Book Review: Sirocco by Dana Haynes
Katalin Fiero and Michael Finnigan are an unusual pair - a soldier/spy/assassin and a cop/US Marshal who both tired of taking orders from others and decided to team up and form their own outfit. International bounty hunters, they specialise in bringing in criminals for trial at the International Court of Justice who the authorities have given up on catching. Now, they’ve been approached for an off-the-books operation by two different intelligence agencies - the CIA, and Katalin’s former Spanish bosses. Only, the deeper they dig, the more it becomes apparent that the case isn’t what it appears on the surface. And the terrorists they are trying to track down might not be the only ones who want Katalin and Michael dead.
What fascinated me most about this story was the dynamic between Fiero and Finnigan. There’s absolutely no sexual tension between them at all. They’re more like brother and sister, teasing each other constantly. Finnigan even remarks laughingly that Fiero going into a seedy bar would have every man in there trying to pick her up. But neither do they have sexual chemistry with anyone else - they both seem almost asexual, and I actually really like it. It’s a long way removed from the Bond-style action hero with a new love interest to seduce in every new location. Fiero in particular is obviously styled as a femme fatale, but deliberately chooses not to use her feminine wiles, actively showing distaste for the tactic even while enjoying her femininity.
There’s a danger that Fiero could seem something of a Mary-Sue, with her apparently unbeatable skills and beauty, but she’s so very flawed emotionally it doesn’t come off like that at all. I was fascinated by her in particular; Finnigan is more of a predictable character but Katalin is the ultimate wild card. They work superbly as a pair, their skills complementary, and they are also both smart enough to recruit expert help when they need it - I was delighted and intrigued by several of the side characters, particularly Sally Blue - I’d read 5 books about Sally and her team of black hats!
I did find a few instances of clumsy phrasing, but since this is an ARC, I’d assume they’ll be polished out by final publication. Though this is the second book in a series about Fiero and Finnigan, I don’t think I missed all that much by jumping in here; they both get pretty solid introductions and the backstory is sprinkled in generously so we know who they are. I may have to go back and read book 1 to get the full story of how they met, though! In fact, I suspect Dana Haynes’ entire backlist is going on my must-read list, because this is a genuinely excellent action-adventure story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll be eagerly looking out for the next installment.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.