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Contrarian is the action-packed second novel in the “Lars the Hitman” series by Lucas Sterling. Lars Christopherson is a former Department of Homeland Security agent turned high-priced assassin. He uses his specific set of skills to take out undesirables like drug dealers and corrupt law enforcement officers while also donating large sums of money to an animal shelter.

The main focus of Contrarian is Lars’ dealings with Srepska, an eastern European terrorist organization plotting a massive eco-terrorism attack on the US. There’s lots of spying and subterfuge as Lars joins German agent Frederic Ulrich in unwinding a nefarious plot designed to destabilize the American economy.

Contrarian is an overly macho, entertaining tale. It is reminiscent of the action movies and spy thrillers of the 80s and 90s. The physical descriptions of most of the main characters read like stat lines for action heroes: 6’4″, athletic, and packed with deadly fighting skills! The characters’ internal monologues are aptly ridiculous as they think to themselves, “These guys are no match for my judo.” It’s filled with cliches and tropes of the genre, which is not necessarily a bad thing. More so, they make the tale comfortably familiar in a nostalgic sort of way. 

Lucas Sterling does an excellent job of weaving the story together, but at times I feel like Sterling’s prose is a little overwritten, being a bit too descriptive of details and actions that could be left in the reader’s mind. As a result, the novel starts a little slow, but the pacing takes off once the players are appropriately introduced and in place.

Contrarian is a swift and enjoyable conspiracy thriller that I feel anyone who likes action novels would enjoy. Readers of crime thrillers and suspense will find this book does not let you down when looking for that nostalgic feeling of undercover detectives.

Pages: 372 | ASIN : B0BHPXH3FD

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Srepska: ATMs have shuttered. Stock markets have gone haywire. Can one operative stop a deadly band of criminals before it is too late?

Explosions and mayhem make up the introduction to Lucas Sterling’s debut novel, Srepska, immediately throwing the reader into the after effects of a massive cyber attack in Kenya. Personal, business, and federal accounts have been digitally looted leading to a state of emergency. Fearing repeat on a larger scale, Agent Frederic Ulrich is tasked with seeking out those responsible, though the feared group ‘Srepska’ is immediately suspect. The scant bread crumb trail points to the U.S. as the next target, but a possible mole leaves Agent Ulrich unsure of friend or foe. With the aid of Lars Christopherson, he must find a way to inform and prevent the next attack.

Srepska is definitely deserving of it’s place in the action genre. Lucas Sterling brings to the table an adrenaline packed story that is made all the more intense by it’s relatability. Set in modern day, the Information Age as we like to call it, Srepska is a story you could very well see taking place in our own reality, the focus being a cyber attack. The suspense is therefore intensified given the fact that such attacks in the long scheme of things are still fairly new, meaning effective defenses are still being regularly updated and changed. This is felt throughout the book by many of the characters, with concern on how to combat such a threat that initially seems faceless.

We follow Frederic Ulrich and Lars Christopherson through the story as they team up to put a stop to things. Sterling presents us with two characters very strong in their trade. We are treated to an inside look to their jobs, but the characters themselves lack some dimension. This could be due to how fast paced the story is, moving from action to suspense and back again in quick succession, leaving little room for character development.

Following the bread crumb trail of clues is exciting given how so many countries have been after this group for so long. Things just seemed to fall in to place too easily in some respects. And I felt that there were some sections where settings were over explained, when all I wanted to do was to get back to what this novel does best, the action!

All in all, Lucas Sterling’s Srepska is quite the page turner. The fast pacing keeps the reader engaged and the highly relatable and believable content adds to the feeling of suspense, leaving the reader all the more eager to see the success of the main characters in their goals. A very exciting read!

Pages: 239 | ASIN: B075V8C8HL

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