Book Review: The Negotiator by Brendan DuBois
The Negotiator has no name. He's a man you probably wouldn't notice if you saw him in the street… he dresses to blend in. But he has a very particular set of specialized skills, and when a deal goes inexplicably wrong and his assistant is killed, he turns those skills to a single, utterly focused purpose, a mission that will not end until he has what he wants. Revenge.
While the Negotiator’s business is decidedly on the shady side - he brokers black market deals, determining fair value and managing both buyer and seller - he does have a moral code. He refuses to deal in drugs, human beings, or facilitate transfers he perceives would be against the interests of the USA. He doesn’t deal with Saudis because he ‘doesn’t like their driving laws’. Pretty much everything else, however, is on the table, from stolen diamonds to museum artefacts.
I’m deliberately calling him the Negotiator because the reader never learns the protagonist’s name. Told in first person, the narrator deliberately maintains an aura of shadowy mystery by refusing to reveal anything about his background or his identity. Without personal connections and with a high degree of ruthlessness, he is all about the job, though he’s not averse to a brief fling.
There are two female secondary characters in the book, both of whom become more and more interesting as the story goes on, with some twists and turns bringing them further into the narrative. At the end, one of them joins the Negotiator as an assistant, presumably for future books.
While I enjoyed this, and in the twists and turns it reminded me rather of Lee Child’s Reacher series, it fell a little short of that mark because I think the author tried a little too hard to keep the protagonist obscure. It made him feel like an unreliable narrator, making me think him untrustworthy, unlike Jack Reacher whose known background gives him a bone-deep solid feel, a certainty that he would have your back when the chips fell. I’d definitely read the next in the series, but I’d want to see some more character background filled in to read further than that. Four stars for a solid start, but I wanted to buy into the character more than I actually did.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.