Burned by Benedict Jacka


by Benedict Jacka
Series: Alex Verus, #7

Mass Market Paperback, 326 pg.
Ace, 2016

Read: April 25 – 26, 2016

Right now I was not wandering around and seeing the sights, for three reasons. First, it was dark. Second, the city was in the middle of a civil war. And third, I was supposed to be conducting surveillance on the inhabitants of the building across the street. Which was why, instead of enjoying the experiences of travel and new cultures, I was crouched on a dusty rooftop, hiding behind a parapet, shivering in the cold, and trying to make sure that no one on the other side could see me, since from looking into the futures I already knew that they had assault rifles and were following a policy of shooting first and asking questions later.

In case you’re wondering, this isn’t an especially unusual night for me. Sometimes I really question my life choices.

Reading Burned, you almost get the idea that Benedict Jacka’s been holding back on us — at least, he’s just been getting warmed up over the last 6 novels. Either one is saying something, considering how good the series has been since it’s debut.

Jacka waits all of 6 paragraphs before getting things moving, and things don’t stop moving. The first 100 pages are great and contain more action than most Verus novels — and the rest? Just better. Marking this one as a 5-Star was a no-brainer.

So here’s the hook — someone, for reasons beyond his ken (though he has many, many theories initially), has made some political moves and Alex is going to be declared a criminal and given the death sentence in a week. Not just him, either — but those who are his dependents (Luna, Anne, Varium). The four of them are going to have to tackle this situation in very creative ways to get the sentence changed.

In the meantime, there’s a very eager group of people trying to take care of things before the deadline. To say that they’re determined would be an understatement.

To survive, to have a hope of surviving, Alex has to call upon every friend, every ally, every one-time-friend-now-something-else, every trick up his sleeve. He does it, he actually grows as a character, too.

But will it be enough to save any of them?

I want to say more, I really do — but I don’t know how to. It’s just one of those books that to talk about you really have to talk about everything. So we’ll leave it at that.

I’ve seen people call this the Changes of the Alex Verus series — and it absolutely is. I’d also call it the Staked in terms with the protagonists coming to grips with the effects that his being in the lives of his nearest and dearest has on their life, and what that means for his future involvement with them. Which is not to say that Jacka’s latest feels anything like Butcher’s or Hearne’s books — it feels like Verus just turned up half a notch. It’s just such a great read — it grabs you on page 2 and drags you along wherever it wants to take you right up until the “He is not actually doing this” moment — which are followed by a couple more of them.

There are now two things I have to look forward to: the next Alex Verus novel — and whatever novel we’ll soon be calling the Burned of ____ series.


5 Stars

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