The dying words of his father’s former co-worker have led Alex to Venice in search of an organization known as Scorpia. He is accompanied by another school chum (a young man, this time), and with the assistance of his friend’s brother, he not only locates Scorpia, but actually meets the supreme leader herself. Through this portal, he learns a few more tidbits about his uncle, the details surrounding his father’s military and post-military careers, and why the assassin from the previous book had such great admiration for the man.
This story twists and turns all over the place, and although the fast-paced action component is less than in previous tales, the intrigue and plot threads are absolutely riveting. There are plenty of instances wherein it is difficult to remember who is on which side of right vs. wrong, who is telling the truth, and who is to be trusted. We also see young Mr. Rider mature a little bit and experience some profoundly emotional episodes along the way to the conclusion of his involvement with Scorpia.
Of the five books so far, this one has the greatest depth, and represents a different level of writing by the author. He still maintains his typical level of suspense and surprises around the corners, but in a literary sense, this is much more of a real book than the previous four.
Rated: Moderate. The language is similar to previous books, about a dozen mild terms, but the violence and descriptions of death are on the intense side, especially for young readers.