Learning About the Past – Danger in the Present
I appreciate it when authors try for something new. Sometimes, those breaks in their formula turn out to be favorite books in a series. And sometimes, they don’t quite pay off. Unfortunately, for me, that was the case with A Dangerous Breed, the fifth Van Shaw novel from Glen Erik Hamilton.
If you are new to the series, Van is an unusual hero, at least for me. He was raised to be a thief by his grandfather before entering the Army after high school graduation. Now out of the Army Rangers, he is having a hard time fitting back into civilian life, especially when he gets caught up in situations that require his skills, some of which are on the shady side.
It all started because Van was trying to help out a friend. Hollis needs help with an injured sailor, so Van goes along when Hollis takes him to a private doctor Hollis knows about. However, that puts Van on the radar of a criminal willing to use extortion to get Van to do his dirty work. And that dirty work? It involves a heist from a biotech firm in downtown Seattle in just a few days – not enough time for Van to properly plan.
Meanwhile, an invitation to a high school reunion addressed to Van’s long deceased mother sparks Van’s design to know about his past. By speaking to his mom’s friends from when she was in high school, Van thinks he might have figured out who is father is. But does he want to know this man?
I’ve enjoyed the previous books in the series, so I was expecting this book to be just as entertaining. And it certainly had its entertaining moments. Both stories feature Van against overwhelming odds, which is usually a recipe for a page turner. Here, I feel like neither story quite lived up to its full potential. It’s almost like the author took a couple of ideas he was playing around with and put them in the same book since he couldn’t figure out how to fully flesh them out. I kept expecting one more big twist that never quite came. Don’t misunderstand, we get resolution to the stories, but some of the other books have had better resolution.
Of course, series fans will want to read the book to check in on Van. He and the limited series regulars are all in top form, and I appreciated getting to learn what is going on in their lives. Plus, it was interesting to learn more about Van’s background. The characters that pop up in this story are great. I wouldn’t say exactly likeable, which is no surprise to those who are familiar with the series. Van has to face some pretty nasty people in these books, but that’s what keeps us coming back.
This is the part of the review where I would normally remind you that the book will have more language and violence than I would normally read since they are thrillers and not cozies. And that holds true. However, I have to call out one particularly nasty scene that I definitely could have done without.
As usual with this series, I listened to the audio book. We have the third narrator for the series. After three books with the same narrator, it took me a bit to get used to Stephen Mendel, especially since he was the first narrator to not try to give Hollis an Irish accent. I’m sorry that the previous narrator didn’t come back, but by the end, I was used to Stephen’s work.
It’s disappointing that A Dangerous Breed didn’t quite come together as it should have. But fans of the series will still be glad to see Van in action. If you haven’t met him yet, don’t start here.
Here are the rest of the Van Shaw mysteries.