Four books into what will clearly be a long-running series featuring the enigmatic Carter Blake, and Mason Cross has so far been able to give his readers something different each time. Different, yet familiar. Opening up a new Mason Cross book is like sliding into a pair of old slippers.
Sure, you know Blake is going to be involved in a fight within the first few chapters, that he will be both hunter and hunted, and that he will not only emerge victorious but also unruffled. We know that about Bond and Bourne and Reacher, et al, but it doesn't stop us coming back for more. Wild horses could not prevent me from gaining access to more Carter Blake in the future, that's for sure. I like the fact that Blake is not perfect – he gets surprised at times, he gets hit, he gets beat up, and occasionally he loses his man. It is that lack of perfection that makes Blake all the more real, and all the more appealing.
The past continues to draw Blake back in. Last time out it was his ex-colleagues who dragged him back, and now it's an ex-girlfriend. It seems the past will not remain where he left it, but when someone is in trouble, Carter Blake steps up. No matter what awaits him in the shadows.
In Don't Look For Me, Blake has to contend throughout with someone who has a similar set of skills, a similar approach to achieving goals, and a similar method of dealing with opponents. A wily, cussed character, with an appreciation for an adroit foe. I liked Gage. I saw him as a man worthy of Blake's best efforts. Carter Blake with a black hat.
I thoroughly enjoyed the premise of this book, and in addition to Blake and Gage the two female characters were also engaging, though in very different ways. One I liked, one I did not, and I wasn't quite sure whether I was supposed to. The action is spread over hundreds of miles, mostly in Nevada and Arizona, and as usual the physical scenes are cinematic. Early intrigue leads to understanding, which in turn leads to anticipation. A couple of unusual settings here, too, and they play a role in developing a brooding atmosphere.
One of the things I admire about fast-paced action thrillers of this ilk is the author's ability to maintain that momentum and to create plenty of conflict along the way. Having written one myself recently I can attest to the fact that a lot of work goes into making it all seem effortless (something I am still striving to achieve). Mason Cross has succeeded yet again in delivering that pace and drive and character and story all in one neat package that sweeps you up and carries you along for the duration, never allowing you back down until you are sated by the ending and wishing you could go back and start all over again.
A five star read.