Author: David Wellington
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow, Pub. date July 23, 2013
Chimera introduces Jim Chapel, a Special Forces veteran who rides a desk after being fitted with a prosthetic for the arm he lost. One day Chapel gets called into a very shady meeting by a man he refers to as Laughing Boy, a fairly unhinged CIA agent. Chapel is met by two very high ranking clandestine officials of different agencies who inform him that he has been handpicked to deal with a situation. A number of extremely violent and dangerous fugitives have escaped from a secret prison and must be stopped immediately. Chapel is equipped with a Bluetooth device that connects to a tech genius he calls Angel who can seemingly find him any bit of information and ensure the availability of cars, planes, trains, and more!
Chapel sets off on his mission but arrives too late to save the first victim. He does manage to save the victim’s daughter, a beautiful veterinarian who, surprise surprise, ends up becoming his sidekick on his very classified and very dangerous mission. He takes her along under the guise of keeping her from being silenced by the big bad government goons or the fugitives. Julia is a bright and very capable woman but when tracking down unhinged and extremely violent killers, it seems a bad time to pick up a woman. In case you haven’t figured it out, I am not always thrilled with the haphazard shoving of romance into thrillers just for the sake of having a love interest. Bring on the explosions, fist fights, high speed chases and leave the kissey face at home. I do understand that many people like a little sex with their espionage and heroics and in many cases it works when it’s subtle. Julia’s presence throughout the novel is often awkward and creates more difficulties than are needed to advance the plot. Additionally, Chapel seems to have enough identity crisis going on as he deals with his prosthetic and figuring out how he fits into this more active role without throwing in his constant waffling about whether or not he’s worthy of Julia. I think had Wellington waited until the second novel, it would have been less distracting.
The book progresses at a good pace and keeps the reader involved in the action. The plot bounces nicely between Chapel’s interactions with the fugitives as well as his frowned up investigating into the larger conspiracy that locked these men up and put seven people on a hit list. While some of the twists and turns are predictable, Wellington does an excellent job keeping the reader guessing with most of it. The overall conspiracy itself is fascinating and also thoroughly disturbing. Overall, the book is a good and interesting read. The romance angle was distracting for me but might not be for everyone. I’m not sure that I’ll actively await another book in the series but if I come across it in the future I would be willing to give it a read. Chapel is an interesting character and has the potential for a lot of growth in dealing with who he is as a soldier despite his missing arm and his advancing age.