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Tuesday 30 March 2021

‘I Am Wrath’ by Ethan Cross

Published by Head of Zeus,
1st October 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-83893100-1 (PB)

I Am Wrath is the fourth instalment in The Ackerman Thrillers series.  It opens as Francis Ackerman Jr. admires the handsome new face he has received courtesy of a skilled plastic surgeon.  The serial killer extraordinaire is not trying to avoid capture, however.  On the contrary, his new identity and appearance have been arranged so that he can work with the Shepherd Organisation – a government funded, but strictly under the radar, operation that seeks to hunt and eliminate the very worst murderers within the USA.  Applying the “set a thief to catch a thief” idiom, the secret organisation has already used Ackerman once, when he worked alongside his law-abiding sibling, Special Agent Marcus Williams in Book 3, I Am Pain.  Now, in an attempt to understand and rehabilitate him, Ackerman is being interrogated by the CIA.  The process is not exactly proceeding smoothly and is soon interrupted when a new threat emerges that requires Ackerman’s expertise.

When Ray Navarro, a prison guard working in a state-of-the-art prison in Arizona, shoots several of his colleagues and some inmates for no good reason, Marcus and his team, including brother Francis, are summoned to the facility to investigate.  A prisoner calling himself Judas appears to be responsible.  It seems he has blackmailed Navarro to commit the cold-blooded murders.  However, the identity of the so-called Judas Killer is unknown, and the Shepherd crew need someone on the inside to flush him out.  Ackerman is the obvious choice.  Whilst he operates within the high-tech penitentiary his brother is on the trail of whoever is controlling events outside.  The stakes are raised when a full-scale prison riot ensues.  Even more menacing is the news that hostages have been taken and that their lives are hanging in the balance.  As if that weren’t enough to contend with, the Shepherd agents soon realise that another unidentified inmate, Demon, is on the loose within the ill-fated jail.  Enemies abound as the law enforcers find themselves in a race against time to prevent even more bloodshed; it is clear that the perpetrators must be quickly found and stopped.

Ethan Cross has delivered another rip-roaring thriller packed to the brim with flawed heroes and conflicted villains. The novel is fast-moving as it grapples with the morality of clandestine surveillance and covert operations generally.  Ackerman continues to fight his homicidal urges and keep the promises he has made to his brother and Marcus is still tormented by his dysfunctional sibling.  On the romantic front Marcus and Maggie find themselves negotiating a new situation when they are joined by Marcus’ recently discovered young son, Dylan.  Maggie resents having to act as a surrogate mother to another woman’s child whilst Marcus doubts his ability to be good father.  In a relationship where there is never a dull moment at the best of times, the couple struggle to come to terms with family dynamics they had never before envisaged.  Reader beware, the novel includes scenes of explicit, though not gratuitous, violence and terror which might make your toes curl.

I Am Wrath is another superb read from an author who never fails to entertain and surprise.  Highly recommended.

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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