Review: John Knox and Grace Chu, field operatives for the private security firm Rutherford Risk, are assigned to identify the owners of a knot shop in Amsterdam, a factory that manufactures high quality rugs using children — because their small fingers can tie knots tighter and more quickly — but sells the products as of Turkish origin at high mark-ups. And when the children, often purchased from their impoverished parents overseas, get too old, they are sold themselves into the Asian sex slave trade. But despite Knox and Grace's respective talents, he of logistics and she of financial forensics, they have a hard time zeroing in on the single man responsible in Choke Point, the second thriller in this series by Ridley Pearson.
Their only clue to the whereabouts of the operation is a photo taken by an investigative reporter, who they enlist in their effort. Their approach is two-fold: Knox will take on the role of a potential buyer, something he has experience doing anyway, as he is a professional trader of art and antiques when he's not on assignment. Grace will assume the role of a potential employer looking for inexpensive space to open a sweat shop herself. It doesn't take long for Knox to find a middleman, who will work with him, but when the negotiations stall, the pair needs to put the pressure on, no matter what it takes, to get a deal done.
There's an odd sense while reading Choke Point that the approaches Knox and Grace are taking is, to put it simply, wrong. Identifying the criminals behind the child labor and prostitution operation should be more of an cerebral exercise rather than a blunt force physical one. And what's so strange here is that both Knox and Grace are smart people — really smart people. But whenever there's an opportunity to take the smart option, they opt for the, if not exactly the dumb one, the less inspired one. Clearly it's easier to write an action-centric storyline — which this most definitely is — using lots of scenes with bloody noses, dislocated joints, cracked ribs and the like. But it's easy to see how this could have been an elegantly crafted thriller had a more intellectual approach been taken to solving the problem. Instead, it's merely an ordinary, good guys beat up the bad guys style action novel. It's nicely plotted and well written, to be sure, but also far too long; 100-150 pages could have been excised without any loss of continuity. Something the screenwriter will undoubtedly have no trouble doing as this is also the kind of novel, with strong male and female leads and a hint of sexual tension between them, that gets made into a movie.
Acknowledgment: Putnam provided a copy of Choke Point for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Putnam (Hardcover), June 2009
ISBN-13: 9780399155727; ISBN-10: 0399155724
Location(s) referenced in Choke Point: Amsterdam
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Choke Point by Ridley Pearson — A Risk Agent Thriller
Publication Date: July 2013
List Price: $26.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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