“President Seymour was dead. Vice President Tifton was dead….
Elaine Covington… was now the President of the United States.”
Chain of Command, by Colby Marshall
Stairway Press, January 2013
306 pages (ebook)
The road to the Oval Office is paved in blood…
The simultaneous assassinations of the President and Vice President catapults the Speaker of the House into the White House as the first female President of the United States. Evidence points to a former Navy SEAL as one of the assassins.
Relegated to writing sidebar stories instead of headlines, journalist McKenzie McClendon composes a scathing story about the Navy training killers.
Former Navy SEAL Noah Hutchins doesn’t believe his partner could have committed the heinous crime. They’d endured the horrors of Afghanistan together. His buddy was a hero, not a murderer.
Thrown together in a search for the truth — and a career-making story — McKenzie and Noah must unravel a dangerous web of lies that includes a radical foreign faction, a violent ultra-feminist group, and corrupt politicians willing to kill to keep their secrets.
*** I requested this review copy through NetGalley. ***
This book is one I stumbled across while browsing. When I read the description, I was immediately pulled in by such a shocking and unprecedented situation, and from the first page, this novel lived up to its promise. It grabbed me right away and didn’t let go. The book’s strengths definitely lie in the fast-paced action. Once McKenzie and Noah start down their trail, the threats don’t let up, and no one is safe.
There were a few minor things that might have made it better, in my opinion, but overall I thought it was a really solid book, especially for a debut.
Probably the biggest issue I had was the romance angle. I thought that the gradual shift from animosity to partnership, as Noah and McKenzie work to uncover the truth, felt authentic and believable. But trying to turn it into something more didn’t work for me. If I’m going to have a romantic side-plot in an action thriller, I like it to be more character oriented, as they get to know each other under trying circumstances, learning the kind of person the other is, how they react to their current challenges, and have the attraction grow that way… it infuses some reality into an already incredible situation, I think. This was purely physical, and for me it just didn’t fit. But that says as much about my personal preference as it does about the book itself.
Aside from the romance, I liked the characters and thought they played well off each other. I could buy McKenzie’s going from only being interested in the story and what it could do for her, to becoming more personally invested in finding out what really happened and who was behind it. Noah’s reactions seemed plausible, as the two uncover things about his friend he hadn’t known. What I would have liked was a little more reaction from Elaine Covington on her unique ascension to the presidency.
This was very close to getting a 4-star rating from me. A little more balancing the various subplots, a few dots connected a little more cleanly, a few details a little more fleshed out… but like I said, the strength here is in the action, along with the underlying premise. If you can get into that, it isn’t too hard to gloss over the lesser details and just enjoy.
Overall, this is a fun and fast-paced thrill ride that lets you check your brain at the door. Fans of political and conspiracy stories should enjoy it, but if you prefer your thrillers without a side of romance, you may want to leave this one alone.
Chain of Command is available in print, as well as for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers.
Does this sound like something you’d pick up? What are your thoughts on taking a chance on a debut author?