Wyatt's Revenge (Matt Royal Series #4)by H. Terrell Griffin
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On balance, retired trial lawyer turned-beach bum Matt Royal is a pretty laid-back fellow. But when Laurence Wyatt, one of Matt's best friends, is murdered, Matt trades in his easygoing ways for a hard-hitting quest for revenge. Matt knows the Longboat Key police will do their job in investigating. But for Matt, finding Wyatt's killer isn't a job; it's personal. Determined to do whatever it takes to solve Wyatt's murder, Matt takes matters into his own hands and embarks on a clandestine investigation. Soon, Matt finds himself in hot pursuit of a cadre of remorseless criminals and trained killers, but the tables turn and Matt becomes the pursued. Faced with mounting danger, Matt calls for backup from his buddies Jock Algren and Logan Hamilton. Matt Royal would go to the ends of the earth to exact revenge for Wyatt's murder, but will he go outside the law?Expect the unexpected in this wild and dangerous ride from Longboat Key, Florida, to Frankfurt, Germany, because hell hath no fury like Matt Royal scorned.
[i]Publisher's Weekly[/i] says Griffin's last novel, [i]Blood Island[/i],
Booklist says Griffin's last novel, [i]Blood Island[/i],
Griffin's last novel [i]Blood Island[/i] was a finalist in the National Best Books Award 2008, Fiction & Literature: Mystery/Suspense
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A multi-tiered publicity campaign to include wide distribution of Advanced Reading Copies, a national author tour and Book Sense Programs
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A Matt Royal Mystery
By H. Terrell Griffin
Oceanview PublishingCopyright © 2009 H. Terrell Griffin
All rights reserved.
Laurence Wyatt was executed on a bright Sunday morning in late October when high white clouds drifted across the beach and out to the horizon where they kissed the azure water of the Gulf of Mexico. An onshore breeze ruffled the fronds of the palm trees that bordered the sand and the smell of the sea wafted on the currents of air that drifted lazily over a tableau of death. The morning quiet was pierced by the raucous cries of gulls diving for their breakfast.
The executioner used a large-caliber pistol, a .45 perhaps, and shot Wyatt behind the left ear. The steel-jacketed slug tore though his brain, searing gray matter, disrupting synapses, destroying the connections that make us human. The bullet exited his face, taking his right eye and most of the zygomatic arch with it, splattering the balcony railing with the remains of one of the finest brains in America. By the time the bullet exited Wyatt's face, he was dead.
The murderer put another bullet into the dead man, shooting him in the back of the neck. Why? Insurance? Malice? Or just because the killer was a mean son of a bitch who gave no more thought to killing a fine and gentle man than he would to stomping a roach.
The second bullet didn't matter. Wyatt was already dead, and the shooter had sealed his own death warrant when he sent the first slug into my friend's brain. The killer was dead meat from that moment on. He didn't know it, but I did. I would hunt him down and kill him and make sure he knew why he was dying. I owed that to Wyatt.
When Wyatt died, I was jogging on the beach, enjoying the view that was probably Wyatt's last glimpse of life. If I had thought about it, and I didn't, I would have guessed that Wyatt was looking at the sea, sitting on his balcony, reading the paper, and drinking the strong coffee he fancied. He did that every morning.
I would have been wrong. Wyatt was looking out to sea when he was shot, and the paper was spread on his lap. But there was no coffee cup. We knew what his last view was because of the blood splatter on the balcony rail. What we didn't know was whether Wyatt saw it coming, or if the shooter snuck up behind him and took the shot. Shots.
The news of Wyatt's death came to me as such news often does, in the person of a police officer. I was sitting on my sunporch overlooking Sarasota Bay when the knock came. It wasn't ominous in any way; just a routine rap on the front door of my condo. A friend coming for a visit perhaps, or the maintenance manager checking up on something.
I looked at my watch. Ten o'clock. I opened the door to find my fishing buddy, Bill Lester, standing at the threshold. He was wearing boat shoes, chinos, and a blue golf shirt with a Longboat Key, Florida police chief 's badge embroidered on the pocket. He was not a tall man, about five eight, his dark hair cut short, a small belly beginning to protrude over his belt, a neatly trimmed mustache gracing his upper lip. He carried no weapon that I could see. On the surface he was not a prepossessing figure, but he had a presence that transcended his stature. I think it was because of the no-nonsense way he approached life, like a man who knew at any given minute what the next one would bring. He exuded confidence the way aging drunks exude the stench of old booze. It rose off his body, giving him a demeanor that put people at ease. They knew they had found the man in charge, and they were comforted by the discovery.
Not today. Bill's face was a little gray, his eyes moist, his hair uncombed. His body language screamed that bad news was coming.
"What is it, Bill?" I asked.
"Laurence Wyatt's dead."
"Shot to death on his balcony."
We were still standing at the door. I felt as if I'd been kicked in the stomach. "Come on in. What happened?"
The chief went to my kitchen, pulled a mug from a cabinet and poured himself a cup of coffee. An act of familiarity bred between friends. We moved into the living room, and he told me what he'd found on Wyatt's balcony.
"His ex-wife found him. Called us," he said.
"How's she holding up?"
"Not good. But she's tough. My detective had a few more questions for her, and Logan Hamilton was on his way to pick her up. I wanted to tell you personally. I know how close you guys were."
"Yeah. For a long time. Was it a robbery?"
"Doesn't look like it. Donna said his laptop is missing, but that's all. There was cash in a money clip on his dresser and a wallet with several credit cards. I don't think some moke would kill for a laptop and leave the cash and cards."
"You're probably right. Maybe the computer will turn up."
"Tell me about him, Matt. I didn't know Laurence well."
"Nobody called him Laurence. He never liked his first name and all his friends called him Wyatt. I was a nineteen-year-old second lieutenant at the tail end of Vietnam. My first tour. Wyatt was a thirty-two-year-old major on his third. He taught me how to be a soldier and a leader. Mostly, he taught me about honor. And he showed me how to be a man."
"Was he Special Forces, too?"
"Yeah. We both wore the Green Beret. But Wyatt was special, Bill. A West Pointer who didn't have to keep volunteering for combat. He just felt that he owed it to the men. He always said that he'd been given an opportunity to be a leader, and that meant that he owed the army some leadership. That's what he did. He led."
"You guys stayed close."
"When I got out of the army and started college, Wyatt was completing his Ph.D. in history on the same campus. When he finished grad school, he went to the University of Central Florida in Orlando to teach. When I was finishing law school, he introduced me to a partner in a big Orlando firm who hired me. When I got married, he was my best man, and when I got divorced, he talked me out of the bottle of bourbon I'd crawled into, and sent me packing to Longboat Key. He was only thirteen years older than me, but he was like the father I never knew. I loved him."
"Could there be somebody from his past after him?"
"I doubt it," I said. "Wyatt was a warrior who became a scholar. And he put the warrior stuff behind him. He'd been a fierce soldier, and he became a gentle professor. I can't think of anyone who'd want to kill him."
"We'll find the guy who did this, Matt. I promise you that. We'll get him."
I was alone in my condo. Bill had left after assuring me again that he'd do everything in his power to bring Wyatt's killer to justice. I knew a little about justice. I'd been a trial lawyer for a long time. I'd represented guilty men and convinced juries that they should acquit. I knew that good lawyers sometimes got bad people off. I didn't want that to happen to the animal who had killed my friend. I wanted him dead.
We Americans have an aversion to the death penalty. Polls show time after time that we condone the ultimate punishment, but when it comes right down to it, we're squeamish about imposing it. Most murderers are not caught. Those who are caught can usually plea bargain themselves into lighter sentences. Even when a jury finds a murderer guilty as charged, the good citizens sitting in the box often recommend life imprisonment.
Rarely, but sometimes, the death penalty is ordered. Then the lawyers get involved further, and the appeals take up the next twenty or thirty years. The victim's loved ones die of old age, and the animal who killed lives on, sitting on death row, three squares a day, a warm bed, air conditioning in the summer, and always a television set. And when the execution is finally carried out, if it ever is, no one remembers the crime or the victim, except the survivors.
The law is the only thing that keeps the animals at bay. It provides a patina of civilization that results in a modicum of safety. We are not allowed to seek personal revenge. We let the law do it for us. I believed in that law. But I also believed in revenge, and what I could not tell my friend Bill Lester, was that I would take my revenge on the bastard who killed the best man I'd ever known.
My buddy Logan Hamilton showed up and sat quietly, drinking coffee and letting me talk. I told him more about Wyatt and about the war than I'd ever told anybody. I let my grief at Wyatt's death roll out in waves that washed over Logan, sitting there, being a friend, because he knew I needed one. I raged at the cretin who would kill a good man in cold blood, and I vowed revenge. Finally, I ran out of words, and I too sat quietly, staring at the bay, musing at the colors cast by the autumn sun, knowing Wyatt would never again enjoy such a scene.
"Matt," Logan said after some time had passed, "you'll be okay."
And I knew he was right. Pretty soon, time would begin to erode the sharp angles of my grief, round it out, soften it, and I would tuck it away back in the corner of my mind where all the other dead soldiers live. Life would go on, but it wouldn't be as sweet as when Wyatt was part of it. His leaving would tear a hole in the heart of our island community, one that would never be completely filled. Stories would be told in the island bars of a good man with a quirky sense of humor who took care of his friends, gave generously of his money, and sometimes drank too much Scotch. We would talk of him with affection and laugh at his antics, and soon the stories would grow larger than life. I would live and remember, and over time the grief would dissipate like the fog of an early morning.CHAPTER 2
My name is Matthew Royal. I'd been a trial lawyer for a long time, so long that the profession turned into a business without my noticing it. When I finally figured it out, that money had become more important than the client's cause, I quit and moved to Longboat Key, Florida.
I live on an island that is a quarter-mile wide and ten miles long. It floats serenely off the southwest coast of Florida, south of Tampa Bay, about halfway down the peninsula. The key is separated from the mainland by Sarasota Bay, and you have to cross a bridge, drive across another island, and cross another bridge to find the real world. I liked it that way. It provided a sense of isolation.
I am also a trained killer. Or, at least, that's what I had once been. When I was seventeen, I joined the army. I went through basic training, advanced infantry training, jump school, Infantry Officer Candidate School, Ranger School, and Special Forces training. By the age of nineteen, I was ready to lead men in combat and kill our nation's enemies. I did some of that in Southeast Asia, and then I left it behind me. College and law school recivilized me, and I moved to Orlando to practice law. Over the years my wife tired of my lack of attention to her, divorced me, and moved to Atlanta. I stayed in Orlando until I realized that the law had lost its nobility, and I said to hell with it.
I challenge middle age every day, work to keep the golden years at bay, retain my boyish charm, and not lose sight of the fact that I am getting older. I'm not a gym rat, but I do work out. I run regularly on the beach and keep myself in reasonably good shape. I stand six feet tall and weigh the same 180 pounds I did when I got out of the army. I have a head full of dark hair, eyes that are brown and not my best feature, a nose that once experienced a fistful of grief and is a little off-center. My dentist keeps my teeth in good shape and I'm told that I have a nice smile. I don't think of myself as handsome, but I tend to grow on people.
I was young for retirement, but I had enough money to live modestly for the rest of my life. I found that I enjoyed fishing and drinking beer with my friends, jogging on the beach, and tumbling the occasional pretty girl. Not a bad life. And then some asshole slips in and puts out the lights of a good man who enjoyed the same things I did. I couldn't let that pass.
Dawn on Wednesday morning. A cool breeze was blowing out of the north, ruffling the surface of the Gulf. The sun was suspended over the mainland, having just cleared the Earth's curvature; hanging there like it had all the time in the world before it had to start its climb into the heavens.
My boat was anchored in Longboat Pass, just seaward of the bridge. The tide was going out, and the stern had wheeled around, now facing the open Gulf. Five other boats were rafted to mine, their anchors buried in the soft bottom, the tide straining their lines.
I put a CD into the stereo in the dash. The sound of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" drifted over the water. The twenty people in the rafted boats stood quietly facing astern, their heads bowed, some in tears.
As the last notes of the song faded away, I spoke in a voice loud enough to be heard on all the boats. "He was a good man, and I loved him." That said it all.
I tipped the small metal urn over the stern, and the ashes of Laurence Wyatt drifted on the breeze, settled onto the surface of his beloved Gulf of Mexico, and floated seaward with the outgoing tide. I heard a sob from Sam Lastinger's boat, rafted next to mine. Logan was standing there, tears coursing down his cheeks. He looked up at me, smiling sadly. "Let's go home," he said.
We spent the day mourning Wyatt in our way. On Longboat Key, that meant that we drank too much, told funny stories about the departed, and mused on the vagaries of life. We all wondered who would be the next to go. On our island, so filled with elderly people, death is a constant reality. We accept it, mourn our lost friends, and move on. It is only when one is taken violently and without warning that we become the shocked survivors.
We'd seen Wyatt off according to the instructions he'd left with Donna. Cremation, ashes drifting on an ebbing tide, Dylan singing "Like a Rolling Stone," and then revelry.
Wyatt's friends, who managed the Hilton on the island, opened the upstairs bar for the mourners, a going away party that befitted a man the islanders loved. Wyatt enjoyed a party, loved the gathering of his friends, the laughter, the stories told again and again. Every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas, he would feed many of the snowbirds who were far from home and family. Twenty people or more would crowd into his condo for the festivities. They always left sated with food and good cheer. On several occasions, Wyatt had put together what he called memorial parties for friends who had died. He would have wanted the same, and the islanders were out in force to see him off.
Cracker Dix was there, dressed in his usual — cargo shorts, Hawaiian shirt, and flip-flops. He's an expatriate Englishman who has lived on the island for years. He came over to me, sipping from a can of beer. "Can I talk to you for a moment?" he said, and beckoned me into a corner.
"Matt, do you know Leah, the deaf girl who cooks at the restaurant where I work?"
"She reads lips, you know, and she saw something the other day that didn't make any sense to her."
"What?" I asked.
"She'd come out of the kitchen and was standing just inside the dining room when she saw a man say, 'Wyatt's a dead man.' She didn't think anything about it until the next day when she heard about his murder."
I made a "come on" gesture with my hand. Cracker tended to drift off subject after too many beers.
"Leah said there were two men at a table eating dinner. One had his back to her, and the other one was facing her. That was all of the conversation she saw. She just didn't think anything about it. She sees parts of conversations all the time."
"Did she recognize the man?" I asked.
"No, but she got his name. After she heard about Wyatt, she went to the credit card receipts and got his name and credit card number. I wrote them down for you."
I looked at the scrap of napkin he handed me. It had a name, Michael Rupert, and a long string of numbers. "Does this mean anything to you?" I asked.
"No," said Cracker, "I never heard the name. The numbers are his credit card number."
"Thanks, Cracker. Have you said anything about this to anybody else?"
"No. I figured you might want to deal with this yourself. I told Leah not to mention it to anybody either."
Excerpted from Wyatt's Revenge by H. Terrell Griffin. Copyright © 2009 H. Terrell Griffin. Excerpted by permission of Oceanview Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
H. Terrell Griffin is the award winning author of seven Matt Royal mysteries set on Florida's Suncoast. Prior to succumbing to his lifelong yen to write, he earned degrees in history and law from Mercer University and was a board certified civil trial lawyer based in Orlando for thirty-eight years. In his youth, Terry served three years in the U.S. Army, much of it as a medic in an Armored Cavalry regiment on the East German border.
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As a longtime resident of Sarasota, I find H. Terrell Griffin's Matt Royal series to be highly accurate regarding the area the books take place, the books are fun to read, are intriguing, fast paced and almost believable. I have to remind myself that these are fictional stories. In the same vain as John McDonald and Robert Parker, these are great stories set in a fairly specific area with excellent story lines. I've read all of his books and look forward to the next installment of his Matt Royal stories.
4 STARS Wyatt's Revenge is book 4 in the Matt Royal Mystery series. This book has a lot of revenge,greed, brothers in arms. Thier is a part of Matt that comes out that is wrong. I can see him justifing his decisions but no matter how evil it is wrong to set out to murder someone. I learned a little more about different groups were like during WWII. How many Jews were slaughtered and robbed. How Christian churches helped smuggle the Natzis out of Germany. Thier is some strong language, violence. Non stop action and drama as they fly across the ocean and back. I got this book free on Amazon awhile back. I have one more of Matt Royal books on my kindle to read yet and I just might have to break down and buy the other two that I don't own yet. I like the characters, How loyal and good friends they are too each other. They try to do what is right and protect freedoms and safty for others.
H. Terrell Griffin begins the fourth installment in his Matt Royal Mystery Series with a bang. Literally. Laurence Wyatt is enjoying the cool Florida breeze from his balcony when a bullet travels through his skull. Just like that, Wyatt is dead. Retired lawyer and soldier Matt Royal is completely shocked at the news of the sudden death of his dear friend Wyatt. Along with his friends Logan and Jock, Matt served with Wyatt during the war in Vietnam, forging a lifelong bond that has stayed with the men. All are present at Wyatt's funeral, but the murder seems to weigh especially heavy on the mind of Royal. Never one to shy away from a mystery, Matt vows revenge on whoever is responsible for the death of Wyatt. Acting on a tip from a local waitress, Royal tracks down the man who shot Wyatt and discovers that the shooter was merely a pawn in a much larger game. Enlisting the help of Jock, who conveniently works for a secret government agency that is alway willing to lend resources, and Dr. Jessica Connors, an expert on WWII, Matt embarks on a transcontinental quest to serve justice to the people responsible for his friends death. Griffin definitely knows how to draw a reader in and keep them guessing until the end. I really appreciate the way he adds bits of historical truth to serve his fiction. As in the other novels in this series, it is the fascinating protagonist, Matt Royal, who drives the drama of this story. In this novel, Royal is forced to grapple with seeking revenge and the consequences of his search for justice. Thrust into a situation of violence, Matt evaluates his own use of violence, both during the war and in his investigation. A Florida native, Griffin gives a vivid portrayal of the Florida setting, and the people who live there. I always look forward to the little details he provides that make the people seem like those you would actually encounter on a visit to the Florida coast. The only downside to these fantastic descriptions is that the other settings and their inhabitants pale in comparison. It's not that there was anything wrong with the other locations, but I could definitely tell that, like other Florida author's(Carl Hiaasen, Jeff Lindsay, etc.), the spirit of the region is in his writing. Wyatt's Revenge comes to a very satisfying conclusion and keeps the twists and suspense rolling until the very end. The expertly crafted characters and setting give this novel a heart that is rarely found in series mysteries. I recommend this novel for any fan of thrillers, history, and page-turning suspense.
Matt Royal is a retired trial lawyer and ex-Green Beret who has been enjoying a laid-back, beach bum existence on Longboat Key in Florida when one of his best friends Lawrence Wyatt is killed by a professional hit man. Why would anyone want to kill Wyatt? He was a history professor. Matt finds out it was a professional hit and knows he needs to investigate to find out what Wyatt was involved in that someone paid to have him killed. As Matt investigates, he finds out that Wyatt was doing research on Nazi Germany and he must have come across some sensitive material that has someone willing to kill to cover his or her tracks. Matt calls on two resourceful friends Jack Algren and Logan Hamilton, which is helpful as they journey to Frankfurt, Germany to solve the mystery. For Matt it is personal and he is out to get those who had his friend killed. Along the way though things change and he needs to be careful as he is now being pursued. Griffin writes an exciting thriller as Matt travels not just in Florida but also to New York and Germany. Matt Royal, a likeable guy, "takes care" of those who are responsible for Wyatt's death. Is it justice or revenge? Griffin knows how to write a real page-turner and I look forward to reading more of his Matt Royal works.
I received this book through Reviewthebook.com and am not required to write a positive review. Wyatt's Revenge by H. Terrell Griffin is a rollercoaster ride of a book. When someone ordered a hit on Laurence Wyatt they didn't realize that his friend Matt Royal , a retired lawyer living on a small island in the Florida Keys) would take it upon himself to revenge his death. But just why was Wyatt killed in the first place? As Matt follows one clue after another and works his way up the chain of people involved in the hit he gets closer and closer to the answer. This is usually not my kind of book. I like mysteries but more of the cozy type than the harboiled type. I did find myself entertained though and I would recommend this to anyone that likes this type of book. Very well done. There is violence and some language.
Matt Royal is a retired trial attorney enjoying the relaxed life on Longboat Key, Florida when his best friend and Vietnam War mentor, Laurence Wyatt, is murdered execution style. Though Matt has full faith in local law enforcement, this is personal so he sets out to find those responsible and bring them to justice. What he finds takes him to Germany to solve a mystery that goes back decades and will lead him where he never expected. He enlists his friends, Jock Algren and Logan Hamilton, to help unravel the mystery and get the revenge that Wyatt deserves. "Wyatt's Revenge" is the fourth installment in the Matt Royal series, written by author H. Terrell Griffin, but is the first book I have ever read by this author. He does a very good job of introducing the reader to characters that, no doubt, were part of the previous books and I really didn't feel like I was missing any information regarding the main characters or their relationship to one another. The story moved quickly and, while I did figure out part of the mystery rather early, I think that was intentional as the reader is privy to some information that the characters are not. In this testosterone fueled, action packed mystery, knowing that little piece of information doesn't matter as you will still be turning the pages furiously to find out what happens next. My only complaint, now I have to go buy the other 3 books in the series to find out what kind of trouble Matt Royal was previously involved in. If it was even half as exciting as "Wyatt's Revenge", it will be well worth the expense.
A retired trial lawyer should be relaxing in the Florida sun and that's exactly what Matt Royal is doing until one of his best friends, Laurence Wyatt, is murdered by a professional hit man. Royal needs to find out why his friend was murdered. With information gleaned from Wyatt's computer, Royal tracks down those behind the murder and attempts to extract justice for Wyatt's death, but finds himself a marked man. Royal relies on several of his friends from his military past to help him in a dangerous quest that takes him from Florida to Germany and back uncovering ties to Nazi Germany and the Middle East. He must dodge bombs and bullets to complete his mission. "Wyatt's Revenge" is a fast-paced mystery with plenty of murder and male camaraderie. Matt Royal is a likable guy and I'd like to read more of his antics. Author H. Terrell Griffin even threw in a little romance. All-in-all a great read.
I think the main character in this great novel is one of my new favorites. Matt Royal is a retired trial lawyer, now a laid back beach bum enjoying the fruits of his years of hard work as a trial lawyer. When a good friend Laurence Wyatt is murdered, Matt is torn about what to do. He wants to solve the crime and avenge the death, but he knows the local police force is on the job, and will do their best to solve the crime. Our laid back beach bum starts his own investigation, and with a personal interest in the case, it becomes a very serious quest. Following his lead, he becomes the hunted by a group of relentless and heartless criminals, who will kill with impunity. Knowing he is in trouble, Matt contacts 2 good friends to help him out. The investigation takes them into dangerous territory, from Florida to Germany and spots in between. However, Matt Royal is no man who backs down from a challenge, regardless of the danger. Filled with twists, turns and suspense, this novel is enjoyable and great fun to read. The characters are well drawn, and the reader finds himself taken along on a dangerous and suspenseful ride towards an ending that may lead them outside the bounds of the law to solve the crime. I really enjoyed the character of Matt Royal, and look forward to reading more of his adventures. He may be a retired beach bum, but he is also a very exciting fellow!
Retired lawyer Matt Royal enjoys mellowing at his home in Longboat Key, Florida. The Vietnam vet prefers doing nothing of consequence and believes he earned it after years of trial by fire. However, his idyllic life is interrupted when someone assassinates his friend Professor Laurence Wyatt, who like Royal was a trained killer, but became a gentle soul once he left the military. Their mutual friend Debbie the bartender and hacker does some data base mining for Royal who got a tip from the cops, but finds nothing of interest except Michael Ruperts who turns out to be a one trick ghost. Soon after Royal begins his inquiry, someone fire bombs his car and shoots at him. However, the persistent beach bum learns another Floridian professor working with Wyatt on a Vichy France study was also murdered. With his friends Jock Algren and Logan Hamilton as back up, Matt goes after the assailant trying to prevent him from learning the truth now and in WW II France; unaware the answers lie in Frankfort. Although somewhat linear with no major twists, the foruth Royal thriller (see Blood Island, Murder key and Longboat Blues) is an entertaining tale as the hero gets shot at on two continents. The story line is fast-paced from the opening moment when a stunned Royal cannot believe someone splattered the brains of Wyatt and never slows down as Matt follows clues and dodges murder attempts. Fans will enjoy the lay back retiree proving he remains a trained killer. Harriet Klausner .
Is it apporprete forr a 12 year oldd