by L.J. Sellers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve been a huge fan of L.J. Sellers’ Detective Jackson series so reluctantly picked Seller’s latest novel, “Point of Control” (Thomas & Mercer 2016), from my Vine queue–reluctant because I wanted another Jackson story, not an unknown character I might not like. I don’t even like making new friends, much less getting used to new characters. I pick a series over a stand-alone whenever possible. Turns out, I had no problem making the switch. Maybe because FBI Agent Andra Bailey is so quirky herself, I felt compelled to be patient, just as I would with a new friend.
The story is tricky–scientists are disappearing or dying across the country. The kidnappings seem to be unconnected until Bailey discovers a complicated plot that has to do with a scarcity of rare metals in China causing a shortfall in cell phone parts which ultimately means the world’s major supplies of cell phones can’t meet consumer demand. When Bailey figures out who will profit from that, she starts to unravel the tightly-woven tendrils of a brilliant plan to make at least one man rich.
The story is original, pacing and details are excellent, the action non-stop, the plot twisted–as I’ve come to expect from Sellers. But what makes this book exceptional is the main character, Agent Andra Bailey. She’s a brilliant agent and a high-functioning sociopath, which means she has no emotion about events around her. Her reactions and much of her morality is learned, with intricately-constructed filters that allow her to function as a normal person would despite her lack of feelings. At times, I felt the writing was awkward until I realized that was purposeful. Bailey’s reactions are always awkward–unlike what we would consider normal as she reacts to her world. Here’s an example–she’s just been tasked with following up on a murder:
“It’s rather bizarre.” Bailey wasn’t usually assigned homicide cases–they were generally too easy–but this one was unusual and could involve a lot of travel.
Definitely not how any other literary FBI agent I know would react to an assignment. It reminded me somewhat of Walter O’Brian on the hit TV show, Scorpion (a 186 IQ computer whiz who helps Homeland Security solve crimes).
Overall, a must-read. Sellers even adds an unexpected surprise at the end–which I won’t spoil by revealing!
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.