Author: Lucas Sterling
In Contrarian, the second installment of the Lars the Hitman series, Lars Christopherson, a Former Homeland Security Agent-turned-hitman, finds himself in another do-or-die mission. On an ordinary day, Lars uses his hefty paychecks to make charitable donations, but he has no love for the money—he wants blood. When an eco-terrorism plot threatens the safety of the United States, Lars must team up with Frederic Ulrich, an operative for Germany’s intelligence agency. Lars knows that they must put their differences aside for the greater good, but when everything’s on the line, who can he truly trust?
Though the book is action-heavy, there is plenty of character exploration and development. The many different characters and motivations at play make for fascinating character relationships. No one knows who they can truly trust, creating tense relationship dynamics even among characters who are working together.
The book switches perspectives often, and it does so inconsistently. Sometimes, the perspective changes from one chapter to the next, while other times it changes within the same chapter. The inconsistency in the perspective, at times, feels disjointed, but overall readers will be grateful that they have the opportunity to read the book through the eyes of so many characters.
By seeing inside the world of nearly every character, we’re privy to more action, and the stakes are raised even higher as we get to see not only their actions, but we also see the domino effect of other characters’ actions. It also develops the characters more deeply. We see their breaking points and moments of weakness and emotion that we don’t often get to see with “villain” characters.
From the homes of hitmen to the top-secret offices of the US military, the book showcases a diverse range of settings that builds out the world and expands the reader’s understanding of the people and places at stake. With explosions, fight scenes, and chases, this book would translate well on the big screen. The action scenes, stunts, and settings are the perfect foundation for an action movie. The quick changes to the settings also help change the pacing of the book. More tense scenes are in hideouts, while low-stress scenes are in comfortable homes.
The use of tension is one of the book’s strongest elements. We see tension come through in the content of the book, such as the dialogue and setting description, but we also see it in the actual structure of the book, especially toward the end when the chapters become shorter and shorter. This change in length is really effective because it speeds up the reading pace and it keeps readers on the edge of their seats waiting to see how the book will come to a close.
Action-packed and riddled with crime, Contrarian is a thriller novel with secrets, mystery, and danger lurking around every corner. For readers looking for a high-stakes thriller, Contrarian has all the fast-pace and surprising twists an adrenaline junkie could ask for. With threatening villains and ambiguous heroes, Contrarian will keep readers on the edge of their seats from page one.
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