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THE GATEKEEPER by James Byrne: Book Review

Desmond Aloysius Limerick–a cross between Jack Reacher and Orphan X.  

Six months before the main story opens, Dez is in Algeria, keeping lookout over fourteen people who have invaded the compound of Djamel M’Bolhi, criminal extraordinaire.  As the small groups under Dez’s control exit the compound with the materials they went in for, each wants to leave the area as soon as possible.

But Dez is counting, and he’s not leaving until all fourteen are safely outside.  Not until the last one, the only woman in the group, comes out does he give the order for everyone to withdraw; that’s why he’s the gatekeeper.  And then it’s on to California for his next adventure.

Six months later, Dez is going to his Los Angeles hotel room after playing bass guitar in a small combo.  In the elevator with him is a woman he recognizes from the club’s audience, along with two men whom he instantly pegs as bodyguards.  She presses the button for the floor one higher than his and compliments his playing.

Dez asks her out for a drink, although he thinks she is twenty thousand leagues out of my league, so he’s not surprised and only a little disappointed when she turns him down politely with a smile.

A few minutes later he’s standing at his window when he glimpses a man on an adjoining roof holding a shotgun.  Then a black van pulls up in front of the hotel, and four men get out of it and move into the lobby.  Dez thinks that there probably is a connection between a man with a gun, the four tough-looking men, and the woman in the elevator and her bodyguards.  When he tries to reach the hotel’s front desk and gets no signal on the landline and then no signal on his cell, he knows the woman is in trouble.

Leaving his room, he sees an old-fashioned fire alarm glass box in the corridor with a fire ax inside.  Weaponless, he breaks the glass with an elbow. but the break doesn’t trigger an alarm.  The five men are obviously professionals and have disrupted all the communications within the building, Dez thinks, as he grabs the ax and heads up the staircase.

Readers never learn exactly who Dez is and how he acquired the skills he has.  He’s very knowledgeable about computers and weapons and apparently has lived in many countries, but other than that his background is hazy.  But it’s obvious he has amazing skills in many areas.

James Byrne’s debut mystery is outstanding.  His own identity is somewhat of a mystery, as James Byrne is the pseudonym of a west coast journalist.  He has created both a remarkable protagonist and an edge-of-your-seat plot.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.

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