Justice Beyond Lawby Barry Kelly
CIA Official Publications Review Board Opinion:
"All statements of fact, opinion, or analysis expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official positions or views
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Move over Batman: Jack Brandon, former cop and Marine and millionaire does not need a utility belt or a special car. With his superb martial arts skills and two ex-CIA female sidekicks, Kathy and Anita, he battles today’s super criminals – ex-KGB agents working with al-Qaida. Having accepted the basic premise of the hero’s massive skill set and the tremendous abilities of his sidekicks, plus a plethora of great connections, amazing family background story and money, the book captivates readers with a well-structured plot, terse writing and fast-paced action. Author Barry Kelly’s scenic descriptions in this, his first novel, are right on the mark. I was especially pleased to see his loving detail of Pittsburgh (my hometown) and Washington, D.C., (where I lived for 35 years) and the places along Route 30 that connect the two. More exotic locales such as Katmandu receive equally detailed treatment. Does the hero find romance? Yes, but without slowing the action. Kelly uses every scene to advance the action and plot. The trail of dead bodies left as our heroes fight for justice without the structure of CIA rules stretches across several continents in the course of the action; the totals are worthy of an opera. But our heroes never enjoy the killing, even when the person killed is a truly evil villain. It is good to know that our people still value life, even the lives of enemies. Kelly’s own CIA background lends credence to the plot elements and the tantalizing detail of hero and villain activity. Despite the disclaimer by the CIA prominently displayed on the back of the book, I could not help but wonder – how much of this was real or could really happen? Both fictional hero Jack Brandon and real-life retired CIA officer Kelly own Bouvier des Flandres dogs, a breed with which I was not familiar but now adore. What’s not to love? The large black dog, Shadow, of the novel is big as a bear, adores its owner and saves lives. If you like excitement and action wrapped in good writing, interesting, likeable main characters and excellent plotting, “Justice Beyond Law” is for you. The ending is satisfying, completing the action of this book while setting up a sequel that I can’t wait to read.