This is the third in the Ryan Kaine series by Kerry Donovan, and it’s been interesting to see how the main character and his story evolve through the books. This one is quite a change from the first, which left me out of breath by the end with its fast and furious pace, and the second, where the pace had slowed marginally but gathered steam as it went along.
On the Defensive opens in a small Greek bistro in London, where the owners, Justina Constantine and her husband Orestes, struggle to keep the business open. Justina’s father-in-law, Papa Onassis, had been killed when the flight he was on to Europe was brought down by a missile – one fired by Ryan Kaine, who didn’t know at the time he was set up. They owe thousands of pounds to the bank and business is way off because a developer has bought the block where the bistro is located and is systematically forcing the tenants to leave. This day Justina is visited by two men, who smash up the restaurant, rough her up and threaten to harm her daughters if her husband won’t sign papers selling their place to the developer. A terrifying opening and a great hook.
What bothered me about the book is what came next: a long, long digression to a villa in France. There Ryan Kaine lives the veterinarian Lara, who is introduced in the first book when she rescues him from the people sent to kill him and who must now remain with him for her safety. Filled with their bandinage, the story drags while Kaine, who has promised to make restitution to the families affected by the death of their loved ones on the plane, is informed of the situation with the Constantine family. His plan to help them, his interactions with Lara, and the arrangement for a backup for him in London occupy the next seven chapters and to me, the story dragged.
Admittedly, the author needs to fill in information about Kaine, Lara, and the mechanism by which Kaine is told when and where he might be needed. There is also Kaine’s internal struggle not to fall in love with Lara – a struggle he is losing – because of the mortal danger their relationship brings. However, this long a digression from what I’ve come to expect – a fast-paced story – detracted from my enjoyment.
One the story returns to London, the pace picks up and the reader becomes engrossed in how Kaine inserts himself into the Constantines’ lives, identifies and finds their tormentors, manages to wreak justice on the man at the top, and rescue the bistro and the Constantine family. This is pure Donovan.
As usual, the author’s descriptions of places are succinct but well-wrought and the villains are loathsomely three dimensional. All the characters are clear and identifiable, with quirks and foibles. There are the usual twists and turns along the way, leading to a satisfying ending, with more foreshadowed to come.
All in all, a good, fun read, but maybe not up to the level of the first and second books. Nevertheless, for Ryan Kaine fans, this latest adventure will please.
About the author:
Kerry J Donovan was born in Dublin. Kerry earned a first class honours degree in Human Biology, and has a PhD in Sport and Exercise Sciences. A former scientific advisor to The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, he helped UK emergency first-responders prepare for chemical attacks in the wake of 9/11. This background adds a scientific edge to his writing. He is also a former furniture designer/maker. He is the author of a sci-fi/thriller, The Transition of Johnny Swift, which reached #1 on the Amazon Bestsellers List in December 2014.
A citizen of the world, he now lives in the heart of rural Brittany with his wonderful and patient wife, Jan. They have three children and four grandchildren (so far), all of whom live in England. An absentee granddad, Kerry is hugely grateful for the development of video calling.
You can find Kerry Donovan on
Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KerryJDonovan
His blog at: http://kerryjdonovan.com/blog
And on Twitter at: https://www.twitter.com/KerryJDonovan
His books are on Amazon at: