Albatross: Birds of Flight has a spy-thriller premise familiar to fans of the Bourne franchise that will appeal to those who enjoy Mission Impossible and TV’s Leverage. But author J.M. Erickson elevates the premise beyond the Bourne-again shtick with an interesting twist and taut, engaging writing that will keep even jaded readers hooked.
Erickson establishes the action quickly with an opening scene ending in a gunfight that results in the deaths of three government agents and leaves a mysterious witness, Samuel Coleridge (yes, like the poet). The opening pages are a jumble of characters and action, and many names won’t register to the reader until 40 pages in, when their relationships are established in flashbacks during an interrogation of Coleridge.
The main players are Coleridge, a therapist who helped a client, Alexander Burns, regain his memory; Samantha Littleton, a prostitute who moonlights as a nurse; and Samantha’s foster sister, Rebecca Littleton, who’s left caring for her niece after her parents are killed.
Burns turns out to be a government assassin who survived his employers’ attempt to kill him, and when he regains his memory he becomes a target once again. The other three become entangled in the attempts to kill Burns and join him in a revenge plan.
The plot sounds a bit implausible, but Erickson rolls out his narrative with no-nonsense storytelling and no wasted words. It’s easy to get caught up in the story without questioning the details, because we trust the characters — Erickson writes believable dialogue and creates logical bonds between them — and because the plot moves so fast we don’t have time to doubt them.
The conclusion is satisfying but leaves a couple of loose ends, explaining the “Book One” label on the cover. This could turn into a fun series.
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