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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Review: Conspiracy Game

Title: Conspiracy Game
Author: Christine Feehan
Page Count: 336 pages
Publisher: Jove
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review compliments of the public library

50 words or less: Goodreads.com does a good job with this one- "GhostWalker Jack Norton is a genetically enhanced telepathic sniper on a mission to rescue his brother in the jungles of the Congo. Then he meets Briony, a beautiful rebel on a mission of her own-and hiding secrets that a shadowy enemy would kill to discover."

Conspiracy Game is one of my top three favorite books in this series and feels the most cohesive to me of all of them. The plotting is tight, the Info Dump is more informative than it is in other books, the characters are believable in their drama and in their emotions, and the complexity of the story takes on new dimensions in this installment. I highly recommend reading this book and then the next one, Deadly Game, one after the other, as they are about a set of twins, Jack and Ken Norton, and the books feel like one gigantic story broken into two volumes instead of two distinct stories.

Jack Norton is an assassin who was physically and psychically enhanced by Dr. Peter Whitney, the arch-bad guy in this series, and who now is faced with the task of rescuing his brother from torture at the hands of rebels in the Congo when a mission goes badly awry. While he's there, he meets Briony, a performer with a family circus, and they immediately hit it off in ways that earn this book the Scandalous Books designation right out of the gate.

That appears to be the end of it, until Briony finds out she's *gasp* pregnant. What follows is the story of how their relationship evolved from one of necessity (turns out that Dr. Whitney always wanted to know what a child from these two would be like and reeeeally wants to get his hands on the baby) to one of love and commitment, when neither one of these people ever thought they'd have the opportunity for a relationship like that.

Part of the reason that this story is so well rounded is that the plot and setting are very streamlined. There aren't a ton of supporting characters, and much of the story takes place on Jack and Ken's property which is way back in the woods with nobody around. As a result, Jack and Briony get lots of time together for some really well-written dialogue, especially when they're talking about Briony's pregnancy and what they'll be like as parents (they take turns adding and crossing out material in a baby book, especially when it comes to whether or not Briony can have caffeine.) Ken gets a lot of time as a supporting character, too, and his story is set up nicely, especially when it's revealed that Briony has a twin sister. Twins everywhere!

This book also marks the point in the series where the books become much grittier and more graphic in terms of violence and thematic issues. Jack has some terrible things done to him physically while he's captured and tortured in the Congo; it's small potatoes compared to what happened to Ken while he was there but may still be upsetting to some people. Likewise, finding out more about the nature of the variety of experiments that Peter Whitney has going may be disturbing as well. Turns out that genetically and psychically enhancing soldiers was just the tip of a very diabolical iceberg.

If you're interested in this series, start at the beginning with Shadow Game, if you're into the series and have enjoyed the first three books I definitely recommend continuing with this one.

Overall Grade: A-

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