Sunday, June 17

Breaking Point – Suzanne Brockmann

Dedicated, professional and daring, Max Bhagat has risen from the ranks to become the head of the FBI’s most respected counter-terrorist unit in only 18 years. In that time he has never allowed anyone or anything to distract him – except Gina Vitagliano, a hostage on a hijacked plane several years ago. Twenty years his junior, he made contact with her when he was hostage negotiator during the crisis. Impressed by her strength and bravery, he was immediately attracted to her. But the age difference, and the fact that he stood by helplessly while she was raped, mean that they can never be together, however much Gina insists that that’s what she really wants, too.
When Max hears that Gina’s been killed by a car bomb in Germany, his grief and anger overwhelm him. With his most trusted agent, Jules, Max heads to Hamburg to escort Gina’s body home – only to discover that the body isn’t Gina’s. But in order to save her, and to face the strength of his unacknowledged love for her, Max must join forces with Grady Morrant, an ex-Special Forces smuggler, and put his own life in peril, without backup.
Breaking Point is a spin-off from Brockman’s best-selling Navy Seal series, which followed the work and love lives of the men of Seal Unit 6. Each book in the series wove a number of story lines, encompassing missions and the private lives of secondary characters; these minor plotlines then turned into the primary plot of subsequent sequels. The meeting of Max and Gina was a substantial minor plot in one of these novels. Brockman’s style is very satisfying, especially when a plot which has been threaded through several novels is finally concluded; although having that background and exposure contributed to my enjoyment of the novel, Breaking Point changes focus back and forth between the present day, the aftermath of the kidnapping, Max’s hospitalisation after a subsequent mission, and Gina’s work in a refugee camp in Africa, allowing the new reader to become familiar with the essential information.

There were a couple of incidents in the opening pages that I particularly liked - Max's childhood nightmare about Giant Forks from Space (he used to sleep on his side to avoid being spiked by the tines) and Jules' apologising to the body of an old man as he and Max search a German morgue for Gina's body.
This was not my favourite of Brockman’s works, but it’s still very good. The characters are complex and well drawn, the locations are described well enough to give a clear flavour of the area without being obvious about it, and the plot was involving. Alongside the central storyline of Max and Gina is wound the romance of Grady and Molly, Gina’s friend and colleague from Africa, as well as a minor plot about Jules’ ongoing recovery from an emotional abusive relationship (when will Jules find love?). If I can find it at the library (I am absolutely not buying any new books for a while - this is a stern admonishment to myself), look for a review of the next instalment, Into The Storm, in the coming months. – Alex

The Troubleshooters series:
The Unsung Hero; Defiant Hero; Over the Edge; Out of Control; Into the Night; Gone too Far; Flashpoint; Hot Target; Breaking Point; Into the Storm; Force of Nature; All Through the Night; Into the Fire; Dark of Night; Hot Pursuit;Breaking the Rules

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