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Saturday 13 February 2021

‘I Am Fear’ by Ethan Cross

Published by Head of Zeus,
November 2020.
ISBN: 978-183893096-7 (PB)

“As the Prophet stared up at the night sky, he saw that the eclipse had already begun…soon he would stand in the highest place of worship in all the land and complete The Work”

The grandson of Rosemary Phillips is on the run from the police.  Two plain clothes officers have been watching his grandmother’s house in the hope that he will make his way there.  Unfortunately for them, Francis Ackerman is also on the boy’s trail and now the two cops and grandmother are bound and gagged in a room in the elderly lady’s home.  Ackerman is a notorious serial killer who murders for sport and when he begins to question Rosemary, she is fully aware of who he is and what he has done.  Even worse, Ackerman has already taken offence at one of the officers.  Things look grim. 

 Meanwhile, ex-cop Marcus Williams is attending the scene of a crime.  A woman has been violated and murdered in an factory office.  As he looks at the hapless victim, he’s wondering whether he might have prevented this tragedy.  Marcus was recently recruited to a special agency, The Shepherd Organisation, whose purpose is to rid society of the most dangerous serial killers in the United States.  Marcus isn’t sure that he really fits in, but he is making the most of the opportunity to fight the worst types of crime.  He and fellow Shepherd Andrew Garrison have been tracking a team of villains known as the Bank Crew, specialists in extortion and murder, the woman Marcus found was mother to two young girls aged sixteen and twelve.  The youngsters are still with the Crew and there is no time to waste.  Marcus and Andrew prepare to get the girls out.

These two gripping scenes introduce Marcus and Ackerman, the main protagonists of the ‘Ackerman Thrillers’ series. In the first book, Ackerman managed to evade Marcus’s attempts to capture him.  He always seems to be one step ahead of the special agent and takes pleasure in letting Marcus know it.  The plot that drives I Am Fear, however, centres on another serial killer, the Anarchist, and as Marcus and Ackerman finish off the pursuits with which they open the novel, he is in Chicago - about to torture his next victim.

The Anarchist follows a strict ritual of drugging and then burning his victims alive.  His actions are controlled by a cult leader calling himself the Prophet.  The two men are terrorising Chicago   Three women have been murdered and five are missing, It is time for the Shepherd Organisation to get involved and Marcus, his partner Andrew and Maggie Carlisle are put on the case.  Marcus and Maggie were briefly involved in the first book of the series but it’s a complicated relationship and it becomes even messier when FBI agent Victoria Vasques arrives!  Even more trouble ensues when Marcus’s arch-enemy Ackerman decides to join in the pursuit of the Anarchist.

I Am Fear is the second book in the Ackerman Thrillers series but works perfectly well as a stand-alone.  The plot hurtles along at breakneck speed as the Prophet and his disciples prepare for a day of judgement, The Great Fire, that they believe will usher in a new world order.  There are plenty of thrills in this sequel, watch out for the terrific description of a fight in a lift shaft twenty-one stories high – not recommended for anyone suffering from acrophobia! 

If you like blood, guts and gore this is one for you.  I enjoyed it enormously.

Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Ethan Cross is the international bestselling and award-winning author of more than a dozen novels of suspense, science, and serial murder.

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  

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