Top Tier (4 to 5 stars)

The Gatekeeper (Dez Limerick #1), by James Byrne

4 out of 5. High octane thriller that’s most likely the start to a new series. Fans of Reacher and Orphan X might want to dig in.

4 stars

I’ve been recommended this audiobook because of a seemingly resemblance to the Orphan X series I so much enjoy. And there are superficial similarities – with the protagonist being some kind of ex-military specialist, now helping someone he doesn’t know. It’s narrated by John Keating – great guy, his voice makes it all so much better instantly. I would hire him to narrate my own personal life if I could afford to.

Well, no, John Keating ain’t no angel, but one fine voice actor for sure!

Now to the novel at hand, which is an over the top, high octane action thriller. The complete military background of Dez Limerick is never fully laid open, but judging from what he does it’s safe to say he’s a knife toting, gun firing hacker and locks expert. Or as he likes to explain it: It’s not just about opening doors, it’s about keeping them open and controlling who gets through – and who won’t.

He’s also of unknown specific British origins, which John manages to turn into some half Irish accent (which makes Dez sound quite charming – ta for that, mate!) And he’s just charming enough that I see him capable of maintaining a series, which is why I chose to add this entry in the way of a series novel. I’m pretty sure there’s more to come.

If we’re talking about plot , then the initial phase of the book is a lot like the 90’s Steven Seagal movie Under Siege. Only this time, it’s a hotel instead of a submarine, and it’s not the chef foiling the terrorists but the bass player. Everything after that does – as strange as that may sound – turn ever more unrealistic. If you’re preferring your thrill kicks in a more realistic style, I would suggest reading some Nick Stone. But if you’re willing to read this the Hollywood way – brain on half sleep, popcorn and a cold one ready – then you’re in for one helluva ride.

Dez needs to take the trash out 80’s style.

Because Dez soon find himself in the midst of some alt right revolution gig. I’ve been reading in other reviews that this is quite unrealistic. I beg to differ – those militias wanting independence have been around for ages, and Trumpism has given them some kind of hope. Sure, it’s a thriller and it’s only realistic in a Hollywood kind of way, but I wouldn’t dismiss it readily. It also makes for a really thrilling read (as mentioned before). (Also it’s about more than just that, but I don’t want to spoiler you too much.)

Revolution, maybe, but could we perhaps skip the naked part?

One thing that caught me as odd – having wandered around the states in my mind alongside Jack Reacher – is the fact that Dez is constantly making up his mind about where he’s hailing from. He tells two different guys within the same building two different origins within five minutes. At this point, it’s mostly a running gag – but it’s something Jack would never do. Too hard to keep track of all the lies.

I want to tread back a moment to other reviews calling the plot unrealistic. I’ve already mentioned we’re talking about Hollywood type of realism here, but as the plot thickens you’ll realize how well everything is interwoven and blended together, from things happening within the novel as well as real world events that have happened in the past and that are now placed into this situation. I love it when a plot does this.

In the end, I enjoyed this thriller. But I’m still unsure about the character of Dez, seemingly too happy and an “into the breach” kind of guy. I would expect that much more forethought went into his actions than we’re privy to. If James Byrne would ask my advice on how to make this series better, I would suggest plunging deeper into the thoughts of Dez, taking a deep dive into his train of thought. And, of course, tell us more about his history.

Disclaimer: I’ve received a free Advanced Listener’s Copy and am leaving this review voluntarily.

By Stefan

father of two, not enough time to read everything I want to read

One reply on “The Gatekeeper (Dez Limerick #1), by James Byrne”

Not sure where my previous comment went, Stefan. But, as I said in my previous comment, which disappeared on me after I clicked on Post Comment, your reviews are always well-reasoned and entertaining. Loved the arm-breaking gif! So eye-catching!

Liked by 1 person

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