I once again have the honor of participating in a blog tour run by the lovely people behind Storytellers on Tour. The book I’ll be talking about today is a little different from the books I usually read. I mean, I read sci-fi, but this has the added twist of being a spy thriller, as well! When I read the synopsis for this novel, I just had to sign up and see what it was all about. So, thank you to Storytellers on Tour, Running Wild Press, and the author for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Of course, my blog is just one stop on this magical mystery tour! If you’d like check out the other wonderful bloggers/Bookstgrammers involved, you can find the schedule here. I’ll also be posting a graphic below.
With all that being said, let’s get to it!
“Welcome to the dangerous, clandestine world of ESPionage. Welcome to The Strip, where operatives on the fringe command teams of ‘Cards’: Agents cursed with subtle, specialized, and sometimes sloppy psychic powers. Dr Ken Park, Korean-American psychologist and spy, dares to lead six of these Cards. Together, they tackle esoteric threats the Department of Homeland Security cannot.
Park takes his team to Africa to retrieve the Faith Machine. Built by the Soviets to turn prayers into suffering, the psychotronic device fell into the hands of a demented warlord. Tragically, the mission fails and the madman slaughters hundreds of innocents while the machine burns.
They return to the States in disgrace, and into an ambush by the mysterious and brutal Casemen. Cut off from command and each other, the scattered agents rush to their safe house in the west. While spy agencies from around the world want retribution for the catastrophe in Africa. Park’s team outplays enemies left and right, while uncovering the true threat. There’s another Faith Machine, one destined to bring hell on earth.”
- Author: Tone Milazzo
- Publisher: Running Wild Press
- Publication date: May 10th, 2020
- Genre: Science Fiction/Spy Thriller
- Age group: Adult
- Content Warnings: Violence, racism, torture, sexual assault
About the Author
Tone Milazzo is the author of Picking Up the Ghost, The Faith Machine, and the ESPionage Role-Playing Game.
Stories have always been Tone’s first love. When the first hunter told another about the one who got away, stories made us human. Stories lead to understanding. Fiction, religion, biographies, gossip, gaming, and history, it all goes into the slow cooker and out comes tories.
To those ends Tone’s been around, professionally speaking. Marine, taxi driver, teacher, assistant to scientists, and coder. This breath of experience has given Tone a little knowledge about a lot of things, good and bad.
He lives in San Diego with his wife Melissa Milazzo (author of Time is a Flat Circle) and two dogs, all of whom are more capable than he is.
I’m going to admit something right now. I love a good (or bad, as it were) pun. So my initial attraction to this book was that it was a spy novel featuring characters with psychic abilities and the author called it a (wait for it) ESPionage Novel. I knew going in that the humor in this was going to right up my alley 😂
The novel follows Dr. Ken Park and his team of powerful, if mostly unstable, psychic spies. Though applying the term “spies” to most of them is generous. They work for a group called Project Dead Blind which sends them on a mission to Africa to retrieve a Russian weapon known as the Faith Machine. This machine was built to weaponize religion and has fallen into dangerous hands. When they arrive in Africa, however, everything starts to go wrong. Now, they are embroiled in a fight with the feds, a mysterious group called the Casemen, and other mysterious entities. Can they pull together as a team and survive this attack of faith?
Y’all, when I tell you this book was exciting. It’s close to 400 pages, but I flew through it! I think the short chapters helped with that, but the fact that the action starts pretty much immediately and just never lets up certainly helped. This was such a thrill to read! I quickly became invested in figuring out what was going on and where the story was taking us. I’m not big into spy novels, but I have seen a few James Bond movies. This book read like a James Bond movie feels. High action, high stakes, and a beautiful payoff in the end!
I also enjoyed getting to know our wide range of characters. They were all so different and interesting! The characterizations did fall a little flat for me at times, though. Like the characters were clearly just written to play their individual roles and were otherwise pretty one-dimensional. You do get multiple POVs throughout the novel which, though interesting and eclectic, contributed to the feeling that no one was really fleshed out fully. Still, I found myself becoming rather attached to the members of Project Dead Blind. I’d love to know how their story continues.
And, as I anticipated, the humor in this story was on point! There were several parts, even during the height of the action, that made me chuckle. I will say that there is quite a bit of racism that seems to have been thrown in for shock value. The characters do address it, at times, but I still felt like it should have been challenged more. Still, overall, I really enjoyed the tone of this book and had a blast reading it.
Final thoughts: This was fun, action-packed, and incredibly entertaining! The characters were a bit one-dimensional and I could have done with the racism being challenged more, but I still enjoyed my first dip into an adult spy thriller. If you’re looking for something that is fast-paced, humorous, and all the spy action you could want, give this one a try!
Click the banner to go to the tour page.