The Red Room

The Red Room, Ridley Pearson's third installment in the Risk Agent series (Choke Point, The Risk Agent), embodies the elements of both a thriller and a mystery. Security contractors John Knox and Grace Chu are hired to broker the sale of a priceless sculpture in Turkey. Despite the significance of the art, the seller is letting it go dirt cheap; the sale is simply a cover to get John and Grace in the same room with the buyer--an Iranian academic--for five minutes. Their employer won't tell them what's really going on, so they begin a quiet investigation. The more John and Grace learn, the less they understand and the greater liabilities they become. In a high-intensity race for their lives, the partners can trust only each other and hope they make the right choices.

Pearson's tightly constructed action and expert pacing lend the novel an urgent energy. He offers the readers only the insights of his protagonists, so the disorientation and mystery surrounding the events are as real for the readers as the characters. In addition, Istanbul provides a stunning backdrop. The setting accentuates and propels the story's themes of history, cultural differences and secrecy.

As exceptional as the other elements of the novel may be, they pale in comparison to the book's true treasure--the dynamic characters. From the protagonists down to the lowliest supporting characters, each exhibits dimension and fulfills a vital role. The Red Room may be full of questions and ambiguities, but one thing's for certain: it's an outstanding reading experience. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

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