Ok I admit, I am hooked after reading only two books from this author, I have been drawn from the start into the excitement of Mr. Kernick’s fast moving action packed dramas. “The Payback” drags you into the gory and mystery filled action right from the first murder and with each new victim the suspense intensifies, the constant twists and turns make it a hard novel to put aside.
This latest caper set in the Philippines highlights two of Mr. Kernick’s most popular protagonists: Tina Boyd, the exciting and feisty police office and Dennis Milne, a former cop who is now earning his living by accepting contract killings. A third player is Paul Wise a recurring villain, he is well known as an international crime boss and cruel pedophile.
It opens when Dennis is sent to Manila to carry out an “assignment” for his employer Bertie Schagel (Paul Wise’s right hand man), his target is a journalist. Tina is also in the city, on leave from the force with the hope of settling accounts. She has scheduled a meeting with the same journalist to gather information as to the whereabouts of Paul Wise, the man who left her for dead and killed her ex-lover. When Paul realises he is targeted by Tina, he gives the order to have Dennis eliminate her also. When Dennis realises his second target is a beautiful, innocent woman and a police officer he is unable to fulfill his boss’ wishes and knows by doing this he has put an even bigger target on himself. His only alternative is to join forces with Tina and go after the head of the snake. Their encounter is completely explosive and when you add to the mix a notorious villain you have a fast-paced and action-packed plot that is guaranteed to put boredom at bay for another day.
Mr. Kernick’s characterization is outstanding, Dennis, for one is portrayed as a cold-blooded murderer but he has so much depth and heart it is hard not to empathize with him at times, the others characters are equally well developed in their own roles. The author has provided a lot of Dennis’ back history to make this novel exciting on its own and has brought to light some loose ends from previous installments. However my gut feeling is I should have started with “The Business of Dying ”, all of his novels are definitely on my TBR list, time will tell.