“A Dangerous Breed” opens with a prologue that leaves the reader with the tantalizing task of finding out how the character got into that perilous situation. The story continues in a first person narrative by Van Shaw. The action is driven by conversations, what Shaw says and what people say to him. His thoughts and comments are impartial, formal, and complete. He comments directly to the reader as if in an official report on the incidents that occurred.
The narrative continues with two concurrent stories. Shaw receives a letter for a high school reunion. That opens up his troubled past and unwraps many questions but a few answers. He decides to trace his roots, to learn his father’s identity. However, looking for the man who abandoned him and his mother thirty years before involves digging up long-hidden family secrets that might be better left hidden. The pursuit should be straight forward in this era of on-line family ancestry sites and DNA, but nothing goes smoothly for Shaw, especially not this search.
The second story starts when Shaw helps a friend get medical aid for an injured man, and this act of help leads to a demand for “something,” not money, in exchange for the medical assistance. What follows is a high tech cat and mouse game complete with electronic eavesdropping, electronic breaking and entering, and digital tracking. Shaw has professional acquaintances in every profession who can provide just about anything within a few hours’ notice, and he uses all these resources to extract himself from unimaginable situations. His first aid skills come in handy as he navigates this complex web of treachery and revenge.
The pace is fast, and the plot is complex, but interspersed are everyday activities such as running with Addy’s dog, Stanley, that bring realism and humanity to Shaw and the world he inhabits. In the past, Shaw felt like a black sheep, but after his search for family, he acknowledges that it is nice to know he is from a good flock.
I received a review copy of “A Dangerous Breed” from Glen Erik Hamilton and William Morrow. The book is part of the Van Shaw Series, and there are passing references to events from previous books, but it is not necessary to have read them first to follow the action in this book. I recommend the entire series.