stakeout.
Given how thorough the novel is, there are moments when the plot seems to skip significant scenes, like when Cane and Daniel are trying to get William out of prison, and there are plot sections that seem like an afterthought, such as when Cane goes to Montana to make sure William’s family is safe.
Those who are looking for a series that provides a host of plot threads and is rich in detail will enjoy this book. Its setup is powerfully realistic, and the author nicely balances violence and revenge with compassion and justice, making for a very compelling read.
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